Microsoft to give away PAYG Windows-based computers

Microsoft is planning to give away thousands of Windows-based PC in Russia on a subscription basis through its Unlimited Potential scheme which according to Microsoft's website is "about helping individuals and communities around the globe achieve their goals and dreams with relevant, accessible, and affordable technologies."

The software company will partner with Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) and is amongst a slew of similar partnerships that Microsoft has forged with firms in emerging markets in Brazil and in Mexico.

The MTS offer will reach 85 million customers and will consist of a PC with wireless broadband access as well as a number of web services.

Some have been accusing Microsoft of using such scheme to undermine the Open Source movement in countries, where Microsoft's doesn't have a commanding market share, by providing with a substantially cheaper option than in more mature countries.

According to the New York Times, the Unlimited Potential scheme derives from Microsoft's Chairman Bill Gates' idea of "Creative capitalism" which suggests that for profit companies worldwide should work with governments and NGOs more closely.

Similar deals already exist in the UK, where you can buy a mobile phone and get a free laptop complete with Microsoft's Windows Vista for as little as £20 per month for 12 months only.