Crazy as it sounds, apparently 17 million people in the UK are described as "digitally excluded" most of them among our elderly population, and that's just not acceptable to Microsoft. The solution? The development of a "senior PC" that will come pre-loaded with custom software offering simplified user interfaces aimed at helping the older generations get to grips with our new-fangled technology.
Over in the US Microsoft already has a similar project running in collaboration with HP. Whether the UK project is the same is unknown, but the end-goal is likely to be. Microsoft's Stephen Uden, Head of Skills and Economic Affairs, remarked on the difficulty of getting those potential PC users currently unable or unwilling to learn how to use currently available systems. "Reaching most of the final third will mean that we have to throw out the rule book. We will only solve these issues by taking risks and trying new things."
Collaboration with various other bodies is seeing Microsoft try various ways of easing peoples' introduction to using computers. One such partnership is an ad-funded "social software licensing model" being run in partnership with Milton Keynes council. Systems are being delivered into around a thousand homes pre-loaded with a "digital literacy curriculum" - a step by step guide to accomplishing ‘simple' tasks, such as web browsing and such like.
Staying on topic, however, further information Microsoft isn't available right now. Stephen Uden said that the system would be available within a year, which is a broad timescale by anyone's reckoning. Not that anyone likely to benefit it will read about the project before its launch anyway, seeing as they're currently unable to use a PC to access this site, so it shouldn't cause any complaint.