A Hard Sell For Microsoft In China

Its plan to sell set-top boxes in China faces high hurdles

Meet Wu Yanbin, a 21-year-old college student checking out the new computers at the Xidan Department Store in western Beijing. He's a devoted techie who surfs the Net every day, and he plans to be a Web-page designer after graduation. So ask him what he thinks about Microsoft Corp.'s key strategy for penetrating the China market: promoting set-top boxes with its WinCE software that allows anyone with a TV set to go online in their living room without buying a computer. "Microsoft is a giant. I really admire it," he says enthusiastically. But would he buy one of their set-top boxes? "I wouldn't even think about it," says Wu. "Their functions are too limited for me."

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