Microsoft announced it will offer a stripped-down version of its Windows operating system and Office software for only $3 to people in developing countries:
Chairman Bill Gates said the program -- a major expansion of the Microsoft Windows XP Starter Edition program begun in 2004 -- 'would help close the digital divide in all parts of the globe,' a Microsoft statement said.
It will also expand Microsoft`s global reach at a time when some governments in developing countries have encouraged Windows alternatives such as the free Linux operating system.
The Microsoft Unlimited Potential program offers the deeply discounted software -- including Windows XP Starter Edition and Office Home and Office 2007 -- to governments purchasing bulk orders of computers that would then be distributed to students and other individuals.
Gates said Microsoft viewed Windows Starter as 'a passport to a digital society.'