Yes, indeed, it is. Even if it is severely limited, and stripped down version of original software. As a personal computer user, I hardly use those advanced functions like networking anyway. Hats off to Microsoft and Bill Gates for providing Legal copies of Windows Vista starter edition and Microsoft Office 2007 for $3 only. Presently, the scheme is declared only for China, but I see no reason that the scheme will not be extended to whole of the world soon.
This step of Microsoft is seen by many as shrewed attempt to stop spreading Free-Open-Source software like Linux and OpenOffice. Particularly, with the news of its inclusion with OLPC (One laptop per child) project. With $3 Windows software, Microsoft will still make a lot of money. For example, where piracy is in the tune of 95+%, and presently where only some government bodies purchase leagal copies of software, ANY additional sale will boost the earnings of Microsoft. Even in India, where estimated 80+% piracy exists, I had witnessed in numerous occations - hardware vendors were of firm opinion that - if Microsoft will sell its OS and Office suit for $10 each, every body will be happy and oblized to purchase leagal copies of Microsoft product. Ultimately, in result, piracy may go down to about 10-20% or even less.
On the other hand, every services is going web-centric. Now you can find online applications to perform every task you can imagine - from Office suit to paint program to 3D design and what not, and that too for free- free as beer. All you need is an OS kernel, capable to run an advanced browser like Firefox. In such scenario, Microsoft will have to re-position itself, else it will go redundant sooner than expected!
There is an interesting article - The real cost of $3 Windows - however, I do not subscribe to the writer in many count. $3 Windows + Office suit is nearly free to me in many count!
Tag $3 windows,starter,microsoft office,olpc