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XP has also been changed to only allow users to run three programs at once.
Unbelievable! Who could work with that? (Apparently it's aimed at curbing piracy in Asian countries.)
I feel users may, ironically, find themselves having to use non-Miscrosoft browsers like Opera, which would count as one program, but give you email, browsing and RSS all in one.
New user thinks, "Oh Win XP isn't so expensive after all, I'll try that." Then 2 days later realising the 3 app limit is just unworkable, so HAVING to upgrade to the not-so-cheap version.
Sounds more like a functionally-limited demo to me than a full OS. A demo you have to pay for.
The reason why this exists is that Microsoft wants to force PC makers to supply machines with Windows preinstalled to the Asian market. The makers don't care whether the OS they supply is crippled or not (because they know it is going to be replaced immediately by purchasers), but MS has put pressure on the local governments to only buy machines with a legitimate copy of Windows on it from suppliers who don't sell "naked" PCs. The governments will then be pushed to upgrade to the full Windows versions.
As for the general public, MS will get their "tax" with the Starter Edition, and then the piracy is less of a problem. If also helps keep local governments who want legitimate products but don't want to pay the full price away from alternative solutions such as Linux - which would hurt Microsoft's bottom line much harder in the long-term.
Of course it won't affect piracy in the slightest - I don't know what they hope for, perhaps they want to look good as if they were showing good will and "developing" cheap OS for 3rd world countries?!?!?! Well they forgot one thing - even $50 is a lot there, they might as well go for free Linux running on cheaper hardware.
Its not about Windows anyway - the OEM cost is pretty good, however they totally rip people off on Office which did not change much since mid-90s. This is the rip-off, and also all those nicely linked per-CPU priced servers.