Is $235 million a small price to pay for the next billion users?

Microsoft will announce a $235 million educational venture on Wednesday at the Government Leaders Forum in Berlin, according to Yahoo News. This pricetag includes hardware, software, and training for developing countries, but is contingent on the use of Microsoft products.

Microsoft will announce a $235 million educational venture on Wednesday at the Government Leaders Forum in Berlin, according to Yahoo News. This pricetag includes hardware, software, and training for developing countries, but is contingent on the use of Microsoft products. While it's hardly rocket science that a company should tie its philanthropy to its own products, the spending comes in the face of a 2006 European study,

contradict[ing] one recommendation contained in a study of software usage in Europe...Presented to the European Commission, the study concluded that it's better for students to learn general IT skills rather than just proprietary software.

For the most part, schools and students will receive hardware and support around Windows XP and Microsoft's Student Innovation Suite. Even the author of the study noted above suggested (in so many words) that poor schools on the receiving end of this deal could hardly be expected to look a gift horse in the mouth, regardless of ed tech best practices.

It remains to be seen if Microsoft can spend enough money to ensure that their products, rather than open source alternatives, end up in the hands of the next billion computer users, currently living in developing markets.

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