Microsoft unveiled a new financing program designed to make PCs more affordable to emerging-market customers on May 22, the day before the kick-off of its annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Seattle.
The new pay-as-you-go program and associated metering technology that enables it are known collectively as "FlexGo." In partnership with a handful of hardware, telecommunications, retail and financial services partners, Microsoft is launching this week full-fledged FlexGo trials in Brazil and will add trials in India, China, Russia and Mexico within the month, Microsoft officials said.
Microsoft and its partners—which include Advanced Micro Devices, HSBC Bank Brasil, Infineon Technologies, Intel, Lenovo, Phoenix Technologies and Transmeta, as well as local service providers in several countries—are testing FlexGo in two different ways.
Via one set of trials, users, after making an initial down payment on a midrange PC, will be able to buy time and make payments on their PC using prepaid cards, similar to those sold by cell phone makers in various countries. Users will pay for the time they use their PCs, much the way individuals do now in Internet cafes. An alert on users desktops will show them how much computing time they have available before they need to add more credit.
In the other set of subscription trials, users will make initial down payments on midrange PCs and make monthly payments of software and broadband services from their local service providers, akin to the way many users pay cable providers for TV and software access today.