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Low-cost Windows for India delayed

/ Source: The Associated Press

The launch of a low-cost version of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system in India has been postponed due to delays in adapting it for local users, a senior company official said Tuesday.

The keenly awaited launch of the Windows XP Starter Edition will happen in June, not during the first quarter of 2005 as earlier promised, said Ranjivjit Singh, the marketing and business operations director of Microsoft's Indian subsidiary.

"We are still working on providing Indian language capability," he told reporters in the southern city of Bangalore. "You can't underestimate the huge development work involved."

India is the largest of the five emerging computer markets that Microsoft is targeting with its stripped-down operating system. The company already sells the starter edition in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and has plans to launch it in Russia.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

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

U.S.-based Microsoft enjoys 90 percent market share in India. It hopes that cheaper software will help reduce piracy in a country where only 2 of 10 computers use more expensive licensed software.

The XP Starter Edition enables users to run only three programs concurrently and offers lower resolution graphics. It also lacks capabilities for home networking and multiple user accounts.

Singh said the Indian version will support India's dominant Hindi language initially, adding that nine other languages will be added later.

Microsoft has not yet announced the price of the starter edition. Windows XP's full version sells for about $85 in India.