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Microsoft giving away $250 million

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Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said that the plan is aimed at promoting computer-based learning in schools rather than competing against any other software system. Microsoft has a separate program to share source code, or the underlying blueprint for its software, to encourage them to use Windows software.
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SEATTLE, Washington (Reuters) -- Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, said on Tuesday that it would donate software and $250 million in cash over the next five years to fund education programs around the world.

Dubbed the Partners in Learning program, Microsoft said it will provide training and access to the latest computer technologies to primary and secondary schools.

The donation comes as governments around the world weigh Microsoft software against Linux, the open source operating system that can be copied and modified freely. Japan, South Korea and China are planning to develop an alternative operating system to Microsoft's Windows, which runs on more than 95 percent of the world's personal computers.

Encouraging schools to get Windows

Brazil, India's state of Uttranchal, Thailand, Italy and Malaysia have agreed to join or have already joined the program, with 10 more countries due to sign up by the end of 2003, said Maggie Wilderotter, Microsoft's senior vice president of business strategy.

"I would like to spend it [$250 million in cash grants] sooner rather than later ... to get the money out and get it working," Wilderotter said.

Included among the initiatives is a program that will allow schools to obtain new Windows software for personal computers donated to schools, as well as deeply discounted licenses for the latest versions of Microsoft's software.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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