September 19, 2020

MS To Offer Crippled Windows in Asia

Microsoft plans to offer a reduced-functionality version of Windows XP to customers in a few Asian countries, according to an AP story by Alisa Tang. The “XP Starter Edition” software will lack support for high-res graphic (beyond 800×600), home networking and printer sharing, and other features. It will also be able to run at most three application programs at a time. It will sell for a much lower price than standard WinXP. The software is reportedly meant as an alternative to Linux, and to infringing copies of full WinXP.

This seems like a mistake on Microsoft’s part. Compared to Linux, the crippled version will cost more and do less. When selling the full version of WinXP, Microsoft has at least a plausible argument that you get more by paying more. That argument won’t fly for the crippled version.

Worse yet, customers will know that Microsoft could have given them the full version at the same cost. The decision to offer a deliberately deficient version, but only to its customers in developing countries, will reinforce Microsoft’s image as an imperialist.

I can’t see any upside to this move. Can you?


  1. Ravi Nanavati says:

    Microsoft wants to price discriminate in response to Linux (and because a monopolist makes more money with price discrimination). Making a crippled version of Windows is a way of testing a user’s willingness to pay for Windows and enforcing the price discrimination.

    Note that this has been successful before. Windows NT/2000/XP Professional is basically just a crippled version of the companion Server product (with the crippling being in the number of TCP and file shares permitted to be open, the enabling of certain kernel optimizations and the server software provided with the base OS).

  2. I can’t see this as being very comparable to a “server-lite” product — many if not most people don’t need server functionability, while many if not most like things like hi-res graphics (nowadays 800×600 isn’t even med-res, actually). What this does do is allow a comparison of Linux to Windows for those customers, who will then logically conclude that Linux allows them to do what they want and that Windows is a crippled, low-res piece of you know what.

  3. Bored Huge Krill says:

    800×600 graphics? Ridiculous.

    What immediately occurred to me when reading this is – what kind of hardware are they expecting people to run this on? Presumably this version of WinXP is still going to impose similar loads on memory and CPU as the full version, so it isn’t like it’s going to be running on decade-old hardware. In other words, I very much doubt this could run on a hardware platform which was only capable of displaying 800×600 graphics – I would expect the hardware capability would exceed that by a very wide margin.

    I’d be very interested to see the reaction of customers to software which deliberately limits which modes of their hardware they can use. Whilst it might make perfect sense to Microsoft with their particular software-centric worldview, I’d be very surprised indeed if their intended customers “get” it.

  4. Stephen Cochran says:

    800×600 isn’t quite as rediculous as you guys seem to think. I can’t tell you how many home and business users still use that. What is rediculous is an entire accounting department with state-of-the-art computers, and 20″ LCD displays, requiring all applications and configurations to be optomized for 800×600 – this is where I work.

    800×600 _is_ the mainstream resolution used in the real world.

  5. Jordan Vance says:

    Well, we’re missing a major point here. They’re selling it on new computers only. I look at this as my mom and dad would look at it. They buy a computer, it already has an OS on it. They really don’t want to spend time to install another OS, do they? I think they could almost get by on this OS, if it weren’t for one thing. It only allows 3 programs to run concurrently? Only 3? So for them that’s IM, antivirus software, and one other program. So someone sends them a link, and all of the sudden they have to choose what to shut down? Do I shut down my email program? Do I shut down IM? What’s this little shield thingy? I’ll close that. More secure my ass. Honestly, this looks like it’s more of a trial version of XP and that they hope to suck people in to pay the big bucks. What I think might happen is people buy a computer with this, and then go down to the corner [store] and buy a nice DVD with XP written on it for 4 dollars or baht or whatever.

  6. The Register has an interesting opinion piece related to this which puts forth a theory. I am not sure I completely buy it though.

  7. Jordan Vance says:

    Gartner offers up a “duh no shit” response to XPCE (XP Crippled Edition):

  8. $30 may not sound like much to us but its a month’s pay for someone living on a dollar a day, which millions of people in these coutries do. They are never going to have the hardware that we would class as “normal” They just can’t aford it.