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Microsoft Corp., the world’s main maker of operating systems and software, has showcased a prototype of a device which can substitute personal computers in the poorest countries. The software giant plans to provide a Windows CE-like operating system for the devices that can perform certain PC functionality.

During a meeting with financial analysts, the Redmond, Washington-based software company demonstrated a device, which, whether running Windows CE or some other Microsoft operating environment, would be able to open and read e-mail, run a suite of productivity applications akin to the PocketOffice suite that runs on Windows Mobile phones today, surf the Web, and access online video content, according to a report from Microsoft Watch web-site.

Differences between the device Microsoft refers to as FonePlus and a low-cost personal digital assistants (PDAs) or smart-phones are not completely clear. But Microsoft claims that such a device has potential in the markets, where people do not have any electronics apart from TV-sets and, increasingly, mobile phones.

Microsoft did not provide any details concerning commercialization of the FonePlus devices.

Earlier this year Microsoft unveiled another program and technology aimed at emerging markets called FlexGo. Microsoft FlexGo technology aligns hardware, software and service solutions to work in unison to meter and add time to the PC, so retailers, telecommunications providers, banks and system builders can offer PCs to a broader community of customers. FlexGo technology enables consumers or small businesses to have a PC at a price they can afford, and pay for time only as they use it. The technology informs users of time used, showing them how to add more hours by simply typing in a number from a prepaid card. If time is not added, the PC gradually moves into a “reserve tank” or limited-access state until customers purchase more time either online or at local vendors. The PC will be fully owned by final users after a number of hours are purchased.

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