Monday, May 22, 2006

Mary Jo Foley

Cut-rate PC/hardware Windows XP Starter Edition bundles aren’t Microsoft’s only solution for bringing computing to the masses.

Microsoft (MSFT) unveiled a new financing program designed to make PCs more affordable to emerging-market customers on May 22, the day before the kick-off of its annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Seattle.

The new pay-as-you-go program and associated metering technology that enables it are known collectively as “FlexGo.” […] Via one set of trials, after making an initial down payment on a mid-range PC, users will be able to buy time and make payments on their PC using prepaid cards, similar to those sold by cell-phone makers in various countries. […] Users will pay for the time they use their PCs, much the way individuals do now in Internet cafes. An alert on users’ desktops will show them how much computing time they have available before they need to add more credit.

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