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Microsoft Secretly Developing American 'Windows-Lite' Code-Named 'Shoehorn'
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REDMOND, Washington - Only days ago, Microsoft revealed the existence of a scaled-back version of Windows targeted specifically to the poorer Asian market. Now insiders with the world's largest software company acknowledge that plans are to very soon release a similarly crippled version of Windows XP in the United States. "It's built on the Longhorn codebase," said one Microsoft employee who asked to remain anonymous, "But it's very limited. Apparently it's targeted toward users that have hung on to older hardware, like Pentium II's with 48meg of RAM, that sort of trash. They're calling it 'Shoehorn'." Among the limitations, the mini-o/s can only handle one hard drive, only supports the left-click on the mouse, and doesn't recognize the letters Q or J, or the number 6.

"Like all companies, we engage in research and development," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, "And like all companies, we would want to keep very close to our chest any products currently under development. I can't confirm or deny the insider information you've obtained, but let me ask you something. How often do you really type a 'Q', anyway?"

"The problem any software company has is that most people don't use their computers that much," explained software business consultant Randy Loenberger, "Once you have an o/s that lets you store your files, some basic word processing and spreadsheet capability, and some games, you're 95% of the way there. So Microsoft's job is to create a need, and then fill it. You need a new o/s, but you don't want to spend the two hundred bucks. So they provide you with a solid taste of their latest goods for some break-even price, and then annoy you with cripple-ware. No 'Q'? No 'J'? But always with the 'click here to upgrade' icon staring at you. And sadly enough, it works. Studies show that people that buy reduced-function versions will eventually upgrade 45% of the time."

How Microsoft defines a 'break-even' price remains to be seen. Officially, the product doesn't even exist. Our sources indicate that a potential release date is September 15th. Even if the rumor pans out, don't look for hardcore power-users to make any use of Shoehorn. "Like Linux, it would be used to drive down the entry price for new consumers," said a Wal-Mart representative, "With a $30 o/s, we could be looking at the first complete home PC package for less than $200."
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