NEW DELHI, Sep 22
It's individualistic. It's for the home PC user. It's ME, the Millennium Edition of Microsoft Windows, targeted specifically at the home PC user. Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd, the fully-owned subsidiary of global software major Microsoft, announced the launch of ME on Thursday, as part of its commitment to provide separate IT solutions for the home and business user.
The retail version will be available countrywide starting October 1, 2000. Says Sanjay Mirchandani, managing director, Microsoft India, "We now have an offering that caters to the specific needs of the home segment."
For the home PC user, ME has features such as the Home Networking Wizard that enables users to network laptops and PCs, and also enables a family to share the same Internet connection. It also incorporates features that allow the user to string still photos, add music and create their own movies without having to use additional software.
The new product is in response to customer feedback after the launch of the Windows 2000, for business audiences. The new version has also addressed the top 20 customer support issues of the second edition of Windows 98, with fixes or work arounds being incorporated into ME 2000. The new product is also a reflection of market segmentation into business users and individual users. "We are getting more and more oriented towards the consumer," said Rajiv Kaul, director, marketing and E-commerce, at Microsoft India.
ME also is targeted at the digital era, allowing users to easily record, edit, organise and share video on their windows PC.
The launch reflects Microsoft's eagerness to be ready for the broadband era, which is impending. The company plans to have the first mover advantage, and has incorporated features such as DirectPlay Voice, that enables voice chat over the Net or NetMeeting, which allows for voice and video conferencing over the Internet.
Currently, Internet telephony is banned in India, but it is likely to be available once the legal restrictions are removed, and infrastructure improves. India currently has a mobile population of 2.3 million according to NASSCOM, and competitively priced and fast evolving mobile phone technology.
Microsoft's marketing strategy is also to cater for the needs of the convergence and .NET era, with features such as the first implementation of Universal Plug and Play Technology in a Microsoft product, a part of ME.
In an expression of its continued commitment to the protection of intellectual property rights, the ME allows users to send music files through the Internet, but receivers cannot play them back. In this it differs from the MP3 format, where users can send and playback music on the Net.
Ironically, with all its commitment to intellectual property rights, the company will not be able to prevent ME being given away free, along with assembled computers, by the rough and ready pirates at Nehru Place, the capital's lair of software thieves. Microsoft India was set up in 1990, and every product since then has been pirated, with the pirates operating right under the noses of Microsoft's India offices, located at the same place. In December 1999, the Delhi police raided a huge CD reseller at Nehru Place, and seized pirated Microsoft products worth Rs. 3.1 crore.
Such heavy-handed tactics has not smashed the industry; it has only driven it underground. A new customer at Nehru Place is greeted with wary looks and stone-faced refusals, but to those who know the ropes, buying the stuff is as easy as before.
Things will be no different for the ME. Even as the product has been launched, agencyfaqs! sources at Nehru Place, say that they will be able to provide ME on assembled computers soon. The company will offer the version on new consumer PCs, at a cost of Rs. 6,500 for the full packaged product, and Rs. 3,700 for a version upgrade from MS 1995 or MS 1998. Nehru Place is offering the same on assembled
computers, expect that it is for free.
The pirates have the low-end consumers such as students as customers. For them, it does not make much economic sense to pay nearly Rs.10, 000 for a single version of software, a price, which is almost half the price of the computer itself. And they are hardly discouraged by ethical considerations.
Smiling wryly, Kaul acknowledges the fact of piracy. "Of course, we cannot compete on price. However, we will try to educate the people that software theft is just like any other theft."
Meanwhile, the pirates are hard at work at Nehru Place.
© 2000 agencyfaqs!First Published : September 22, 2000