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Microsoft Pushes Windows To Battle Linux In Africa 248

Posted by timothy
from the roll-the-windows-down-if-it-gets-hot dept.
ThousandStars writes "According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft has been making a concerted effort to promote Windows in Africa, pushing Windows over Linux in very poor countries that haven't been locked into a single operating system. From the article: 'To that end, it has established a presence in 13 countries, donated Windows for thousands of school computers, and funded programs for entrepreneurs and the young. It also has used aggressive business tactics, some aimed at its biggest threat in the region: Linux ...'"
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Microsoft Pushes Windows To Battle Linux In Africa

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  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @11:59AM (#25542291) Homepage Journal
    Hmm, that's a hell of a lot of chutzpah from Microsoft. Perhaps they should do a little research into the origin of the word Ubuntu [wikipedia.org].
  • Mandriva in Nigeria (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AdamWill (604569) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:22PM (#25542633) Homepage

    Later on, the article covers the Mandriva / Microsoft in Nigeria battle that was covered here before:

    "TSC approached Mandriva SA, a French company that sells a Linux version. Believing Microsoft had offered its $3 package, Mandriva proposed a $3 price for a Linux operating system, plus about $2 for other software, say people familiar with the situation. In August 2007, TSC issued a purchase order for Mandriva Linux, and the laptop's Taiwanese manufacturer began loading it.

    Microsoft continued to push Windows. It offered its XP and Office software for about $45 per machine, says Nyimbi Odero, then TSC's chief executive.

    Mr. Odero says Microsoft wanted TSC to delete Linux from the initial shipments of Classmates. He says Microsoft proposed a way to "make it worth your while" through a joint-marketing agreement. According to a draft agreement Microsoft sent to TSC last Sept. 13, Microsoft would pay TSC to fund "certain marketing activities to encourage the sale and distribution" of Microsoft products. Mr. Odero says Microsoft made it clear that TSC wouldn't really be expected to market the products, but could keep the money as an incentive to replace Linux with Windows."

    (for anyone who doesn't know, I work for Mandriva).

  • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:26PM (#25542705)
    What is it with people thinking that what the 3rd world needs are computers? What they need is clean water, learn better agriculture, and to get an education that will allow them to live a better life.

    What is it with people like you? Have you been there? no!

    The reason for poverty is not lack of resources, it is lack of a legal structure that delivers contract enforcement. This means that it is impossible to ahve organisations bigger than a small family with any degree of confidence, except by the use of force.

    This is a cultural problem. (Helped immensely by the spread of Christianity and democracy).

    Computers are immensely powerful in the 3rd world becausee the enable family-sized organisations to do massively bigger projects.

  • Re: p00r Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:30PM (#25542829) Journal

    Well in this case, Africa might be just one of those places. I mean ,what is MS going to do? Give away Windows licenses for free, and throw in Vista-capable PC's as well? (sorry, didn't read the TFA).

    What is MS going to do? Bribe high-ranking government officials, that's what. Sorry to say this, but I think MS is going to have a very easy time in most african countries, to have Linux replaced by MS in all schools and government institutions.

  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Locutus (9039) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:39PM (#25542985)

    but they are now willing to pay millions going after a market so poor they have little to no computer infrastructure. THAT is somewhat new to them. Typically, the left these markets alone and dumped billions into marketing to markets where there was a support system and more of a chance of an ROI out 5 years but probably under 10 years.

    Sub-Saharan Africa? They're probably looking out 20+ years if even that. But mostly, I think what they are doing is blocking as many public successes of GNU/Linux in these areas. Did you notice how quick they got on the anti-OLPC marketing campaign? They dumped $25 million into Egypt alone so that they'd be a Windows-only government and there are dozens more around the world.

    So this is somewhat new for them and it's probably costing them something close to $1 billion annually in these marketing/services/training/etc "partnerships". All to keep GNU/Linux from finding a home in a hut or two in areas like sub-Saharan Africa. IMO

    LoB

  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:46PM (#25543121)

    Hmm. I use both Powershell and bash, and Powershell is rather good ; easier to use than bash in many respects.

    It does have it's downfalls ; because it's primary design is to pass objects and not bytestreams down the pipeline, getting the output formatted exactly how you want it can end up with you writing a little more code than you wanted, if you have strict format requirements.

    While *nix does have shells that can use objects (because they are Python flavoured), it doesn't have anything quite like Powershell. IMHO the syntax is easier to grok than bash, and you don't have to learn at least one text-processing language (sed, grep, awk) to make it useful[1][2], because the data you want is most often accessible as a property.

    I find *nix to be a far more flexible and powerful operating system than Windows, it beats it on plenty of criteria, but Powershell is not one of them.

    [1] although regular expressions are useful to learn, as they are for most shells.
    [2] .NET programmers in particular can leverage their existing knowledge of the .NET APIs

  • by the_womble (580291) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:50PM (#25543167) Homepage Journal

    I have yet to see Linux platform DELIVER ANYTHING the entire world wants to use, in an easy to manage, easy to interact with format. I tried installing redhat a few times back in the 90s and after banging my head a few times to actually get it working I thought to myself "Oh. Sweet. Free Civ and data management I DONT NEED."

    The 90s? That is relevant how? It is about as useful as my telling you that Mandriva 2009 is much better than Windows 3.1. What is relevant is how current Linux versions compare to current Windows versions.

    There is a lot of software for Linux, and obtainning and installing it is much easier and faster than for Windows.

    I guess what Im really saying is, most Linux/open source advocates do it for the rebellion not because they have a better product to promote

    Wrong. Most Linux users use it because they think it is better. Those who want to use open source have good motives to do so (avoiding lock in, auditable security). The biggest advantages of Linux are that it is easy, and that it is flexible. All your software is managed an upgraded using a single GUI interface, some distros can even do major version upgrade with a few mouse clicks - try upgrading from XP to Vista that way!

    As for the flexibility you can get distros for geeks (Gentoo, Slack, Arch), normal users desktops (Ubuntu, Mandriva, SuSe), servers (Debian, Red Hat), old hardware (Puppy, Damn Small Linux).

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:50PM (#25543179)

    As a (primarily) Linux user myself, my best advice to you is that you shouldn't use Linux unless you can think of a reason to do so.

    But please do not tar those of us who do use it as "rebels". I myself work for a telecoms company where Linux has "swept the floor" as the core OS for most of the telephony products that we sell. No, it hasn't particularly displaced Windows in doing so, more the commercial UNIXes like Solaris and HP-UX and, if anything, we use Windows to handle most of the client-side stuff for integration into corporate networks.

    But please don't pretend to have any understanding of why people like me use Linux as their primary OS at home because your comments show your ignorance. I fully accept that Linux lacks a lot of the Adobe-type applications and other things that a lot of existing Windows people currently want to use but please remember that it is not Linux's fault that is the case - rather the Adobes of the world who just haven't decided to port those apps across as of yet.

    However, for most users like me who just do a bit of photo and graphics work, The GIMP more than suffices. Likewise, I need to do a few relatively straightforward spreadsheets, documents and presentations so OpenOffice is good enough for me. Plus I'm a shell and PERL monkey so I have access to tremendous automation power at the Linux shell prompt which, even if I wanted to do something similar in Windows, would need a steep learning curve with VB, DotNet or something else, assuming it was even possible.

    I also like gaming and there's plenty of Linux games that I play, thanks mostly to the Open Sourcing of games engines like Doom and Quake. Yes, I keep XP around to play some more modern stuff (and because sometimes I need MS Office also) but even if you look at my XP machines, you'll see most of the tools I use are OSS or free ones like Firefox, OpenOffice, PuTTY, WinSCP, The GIMP, Irfanview, ImgBurn, etc. etc.

    Unfortunately, you've made two very obtuse comments which only serve to highlight your total lack of Linux knowledge:

    1. Linux is a lot more mature now than the last time you installed it during the 90s (just like Windows XP is a much better OS than Windows 95 and 98 were), and

    2. Linux is really just the kernel and most of the other nice useful bits that go into an average Linux distro also happen to have Windows ports as well - so choosing not to use free software on the basis that "if it was good you could sell it" is just doing yourself a dis-service, no-one else.

    Yes, I'd love to be in a situation where one OS could do everything I needed to do but the fact is neither Linux or Windows fit that requirement at this moment in time. However, because I'm not a zealot and prefer just to use the "right tool for the job", I really don't give a toss whether an application needs Linux or Windows to run - I just get on and use whatever I need to when I need to, satisfied in the knowledge that most of the stuff I use is truly free to use, and the commercial software I use is fully licensed.

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:58PM (#25543319)

    Looking at some Microsoft dlls you can see they're signed by Thawt which is the company Mark Shuttleworth sold for millions, so in a round-a-bout kind of way Microsoft funded the ability for Mark to start Ubuntu which is now competing with Microsoft in Africa. Woops.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:39PM (#25544013)

    Oh dear!

    Another one that thinks e everyone outside the US border is a "Mexican" that rides in mules and lives in mud huts; and that in Africa all you find is illiterate, half naked aborigines that can be dazzled with a mirror and bought with plastic beads.

    There are cities in Africa, did you know that? Yes, that's right, cities with buildings made of steel and glass, with paved roads and cars rolling on them.
    And there are a lot of intelligent people in Africa, who run big business and companies. Hey! Even a maker of a Linux distro is African! Can you imagine that? No? Have you heard of Ubuntu?

    Yes, there are many extremely poor zones in Africa too, where people live in infra-human conditions and can't even read and write. But those areas are not the one getting computers and Windows. Do you think Microsoft really wants to "help with the education of African children"? MS is pushing Windows on urban schools where Linux is a reality, because there is where their target "market" is.

    So yes, maybe the schools could sell the Windows licenses on e-bay, but then they could use the money to buy, I don't know, maybe MORE COMPUTERS? They don't really need the money to buy toilet paper and hire instructors to teach the children how to use it. Your post may be well meaning, but it's insulting.

    Now, the parent is modded insightful, and I'm sure I'll be modded troll, but I don't care. I needed to get this out.

  • by cmacb (547347) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:50PM (#25544247) Homepage Journal

    In the event you are actually ignorant and not just trying to pick a fight, I can assure you that as someone who hasn't run Windows in several years, and does most of his computing on Linux (along with OS X on a laptop), I am not doing so out of any sense of "rebellion", although I don't see anything wrong with that mindset under certain circumstances.

    If your primary reason for using a computer is to play games, you certainly should just stay with Windows. If I wanted to play games I think I'd rather have one of those thing you hook up to your TV.

    I used to support Windows users for a living, and before that OS/2 users and before than DOS users and before that mainframe users.

    I used to be quite a fan of Windows because it ran on several hardware platforms, was fairly fast, had a reasonable feature set. Interestingly enough, Linux does all that now, and Windows does not. So you see it is Windows (or Microsoft) that rebelled against me when they decided only to support Intel boxes, allowed the code to get bloated, buggy and slow. If you like being forced to buy a new computer every few years just to get the OS to boot in a reasonable amount of time, then by all means go ahead and do that. Not only are you having to pay, in most cases, full price to get the latest version of Windows (over the years MS hasn't been able to make up its mind regarding upgrade-only versions of Windows, but as I understand it these days it's better to go with the full release) but you are also required usually to get a whole new computer as your old one is maxed out on memory that is no longer easily available etc. Again, for gaming, having the fastest processor, and the mos memory, fastest bus, etc. are all important for running the game, regardless of your OS. For ordinary web browsing, light office work, photo-shop type stuff, my vintage 2000 machine does quite well. In fact, when Windows users see me on it they ask how I got it to be so fast. I am quite sure that if I tried to run Windows on this machine it would be a very frustrating experience.

    Also, I'm not running Linux because it is "free". I purchased my first few versions of Linux in the form of Red Hat and Suse. Eventually found I liked Debian better (even purely for desktop use) and so I settled on it. Of course it's nice not to have to pay for your OS, but even if each major release of Debian cost as much as Windows I'd still be coming out way ahead both in terms of the hardware I'd need to run it and in terms of time wasted on virus scanning, defragging, cleaning my registry and of course mandatory upgrades. Of course if you are paying $3 for it in Africa, maybe you don't mind all the overhead. I'm sure those people paying $3 are getting full telephone support from Microsoft for that too.

  • by paniq (833972) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @05:04PM (#25547357) Homepage
    Foremost, I have to say that I enjoy chinese philosophy a big deal. In that spirit, let me formulate it that way: I see Linux as the air or water of operating systems. Sure you can bottle it, make it popular and sell it for a price, but you will always have to compete with what is available for free.

    Linux can, in this regard, never win. Have you ever seen water winning? As a businessman, I can always prey on the naivety of the uneducated, and make them believe that my bottled water is better than what comes out of their tap - and in some cases that may surely be the case.

    Still, Linux will survive every operating system that exists and will exist in the marketplace. On the one hand you have labels and trademars. On the other hand you have a free platform that is always there if none of the other options seem to be feasible.

    As long as there is a need for operating systems, its development may stagnate, but it will never end. Linux may change shape, name and direction, but it is impossible to defeat, just as it is impossible to destroy water.

    So, please, do not worry too much about what these silly businessmen are doing. Persistence, attention, openness and honesty are key to success here. Microsoft may have a few more years, we have centuries.
  • Re:Wait... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @06:01PM (#25548075)

    but they are now willing to pay millions going after a market so poor they have little to no computer infrastructure. THAT is somewhat new to them. Typically, the left these markets alone and dumped billions into marketing to markets where there was a support system and more of a chance of an ROI out 5 years but probably under 10 years.

    Sub-Saharan Africa? They're probably looking out 20+ years if even that. But mostly, I think what they are doing is blocking as many public successes of GNU/Linux in these areas. Did you notice how quick they got on the anti-OLPC marketing campaign? They dumped $25 million into Egypt alone so that they'd be a Windows-only government and there are dozens more around the world.

    So this is somewhat new for them and it's probably costing them something close to $1 billion annually in these marketing/services/training/etc "partnerships". All to keep GNU/Linux from finding a home in a hut or two in areas like sub-Saharan Africa. IMO

    LoB

    You have completely missed the idea.

    When I pitched this to MS's director of security at a conference I told him that MS has to do it and why.

    It is not about making making money from places with no money. That would be foolish. If you want to do that you can give Windows OSs to elephant seals, they also have no money.

    It is about making sure that places without money are rich locations for remote labor. Having no money makes you very cheap.

    The thing is that if all these people learn is Linux how do you outsource Windows support to them? Now if you have them learning Windows from childhood then you can outsource to them just fine.

    This keeps support for MS operating systems cheap long into the future. This is a sales point for the OS when selling it to people who do have money. Remember India is already out sourcing. This is just prepping a new remote labor location for 10-20 years from now. It is called thinking ahead.

    American jobs? Bah, as consoles become more popular we will be less qualified for our jobs then the people who have no money. Besides it is about profit not patriotic job preservation.

    Yeah, I think Anon is the way to go with this post. Less death threats that way.

    Yes, Darth Vader was my child hood hero.

  • MicroNestle (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @04:12AM (#25551971)

    Kinda reminds me of the story of Nestle giving free samples of baby formula in poor 3rd world countries ("it's much more modern, scientific and better for your child than breast milk"), and once the mothers' breast milk dried up, they couldn't necessarily afford the expensive formula, resulting in starving children.

    Microsoft, you baby-killers!

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