Microsoft Set To Launch FlexGo 2.0 Pay-As-You-Go Program


Microsoft is preparing version 2.0 of its FlexGo pay-as-you-go Windows subscription program to drive Windows Vista into emerging nations.

The second iteration of the subscription program, which allows customers to pay for their Windows-based PCs on a per-usage or monthly basis, supports the new Vista operating system and new hardware and is expected to launch in the fourth quarter, David Foster, general manager of Microsoft's Market Expansion Group, said Wednesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Los Angeles.

Developed under the code-name Powerline, FlexGo is intended to make Windows PCs more affordable. Microsoft disclosed the initiative last May.

The next-generation FlexGo program will offer support for Vista and, more importantly, support standard hardware platforms from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and VIA. The current program supports Transmeta processors only.

FlexGo also offers a simplified user interface for that adds easy-access sleep buttons for conserving time, display of usage time and alerts for subscription terminations.

Version 2.0 also offers service providers lower provisioning module firmware that handles metering of FlexGo and policy enforcement, according to Foster.

Microsoft has been conducting select trials of the Windows XP-based service since 2006 with 20 telecommunications partners and expects the program to expand widely in Brazil, India and Mexico in 2007 and 2008.

At WinHEC, Infineon showed off its hardware platform for FlexGo that supports all major CPUs.

Intel, for its part, is developing a FlexGo motherboard code-named Cash Canyon that's due for release later this year, with a version 2.0 upgrade coming in the first quarter of 2008, Foster said. Cash Canyon will support Pentium D and standard memory in a microATX form factor, he said.

Meanwhile, VIA Technology is a key partner in the FlexGo-PC1 initiative.

Windows Vista Starter Edition and Windows XP Starter Edition are lower-priced versions of Windows for emerging markets. FlexGo, on the other hand, allows customers to buy Windows-based PCs on a subscription basis or buy time on PCs.

In version 2.0 of FlexGo, Microsoft will offer policy enforcement capabilities that allow service providers to lock out users who are delinquent in payments. Service providers also will be able to install the software as an application to ease image management for OEM manufacturers that design for FlexGo.