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Microsoft unveils retail strategy — Over 500 outlets to vend Windows-powered products

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Ms Neelam Dhawan, Managing Director, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd, and Mr Ranjivjit Singh, Group Director, Consumer Business, launching the consumer portfolio of products in the Capital on Thursday. - - Kamal Narang

New Delhi , Nov. 24

IN a move that would provide consumers a hands-on experience of its technologies, Microsoft today announced its retail strategy as part of which it would partner with over 500 retail outlets to offer all Windows powered products including Media Centre 2005, digital music devices and education software, under one roof.

The company also showcased the latest version of Microsoft Windows Media Centre 2005, which combines the functionality of TV, PC, Radio, Music and DVD capabilities and even allows users to pause live TV.

While the price of the Media Centre PC begins at Rs 30,000 and scales up based on the configuration, Microsoft said that the PC hardware vendors would also offer it on equated monthly instalments as less as Rs 750 per month.

The retail strategy, built around three cornerstones of "desirability, accessibility and affordability", is in sync with the company's plans to clamp down on the issue of piracy (widely prevalent in the home and small business segment) by creating consumer awareness around its products and enabling users to experience the benefits of a genuine software.

Currently, almost 74 per cent of the IT industry does not use genuine software.

"Our consumer offerings provide a fantastic experience to the end users - we have products to meet their needs in all areas of entertainment and education, whether it is related to music, TV, movies, games and communication. Consumers will be able to come into the retail stores, look and play around with our products, with experts helping them through the process," Ms Neelam Dhawan, Managing Director of Microsoft India, said at a conference.

The company would partner with 500 retail centres in the next six months in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune and Ahmedabad. Microsoft would make investments in the infrastructure required for the showcase and will also provide its retail partners with marketing and training support.

According to Mr Ranjivjit Singh, Group Director - Consumer Business, the company is also talking to media houses to offer electronic programming guide (EPG), a free service that would be available to all users of Windows XP Media centre PCs and serve as an electronic TV guide.

In other words, the service would allow users to search for their favourite programmes by entering key words and phrases or even a specific data and time, and program their PC to record or playback these shows at their convenience. EPG would be introduced in India in the first quarter of the next calendar year.

To increase affordability of its products, Microsoft said it would partner with personal computer manufacturers, banks and Government bodies to create more financing schemes, he added.

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