Microsoft launches new low-cost PC effort in India

The IQ PC, created in partnership with AMD, is set to sell for about $500 and be targeted at the education market.

Microsoft has launched another low-cost PC effort in India, this time partnering with chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices in an effort to get more computers into the hands of students.

Beginning next month, Microsoft and its partners plan to start selling the IQ PC through computer retailers, bookshops and other stores in Bangalore and Pune, with plans to sell it throughout the country by November. The company expects the machines to start selling for 21,000 Indian rupees ($513), though it hopes to bring those prices down over time.

The computers are aimed at students from kindergarten to 12th grade, and the IQ PC will be built on AMD-developed hardware made by Zenith Computers. The PCs are set to include Microsoft's Windows Vista Basic, Works and Student 2007, as well as third-party software, including exam preparation, homework help and English-language learning programs. Microsoft also announced a test version of an online MSN IQ Education Channel.

"India faces a serious challenge in providing quality education, a critical factor in ensuring that children begin with a fair level of opportunity," Microsoft Senior Vice President Orlando Ayala said in a blog posting from India, where he kicked off the effort with the head of Microsoft India. "If applied correctly, technology holds great potential to meet this challenge."

In April, Microsoft set a goal of getting PCs into the hands of the next billion people by 2015, though the company's chairman, Bill Gates, has expressed hope that the goal can be reached significantly sooner. At the time, the company announced a program through which it will sell a bundle of Windows and Office for $3, but only for programs in which governments agree to pick up at least half the tab for PCs that will be owned by individuals.

The IQ PC comes on top of that program, as well as existing low-cost PC efforts in India, including Microsoft's Windows XP Starter Edition, a version of Windows that is sold on new PCs in emerging markets. In January, Microsoft also announced a Starter version of Windows Vista.

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