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Thailand to get slimmed-down Windows

And the price is svelte, too: The Starter Edition will sell for just a fraction of what XP typically costs.

A slimmed-down version of Microsoft's Windows XP will be offered to novice computer users in Thailand beginning in September.

Windows XP Starter Edition will be offered as part of government-sponsored programs intended to provide consumers with more affordable computers. The software will cost 1,490 Thai baht, or roughly $36, according to news reports. Windows XP normally sells for several hundred dollars.

The new version will include Windows Explorer and Windows Media Player and other features included in the full versions of Windows XP. But it will also include some new features aimed at helping beginner computer users, Microsoft said.

The company didn't provide exact details of what the new version of Windows will include. A representative wasn't immediately available to comment.

Windows XP Starter Edition was created to enable Microsoft to participate in a low-cost PC program run by the the Thailand Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, or ICT, without adjusting its policy of charging the same price for Windows and Office, no matter where in the world they are sold.

Microsoft has come under increasing competitive pressure from open-source software such as Linux in developing countries, where the single-price policy makes Microsoft software too expensive for most. The Thai ICT PCs were originally available only with Linux. Linux PCs are seen as a threat to Windows partly because buyers are considered likely to replace the operating system with pirated copies of Windows.

Several Asian governments have recently embraced open-source software in an attempt to fix problems such as high software costs and wide-scale software piracy. The price of Microsoft software is often cited as the root of these problems.