Microsoft will continue its efforts to stop software piracy by announcing an agreement with two Chinese computer makers to use only licensed versions of its Windows XP operating system.
Microsoft plans to announce it will sign deals with Tsinghua Tongfang, of Beijing, the third largest computer manufacturer in China, and TCL in GuangDong, China.
Under these "genuine Windows cooperative engagement agreements," the companies will agree to help educate end-users about the benefits of using licensed software instead of pirated versions, said John Litten, communications manager in the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) division of Microsoft in Washington.
Those benefits include OS support and the ability to work well with software that Chinese users purchase from other vendors, he said.
The deal could be worth millions of dollars in licensing fees for Microsoft, Litten said. He declined to provide an exact value, saying that was up to the Chinese companies to share.
The contract is similar to a deal Microsoft signed with Lenovo Group of North Carolina, in November 2005. Microsoft also plans to sign additional deals with Chinese computer makers in coming months.
"It's an area of the world that's consuming lots of PCs, and we have been working with our OEM partners to improve respect for intellectual property; even the Chinese government has been working on that. We're hoping this will move the Chinese market forward," Litten said.
The announcement comes as part of an expected bundle of business agreements that will be signed in advance of Chinese President Hu Jintao's April 20 visit to the White House to meet U.S. President George Bush.
Published reports say those deals could be worth US$15 billion and include companies like The Boeing Co., Motorola, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, General Electric and Flextronics.
(Sumner Lemon contributed to this story.)