Microsoft extends open source killing plan to Russia

Microsoft extends open source killing plan to Russia

Summary: Microsoft has extended its cheap software for education plan, aimed at strangling open source in its crib, to Russia.

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Bill Gates and Hu Jintao, from CNews in RussiaMicrosoft has extended its cheap software for education plan, aimed at strangling open source in its crib, to Russia.

CNews, a Russian IT publication, reports Microsoft is working with Intel and a Russian charity on a plan to double the number of PCs in Russian schools, valuing the bundle of Windows XP and Microsoft Office at $3/copy.

The bundle, called the Microsoft Student Innovation Suite, also aims to make present illegal installations in schools legitimate for as little as $14/machine.

The plan is similar to one announced by Bill Gates in Beijing last April, where 90% of Windows copies are pirated. The picture, from CNews, is of Gates with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

CNews is frank in suggesting this was done to head off a Chinese Linux effort dubbed Red Flag Linux, and a similar effort in Russia.

It's hard for me to condemn any of this, however. Hardware is also being subsidized. There seems no requirement that open source not be run on the hardware. Schools are in desperate need of better computers.

What is clear is that, while no longer CEO or even chief software architect at Microsoft, Gates has become the company's Secretary of State, using his fame and personal wealth to open doors for the company that might otherwise be closed.

As CNews notes, Gates is received by members of the Chinese Politburo when he travels to China, and holds honorary titles with the capitol's two top colleges, Beijing University and Tsinghua University.

I personally think the issue here is the use of wealth and fame. Linux has no Bill Gates. Should it? And do you agree with me that what Microsoft is doing here is fair, even laudatory?

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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44 comments
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  • all is fair in love and war...make Windows open source or very cheap

    MS sounds a little desperate. Best way to compete against open source is on level-playing field: Make Windows open source or very cheap, as MS did in Russia. Also, make Windows have lighter footprint, as MS is doing with "MinWin" Windows kernel to compete with sleek Linux. OS vendors need to make Linux have friendlier UI and greater variety/more compatible device drivers.
    anonymous
  • Giving them away

    I've said for a long time now that MS would give away Windows and Office rather than allow Linux to get a foothold. It's got to be pretty scary for MS to see even people with paid-for retail Windows licenses choosing Linux. This may work to an extent with some desktop users but in the business World people are choosing Linux and it's not because of cost.
    Tim Patterson
    • I guess it all comes down to how it affects

      you, in the end I guess. Not you, by you I mean anyone. <br>
      People complain about the price of Windows being too high, now too low and on and on. I believe it's completely legal and fair to price your product for the given market. Common practice across many industries. <br>
      Can you produce the evidence that business is choosing Linux over Windows? I seriously doubt Microsoft is concerned over a very small minority of the overall population installing Linux over windows, as you would suggest. But the data on business would be good to look at cause other sources show Microsoft's overall market has grown, as the PC market on whole of course. At that point it's by how much vs. Linux vs. apple etc. <br>
      I know Windows Server 2003 has been trending upward, which means it's replacing Linux servers along the way, so I'm not sure what client those businesses are using. <br>
      People talk about windows vs. Linux (using Linux to mean all distros) so in that sense, Linux has had a free ride on the server side of things as the natural replacement for aging Unix systems which dominated the internet and big business for a long long time. So even to see MS servers breaking into a Linux stronghold like that up to 40% or so is quite amazing. <br>
      I'm not sure where this is all going but I'm glad Microsoft is holding on. I'm sure it will all collapse to completely gray shirt standard *x operating systems at some point once standards are pushed to the point where programming is no longer a science and an art, but just another standard, for every conceivable portion of it. The world will change dramatically and job shift will come into play. I actually think we'll lose jobs when that happens. <br>
      But when you dump free product on a market, eventually it's going to take hold. I think Microsoft has every right to give their software away, if that's what it takes, don't you? Why would linux vendors but not Microsoft? <br>
      Yes it would be interesting to see how many people would flock to a free windows. Linux has been free all along and it's still only at 2% of worldwide market or so. Something is not clicking there yet. Maybe it's the bad karma as the entire OSS movement as moved to corporate backing and greed. IBM and SUN and GOOGLE control the destiny of OSS more than the communities of developers and others do anymore. They are pushing Torvalds aside in terms of his ideals and right now "open source" has more financial backing than Microsoft. But then it's also controlled by that, and at some point when it becomes a choice more people start making, the world of money will swallow it up so fast you'll never know what hit it. It will just become part of the large corporation marketplace and no longer under control by the FSF or any other "organization" as to it's fate, how it will be implemented, updated or distributed.
      xuniL_z
      • Why are you not...

        Out there demanding that Microsoft sell you these amazing $3US windows licenses in the US as opposed to Russia?
        ego.sum.stig
        • What makes you think

          I'm not?
          xuniL_z
          • Mainly because...

            You have only shown yourself to be someone who is so totally plugged into the "One Microsoft Way" that you'd probably have a heart attack if you disconnected from your control cables. The truly sad thing is that Mike Cox is less verbose, possesses a much greater wit, and... has a rep. You're not even that cool.
            ego.sum.stig
          • Well, there you go.

            You have completely missed the mark on me. I'm not controlled by anything, I hold any loyalties, as I've said more than once, not to software but only to my country, family and friends and God. <br>
            not necessarily in that order. <br>
            I'm not trying to be a Mike Cox, but rather trying to keep people like you from twisting facts and telling half truths. <br>
            I am verbose at times, but it's your choice to read it or not, isn't it? <br>
            Not trying to be "cool" in the least. What even makes you think for a second that is my aim, or i'm trying to be like Mike Cox. <br>
            In terms of using parody, I think you'd be surprised what I, or most anyone, could produce given the desire. Mike Cox posts are quite dry witted, if you like that sort of thing, but I don't think he uses subtlties often enough, but rather obvious remarks that border on sarcasm.
            xuniL_z
      • While you could argue that MS is just competing

        The fact is that they are using their excess profits from markets where they have effective monopolies to try to build monopolies in these new markets. Nobody has the money that Microsoft has to throw around. This, I consider an abuse of their monopoly power. As long as they can overcharge you and I, they can continue to buy off the competition, or buy their way into new markets. They should charge the same everywhere, and should start by lowering prices in developed markets.
        jorjitop
        • I'm not arguing, that's just how industry

          works. The same can be said of many other companies in a varity of industries. It's perfectly fine to charge the "going rate" in any given locality. Don't try to say that is wrong. <br>
          OSS has been trying to steal market by DUMPING on established markets which is illegal in the U.S. as far as I'm aware. <br>
          As for your crazy notion that Microsoft has more money to work with....nonsense. OSS has the backing of the largest corporations in the world. IBM, Google, SUN, Amazon...the list goes on and on. Way more backing for it's OS specifically, than Microsoft. If they are not chipping in for these developing country situations, then OSS is getting a taste of why they probably shouldn't have depended on the IBMs of the world to save them from being totally extinguished. Google lifted Mozilla out of a place that was going virtually nowhere into a thriving organization with a browser that has marketshare. Mozilla didn't do that by themselves, don't even kid yourself for one minute. IBM has more to do with OSS adoption than the entire movement put together. Welcome to the world of corporate greed. OSS heads the pack.
          xuniL_z
      • A lot of Baloney

        You sure use a lot of words to say nothing.

        Of course you do add blah blah blah blah..............
        Ole Man
        • This from a guy

          who shrinks from the chance to explain his beliefs. What should one think when you do that? You are too good to answer, or perhaps something much more fundamental?
          xuniL_z
    • How long have you said it?

      They did the same thing about three years ago in Thailand. The government had an openly pro-Open Source stance, it's own version (LinuxTLE), Linux on almost every PC sold in stores, and an official government policy to convert to Open Source in five years.

      This was the situation which broke MS's classic "one price around the world" policy, starting the Windows Starter edition for a couple bucks US.

      MS came in and offered to blanket license all the pirated copies in schools and give away Win98 for free. The Thai gov't gladly accepted the offer. Six or so months later, MS announced that they were EOLing Win98. It didn't matter, though, because the momentum had already been killed. The next Minister of ITC gutted the Open Source policy completely.
      daengbo
  • Example of the problem with trusts

    This is a perfect example of the fundamental problem that anti-trust laws are intended to stop. The practice is called cutthroat pricing. I'm a big company and you're a small company. I'll cut my own throat by selling my product at a loss. If you want to sell YOUR product, you have to meet my price. Of course, you can't, so you go out of business. Because I'M a BIG business, you'll be dead before I "die". After all, I have "transfusions" of cash from other divisions. The end result is that the biggest companies, like IBM, Sony, etc., can totally dominate any field that doesn't have a mega-corporation player.

    Of course, these monopolists all try to portray themselves as benefactors by adding a few "freebies". The Columbian Cocaine cartel used to build hospitals and schools in the area where they grew their crop so the local populace would be supportive.

    The problem is that once they have killed off all their competition they can charge whatever they want and no one can do anything about it.

    Well, if the Democrats DO win the White House, maybe THIS time they'll start an antitrust suit against Microsoft soon enough that they won't have Republicans abdicate after already winning in court.
    Rick_R
  • Russians not being Russian

    The Russians missed the boat entirely on this one. They should have told Bill Gates that in order to keep his Operating System on their computers, it would cost Microsoft $20 a PC. Really, what's $3 compared to a future purchase at $100.

    Microsoft is dancing to "Staying Alive" and they've just added another step.
    kozmcrae
  • In the long run, it doesn't matter

    The fact that MS is basically going back in time to the place where they condoned piracy to gain/maintain marketshare, they are simply returning to that time by providing the legitimate version at cost (i.e. they don't want WGA blocking their use) which amounts to the same thing.

    There is a reason for this move, they are feeling the pressure from Linux and Apple. I'll say it again though, no matter how cheap you give something away, when you are competing with higher quality and free, it is simply a matter of time before you lose. Vista is mediocre quality, XP fully updates is decent quality, but Open Source gets better in every way, more applications probably following moore's law. XP is basically a dead end, deprecated OS (although still supported and sold, even with a new flagship OS available?!?).

    The key is, every way, every day, prevent anyone using an alternative. They can't help but slowly fail to halt the slide in windows usage.

    The story is not that MS can kill Open Source, it is that MS is fighting with the only tool left, drastic price cuts. Who would have predicted this 4 years ago? A better story, how long until the first and second world ask the obvious "Why are you charging us so much?".

    TripleII
    TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
    • Can't you just smell the lawsuits cooking...

      The good old price-gouging cases etc.

      It almost makes me want to say, "Doesn't the smell of lawyers cooking in the morning smell like... Victory?"
      ego.sum.stig
    • Who would have thought? This has come up

      in the past when the same controversy arose over sales in another developing region. The same 3 bucks a pop flap. <br>
      <br>
      I think you are right that competition will eventually eat into Microsoft's market and at some point we might even see parity...ah, good old fashioned parity...the breeder of mediocrity. <br>
      You really feel that linux distros are better than Vista? Vista is not the OS whose 3rd party vendors waited to write updated code you know. It's a solid OS and technologically sound. It's security has been declared better than OS X which was the defacto champion of security, no? <br>
      Based on what I've seen in terms of patches going out and functiionality and even just look and feel....your gang of merry men used to love the fisher price line, but look at Mandriva....my Son's vtech toy computer has a better looking GUI. Microsoft, due to it's age and many things such as it's rocketing to the top, has created a monolithic system. But Vista has a good deal of the ongoing task, which MS has great tools in their backpocket, of rewriting the OS and mapping out dependencies in such a way as to gain a smarter and smarter OS. At release of windows 7, the OS will be much smaller, perhaps not even just one OS, will be ready for the microkernel world that is overtaking the need for an OS altogether and will be able to detect any programs dependencies and exactly...precisely...tell how and if it will run on Windows and where any problems may lie with dependencies etc.
      <br>
      Vista is really a great OS. The people who you can tell mean it, and on other forums are starting to love it. 64 bit adoption is gaining steam and Microsoft has a bevy of great software surrounding it. SQL Server, Biztalk, Sharepoint.....and a killer Office system. Hey, go "free" all you want, nothing comes close to touching Office 2007 that exists on this planet right now. <br>
      Yep someday the gray suits will rule and all code will be standardized and mediocrity will be the rule, but until then I guess this is just stuff that goes on everyday in all other markets around the world. I know it's hard for many here to imagine, but there are other scenarios in other markets playing out with much greater significance than this.
      xuniL_z
      • Donkey

        "good old fashioned parity...the breeder of mediocrity."
        "64 bit adoption is gaining steam"

        So is electricity and rail travel.
        fr0thy
        • SPOT ON

          With fossil fuels being used up, the world is now in need of innovation and certainly electricity is being looked at to replace gas powered units in a very innovative way. Nice catch. Just like Vista is innovative. <br>
          Also, railways for the same reason are being looked at to reduce the amount of oil consumed by highways full of trucks only there for speed to market. The rails can save us considerable amounts of oil usage if used for more shipments and the world stop crying cause they can't have thier iPhone for 3 days instead of one. <br>
          I'm with you. Innovation breeds even more innovation and that is what Microsoft and Vista are all about. <br>
          Thanks for pointing that out with great examples.
          xuniL_z
          • You reminded me of a saying

            When you said "Innovation breeds even more innovation and that is what Microsoft and Vista are all about."

            You can't educate pork.
            fr0thy