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Chinese state software company to take on Microsoft

Local OS will force MS to cut Chinese WinCE prices, apparently

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Microsoft has an operating system competitor in China: the Peking Software and Engineering Centre, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. During his sixth sales visit to China this month, Bill Gates unveiled a Chinese version of Windows CE (or Venus, as it is known locally) for a set-top box. Some 90 per cent of Chinese households (317 million, and more than any other country) have a TV to act as a monitor for surfing, but only five per cent of families have computers. Other reports, which sound more accurate, suggest one computer per 3000 people. Venus has Windows CE, Internet Explorer, WebTV, Pocket Word and Pocket Excel. Eight companies announced they would manufacture the set-top boxes, including Acer (Taiwan) and Philips Consumer Electronics. This morning the Chinese news agency Xinhua is reporting that Chinese-developed software will "force Microsoft to reduce prices" for Venus as a result of what is expected to be a pricing war. The reported price for a system is between $120 and $360 and beyond the reach of most would-be computer users. One of the Microsoft's supporters during Gates' visit earlier this month was Legend, China's largest PC maker, which was founded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It seems as though Microsoft may experience a kind of competition that it has not faced before, and for which it can have no effective response other than to lose copious quantities of money. ®

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