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Microsoft Bends To Norwegian Pressure 117

Posted by kdawson
from the keeping-competitors-out dept.
Martin writes "Microsoft has agreed to change the terms of its school agreement contract with Norwegian regional municipalities, following a complaint by Norwegian open-source software company Linpro to the Norwegian Competition Authority. Microsoft 'introduced two kinds of flexibility in the agreement, that were previously missing,' the head of the company's Norway operations said. One of these 'kinds of flexibility' involved Microsoft not getting paid a license fee for each Linux and Mac computer in schools."
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Microsoft Bends To Norwegian Pressure

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  • I don't understand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rumith (983060) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @05:29AM (#19539345)
    How can one demand license fees for something they don't have the right to license in the first place (in case of Mac OS X, which AFAIK does not allow redistribution)?
    • by dsanfte (443781) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @05:36AM (#19539385) Journal
      Easy, offer a huge up-front discount to the schools and sneak it into the contract. People who think they're getting a deal of a lifetime tend not to look too closely at the fine print (gifthorses and all that).
      • Not exactly. (Score:5, Informative)

        by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:59AM (#19540911)
        There's no "sneaking" involved. It's clearly stated. EVERY machine you have MUST be counted when calculating the license fee.

        No matter what runs on that machine.

        Or how old it is.

        Or what it does.

        If you do not want to go with the Microsoft contract, you may purchase retail versions of Windows for each machine. And hope that you're fully compliant. Because the fines for piracy are far more than the cost of just paying Microsoft for every single box you have no matter what.
        • by iamacat (583406)
          The complaint is coming from a Linux vendor, not from the customer. The merit is that such contracts are only possible for a company in overwhelmingly dominant market position - and it perpetuates such dominance by making the price to install Windows "0" as opposed to real cost of a competitors offer. Such practices have to be outlawed if we want a real capitalist economy with many companies competing with each other on price and innovation rather than a "country within a country" monopoly completely regula
    • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <{elmuerte} {at} {drunksnipers.com}> on Sunday June 17, 2007 @05:37AM (#19539389) Homepage
      Are you new?
      Companies have been doing that a lot and for quite some time.
      Its not just Microsoft, other example include SCO, MPAA, RIAA, News Corp, ... the list goes on.
      They simply do it as long as they can get away with it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by magores (208594)
        Its not just Microsoft, other example include SCO, MPAA, RIAA, News Corp, ...

        Search: Definition: "Low-hanging fruit"
    • by badfish99 (826052) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @05:42AM (#19539411)
      It's not a fee for distributing OS/X; it's a fee per machine.

      The usual licensing terms that Microsoft force on OEMs are that Microsoft must be paid a fee per machine sold, regardless of whether it has Windows installed on it or not. Of course the idea of this is to encourage OEMs to install Windows on every machine they sell, because they can't make a saving from not doing so. If you try to negotiate a "per copy of Windows" price instead of a "per machine" price, the licensing cost goes up to the retail cost, which is deliberately inflated to make it uneconomic.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Consider this... almost nobody has actually gone to the store and bought a copy of Windows.
      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Sunday June 17, 2007 @06:04AM (#19539501) Journal
        almost nobody has actually gone to the store and bought a copy of Windows.

        It's not about individuals buying Windows off the shelf. It's about keeping the big boxshifters (Dell et al) on the Windows treadmill.

        A local grey-box assembler in Australia pays about AU$210 wholesale for an OEM copy of Vista Business. Dell pays about AU$40 for the same thing. When a basic business-capable computer can be put together for about AU$800, that difference in the MS tax between the two businesses is what's keeping Dell alive.

        Dell's selling Linux boxes now, because most of the grey-box builders offer cheap computers with Ubuntu installed, and they don't want to be left behind. But you can bet your bottom dollar they'll be shitting bricks at the thought of having to compete without that MS built buffer.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by r_jensen11 (598210)

          Dell's selling Linux boxes now, because most of the grey-box builders offer cheap computers with Ubuntu installed, and they don't want to be left behind. But you can bet your bottom dollar they'll be shitting bricks at the thought of having to compete without that MS built buffer.

          Funny, I always thought that by offering Ubuntu in addition to the unadvertised Redhat, that Dell would be trying to hold onto its current corporate customers and attract new corporate customers that are currently using Windows and will continue to use Windows for a little while, just in case this 'Linux thing' 'ever takes off*'.

          *We can debate whether or not Linux has already taken off, but from the corporate perspective, it's still a backend thing because most of their mission-critical desktop applicat

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Thrip (994947)

        Consider this... almost nobody has actually gone to the store and bought a copy of Windows.
        Cite please? They seem to have a lot of boxes of Windows at my local computer store -- I doubt they'd waste the shelf space if no one was buying it.
        I've been primarily using Linux for 9 years, but I personally have bought 2 copies of Windows at the store (one for my wife, one for me, in both cases because we had contract work that required it).
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Firethorn (177587)
          There's always the grocery store shelf possibility - Microsoft paid to have a big display.

          Otherwise, I haven't ever noticed them getting a lot of shelf space - in the stores I frequent it's usually one shelf, down at the bottom, that has Windows,WinPro, Office, and Office Pro. Around the beginning of the year there's a big display with MS Money and Quicken competing.
    • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @05:45AM (#19539429)
      They're aren't licensing Linux or OS X to you, they just want money for every computer, which is two different things.... (yes, I agree it's pretty greedy and underhanded)...
      • a better option for the school would be to hold the line on the blanket contract and allow installing of Parallels or Wine on everything! If Microsoft is requiring license for all the computers, then their software should run on all the computers if technologically possible. In most European countries, they don't hold to the same licensing loopholes the USA does.. tying your software to a particular OS install is definately one thing would be fun to see made null in court.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The article is not very clear, but I think the schools paid for site licences and now they will have a discount based on the number of computers on site not using MS software
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      ...the same way that a company can demand royalties on a product it contributed NOTHING to. I thank Norway for taking a stand against this kind of stupidity, and hope for a day when the US will.
      • by IdleTime (561841) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:45AM (#19540837) Journal
        As a Norwegian who has lived and worked in USA for a decade, it's still a mystery to me why American laws are protecting the companies and not the people. This is just a result of the consumer protection laws and laws regulating what a company can or can not do.

        To the government of Norway, people are the important ones.

        Here in the USA the companies can do almost anything they want and you as a consumer is getting bent over and raped over and over again and all you do, is to say "Thank you! One more time please!" What the fuck is wrong with you?
        • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @11:12AM (#19541069)
          It is the result of the neoconservative movement. Anyone who speaks out for consumer rights or against ruthless business practices is labeled as some kind of extreme left communist, and here in America, that is considered to be a bad thing. In fact, under the current administration, being labeled a "liberal" is a bad thing. And unfortunately, not only do consumers wind up losing, but engineers and programmers also end up losing because of software patents and large monopolies like Microsoft (God forbid we should ever say that a business is too big).
          • by IdleTime (561841) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @05:10PM (#19544003) Journal
            And yest, the average American thumps themselves on the chest and proclaim with great bravado "We are #1!'. And when you try to tell them, no, not really, you are more like 23-27 on all rankings and your citizens are treated like shit. Seeing the disaster that ensued after Katrina made me think what would have happened if such a thing had happened back home. The government would have put in any form ogf help possible including the military, It would have been a huge lift of help and the people cared for and a huge rebuilding project would have followed with one single goal, to get people back into better homes and built levies that could have withstand the strongest possible hurricane.

            The worst part about the US society is that people are apathetic. As long as they get their Tv shows and celebrity news along with a healthy dose of bullshit about USA #1, they are happy. And they don't even have the imagination to think that people in other countries are better off.

            The real funny part is that many Americans I have discussed with consider the Scandinavian countries to be socialistic but fail to realize that we have as many billionaires per capita as USA does, I even think Sweden has more per capita. Not to mention that even we have a national health care system, most of the players are private and not government run. And they make good money too. My experience is that Americans are socially dumber than Europeans and have been so brainwashed that they can not believe how bad the US society is.
            • by notwrong (620413)

              You make some good points, but given everything you say, why do you choose to live and work in the USA?

              I'm not particularly pro-USA. I haven't even been there in the best part of a decade. I do think there are some things they do well or have done well though. The culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is richer and stronger than in many places in the world. Their democracy has been, and in spite of recent setbacks and policy mis-steps, still is, a big net positive for the world, IMO. The USA has the

              • by IdleTime (561841)
                I live here mostly for the following reasons:
                1. My company asked me to move here due to my skills.
                2. Climate. I've lived too long in cold climate
                3. Interest in space. I live not far from Kennedy Space Center and can watch the launches from my house.
                4. Golf. I have around 150 18-hole courses within 1- 1.5 hours drive And I can play year around.
                5. Latin women! I just love them, nuff said...
            • by seanellis (302682)
              Have you just been reading "The Sheep Look Up" by John Brunner?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gregorio (520049)

      How can one demand license fees for something they don't have the right to license in the first place (in case of Mac OS X, which AFAIK does not allow redistribution)?

      It's a per-machine distribution, as others already mentioned. The thing is, they will give you an extra discount on every single license, for two reasons:

      1. You're buying more of the same item. Even if you're not using, you're still buying it.
      2. You're lowering their licensing audit costs, as all they need to do is count the machines instead of
    • by turing_m (1030530) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:38AM (#19540447)
      Ever heard of the "South Improvement Company"?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Oil [wikipedia.org]

      "Smaller companies decried the deals as being unfair because they were not producing enough oil to qualify for discounts. In 1872, Rockefeller joined the South Improvement Company which would have allowed him to receive rebates for shipping oil but also to receive drawbacks on oil his competitors shipped. When word got out of this arrangement, competitors convinced the Pennsylvania Legislature to revoke South Improvement's charter. No oil was ever shipped under this arrangement."

      This is a minor modification of Standard Oil's drawback, except it works on your customers as opposed to a company supplying you a service. The basic idea is to use your monopoly power to force another business entity to give you money every time they do business with one of your competitors.
    • by AlHunt (982887)
      I don't mind MS demanding anything they want. I wonder more about the people who agree to *pay*.
  • by Shohat (959481) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @06:10AM (#19539521) Homepage
    As someone already pointed out, there is a per-machine fee charged by Microsoft, mainly due to the way licences are sold in volumes to OEMs (per machine, not per copy).
    It would be very interesting to see the implications of forcing Microsoft to move away from this kind of licensing, and present numbers based on the actual Windows copy installations instead of OEM per-machine licensing numbers. While it won't change the market much and the actual number of copies installed, the updated numbers could very well indicate a market share lower than 85% for Windows.
    Just my 2c. I might be horribly wrong :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by suv4x4 (956391)
      As someone already pointed out, there is a per-machine fee charged by Microsoft, mainly due to the way licences are sold in volumes to OEMs (per machine, not per copy).
      It would be very interesting to see the implications of forcing Microsoft to move away from this kind of licensing, and present numbers based on the actual Windows copy installations instead of OEM per-machine licensing numbers. While it won't change the market much and the actual number of copies installed, the updated numbers could very wel
  • Schools (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pe1chl (90186) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @06:54AM (#19539695)
    Of course what makes this even more sensitive is that it is about schools.
    Microsoft know very well that when they issue a contract with schools to use their software, and they can sneak in the clause that no other software than theirs can be (factually or economically) used by those schools, they can almost give away their software and still make huge profits.

    After all, the pupils coming out of those schools are pre-programmed to accept only Microsoft software. They don't even know there are alternatives.
    When they are employed somewhere, and they find Linux or OpenOffice, they claim "I have to be trained to work with this", and the employers are faces with training costs to use open software that they don't need to spend when Microsoft software is used.

    This is put on the "cost of ownership" balance, and as training and other costs involving man-hours are often more expensive than software licenses, the balance quickly tips towards using Microsoft.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If an employee can't sit down at an office application and figure out the basics in 10 minutes, they're not computer literate.

      CAD and 3d applications require training, word processors do not.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pe1chl (90186)
        Unfortunately, this widepread opinion leads to very ineffective use of office applications. You can just as well give your employees Wordpad.

        Furthermore, in many businesses employees are not selected on being computer literate. It is assumed that everyone can use a computer.
        When Microsoft can twist the school system so that all young people are "Microsoft literate" instead of "computer literate", that has a very big effect on their future business and the viability of using alternative software.
        • Re:Schools (Score:4, Informative)

          by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:17AM (#19539991)
          [This views and opinions in this post are not necessarily reflective of the views and opinions of my employer]

          No, it has an impact on the opinion of those students about software. When I started working at Red Hat, the "non-technical" employees were given a brief, 2 hour tutorial in how to use GNOME and OOo. They must be doing all right, because as far as I know they are still employed. The reason is simple: schools don't teach people the details of how to use office suites. In high school, such things were not considered relevant to the curriculum, and in college, such things were expected to have been learned in high school. Microsoft knows that it is just a question of exposure, and the way people think about their computer. How often do you hear the word "powerpoint" used as a synonym for "presentation" or "slideshow?" I've heard people refer to a presentation created in OOo, in OpenDocument format, refer to it as a "powerpoint."

          Very few people even know how to use the features of MS Office that would necessitate some level of retraining in OOo. Very people even need those features -- most people just use a word processor (I know, everyone is queuing up the, "you obviously haven't been in the workplace very" comments, to which I reply: you obviously haven't been outside your line of work much) and a presentation creator. Spreadsheets are about the only thing where the incompatibility becomes noticeable, and even then, a 10 minute tutorial on where each button is would suffice for most people. The fact of the matter is, most people are not power users, and this is no more true today than it was 30 years ago. Most people just don't know about the powerful features their software offers them.

          • by pe1chl (90186)
            The people working at Red Hat probably are not a good representation of the average worker. And the management probably is looking at employee comments about Windows and Office a bit differently.

            Where I work, the average worker is specialized on alpha sciences and other nontechnical things, and they use Word to write a letter or report. Some of them are freelancers hired at an hourly rate.
            A few years ago we tried to switch to OOo. While it is true that at that time there were some minor problems, the mai
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jbengt (874751)
            ". . . schools don't teach people the details of how to use office suites."
            Unfortunately, this is not true.
            When I was in school, we still used typewriters, and calculators were just replacing slide rules.
            But my youngest has had to submit her homework as MS Word .docs and MS Powerpoints in middle school and high school.
            And my middle child has taken a for-credit "computer" class in the local college which only taught basic MS Office usage.
            At least my oldest, who is in graduate school going for a PhD in comput
            • by pe1chl (90186)
              But my youngest has had to submit her homework as MS Word .docs and MS Powerpoints in middle school and high school.

              This unfortunately is how it starts. They are not required to submit their homework "done in a wordprocessor", but "done in MS Word".
              I have heard this discussion before. "I need a copy of MS Word". why? "because I have to use it for school". Can't you use OpenOffice.org? "No, we have to use MS Word!".
              That inconvenience is usually solved with piracy, but MS will not be worried because whe
              • That inconvenience is usually solved with piracy,
                 
                I would be more inclined to solve that inconvenience with a visit/discussion to the teacher, followed by the prinicpal, and followed by the school board (as necessary).
                 
                Are they teaching your kid how to use a computer, or just how to push magic and mysterious buttons?
        • Wordpad (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jbengt (874751)
          "You can just as well give your employees Wordpad."
          Please do. Wordpad is a decent program, much better than MS Word, unless you need some of the feature bloat, in which case Worperfect is better.
          Still I prefer Gedit for most things.
        • You can just as well give your employees Wordpad.
           
          If they can do their job using no more than Wordpad, if Wordpad is adequate for their requirements, then why would they require more?
           
          If I am hired to do a job that requires the use of a shovel, I wouldn't expect the company to provide me with a backhoe.
  • by rwyoder (759998) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @07:39AM (#19539837)
    From 1991-1993 I worked for a large PC builder. While there, I learned we had signed a contract that paid M$ a fee for pre-installing a M$ OS on every machine we shipped...including the ones shipped with Novell, SCO Unix, Banyon Vines, and no OS at all. When I asked "Why the hell did we sign a contract like that???", the answer was: "Because they told us to take it or leave it." We couldn't have been competitive w/o being able to ship with M$ OS's pre-installed, and M$ knew it. So obviously, nothing has changed in M$'s behavior in the last 15 years.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What if you have two companies: one that signs the MS OEM agreement and one that doesn't. Your company then "subcontracts" from these two arms as many products required.

      You may actually get away with merely calling them different NAMES and not full companies...
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:20AM (#19540007)
    Furthermore, schools were licenced by Microsoft for the total number of computers, regardless of the operating system or software used.

    Isn't that similar to the illegal per-processor licensing scheme [usdoj.gov] that Microsoft was doing over a decade ago?

  • I understand what the contract means - regardless of the OS you run, your going to pay a windows license for the box (even if it is running mac osx).

    What i dont understand is how that is legal ANYWHERE in the world. How many govt types must MS own in the USA in order to get away with that? Thats just criminal behavior - akin to a mafia protection racket.. ok, so im exaggerating but not by a long stretch.

    Can you imagine bridgestone knocking on your door one day demanding a "car type license" for your dunlop-
    • by jp10558 (748604)
      Not true. Enterprise MS licensing is Upgrade license only. That is, you cannot get XP Pro VLK or Vista Enterprise except as an upgrade SKU, which means to be legal, you must have a qualifying existing license to upgrade from. So of course, luckily your OEM XP Pro or Vista Business qualifys.

      But you still have to buy OEM licenses. This was described to me at Work by our DELL licensing representative and by Microsoft employees who gave a presentation on Vista...
  • ... and make them pay back to the funds they collected for property they do not own.

    Hmm, Wouldn't this fall under Piracy - as mentioned http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/06/17/00 9218 [slashdot.org]

    Certainly this is an act of consumer fraud and thieft.
  • This is one of the stories when I decide not to read Slashdot ever again. Everybody hates MS regardless what they do - and everybody praises Linux and co, regardless what they do. There are a few original ideas in the comments, but very few...
    • by Ash-Fox (726320) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @12:22PM (#19541529)

      This is one of the stories when I decide not to read Slashdot ever again. Everybody hates MS regardless what they do - and everybody praises Linux and co, regardless what they do. There are a few original ideas in the comments, but very few...
      Well, I for one love Microsoft for making deals like making people pay a Windows license for every computer, be it Mac, Linux or even BSD machine -- despite the fact they won't be running Windows.
    • by stony3k (709718)
      Microsoft was caught doing something illegal - obviously they'll get bashed for this. I don't see anything wrong with that. Just like Apple got bashed (in spite of the fanbois) for the problems with Safari for Windows.
    • 'This is one of the stories when I decide not to read Slashdot ever again.'

      Ya, last I heard it was as tough to give up as smoking.
  • Ironic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CptPicard (680154) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @11:44AM (#19541289)
    Got to love it when a country that supposedly has one of these competition-stifling, bureaucracy-laden welfare states actually has a government agency that cares for maintaining a genuine competitive environment for corporations, not only for wage-earning people... :-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Got to love it when a country that supposedly has one of these competition-stifling, bureaucracy-laden welfare states ...

      Good to see we surprise you :)
      I must live in a different Norway than the one you've heard of. We're only doing what all sane countries should, smack down on corporate BS when it threatens healthy competition. Our system is in place to ensure fair competition, not to "stifle it". It works very well, and discourages dirty business practices.

      • by CptPicard (680154)
        I'm Finnish... and was being tongue in cheek. There are certain stereotypes across the Atlantic about the Nordic style of government :-)

        I must admit that the Conservative element of our brand new centre-right government worries me in these regards; they are so eager to suck up to Americans that I'm sure they'd be willing to totally sell the farm in order to get a pat on the head from Microsoft... the parliament is unfortunately rather incompetent in technical matters, and with ideological bias thrown in, I'
  • Stand by for a massage from the Swedish Prime Minister.
  • Such a deal! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @02:41PM (#19542665) Homepage

    From now on, schools will only be licensed for PCs actually using Microsoft software,

    And people wonder why I set up my latest business venture on a non-Microsoft platform. It's bad enough trying to deal with quarterly taxes, reporting, regulators...why would I want to add another profit leech to that mix?

  • Isn't it amazing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:04PM (#19545585)
    how it falls to an opensource software company to spot that the government would be paying licences for every computer, windows or not?
    It makes you wonder why the government and/or educational bodies themselves didn't say anything about such an obvious ploy.

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