While Microsoft's Windows operating system and software is popular worldwide, its relatively high price puts it out of the financial reach of many in the developing world. As a result, pirated copies of Windows and Office are endemic in some parts of the world, with the percentage of PCs running pirated software approaching 90 percent in some countries.
Microsoft is trying a novel approach to deal with the problem of affordability: a pay-as-you-go model. Dubbed FlexGo, the plan operates much like a prepaid cellular phone. Consumers buy a FlexGo computer running Windows XP Home at a reduced price from a retailer, along with some prepaid access cards.
Under the FlexGo model, usage is timed. As PC usage reaches a predefined limit, the computer goes into a limited-access state until more time is added. Users can add more time by purchasing scratch-off prepaid cards and entering the numeric code contained on the card onto the PC. The process repeats until the PC's owner has purchased a predefined amount of time on the PC. Once that occurs, all usage restrictions are lifted as the user now owns the PC outright.
News source: arstechnica