Microsoft founder and geeky billionaire, Bill Gates, is expected to soon be revealing a new project that will seek to promote the use of computers and technology as education aids in developing countries.
The company is expected to announce the move today in Beijing as part of its on-going 'Unlimited Potential' project. The new project has involved partnerships with many other companies in an effort to make low cost software available to those who would benefit in emerging countries.
The cornerstone of this initiative is the Student Innovation Suite from Microsoft, which will include XP Starter Edition, Office Home and Student 2007 and Microsoft Math 3.0, as well as Learning Essentials 2.0 for Microsoft Office.
The Student Innovation Suite will only be available to selected governments which already have projects to supply PCs to students, but will retail to them at only £1.50 ($3).
By 2008 it is expected the project will grow to include all countries which have been defined as low or middle income by The World Bank.
On top of this, over 200 more Innovation Centres will be built by Microsoft across 35 countries by 2009. The centres will focus on helping to develop local skills and creating jobs.
Microsoft is also reported to have made a special partnership with India, where it will work with the government to encourage economic development and establish an online 'Employability Portal' that will be available to graduates by the end of this year.
It should be noted though that Microsoft is not seen as completely altruistic and it has been accused of simply trying to find clever ways into these markets in order to undermine the presence of Open Source software such as Linux
and Open Office
, which are free to distribute.
More infortmation on the Student Innovation Suite can be found here.
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