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Open Source's Battle In Africa 172

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the soak-em-for-all-they-are-worth dept.
eldavojohn writes "The BBC has more details about something we last discussed in 2008 — the showdown of open source versus proprietary software in Africa. When discussing the issue of cost, the piece quotes Microsoft's chairman on the scene, Dr. Cheikh Modibo Diarra, who alludes that open source continually costs you money by saying 'You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership.' On the other end of the story is Ken Banks from Kiwanja.net who has spent 15 years developing open source applications in Africa. His logic is that 'Today we're seeing growing open-source programmer, developer communities in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and other African countries. Clearly, if you have this informal programming sector coming up, access to source code is almost critical if they are going to be able to take advantage of these new tools that are emerging.' Well, the battle rages on, hopefully the emerging African developers and users pick the tool(s) that suit their needs the best."
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Open Source's Battle In Africa

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  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday May 15, 2009 @03:37PM (#27971467)
    Come on, everybody knows that there are no developers in Africa [thedailywtf.com]. It must be Nigerian scam!
  • Oh great (Score:5, Funny)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday May 15, 2009 @03:37PM (#27971481)
    Oh yeah, that's exactly what they need in Nigeria--more programming skills.
  • Sure! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Friday May 15, 2009 @03:39PM (#27971495) Homepage

    "'You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership.'"

    And then Microsoft stops supporting the product, changes the formats the products uses, and makes prior formats erratic or impossible to implement. It's a good thing you'll enjoy your purchase of brand new software, because you'll be doing it again and again and again.

    Or, you can go the Open Source route, which is continually and freely developed, usually for free-as-in-beer, and respects its own history. And if development stops, it's usually because some better Open Source project forked off or replaced it.

    Better as in "it performs a better job," not better as in "we'd better release a new version to keep our market share."

    • Re:Sure! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 15, 2009 @03:53PM (#27971677) Journal
      As somebody who currently keeps the paychecks coming by being there when the software that my employer "bought once and for all" breaks in various horrible ways; I can tell you that "the cost that we tell you" is very much not the "total cost of ownership".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by clampolo (1159617)
        Exactly. Doctor Diarrea is an idiot. I'm going to have to buy Windows 7 to fix bugs in Vista that make it almost worthless (i.e. constantly having to unplug my router and reboot the machine because windows is screwing around (my Linux machine has no such problems.)
        • by jimicus (737525)

          I'm going to have to buy Windows 7 to fix bugs in Vista that make it almost worthless

          In any other industry, having to buy Fred's Product B to fix problems with Fred's Product A that shouldn't be there in the first place would be sufficient grounds to return Fred's Product A under consumer law.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all

      Really? I finally have a senior Microsoft employee saying I BOUGHT MY SOFTWARE!!!!!

      For years Microsoft has claimed the software is licensed, not sold, to skirt the laws on selling of products, along with all the EULA crap.

      I'm going to have to quote Dr. Cheikh Modibo Diarra next time a Microsoft sales rep calls.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spun (1352)

      Consider also the cost of training. Consider potential workers, one who has paid somehow for commercial software and training, one who has trained him or herself with the help of the community and access to everything for free. Who costs more to train? Who do you think will be willing to work for less as a new hire?

      Consider the inconsistencies of Windows' interface and the registry, versus the consistency of the command line, everything's a file, text based configuration.

      Consider the existence of open sourc

      • Re:Sure! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by digsbo (1292334) on Friday May 15, 2009 @05:11PM (#27972673)
        Also consider the cost of test systems! Oh, how I bemoan the lack of test systems when license fees prevent me from having a production-like system.

        I never anticipated the death-by-a-thousand-papercuts mode of inoperation I would experience when moving from a linux to an MS shop. Really, you can't even legally run the OS on a VM without appropriate licensing. When you run commercial/proprietary, you run costly.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by BitZtream (692029)

          Microsoft has a program for ISVs that grants you developer/testing licenses for almost everything they make for up to 5 developers, for like $300/year.

          You get full access to everything on MSDN and downloads for just about everything but special programs, generally before the public does. 5 unique accounts are allowed under the program so your developers that work with MS software can test whatever they need. As long as its used in testing and not for production services, you're legal for any of those 5 de

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PitaBred (632671)

        I don't think Dr. Cheikh Modibo Diarra is being entirely honest with his countrymen.

        Of course he isn't. He's an executive. That's in his job description... "Lie to sell" is right after "Dispose of any moral qualms" on the list of qualifications.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mangu (126918)

      And then Microsoft stops supporting the product, changes the formats the products uses, and makes prior formats erratic or impossible to implement.

      It's ironic that he stated "Technology wise, African needs can be summarised in one word: access" because keeping older MS-Access versions working is one of the trickiest parts in a Microsoft solution.

      Although I'm a Linux-only programmer, I've had several people where I work ask me for solutions to recover lost MS-Access databases. "I only use Postgres, call Micr

      • by N3Roaster (888781)

        I've run into Access users in Africa who were hitting some limits and getting severely degraded performance. Sometimes (when appropriate) I suggest Postgres, but a common problem is that the people using Access don't have reliable Internet access (this is improving and certainly some parts of Africa are better than others in this regard) and would have a hard time obtaining Postgres because of this. The big advantage of Microsoft is that you can buy it on a disk.

        • Contact Canonical (Score:5, Informative)

          by tjwhaynes (114792) on Friday May 15, 2009 @05:07PM (#27972635)

          The big advantage of Microsoft is that you can buy it on a disk.

          The big advantage of Ubuntu is that Canonical will send you, free of charge, an entire Operating System [ubuntu.com], complete with application stacks, on a DVD if you ask.

          Cheers,
          Toby Haynes

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by N3Roaster (888781)

            Good to know, but I can't seem to find a package list of what, exactly, comes on those disks so it's difficult for me to determine just how relevant that is (new installations aside where it's somewhere between "fantastic" and "no down side" but I tend not to encounter these on my trips). Googling Ubuntu CD package list doesn't help either. Also, 10 weeks delivery time? The price is right, but if you need something now, advantage still goes to MS (or bootleg MS).

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by dvice_null (981029)

              > I can't seem to find a package list of what, exactly, comes on those disks

              Mirrors where the disk can be downloaded, should usually contain .list file where you can see this information. E.g.:

              http://ftp.heanet.ie/pub/ubuntu-cdimage/releases/jaunty/release/ubuntu-9.04-dvd-i386.list [heanet.ie]

              > 6-10 weeks delivery time? The price is right, but if you need something now

              You could perhaps download CD or DVD image and burn it yourself for those who need it? You don't have to order it.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by N3Roaster (888781)

                You could perhaps download CD or DVD image and burn it yourself for those who need it? You don't have to order it.

                This is what I do now. Travel with a laptop, a bunch of blank discs, and a set of commonly useful packages. (a mix of Windows binary/source packages and Linux, but lighter distros that run well on the typically older hardware I run into.) Doesn't help people I don't happen to meet, but every little bit helps, right?

                • It does help, though the problem with Ubuntu is the mix of packages on the DVD is not always ideal for Africa. Download bandwidth to get the right packages is expensive(we're mostly on dial up). Maybe its changed now, but as a result of difficulties I've had, I recommend Mandriva to the people here in Zimbabwe. Even this has problems especially for the engineering students here. I had to compile pikdev from source and download and distribute LyX and GNU PIC utils with the DVD. I normally put them on the per

        • by PitaBred (632671)
          You can get Ubuntu, or many other distributions, to ship you a disk free of charge, or for minimal cost. Much cheaper than buying a legitimate version of Access. But they aren't buying legit versions, are they?
    • by zlogic (892404)

      And then Microsoft stops supporting the product, changes the formats the products uses, and makes prior formats erratic or impossible to implement. It's a good thing you'll enjoy your purchase of brand new software, because you'll be doing it again and again and again.

      Or, after reformatting your HDD because of a virus attack or the HDD simply failing you'll have to call Microsoft to reactivate, and they'll tell something like "sorry, we don't support your software" and refuse to activate.

    • Microsoft is shooting themselves in the foot by insisting that governments in Third World countries enforce their copyright. My brother-in-law is a civil engineer in Peru, makes about $5,000/year. If he spends $500 on a computer he's not going to want to spend another $300 on an OS and $300 more on MS Orfice. If he can get one for free (cracked) he'd pay for the other, but there's no way he can afford both.

      Instead he'll end up with Linux and Open Office if the gov't cracks down on pirates, and MS will b

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      While I call bullshit on the MS statement, I also call bullshit on your statements for being the exact same level of crap.

      Eventually everyone stops supporting old versions of software. Show me a Linux distro thats supported as long after EOL as Windows, go ahead, I'll wait.

      I can show you FAR more open source projects that came, were cool/awesome, and have gone cause no one develops them anymore and no one cares about their formats. I can probably show you a handful that have done all of that life cycle in

    • by thethibs (882667)

      If that were true, my annoyance with nvu would have resulted in a satisfying switch to Komposer. The reality is that Komposer is just as annoying and I am back to using n++ and hand-coding web pages.

      I suppose the good news is that none of the proprietary WYSI[almost]WYG html editors are any better than the open-source ones.

    • "'You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership.'"

      And then Microsoft stops supporting the product, changes the formats the products uses, and makes prior formats erratic or impossible to implement.

      You missed it dude. You don't buy Microsoft software in Africa. You pirate it. Trust me, I know. And when they stop supporting it, who cares? My uni still runs NT4. Sure it sucks. But that is how things are here.

      Who knows, maybe I'll finally manage to persuade the department to switch to Linux, but I'm not holding my breath.

    • Put the lie to it, directly. Don't be misled. You do not "buy" microsoft products at all. If Microsoft is happy with your payment, if they are happy with your hardware, if you jump through all the proper hoops with CD keys and WGA, THEN Microsoft will ALLOW YOU TO USE their product, until they decide they don't allow it any more. License, schmicense.

      Even with tremendous discounts to third world countries, there are zillions of people who never will be able to afford a "legal" microsoft system. They MIG

      • by petrus4 (213815)

        Open source, on the other hand, is happy to license their products to anyone, and everyone, and they don't care if you give them nothing, give them a dollar, or give them a trillion dollars.

        Linux people care. The GPL by its' very nature encourages a culture where people are often more concerned about how much others are contributing than about how much they are themselves.

        I just installed FreeBSD last night. I got some help from an IRC channel as well; and I know, Linux has that, too. Thing is, I could d

  • You buy it once? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bryan1945 (301828) on Friday May 15, 2009 @03:40PM (#27971519) Journal

    "'You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership.' "

    Yeah, like phasing out support for older OS's. And putting in new formats for the next Office iteration. I had to buy the new Office for home because those who upgraded never remember to downgrade. Not to mention that if you don't have a service contract you pay $X (I forget the number) per service call. I'm sure there are more instances of how "buy once, this is TCO" is wrong, but I'm not up to date on MS's current procedures.

    What's the cost of OSS? Learning curve? Like Office 2007 didn't cause most people fits when it was released? I don't use Linux, so I'm no fanboy, but that statement was just ridiculous.

    (Oh, and I graduate with my MIS degree tonight! Sorry, just happy.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh, and I graduate with my MIS degree tonight!

      Hats off to you. Enjoy your unemployment and food stamps.

      • Honestly what Degree can you get a job at today.
        A Teaching Degree or an MD. That is about it. The rest will require to actually look for jobs.

        After you graduate (or right before you do so) you main job is to find a job. If you put resources in finding a job like you put in a normal job and try different outlets. Chances are even in a Bad economy you can get a job in a few months.

    • by Qubit (100461)

      Oh, and I graduate with my MIS degree tonight! Sorry, just happy.

      I initially read that as "I graduate with my MS degree tonight," and was wondering why you were so happy...

      I don't use Linux, so I'm no fanboy...

      Any particular reason why you don't? (I'm always curious)

      • by bryan1945 (301828)

        I've played with it in the past, but I have no real reason to just play around. I'm not a programmer, so I have no need for OSS, and student discounts on the various commercial packages are rather nice nowadays. Couple that with free- and shareware, I just have a need that takes away from my other hobbies (today we had a family lawn cleanup. My brother-in-law and I hacked out 2 tree stumps, and afterwards my 2 year old nephew did his best to fill in the holes with his plastic shovel, though his attempt t

    • by westlake (615356)

      Yeah, like phasing out support for older OS's. And putting in new formats for the next Office iteration.

      support for any aging OS or app demands a serious commitment of time and resources - nothing comes free even in FOSS.

      the components and focus of an office suite change over time. it's place within the office as a working environment also changes over time.

      the geek obsesses over file formats.

      file formats are a diversion.

      what I see in the office are documents. in print or on display. most are ephemeral. mo

  • by Bellegante (1519683) on Friday May 15, 2009 @03:43PM (#27971557)
    The total cost of a windows box, the entire cost of ownership, is the up front cost of the MS software? Really?

    Jesus, I've been a fool for using Linux on my personal systems. Why, considering all the man hours I've put into it, I would have saved virtually hundreds of dollars by paying for a quality Microsoft product!

    I'm going to run out right away and buy a new operating system! Looking forward to never having to configure anything, and having a bug free system that does everything I want!

    (Mods - Joke. Really.)
    • by BlackSnake112 (912158) on Friday May 15, 2009 @03:55PM (#27971709)

      So you are getting a mac then?

      • So you are getting a mac then?

        Or a PDP-11 or microVAX. After all, troff never crashed on me...
        Hell, for reliability, the PDP-8 was excellent for me - not one single crash, ever. It just lacked graphics (damn paper tape).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MichaelSmith (789609)
          Building a control system for my bike I got into atmel microcontrollers. Its nice, programming on bare silicon again.

          I used to admin PDP 11/83s and 84s for a traffic signal system. They ran RSX11M. Most of them we would do preventative maintenance once a year. So when you shut it down for PM uptime would be one year. They had a certain solidity about them. The way it would be working exactly the same way at one year as it was at one minute uptime.

          We didn't have a PDP-8 when I worked there but one day on
          • Was the PDP-8 powered down at the time that it was discovered?

            • I always assumed so, but I can't be sure. A lot of our gear would have run for decades without anybody knowing about it. Traffic signal gear in my state pays for electricity but laws prohibit power companies from disconnecting it if bills aren't paid. In many cases billing is based on known rates of consumption rather than metering.

              So it is entirely possible that something, once hooked up, would continue running for a long time.

              Where I work now we have hundreds of DEC DS10 and DS20 boxes in one room. Th
      • by Lorkki (863577)
        I see you've never had to provide tech support for macs.
      • Looking forward to never having to configure anything, and having a bug free system that does everything I want!

        Cool, I didn't know macs came with Dvorak as the default keyboard layout ;-)

        But how the hell did Apple find out the key to my wireless network? :(

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)

        So you are getting a mac then?

        He said everything HE wants, not everything Steve wants.

    • by value_added (719364) on Friday May 15, 2009 @04:08PM (#27971881)

      Why, considering all the man hours I've put into it, I would have saved virtually hundreds of dollars by paying for a quality Microsoft product!

      I can virtually gurantee that all those man hours you've put it in will yield benefits for years to come, many of which may not readily apparent. Unix Text Processing, for example, was first published in 1987. If you had read that book way back then, or read it for the first time last week, you can put the knowledge to good use on your new Ubuntu system.

      By contrast, a seasoned Windows admin is typically someone who's amassed a stale collection of trivia consisting of GUI shortcuts, registry edits, familiarity with utilities provided by someone other than Microsoft to accomplish ordinary things, a mental list of workarounds for things that never seem to work right, and memories of DOS that just won't go away. If he's really good, he'll be able to cite KB numbers.

      • by Tikkun (992269) on Friday May 15, 2009 @04:14PM (#27971947) Homepage

        By contrast, a seasoned Windows admin is typically someone who's amassed a stale collection of trivia consisting of GUI shortcuts, registry edits, familiarity with utilities provided by someone other than Microsoft to accomplish ordinary things, a mental list of workarounds for things that never seem to work right, and memories of DOS that just won't go away. If he's really good, he'll be able to cite KB numbers.

        In my experience, solving Windows problems involves a lot of bottle shaking. Solving problems on Unix-like platforms typically rewards logical thinking and expecting that the computer will do what you tell it to do (the trick is learning how to be specific).

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In my experience, solving Windows problems involves a lot of bottle shaking.

          Naturally, as a Windows developer, I always have a bottle handy. But I'm unclear as to how shaking the Jack Daniels is supposed to help...

          - T

      • by Anonymous Struct (660658) on Friday May 15, 2009 @05:59PM (#27973183)

        Second that. I always felt like Unix tools were generally like lego blocks. Once you learn how they go together, you can build pretty much anything you need. Ten years from now, all the lego blocks you've accumulated still work with your new lego blocks, and you can keep using them over and over. By contrast, Windows tools are generally like die cast toys. That matchbox car is pretty awesome at being a little metal car, but if you want an airplane, you just have to save up your allowance and go buy one (well, unless it happens to be the kind of matchbox car where the doors open - then you can pretend they're wings if you have a good imagination).

        Windows is all about giving you a fish, and Unix is all about teaching you to fish.

    • I would have saved virtually hundreds of dollars by paying for a quality Microsoft product!

      Indeed you could have... If Microsoft had any quality products to sell.

      Actually, that's not fair of me. I have a Microsoft mouse that probably still works to this day. It's just not optical and doesn't have a scroll wheel.
      • Actually, that's not fair of me. I have a Microsoft mouse that probably still works to this day. It's just not optical and doesn't have a scroll wheel.

        I have an optical MS mouse with scroll wheel and two side buttons, which serve as "change grenade type" and "womp" in Halo, and "browser forward" and "browser back" on the web.

        It has served me well for many years already AND works great in Ubuntu. Thanks, Microsoft! :)

      • Odds are good that that mouse was made by Logitech, under contract from MSFT. :)

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday May 15, 2009 @03:45PM (#27971585)

    You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all

    Of course you only buy it once. By the time the next version comes out it is so bloated, full of new DRM, in need of new video cards to handle the latest DirectX version, and just plain overall inefficient, that you need a new system to run it - which unavoidably comes with the next version of Windows preloaded.

    Per processor licensing should have been banned long ago.

  • Deceptive story (Score:2, Informative)

    by amilo100 (1345883)
    Hmmm... The article is a bit misleading.

    In Africa, Microsoft faces strong competition from open-source software in particular the Linux operating system. Many use that and run run free counterparts to the Microsoft Office suite.

    This is completely deceptive. The only people I know who runs Linux are students, programmers or web hosts. Run of the mill people do not use Linux at all. OpenOffice on Windows is used a little bit more often â" usually by people who cannot get a pirated version of MS O
    • There really is not incentive to use non-MS products. MS gives away all its software to university students and windows for the classrooms.

      You mean aside from getting your students to learn how to work a computer in general concepts instead of just how to work MS Office $CURRENT_YEAR? Not to mention learning a variety of tools and software they can actually use legally for free once they graduate and are no longer students.

    • Nah, I'm a student who runs linux and works part time converting people to linux. A lot of people here in Zimbabwe are sick of windows. We don't have bandwidth for updates and antivirus programs.

      Sure, you need to update linux too, but you can get away with a once a year dvd.

      Oh, and no student I know has ever seen a microsoft giveaway. I guess they forgot about us. 100% of microsoft software here is pirated or came with the machine. Except the uni, which paid full price for junky XP home edition... But the s

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by amilo100 (1345883)
        A lot of people here in Zimbabwe are sick of windows.

        Honest question: do the universities still function in Zimbabwe? I see a lot of economic refugees from Zimbabwe (some even with British teaching degrees).

        Oh, and no student I know has ever seen a microsoft giveaway.

        Your university does not manage it right. It is the university's responsibility to distribute the free Microsoft software. Some universities do not tell their students about it or manage it badly.

        We don't have bandwidth for update
        • Honest question: do the universities still function in Zimbabwe? I see a lot of economic refugees from Zimbabwe (some even with British teaching degrees).

          As opposed to a dishonest question? :) At least one university does, but that is basically because they told the government to stuff off and started charging fees. It was a bit harsh(a lot of students dropped out), but it had to be done as free education is a bit of an oxymoron. Since they are actually paying the lecturers, we still have some decent ones. The brilliant are long gone I'm afraid.

          Your university does not manage it right. It is the university's responsibility to distribute the free Microsoft software. Some universities do not tell their students about it or manage it badly.

          Wouldn't be the first time. The IT services department is completely incompetent. Which is why the electronics depa

  • That's amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday May 15, 2009 @03:58PM (#27971749) Homepage

    'You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership.'

    Wow. So all that money that we're spending hiring administrators, paying for software support and beating applications with a crowbar until they run properly is _completely unnecessary!_ I have been such a fool for all of these years. All I needed to do was pay the sticker price for a copy of Windows Server and that would have been enough for everything!

    *cough cough cough* *mumble* *cough cough*

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Yea, its a good thing you don't have to do the exact some thing for any other OS on the planet.

      When you think about the cost of IT staff to support your desktops or servers, the cost of the OS, even from Microsoft is trivial and hardly worth ranting about.

      Of course, fanboys gotta have something retarded to pick on.

      Not that the MS statement was true, but pretending that its unique to MS.

      If you're about to purchase an OS for any business purpose and the cost of the OS is a concern, then its likely you aren't

      • If, as you say, all operating systems are equal in cost, why should we subsidize Redmond?

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          Well, I didn't intend to imply they are all equal.

          I honestly really don't know which one is truely cheaper in any particular case except my own. And even in my enviroment I can't really say. I run a mix of Windows, FreeBSD, Linux, OpenSolaris and OpenBSD for the company I work for. Each one has its place and its strong point and fits what it does the best for me. This setup may not be the best for anyone else, but it works in my setup and its the cheapest for me as that is only part of my responsibiliti

      • by Minwee (522556)

        When you think about the cost of IT staff to support your desktops or servers, the cost of the OS, even from Microsoft is trivial and hardly worth ranting about.

        And yet, somehow, Dr Cheikh Modibo Diarra, chairman of Microsoft in Africa, is claiming that the purchase price Microsoft software is equal to the total cost of ownership despite that cost being trivial and hardly worth ranting about.

        Of course, fanboys gotta have something retarded to pick on.

        And it's good to see that you can also completely miss t

  • by Anonymous Coward

    'You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership.'

    This just proves he's been listening to Microsoft too long. He's using Microsoft's favorite buzzword without even thinking whether his statement makes sense. The purchase price is not the total cost of ownership. Not even Microsoft is claiming that.

    Even they will admit that TCO includes training and support. Microsoft's argument is that there are a lot more Microsoft-trained personnel than Linux-trained, so you don't have to train them yourself, or pay them as much because there are plenty of others wit

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday May 15, 2009 @04:33PM (#27972219) Journal

      This just proves he's been listening to Microsoft too long. He's using Microsoft's favorite buzzword without even thinking whether his statement makes sense. The purchase price is not the total cost of ownership. Not even Microsoft is claiming that.

      Dude, please read TFA/S a little more closely.

      Microsoft is claiming that. The person who said those words? Microsoft. A very high-ranking official in Microsoft's African operations.

      He hasn't spent too long listening to Microsoft... he's spent too long being Microsoft.

  • Ownership? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Amigan (25469) on Friday May 15, 2009 @04:03PM (#27971809) Homepage
    The last time I checked an M$ Eula, you don't actually own any code you pay for. you are actually paying a use license. M$ retains ownership rights to the software.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      The last time I checked an M$ Eula, you don't actually own any code you pay for. you are actually paying a use license. M$ retains ownership rights to the software.

      Exactly. Total cost of ownership of Windows is zero. If there is no ownership, then there is no cost of ownership.

      Hence, the TCO of a Windows install will always be less than or equal to the TCO of any competitor.

      Nice trick, MS. I gotta give it to you, that was pretty clever.

  • by The Angry Mick (632931) on Friday May 15, 2009 @04:08PM (#27971877) Homepage

    You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership.'

    Whenever I hear someone in the U.S. say that, it's usually quickly followed by a Microsoft or BSA representative calling them to clarify that the term "ownership" means "we still own it, we're just giving you a license to use it, and if you want more, you will pay us more."

    If this guy genuinely believes Microsoft products are a "buy once, own forever" proposition, I think he's in for a bit of a shock once the install base reaches critical mass.

  • 'You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership.'

    It was when he said this that the fine print started to appear:

    * Price does not include technical support, which is free for the first two sessions, but USD $99 for further sessions (and per hour via telephone), the price of new computers you will have to buy to feed our bloated clock-cycle-consuming system, the costs of upgrades,, the extra cost of Office, or the rediculous amoun
  • by damburger (981828) on Friday May 15, 2009 @04:18PM (#27972015)

    Trying to promote Linux in places like Africa that are still working on their IT industries could be perceived as paternalistic. The sad, sad fact is that the majority of the western world uses MS Windows, and that if you try and say that despite this, African users should embrace Linux - it can come across as if you are fobbing them off with something second rate. You aren't, of course, but that isn't how the Microsoft Ministry of Truth is going to spin it.

    The best way to promote Linux in developing markets is to promote it in developed markets. Countries that want to build their IT industry will, logically, look to how its done in countries with successful IT industries. Any increase in the Linux user base in the United States or Europe will be mirrored by an increase in much of the rest of the world.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Le T800 (1137303)

      Well my employer is a native of Cameroon and we are planning to open an office there at the end of the year because there is a lot to do in this country: build intranets and IT infrastructures, transmit knowledge to techs etc.

      Of course we will support existing Windows installations but for our internal IT and for most of our solutions we'll use Linux and FOSS software, mainly because of the opportunity to start things in a different way.

      We also think that because migrating things, re-training people etc wil

  • More FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nonillion (266505) on Friday May 15, 2009 @04:23PM (#27972065)

    "You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership."

    You can't really expect me to think that people in Africa are that fucking stupid to believe this line of bullshit...

  • Quoth Dr. Cheikh Modibo Diarra:

    You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership.

    Now consider Microsoft Money, as reviewed by CNet [cnet.com]:

    Unfortunately, you'll be forced to upgrade periodically if you rely upon either application's links to online financial institutions--that access expires every other year for Money and after every three versions for Quicken.

    Most folks here knew the idea of "TCO is paid upfront" was disingenuous to say the least, for any software. There's training costs, upgrade costs ("our whole company just had to switch to Office 2007..."), and so forth. This is even true for open-source; just consider the time and energy spent by developers moving to new source control systems, ala CVS -> SVN -> (git,hg,bzr). But here, we also have the great fun of a b

  • by rs232 (849320) on Friday May 15, 2009 @04:30PM (#27972173)

    You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership

    You don't buy the software, you license it until the next version of Windows comes out and your software becomes incompatible with that, and your computer has virtually no resale value as the software has to be totally wiped else you risk a visit from the BSA. And according to Gartner the TCO [open-mag.com] for a company to support Windows was $9,784 per anum per computer (1997). You think it's come down in the mean while :)

  • The sad truth is ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Coeurderoy (717228) on Friday May 15, 2009 @04:30PM (#27972183)

    That only the government and the largest enterprises are buying software, all the rest is pirated.
    So "Free/Open Source" software is at exactly the same price as "Closed Source" software.

    And there is a sick fascination with "the rich people" although they became rich by ripping you off.
    And the main supperiority of "Closed Source software" is that it gives more opportunity for "back door handlings"...

    And of course the "donor organisations" are much better at recommending "nice donor nation originated products" than local "service"...

    And thus the blood of africa is still flowing out to the occidental world...

  • My experience... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SFA_AOK (752620)
    I helped out in a school in Uganda that has ties with a school here in the UK, and they offer a Computing courses to their students. There are a number of problems open source faces that I could see:

    1. The school teaches the UK curriculum; when I was last speaking with the person at the UK school who established the link with the Ugandan school, she'd said they'd had some new computers with Ubuntu installed on them shipped out but they didn't have the software expected by the board that set the curriculum

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday May 15, 2009 @05:00PM (#27972549)
    Dear Sir, I am a minister in the Office of Software. A recent license audit has uncovered $1.6 billion (ONE BILLION SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND USD) of software licenses in an account at the ministry. The account was for a project that was killed in a planning accident on the way to implementation. Since there was no next project for the licenses the licenses have gone unclaimed. I am asking your assitance in getting the licenses out of my country. As teh minister I can certify you as the regestered lincense owner. For your troubles I will give you 20% of teh licenses. If you are interested in this offer please reply.
    • Apparently no one on (the admittedly anti-windows skewed) slashdot wants a license.

      Maybe you should start emailing people about it?

  • Microsoft isn't even trying to come up with convincing lies anymore:

    "You buy Microsoft software, and you buy it once and for all, the cost that we tell you is the total cost for ownership."

    Really? What about the cost of upgrades? Does Microsoft give away subsequent versions with new features and bug fixes? No.

    And ownership? Really? More like rental. The sticker price indicated the initial cost of rental.

    What about the cost of anti-virus software needed to give the illusion of protecting Microsoft soft

  • by janwedekind (778872) on Friday May 15, 2009 @05:57PM (#27973157) Homepage

    Like Richard Stallman said at the WSIS Tunis panel discussion 2005 [google.com]: This is electronic colonization, i.e. the Africans are supposed to pay for foreign products and remain ignorant and dependent.

    • by grcumb (781340)

      Like Richard Stallman said at the WSIS Tunis panel discussion 2005 [google.com]: This is electronic colonization, i.e. the Africans are supposed to pay for foreign products and remain ignorant and dependent.

      He's right, too. I live in a Least Developed Country and write a weekly ICT-related column in one of our national newspapers. When I reported on a closed-door meeting between Microsoft and the Ministry of Education, I made more or less the same observation. [imagicity.com]

      A brief quote:

      The world of IT is undergoing the same shift in emphasis and momentum as industrialism underwent in the late 19th Century. Having reached critical mass in the developed world, technology was exported to the developing world, most notably in

      • Interesting story. I'm surprised that this rather tentative expression of concerns caused such a reaction.

        Myself I am more familiar with what's going on in universities (of "developed" countries). At high-profile universities (i.e. prime targets), students get free licenses for Office products. In other universities the situation has deteriorated to a point, where you need support from higher management if you want to get internet access for a computer which is not running Windows.

        What the government doesn'

  • You buy Microsoft software once and then have it forever?

    So why does every update to Windows cost me $100?

  • by WML MUNSON (895262) on Friday May 15, 2009 @07:17PM (#27973941)

    LOLOLOLOLOL

    I'm a manager at a /major/ East-African health-care organization based in Uganda.

    Years ago (before I arrived) someone had a highly customized Microsoft Navision system put in for our HMS/ERP system.

    If we want to modify anything more in-depth than what color a button is we have to call up a Microsoft Licensed Consultant who has a key-file on a USB stick that allows them access to the inner-workings of the system -- and pay them hourly.

    This system is the beating fucking heart of our organization and we can't even make something a required field or modify the validation of an entry without calling these circus clowns up.

    The default license allows access by 36 simultaneous users. Guess how much Microsoft Nairobi forces us to pay per-user when we want to add more? try EIGHT HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS PER SEAT -- AFTER DISCOUNT.

    Want to store more information than we currently do? BUY MORE DATABASE TABLES.

    Dr. Cheikh Modibo Diarra either has no idea what he's talking about or is an outright fucking liar, because Microsoft has nothing anywhere near a business model that works for Africa.

    We can't wait to get off their system.

  • I essentially run a very large free software project in Africa, which is a pan African project, including folks in Nigeria called AVOIR (http://avoir.uwc.ac.za). The FUD that we encounter on a daily basis from the MS evangelists is quite amazing sometimes, as well as highly entertaining. The big issue here is that licence vendors are allowed into schools, and Free software is kicked out. This sets up a skill set for the kids that is purely MS based for later on, much like drug dealing and addiction IMHO
  • You could preach all you want on how Linux makes a better business plan than Windows.

    But the sad fact is that, because you are preaching from a Western pedestal, Africa will not listen. Go and read up on the AfriCar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africar [wikipedia.org]) and learn from the mistakes made there.

    The Africans want to be treated as full human beings capable of making their own mistakes (and hopefully learning from them).

    Also you have to answer several things:
    1. If Linux is so great then why is the vast majority

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