Linux and the open source movement poses no threat to Microsoft in Asia, the company's Asia-Pacific CTO has assured open-mouthed observers.

Peter "Canute" Moore told reporters: "I believe there is no government that has a policy going beyond recommending open source. If so, I believe that is not to their best interest." Moore also noted that open source does not compete solely with Microsoft but with the entire field of commercial software providers.

What could lead Mr Moore to such tremendous confidence in the face of overwhelming evidence? The Windows XP-lite that the company has produced specifically for Thailand, that slots in with the Thai's government's cheap PC programme. Produced in the Thai language, and aimed at first-time users, the cut-down XP version should only cost $40 compared to the full-fat XP which us in the West have to fork out for.

But while XP-lite has been produced specifically to bypass Microsoft's one-price policy (which it is soon to drop) and prevent Linux and other open-source software walking away with the fastest expanding software market in the world, Moore would have us believe otherwise. The initiative is "not entirely making a statement about price reduction or piracy" apparently. It is really about allowing users access to government services over the Web.

Maybe Mr Moore had been out in the sun too long. But he also has very little room to manoeuvre. Microsoft repeated its trick of producing a language-specific XP-Lite for Malaysia earlier this month. Unfortunately, despite the software giant's best efforts, it was still undercut by a Linux version of the cheap PC also offered by the Malay government. The language specific idea also fell down when it had to provide an English version of the Office suite to go with the PC.

Moore, approximately enough, had more though. He told how the company was talking to officials in various Asian governments and that a number of projects were underway and more would be soon. In fact, he is on a tour of Asia-Pacific specifically to promote the benefits of commercial software.

Asked whether a similar initiative was to be launched in the Philippines though, Moore said it would require "further analysis". "We will consider the needs of the Philippines, included in a larger group of countries. The first question to consider is if it's the right thing to do," he responded enigmatically.

Unfortunately, Sun had beaten him to the post. Regional Sun executives had already met with representatives of various Philippine government agencies, including the National Computer Center (NCC) and the Information Technology and E-Commerce Council (ITECC), and offered the company's Java Desktop System running on - you guessed it - Linux.

The Java Desktop System is a collection of open-source software aimed at corporate customers and a direct alternative to Windows and Office. It costs $100 (£55) per employee for new users and $50 (£28) per employee for existing users of Java Enterprise Systems for servers.

Sun has already closed a deal with China Standard Software Company (CSSC), a consortium of companies supported by the Chinese government, to use the Java Desktop System.

If this weren't bad enough, if Mr Moore decides to pop into Vietnam, he'll find that his presence is all the more ineffective.

David Legard of IDG News Service reports that Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology will spend $20 million (£11m) over the next four years to speed up development and deployment of open-source software in the country.

Far from "not having a policy that goes beyonds recommending open source", a government report makes it quite clear that the country intends to "make every effort to replace Windows with Linux".

Looks like Mr Moore may be some way from the truth with his belief that Microsoft is under no threat.