Image: Ranjivjit Singh
Manish Swarup  /  AP
Ranjivjit Singh, director of Business and Marketing Operations of Microsoft India addresses a press conference in New Delhi, India, on June 2.
updated 6/3/2005 1:41:24 PM ET 2005-06-03T17:41:24

Microsoft Corp. launched this week a low-cost, stripped-down version of its Windows XP operating system in India targeting users who don't speak English.

The U.S.-based software giant hopes to sell 200,000 Hindi copies the first year, said marketing and business operations director Ranjivjit Singh of Microsoft's Indian division. Nine other languages will be added later. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

"It is aimed at first-time users looking for simple, easy and local language-capable software," Singh said.

He declined to give the price for Windows XP Starter Edition, saying it will be bundled with entry-level personal computers that cost $432. Windows XP's full version sells for about $85 in India.

India is the largest of the five emerging computer markets that Microsoft is targeting with its stripped-down operating system. The others are Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Russia.

India has only 16 million computers for more than a billion people, but sales are growing 35 percent each year.

Microsoft enjoys a 90 percent market share in India. It hopes cheaper software will help reduce piracy in a country where only one in five computers use more expensive licensed software. Microsoft also faces a growing threat from the Linux non-proprietary operating system.

The XP Starter Edition can run only three programs simultaneously, lacks capabilities for home networking and multiple users and has lower-resolution graphics than more expensive versions.

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