S'pore: Windows XP launch date, price confirmed

Microsoft will proceed with earlier plans to launch Windows XP on the island state and other parts of Asia despite attempts made by privacy groups in the US to block its availability.

SINGAPORE--Microsoft will proceed with earlier plans to launch Windows XP on the island state and other parts of Asia despite attempts made by privacy groups in the US to block its availability.

Several privacy groups are set to file a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission later today regarding Microsoft's imminent release of Windows XP, alleging unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Windows XP, the latest version of the ubiquitous operating system, is set to be unveiled October 26 here, one day after the worldwide launch.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based public-interest organization, and privacy group Junkbusters, as well as at least five other groups will ask the FTC to prevent the launch of Windows XP based on potential privacy threats arising from the operating system and Passport software, according to Marc Rotenberg, executive director for EPIC.

The groups will ask that the FTC open an investigation into Microsoft's data-collection practices with regard to Passport and Windows XP.

Rotenberg had earlier told reporters that the complaint "concerns the privacy implications of the Windows XP system that is expected to become the primary means of access for consumers to the Internet." It will ask that the FTC investigate Microsoft's intention to "collect, track and profile millions of Internet users."

"Central to the scheme is .Net, which encompasses HailStorm, Passport and Wallet, and its design to gain personal information unfairly and deceptively," Rotenberg said.

On Monday, software maker InterTrust amended an existing lawsuit against Microsoft, asking for an injunction against Windows XP. The former charges that controversial product-activation technology found in Windows XP violates four InterTrust patents.

The company's new product-activation technology, which locks Office XP or Windows XP to a particular PC hardware configuration, can deactivate unexpectedly, rendering the software useless until a code number is obtained from Microsoft. The feature could present the biggest headache to people that frequently upgrade or change components on their PCs.

In Singapore, Microsoft officials stood firm and was confident the product would be unveiled as planned. "Product-activation doesn't collect any information," Ben Tan, its product manager for Singapore operations claimed.

And despite rampant software piracy in the region, Asian copies of Windows XP will not have a more rigorous product-activation procedures compared with versions sold elsewhere.

"It's about educating people about intellectual property, not about piracy," Tan told reporters at a product demonstration today.

The price of Windows XP Home Edition will be around S$359, or equal to the price charged for a full copy of Windows ME, the current home user OS.

Windows XP Professional, the version for business users, will be similar to he current business-oriented Windows 2000, which costs around S$539.

Current Windows 9x users will be able to upgrade for 50 percent off the Windows XP list price.

Microsoft also introduced the Windows XP Release Candidate 1 (RC1), a S$19.95 preview kit which will expire in 180 days after installation.

The availability of these kits elsewhere in Asia will depend on individual countries, Microsoft Singapore said.

News.com's Stefanie Olsen and Sandeep Junnarkar contributed to this report.

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