During the second half of 2007, Microsoft is going to be offering a suite of software products designed exclusively for third world countries. The software will be provided to governments that provide computers to students for work in the classroom or at home. On the surface this appears to be a win-win situation since students around the world will be able to obtain software at extremely reasonable prices and Microsoft will expose these kids to its products.

According to Microsoft, the suite of products will include:

  • Windows XP Starter Edition— Incorporates the basic features a beginning user needs with a specialized version of the Windows operating system.
  • Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007— Helps students create great-looking documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and manage their notes.
  • Microsoft Math 3.0— A collection of math tools, tutorials, and instructions designed to help students learn how to solve equations, step-by-step, while gaining a better understanding of fundamental concepts in pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, physics, chemistry and calculus.
  • Learning Essentials 2.0 for Microsoft Office— Working with Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, Learning Essentials helps students achieve better grades. Step-by-step writing tips and preformatted report and presentation templates give students a quick start in creating great-looking reports and presentations.
  • Windows Live Mail desktop — A simple, powerful tool that lets you get e-mail from multiple accounts in one place.

Sounds good. But it gets better. The cost for the entire suite of products will only be $3.00. Now that is very reasonable compared to what the rest of us pay for Microsoft software. We now have to wonder why Microsoft is doing this.

  1. It is a compassionate company and wants to be best buddies with countries that can’t afford its software.
  2. It sees the threat of the One Laptop Per Child, which uses Linux, and needs to compete against this worthwhile program.
  3. With Dell and other OEMs contemplating using Linux and delivering Linux computers to consumers, Microsoft needs a way to expand its product line to other countries.
  4. All of the above.
  5. None of the above.

So what do you think? At $3.00 a copy, is this a deal? What is Microsoft’s real motivation?

Comments welcome.

Microsoft Unlimited Potential website here.