Microsoft helps schools, no Red Hat does, no it's Microsoft...

Even the Microsoft settlement becomes a chance to score points...

Even the Microsoft settlement becomes a chance to score points...

Isn't it great to see software companies coming together for the good of our children - for the sake of the kids' education and at no cost to the schools?

Hang on, let's just pause for a second. That concept is just too difficult to swallow, isn't it? The situation is certainly a lot more complicated.

Microsoft's move to appease the wrath of more than 100 private lawsuits by donating cash and computing equipment to "economically disadvantaged" school children has been met with the obvious cynicism.

First, it's been seen as the cheap way out. Although the value of the agreement is said by Microsoft to be worth $1bn, a huge slab of this will come in the form of software - of negligible cost to Microsoft.

Recognising this - and it doesn't take a genius to do so - Linux distributor Red Hat has waded in with an idea it says will "enhance" the Microsoft proposal.

The deal - which it has to be said is a slick piece of PR - pledges to donate the software instead, therefore freeing up more Microsoft money for hardware.

Fantastic! More computers for the kids. Alright, that's a slightly naïve stance to take. Quite clearly Red Hat has seen the worth of this offer in terms of getting some media coverage on the back of big Microsoft news. It also gives the Linux outfit a chance to have a dig.

A public hearing on the settlement is scheduled to take place next week. In the meantime, good luck Red Hat. It has said it will stand by its offer regardless of what Microsoft eventually ends up doing.

And, whatever you think about what some have described as Red Hat's publicity stunt, in the manipulation stakes, Microsoft still walks away with first prize.

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