Pay 50% of the cost upfront, then pay-as-you-go for the remaining balance

Companies have been looking at many different ways to address the need for technology in emerging markets. MIT has been touting the $100 laptop and Intel has even entered the fray with inexpensive PCs for developing nations. Microsoft has announced a new approach to spreading technology to the masses.

The Redmond-based software giant has teamed up with heavy-hitters in the industry including AMD, Intel and Lenovo to promote its FlexGo pay-as-you-go technology. With FlexGo, customers can purchase a PC at a reduced rate and then pay for time on the PC as they need it using a subscription service, prepaid cards or tokens. In the case of Lenovo PCs, customers will pay half of the street price up front, then purchase time on the PC with prepaid cards. Once a preset amount of hours are purchased on the PC, the owner takes full possession of the machine and will no longer need to purchase the prepaid cards to operate the machine. If more hours are not purchased, the PC moves to a limited-access state until more time is purchased.

Microsoft began trial testing of the new service in Brazil last year and it met with much success. Lenovo hopes to launch trial programs using FlexGo within the next three months in China and India. Intel plans integrating the FlexGo service with its "Community PC" in India. AMD plans to use FlexGo to build upon its 50x15 digital inclusion efforts which aim to narrow digital divide globally. From Microsoft's press release:

FlexGo technology consists of three key components: a full-featured quality PC with modifications that enable metering of usage time and protection against tampering, operating system modifications that allow customers to purchase PC time in small increments, and a provisioning server system that validates the payment and delivers payment packets to the PC.

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