Microsoft has always seemed to be of two minds when it comes to its business in China. At times, the company has admitted that it actually benefits from piracy, since it helps it fend off rivals and grow its installed base, while at other times, it's urged a hardline stance against the practice. Whichever way the company feels at this point, it looks like it's at least recognizing that under the current economic climate, it's not realistic to sell much full price software in China. Speaking in Beijing, Bill Gates announced that the company would begin selling a range of software in the country for just $3. At these prices, Microsoft isn't going to make much money, but it's better than having people buy pirated versions, because this will allow the company to establish some sort of connection to its users. Then, in the future, it may be able to sell its customers on more expensive software or services. Meanwhile, a report out of China indicates that Microsoft has only sold 244 legitimate copies of Vista so far across the country. This seems a little hard to believe, but it's possible that it's been a total flop. This new discount pricing initiative probably isn't directly related to the poor sales, though it is an acknowledgment that the current business model isn't working.
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