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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 cat_jesus (525334) <cat_jesus@hotmail.com> on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @11:51AM (#25542155)
    The first hit is always free.
    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:01PM (#25542305)

      Actually, I thought, "Wow, good old colonialism, just like the Opium Wars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_wars)!"

      Move into a developing country, and get the masses addicted to something that only you can provide.

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        are you saying that there will be no software piracy in Africa?

        I suppose, like China, MS will be sending all its lawyers in to enforce software copyrights... eventually.

      • by risk one (1013529)

        Can't blame them going for Africa. Those three extra armies at the beginning of every can come in really handy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And then you end up addicted to freedom and all you can play is tux racer.

    • I've heard that for years but have never seen it in practice.
      Dealers seem content to charge noobs and repeat customers.

      A better analogy would be an interest only adjustable rate mortgage.
      It starts off cheap then progresses to indentured servitude, and it's all perfectly legal.

  • by Eg0Death (1282452) * on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @11:51AM (#25542157)
    Is it possible to read the entire story without subscribing to the Wall Street Journal? How am I supposed to RTFA if I don't have a subscription?
    • by argent (18001) <peter@slashdot.2 ... com minus physic> on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @11:52AM (#25542171) Homepage Journal

      It's Microsoft, nobody expects you to RTFA.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oahazmatt (868057)
      It's a new tactic to put those who RTFA on the same playing field as those who don't. Try it on the next political article. I think you'll enjoy the facts you assume more than what's actually written.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Seriously, this is all the article I could get:

      WINDHOEK, Namibia -- Microsoft Corp. sees sub-Saharan Africa, among the poorest places on earth, as one of the last great computing frontiers. It wants to make its Windows software a fixture there.

      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, a

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by WTF Chuck (1369665)

        What?!? The articles are meant to be read!!!

        I thought that the links were only provided to see if we could slashdot the servers that they are hosted on.

    • by eln (21727)

      Is it possible to read the entire story without subscribing to the Wall Street Journal? How am I supposed to RTFA if I don't have a subscription?

      I hear in Africa the Wall Street Journal is giving the article away for free. It's apparently doing this to combat its biggest competitor in the region: African talking drums [wikipedia.org]

    • You must be new here, nobody RTFA.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Endo13 (1000782)

        I tried doing it once, only to discover that the nasty article just contradicted everything in the summary and the comments. NEVER RTFA, those things are lying pieces of shit.

    • by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:25PM (#25542689) Journal
      see if clicking on this link [google.com] helps. WSJ.com used to allow visitors if you were directed from news.google.com.
  • by ksd1337 (1029386) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:02PM (#25542323)
    A rich Nigerian prince gave them 25 million dollars because they helped him transfer some funds. Microsoft gave him copies of Windows in return.
  • Wait... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:05PM (#25542367)

    ...Microsoft is using underhanded business tactics to ensure that their operating system is the most widely used? This is new.

    • 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

    • What exactly was underhanded here?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    WSJ get it wrong again:

    It also has used aggressive business tactics, some aimed at its biggest threat in the region: Linux, a Windows alternative that costs little, and sometimes nothing at all.

    Wrong. Linux is not a Windows alternative. Windows is a poor imitation [microsoft.com] of GNU/Linux.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Speaking as someone whose number of hours using Windows in the last 10 years do not add up to a whole day, and who is not exactly MS's greatest fan: reducing Windows to PowerShell is pretty extreme...
    • 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 LingNoi (1066278)

        One of the things I always hate about using the cmd in windows is that tab doesn't auto complete to more then one directory deep.

        So you can type f + tab and it will auto complete to "foo/" but if you type "foo/b" and press tab it won't auto complete to "foo/bar". Annoys the hell out of me.

        Another thing that pisses me off is that the cmd box never exceeds 80 characters. In bash I can maximise the whole window full screen and it will take up all the room with text, not possible in cmd.

        Does power shell fix tho

        • by j-pimp (177072)

          So you can type f + tab and it will auto complete to "foo/" but if you type "foo/b" and press tab it won't auto complete to "foo/bar".

          So try "foo\b" + tab. It works for me when I do it.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:14PM (#25542495) Homepage

    Sell your MS licenses and most of the other tech on ebay. then use that money to buy books and pay for teachers.

    It's far more important to teach basics like math, reading, basic science, hygiene, and life skills, than how to move and click a mouse.

    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.

    • 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.

      • by corbettw (214229)

        The reason for poverty is not lack of resources, it is lack of a legal structure that delivers contract enforcement.

        This point can't be stressed enough. If resources were the sole cause of great wealth, Africa would be the wealthiest continent on the planet, and Nigeria would be the wealthiest nation. But because the legal systems for most African countries don't provide protections for property rights or contract enforcement, their people languish in abject poverty. And that's a problem that only the Africans can fix, no one can do it for them.

      • 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.

        Couldn't agree more. There are contries (well, at least one) that were able to create a wealthy society from desert. Even transform parts of the desert into woods and arable land. All they had was the right attitude.

    • by chortick (979856) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:34PM (#25542891)
      Interesting TED talk on the impact of technology on education: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/sugata_mitra_shows_how_kids_teach_themselves.html [ted.com].

      The speaker begins by noting that technology has marginal impact where schools are already good, but huge impact where schools are bad or non-existent. He then discusses how his work shows that children collaborate in learning.

      Also http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html [ted.com] which in addition to some super cool eye candy graphs, points out the growing convergence of first-world and third-world problems.

      A big ask where respondents are notorious for not RTFA, but I found both talks fascinating and hope that you do too.

    • Hell, yes.
      In an old M*A*S*H episode, one of the guys gives expensive chocolates to an orphanage at Christmas, to discover that they sold them to buy a month's worth of food. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_M*A*S*H_episodes_(Season_9) [wikipedia.org]
    • by mhall119 (1035984)

      What they need is clean water, learn better agriculture, and to get an education that will allow them to live a better life.

      And how do you propose they will get that?

      Computers, especially internet enabled ones, provide knowledge and information, which is exactly what you need in order to get clean water, learn better agriculture, and an education. They also let your children learn other means of supporting themselves, which gives them more opportunity to improve their lives than clean water alone can provide.

      The computers are a means to an end, not the end itself. They won't give you clean water, but they can teach you about w

  • 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 scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @12:29PM (#25542799) Journal

    I can't wait to see how Apple takes advantage of this:

    PC: (pushing computers into African kids (starving))
    Mac: Oh that's nice PC, I see you're donating to the needy in Africa
    PC: Uh, yeah (suspiciously). This has nothing to with Vista finding a user base that is happy to have it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Willis13 (1357783)

      Mac: Don't you think, they'd rather have.... an apple? *tosses a shiny red apple to PC and walks off screen*

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by sammyF70 (1154563)
        Linux Chick, passing Mac Guy and PC Guy who are waiting for credit cards to be approved : "Here, Have a penguin. And take a few for your friends"
  • Is Microsoft really trying to help, is there even the pretense of this by their employees? Or does everyone, at the very least, agree that this is purely for the purpose of profit (which is ok if we don't pretend otherwise)
    • by rugatero (1292060)
      Well in TFA, Microsoft claim to be "bridging the digital divide" - seems to me that if that were the case, they'd be taking computers to where there are none, rather than trying to replace existing Linux installations.
  • by Britz (170620)

    I always thought that MS gained marketshare/dominance through piracy. And I sill believe that that piracy is much more relevant in the adoption of Windows in emerging markets than anything else by a long shot.

    Even if other systems come pre-installed. I guess the situation is now different because a large number of machines will come preinstalled with a very useful and useable os, which could prompt people to not just install pirated version of Windows on these machines as soon as they get them.

  • how Bill Gates and his "Foundation" (read: stock laundering scheme) are oh so concerned about the poor areas of the world - while the rip-off outfit that funded that Foundation steals the entire world blind.

    It's a joke.

  • Microsoft pushes Windows in Africa...

    Microsoft should be pushing mosquito netting in Africa - Windows will just let the Malarial mosquitoes in.

  • Here are some statistics that might bring Microsoft's "charitable marketing" into perspective:

    African GDP/capita (Currency): $671
    African Population livingon under $1 per day: 36.2%

    Source:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Africa [wikipedia.org]

    Geographical Distributions:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:GDP_PPP_Per_Capita_Worldmap_2008_CIA_Factbook.svg [wikipedia.org]

    • On the other hand, although the motive seems greedy, at least they _are_ giving.

      Who among _us_ gave to anyone from those areas?

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Tuesday October 28, 2008 @01:26PM (#25543801)

    "My name is Ballmer. Just...Ballmer. From God, to Gates, to Ballmer. I am his right hand, and I have a task for you. This is Stallman. He has caused the Corporation much grief. His views do not coincide with ours, and that makes him dangerous. Silence him."

  • Perhaps Microsoft will hire the Janjaweed to drive Linux out of Africa. At least then they will leave the Darfur region alone.

  • MS will be making a thumping loss on this ... are there are not anti dumping laws to stop this sort of thing ?
  • Phase 1) Allow Microsoft to indulge in their usual anti-competitive behaviour.

    Phase 2) Prosecute them.

    Phase 3) $1.4bn profit!

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