Microsoft plans to offer a stripped-down version of Windows and Office for $3 to developing nations

Microsoft announced a plan to offer a stripped-down version of Windows and Office software for three dollars to people in developing nations as well as low income families within the United States:

The program, which is being announced in Beijing today by the Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, represents an ambitious expansion of efforts to introduce products to those who have lacked access to personal computers, especially in developing nations.

But that’s not it!!

Microsoft has additional steps planned beyond the discounted software. For example, the company said that it would add 200 Microsoft Innovation Centers in 25 countries in the next two years. These centers — Microsoft already has 110 in 60 nations — train local people in software development and provide assistance in starting businesses.

Some economists argue that money is better spent on medicine and food for developing nations. However, I think the digital divide issue is easier to solve sooner than later so I’m very much for this and other programs like Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child.

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