Microsoft Delays Philippine Windows

The computer giant says it needs more time before launching the scaled-down version of its operating system designed for the developing market

Loyal users of Microsoft Windows in the country will have to wait a little longer for a localized version of Windows, after the software giant unveiled it will not be releasing the operating system this month as initially planned.

Microsoft remains mum on key product features, disclosing only that the localized platform will be based on the Windows Starter Edition, the scaled-down version of the OS built for developing markets.

Microsoft Philippines managing director T. J. Javier, last month had disclosed plans for a full-blown launch of the local version of the OS in June 2007, in time for the Philippines' Independence Day celebrations on Jun. 12.

The launch date has now been shelved after the company told ZDNet Asia it needed more time to work on the new software release. Localized versions of the Windows platform are currently available in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, among others.

"Our programmers are putting in substantial work on the product, particularly on the glossary and product features," Javier said last month.

He added that a dedicated team in Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, United States, had been roped in to create the program.

In a phone interview Monday, Mae Moreno, corporate communications manager at Microsoft Philippines, told ZDNet Asia the software vendor is still fine-tuning the local release, focusing particularly on the translation tool.

"But we will definitely launch the Philippine version [of Windows] this year," Moreno said. The new platform will be rolled out in Tagalog, the country's dominant local language.

The local version of the OS has been in development for close to two years now, following an announcement in late-2005 when Microsoft celebrated its 10th year anniversary in the country.

According to Javier, Microsoft had engaged Filipino national artist and renowned linguist Virgilio Almario to provide the Tagalog translations of computer terms that will be used in the local Windows release.

The software maker declined to reveal the name of the new product, but said it will be offered at a price point that Microsoft hopes will attract smaller companies.

Javier said the new OS is expected to address demand from small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) and government agencies in the Philippines. In particular, the local Microsoft office will be work with the Department of Education on a possible rollout of the localized Windows platform to public schools, he said.

He added that the company will focus initially on deployments in the government sector, before embarking on a commercial launch for the Philippine Windows release.

The localized Vista version is also part of Microsoft's efforts to combat software piracy, particularly in developing countries.

Vista Business version was launched worldwide in November last year.