AP and Bloomberg, SEATTLE
Microsoft Corp, the world's largest software maker, and Samsung Electronics Co said they would share each other's patents to speed up development of electronics products at both companies.
Samsung may use Microsoft's patents for computers, televisions and printers, the companies said yesterday in a statement.
Microsoft will gain access to Samsung's patents for digital media and computer-related products, they said. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Microsoft this week announced four deals with Asian companies including China's Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想) as the software maker tries to raise sales in a region that is home to half the world's population. Business software makers lost more than US$3.9 billion of potential sales in Asia last year because of piracy, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance.
The US software maker has announced similar patent sharing agreements with Japan's Fuji Xerox Co, NEC Corp and Seiko Epson Corp.
Microsoft said on Tuesday it would offer free trials of its new Office 2007 program in Taiwan to encourage consumers to buy legal copies of its software. Eight computer makers will sell laptops equipped with legal versions of the software that are usable for 60 days.
The software maker also announced it would set up a research center with Lenovo to help China's biggest PC maker develop computers and handheld electronics. Microsoft said on Wednesday it would start a Web site with Intel Corp that helps Asian technology companies get in touch with venture capital firms.
Microsoft also said yesterday it would build on existing efforts to bridge the digital divide worldwide and announced several new ventures, including a US$3 software package for governments that subsidize student computers.
The software maker said it would sell a Student Innovation Suite, which includes Windows XP Starter Edition and Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, for US$3 to governments that subsidize a certain percentage of the cost of PCs for primary and secondary students for use at home and at school, starting in the second half of the year.
The Redmond, Washington-based company also pledged to open 90 new "innovation centers" in countries around the world. Microsoft has already opened 110 of the centers, which offer classes and access to technology for academics, local startup software companies and other groups.
In addition, the company said it designed a Web site to help graduating engineering students in India get additional training and find jobs, a model it may extend in other countries if successful. The site will go online by the end of the year.
Microsoft also announced it had forged an alliance with the Asian Development Bank, but the company did not specify its financial commitment.
Orlando Ayala, a senior vice president for Microsoft's emerging segments market development group, said it took 35 years for the company's software to reach a billion people; reaching the next billion is not just a side philanthropic project for Microsoft.
"Many of these people we think are going to be consumers down the road," Ayala said in an interview.
Ayala would not say how much money Microsoft would spend on the programs announced yesterday.
"We don't want it to be seen as an initiative, `Oh, these guys are announcing another billion dollars,'" he said. "We're bringing this whole business strategy mainstream for Microsoft."
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