Although Microsoft has released cut-rate versions of Windows for Malaysia and Thailand, it may not do the same for China.

Speaking in China, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said he doesn't know whether discount versions of the company's software will be needed in that country. He also said that antitrust regulations being passed by the Chinese government will not particularly hurt Microsoft's business.

A number of companies are now trying to tailor their products to better fit the local economies of developing nations. Intel is experimenting, for example, with how to develop a cheap microprocessor for these countries. Microsoft examines a number of local factors before deciding whether to come out with a discount version of its software for a developing country, including the size of the potential market, the prevalence of piracy and the geographic pervasiveness of the local language.

China is a rapidly growing market, has a piracy problem and is promoting Linux – all factors that favour the development of a discount version in the local language. And, despite the rapid growth of the PC market there, PCs are mostly being bought by middle and upper-class families in coastal urban centers like Shanghai and Beijing and not the country's poorer western plains. On the other hand, there are millions who are fluent in Mandarin spread across the globe. China isn't the only country with a piracy issue. Around half of the software in Korea is pirated, despite aggressive raids by the police.


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