By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK People suffering from cyber-phobia (fear of computers) would now learn to conquer their fears with the latest launch of Microsoft Software Windows XP Starter Edition. This week, the leading software company launched its new product in Namibia with the main aim of giving everyone an opportunity to leverage technology. President of Microsoft in Europe, the Middle East and Africa Neil Holloway indicated that the new product has the potential of making a difference in technology access at the local level. Namibia like many other countries faces a challenge to empower its citizens with the latest technology. In as much as the government strives to narrow the gap between those with access to technology and those without, other challenges such as education and language barriers play a major role in making this dream a reality. “With Starter Edition, we are attempting to remove some of those barriers. We are offering a solution to powering personal computers that is tailored, localised and priced to meet the needs of a country like Namibia,” indicated Holloway. The president further announced the company’s intentions to have their latest products in one of the local languages spoken by the majority of people. So far, countries that use Kiswahili (mostly East Africa) have already started benefiting from the initiative. Deputy Prime Minister Libertina Amadhila during the launch of this product said that it is a solid introduction to personal computing and that the Namibian Government plays a role in bringing technology to the people in the country. Last year, Namibian young people were involved in a pathfinder exercise that exposed rural children to the basics in technology. “The Government is in the process of executing IT policies across the board. This will help in ensuring that services are delivered efficiently.” She views the product as a necessary tool that will help the computer illiterate get empowered with technology. “Namibia needs people skilled in computers to help grow the economy,” she said. Technology as acknowledged by Holloway can be a catalyst for economic development and social change in Namibia and Africa at large. Unfortunately, countries still lack access to technology or the core skills needed to operate technology. The product maintains core feature and functionality of other Windows XP editions designed for first entry users in Africa. It has extended help and assistance functions for the first-time users and locally relevant screensavers and wallpapers. The user can operate a PC with other devices such as videos, sound media and pictures. Windows XP Starter Edition for Africa has been described as the most affordable system available so far and is expected to be available from participating PC retailers and Microsoft distributors. The package can only be purchased together with a PC. The product is available in 83 countries across the globe.