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How Microsoft Beat Linux In China 313

kripkenstein notes an analysis up on TechRepublic detailing how Microsoft beat Linux in China, and the consequences of that victory: "With the soon-to-be largest economy standardized on Windows desktops, desktop Linux does seem to have an uphill battle ahead of it." "Linux has turned out to be little more than a key bargaining chip in a high stakes game of commerce between the Chinese government and the world's largest software maker... The fact that... Linux failed to gain a major foothold in China is yet another blow to desktop Linux. After nearly eight years of being on the verge of a breakthrough, Linux seems more destined than ever to be a force in the server room but little more than a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop."
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How Microsoft Beat Linux In China

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  • Uphill battle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sveard ( 1076275 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:33PM (#20025859) Homepage
    But Linux has always had an uphill battle, the hill just got a little higher.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CrossChris ( 806549 )
      On a recent trip to China, I saw zero Windows machines - plenty of Linux, though. I saw a few Windows machine in Hong Kong - at the airport check-in desks. They'd all crashed!

      Don't believe the Windows FUD!

      Game Over, Microsoft!
    • Slow down, cowboy! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @08:37PM (#20027687) Homepage Journal

      Whoa, Nelly! This article - and the discussion here - is rife with untested assumptions. Let's establish a bit of context here before going too far.

      Microsoft beat Linux? That most certainly is how Microsoft sees the situation. But their entire ethos is of conquest, control and coercion. None of these apply to Linux. While it's true that some have used Linux as a tool to gain leverage with Microsoft, Linux as an operating system has no goal, except to be good at what it does. Unlike Microsoft, Linux is not controlled by any single actor, or even by a like-minded group of actors.

      Linux doesn't fight Microsoft (though MS does fight Linux and FOSS in general). It just keeps improving for its own sake and for the sake of its users. If that has detrimental effects on Microsoft's control of the operating systems market - and it does - well, that is nothing more than a collateral benefit.

      So, from Microsoft's perspective, maybe they did 'beat' Linux, but even that defeat isn't complete or permanent. When China donates PCs to its development partners, what OS does it ship? Linux. Is Red Flag dead and buried? No. Is China dependant on Microsoft for its IT infrastructure? Hardly.

      What price victory? A more honest evaluation of the circumstances of China's decision to accept Microsoft at all shows that Microsoft's 'victory' may be more pyrrhic than anything. With trademark deftness, China has largely de-fanged one of the most effective and brutal corporate negotiating teams in the world. This is the corporation that managed to buy off the US government and avoid any real punishment following its conviction for abuse of monopoly powers. It's the company that has consistently and rather successfully thumbed its nose at the European Union, the largest economic entity in the world today. It has controlled standards processes, locked in countless corporations and ruthlessly dominated the supply chain world-wide.

      Yet Chinese negotiators got everything they asked for. Price reductions? They pay about 10% of what other governments do per seat. Control? They not only have access to the source code, they have to right to alter it to suit their purposes.

      Think about what that means to the Chinese. In economic, political and strategic terms, they've negotiated unprecedented access to an invaluable resource, and they've done it in a way that costs them next to nothing. Truth be told, Microsoft got almost nothing out of this deal. China still uses Linux whenever and wherever it wants.

      A deal that would make Stallman laugh. If we think about the Four Freedoms that underlie the GPL, the same four freedoms for which Richard Stallman and the FSF have fought so desperately to support and preserve, the same freedoms that are so perfectly antithetical to everything that Microsoft stands for... these are exactly the freedoms that China has preserved in its deal with Microsoft.

      Let's be honest here: Microsoft may have won the battle, but only by utterly compromising itself and its future in China. They have placed themselves in a virtually abject position vis à vis China. Happily, the Chinese know enough about loss of face to ensure that they never rub this in Gates' face.

      Bottom line: This is not a Linux/Microsoft story. Linux is a bit player in this story, a Rosencrantz to Microsoft's Hamlet. The real story is how China managed to pull a classic con on one of the toughest negotiating teams in the corporate world, and how they did it so well that Microsoft keeps coming back for more.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by thegnu ( 557446 )
        a Rosencrantz to Microsoft's Hamlet.
        This, of course, is from the beloved children's story, "Rosencrantz's Web."
      • by Anonymous Coward
        And let me say, first, that MS obviously has a very strong position in the desktop market here. Windows is at least as ubiquitous here as it is in the States. But why would it ever be any other way? MS has millions of dollars to play with, cozy/exploitative relationships with most makers of PC's here, and a huge base of GAMES to draw Chinese users in. Chinese people love their video games, and 70% of internet users here are online for games (I got that from Harper's, I think...).

        Not to mention the fact
  • by tsa ( 15680 )
    After nearly eight years of being on the verge of a breakthrough, Linux seems more destined than ever to be a force in the server room but little more than a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop.

    That is exactly the problem with Linux. It's always almost ready dor the desktop. And it will always stay that way as long as there isn't a standard interface and and a good office suite that does MS' .doc format. Sad but true.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sumdumass ( 711423 )
      I'm beginning to think that the people in charge don't want t to be accepted. It is one of those fears that they will lose their importance of they don't need to fight anymore. There have been quite a few decisions lately and of past that just show this to me. They want something that they are in front of an not something in front of them.
    • by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:03PM (#20026127)
      It's been ready for my desktop for years; in fact I stopped dual booting with Windows a long time ago and haven't looked back. Almost every week I read about some critical thing I'm not supposed to be able to do with Linux (like deal with .doc files), even though I've been doing it without problem or fanfare all along. Did I not get the memo, or could it just be misinformation and FUD?

      I'm still amazed at the crap my Windows friends put up with on a daily basis, but they just regard it as the cost of doing business with their OS, I guess...
      • by try_anything ( 880404 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:57PM (#20026589)
        I do the same as you, but I would never give up my crappy old laptop running Windows XP, because OpenOffice isn't absolutely bug-for-bug compatible with MS Office. I still have to go to the Windows machine occasionally to open a file.

        The rest of the "not ready for the desktop" stuff people talk about is a bunch of red herrings. What's missing is not technical capabilities in the kernel, UI slickness in the applications, or games but the massive entrenchment that Microsoft relies on to make Windows look magical: OEM installs, reliable drivers provided by hardware vendors, and a decade of user familiarity. No amount of work on applications or task schedulers will ever begin to address those issues. Linux-on-the-desktop fans should look for ways around those problems instead of obsessing over programming.

        To put it more concisely: Slashdotters are programmers; programming is the hammer; widespread desktop adoption of Linux is the problem; and no, it is not a nail.
      • Ready for the *home* desktop and ready for the office desktop are worlds apart, and because most (read: average user) would be more comfortable using the same OS at home that they do in the office, you're not going to see a change in the current market share. Did you miss the memo? Well, there was a memo that stated businesses aren't ready to adapt linux in the office for a large number of reasons. Least of which are application.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mspangler ( 770054 )
      And don't forget the "enterprise" apps. To get rid of Windows where I work we need not just Office replaced, but OSI's PI System has to be ported over to Linux (or whatever), Emerson's Delta-V control system has to come over, the Yokogawa DCS has to come over (which ironically used to run on Unix, but they are now a Windows Certified Partner, which didn't stop them from losing a sale when Bill dropped the version of Frontpage which their data historian access system depended on, and they couldn't meet our e
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by multisync ( 218450 )

      That is exactly the problem with Linux. It's always almost ready dor the desktop

      I don't understand why you see a "problem with Linux." Success for Linux isn't measured in "market share" or whether the Chinese government (a shining example of rational decision making if there ever was one) decides to standardize on pirated copies of Windows. It's very existence is it's "success." The fact that I have a choice to run a stable, powerful, free OS that just lets me get work done is it's success.

      People who let th

    • Linux has been ready for the desktop for years. I was using that other OS 8 years ago and had no end of trouble with it freezing, crashing and losing our data. I switched to Linux on the desktop and it has been relatively trouble-free ever since. I have introduced hundreds of students and teachers to Linux and very few had any trouble as newbies. They liked the fact that for no cost I could provide them systems with greatly improved performance. The idea that Linux is not ready must stem from propaganda or
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thegnu ( 557446 )
      That is exactly the problem with Linux. It's always almost ready dor the desktop. And it will always stay that way as long as there isn't a standard interface and and a good office suite that does MS' .doc format. Sad but true.

      I think that with Linux completely or partially taking over in govt in Peru, Brazil, France, Largo (right around the corner from me in St Pete, FL), the Dept of Transportation (or the FAA?), etc, it's doing pretty well.

      I have more and more people ask me about Linux. My mother runs Li
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pogson ( 856666 )
        thegnu wrote:

        There is NO reason for the average home user to install a completely new OS they've never seen. The hurdle for Linux is to get on enough work PCs that people are relatively comfortable enough with it, so that next virus they get, or next Norton Death Knell, they leap off their burning Windows install onto something stable.

        For the 80% of "easy" cases where browsing/e-mail/word-processing are the important functions, there are several reasons to migrate:

        • they can run 2007 software on machines that run stuff released in 2001 or earlier and cannot run Vista
        • migration is relatively easy, see Jessimyn Installs Ubuntu [] (great fun)
        • they can create pdfs
        • they can be relatively free of malware
        • they can pay what it costs to install the software instead of what the monopoly in the desktop market demands
        • often, installing L
  • Big Picture (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:35PM (#20025875) Homepage
    Let's look at the big picture here of Microsoft monopolizing the Chinese desktop market. The US trade deficit with China is $233 billion. If, in several years, there are (say) 1 billion computers in China, and each pays $100 for Microsoft products (Windows, Office, OneCare, who knows what else by then), then Microsoft will be responsible for $100 billion going in the opposite direction than the $233 billion. That is, Microsoft's income from China will be about the same order as that of the entire trade deficit.

    (Of course there are many assumptions and guesses here - I don't think this is a serious economic prediction. But it does show the general idea.)

    Two conclusions:
    • There is massive motivation for the US government to bolster Microsoft in any way possible. Don't expect any antitrust lawsuits in the US any time soon.
    • China's adoption of Microsoft products may be temporary. Other nations have done it in the past - adopt Western ways, modernize their economies using them, and then replace those technologies with their own (e.g., Japan and the auto market). China sees Microsoft as the quickest way to modernize their computer industry. But, especially as a central authoritative government, they can change strategy later on, when the 'Microsoft Tax' becomes a burden.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:02PM (#20026119)
      Read the article again more carefully. The maximum price outside multinationals will be $3; nothing near $100. Most people will be permitted to "pirate". The lesson from this is that the only way to negotiate with MS is to have a serious and already deployed Linux strategy. RedFlag remains crucial to China's bargaining. If you country doesn't have it's own RHEL based Linux distribution, it's time to start asking for explanations.
    • There is no way Microsoft is ever going to get $100 billion out of China. If the Chinese don't choke on that concept, U.S. tax law will.

      Microsoft will open divisions in China, slowly "localize" software development, and quietly move to China. It might not be official policy, but most of that money will never leave China.

      To do otherwise exposes Microsoft to a) the possibility of a local Chinese competitor, and b) a massive tax bill on the $100 billion in profits.

    • > They can change strategy later on, when the 'Microsoft Tax' becomes a burden.

      Someday the Geek may lose his fascination with talk of the "Microsoft Tax."

      Today Gates openly concedes that tolerating piracy turned out to be Microsoft's best long-term strategy. That's why Windows is used on an estimated 90% of China's 120 million PCs. "It's easier for our software to compete with Linux when there's piracy than when there's not," Gates says. "Are you kidding? You can get the real thing, and you get the sa

    • Re:Big Picture (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Heddahenrik ( 902008 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @06:19PM (#20026745) Homepage
      You're missing two important things:

      1) The China regime gets a monopoly, not Microsoft.

      2) Payment to Microsoft doesn't go the USA. It goes to Microsoft's investments and business in China. China (or any other country) isn't going to to pay another country for bits that can be copied for free, unless they get something back.

      To me it's quite obvious that the Chinese regime clearly has seen the problem with free software that would make public control much harder. Now they just have to call MS and say "Hey, people are using bittorrent to download porn!" and it will be fixed in the next update.
    • I seriously doubt the Chinese are going to $100/person. In fact, most likely, using Linux as a bargaining chip, they probably negotiated that down to a few bucks per copy, at most. And the Chinese user population is much smaller than one billion anyway.

      Also, it's wrong to assume that this money is going to make it to the US; it's likely paid to the Chinese subsidiary, and China is going to make sure that that gets spent in China as much as possible.
  • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:40PM (#20025923) Homepage
    From TFA: Microsoft has made it easy for Chinese users to purchase legal copies by offering a $3 Windows/Office bundle to Chinese students.

    I wouldn't be surprised if they still make a profit even at that low price.
    • Agree $3 is better than $0. They already have their cash cow now. If they can squeeze any more money it's just gravy. Plus China has the largest population. If you can get $3 out of 1billion people that's still $3billion for nothing more than pressing more CD's. Plus it's not the OS that they are selling but the opportunity for op sales, we'll pitch in X-package for just $2 more.
    • Even $3 is expensive for Chinese. $3 is 20.68 yuan. One can probably get a pirated copy for 5 yuan.
  • I fail to see what battle has played out in China. For all i know Microsoft has always had the biggest marketshare in China too. Linux can still gain on Windows, especially when Microsoft soon enough starts taxing for licenses. Its one thing to run things for free, another when a country of Chinas size have to pay through their noose. Also if i wore China i would be very afraid of running an OS from the US, soon to be a bitter tradewar enemy. This isnt over just yet.
    • Re:What battle? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Phrogman ( 80473 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:54PM (#20026061) Homepage
      If Linux wins out in the end it will be in part for this reason. You can examine it for backdoors, concealed reporting etc, which you cannot do with a proprietary closed source OS. I have no doubt that if it was asked by the NSA to include that sort of thing in its product offerings to China, MS would be willing to comply. What company would be willing to rely on the goodwill of a foreign, potentially hostile or at least rival government's goodwill, when it can develop its own operating system and include these features itself and under its own control?
      • Re:What battle? (Score:4, Informative)

        by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:50PM (#20026535)
        You can examine it for backdoors, concealed reporting etc, which you cannot do with a proprietary closed source OS

        The Chinese government has had access to the Windows source code since 2003.

        Now when China uses Windows in President Hu's office, or for that matter in its missile systems, it can install its own cryptography. How Microsoft conquered China. []

        • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
          Do the Chinese citizens all have access to the source code? Didn't think so. With how abusive both the US's and PRC's governments are, I'm surprise either citizens can trust proprietary software from spying on them.
  • Whatever happened to (the GPL-violating) RedFlag Linux? Did it ever really exist, or was it just urban legend?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sakdoctor ( 1087155 )
      It exists, and it is more than GPL violating too.
      When I saw it running a few years back (Chinese version) it was an extreamly shoddy red hat fork with KDE as the desktop and blatantly ripped-off windows 2000 icons. It was trying hard to pass off as windows 2000, but also there was no root password, user ran as root by default, and it seemed that some services...actually most of them, were running by default.

      The whole thing was just so communist. As opposed to Linux.
  • Trusted Computing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geof ( 153857 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @04:57PM (#20026085) Homepage

    The Chinese government wishes to control the use of the Internet and of computers. The Linux community is hardly likely to help China take control of computers away from the users. But with Trusted Computing, Microsoft may be able to offer exactly that capability.

    For a government concerned about control, Microsoft's obvious motivations (control and profit) may be both more familiar, more predictable - and because Microsoft is centralized, mor tractable. This in comparison to the diverse coalition of interests making up the free and open source community.

  • ``"With the ... largest economy standardized on Windows desktops, desktop Linux does seem to have an uphill battle ahead of it."''

    Has it ever been any different?

    Eventually, people will choose what they choose for their own reasons. Network effects can be one of these reasons, and Microsoft still has that one covered for now. However, Linux has its own benefits compared to Windows. Some of these will always be there.

    Who would have thought, in the mid 1990s, that Linux would get this big? Perhaps it will get
  • Not So Fast (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:11PM (#20026211) Homepage Journal
    ``The fact that... Linux failed to gain a major foothold in China is yet another blow to desktop Linux. After nearly eight years of being on the verge of a breakthrough, Linux seems more destined than ever to be a force in the server room but little more than a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop.''

    Oh, come on. Just as those who have been proclaiming, the past few years, that whatever year it happened to be would be the year of Linux on the desktop were to early to proclaim victory, this is a bit too early to proclaim defeat.

    I seem to recall something about one of the world's largest PC vendors starting to ship systems with Linux pre-installed. Does that sound like "a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop"? To me, it sounds more like one step on the road to being a recognized and respected operating system.
    • I seem to recall something about one of the world's largest PC vendors starting to ship systems with Linux pre-installed.

      To its business customers for some years now.

      Just don't expect to see a Geek shouting "You are getting Ubuntu, Dude!" on cable TV and in their four-color adds

  • You can almost hear the author whisper to himself; "I hope this article turns out to be right.
  • Uhm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:18PM (#20026275)
    So, in a country governed by a surpressive regime which wishes to controll and monitor it citizen's as much as possible, a proprieatry closed system controlled by a centralised body is standard software rather than a free open system with an ideological emphasis on the freedoms of the users. Doesn't sound to surprising does it ? Now the real WTF is that the democratic world is using it as well...
    • I'd say the real WTF is that we're talking about China, with its oppressive government, human rights violations, not to mention everyone finally realizing that the quality of Chinese manufacturing extends to its food exports as well...and somehow we give a shit about what OS they're using?
    • rather than a free open system with an ideological emphasis on the freedoms of the users.

      To the outsider, Linux can look like a system whose ideology is shaped by a technocratic elite not by the market, not by the end user.

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:19PM (#20026287) Homepage Journal
    Unless the Chinese government outlaws linux and alternative OS, its only a matter of time for world wide open source software to improve beyond what microsoft can produce. Note, I said "Open Source Software" which is a wider base than the "Linux Kernel".

    But for this to be promoted as Victory of MS vs. Linux. Certainly it is a hype, as GNU/linux continues to replace Microsoft products in governments around the world. Before GNU/Linux what was the option?

    Sooooo, in the bigger picture, MS has been down graded from a sure thing, only option, to a need to announce and amplify the announcement of victory over the competition in specific cases.

    You will not find MS announcing competitors victory over them and maybe not even teh same level of media coverage.

    The fact that it took the open source software development model to create competition for microsoft, where all other MS competitors business models failed, says a lot as to what to expect of the future of open source software.
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:45PM (#20026489) Homepage Journal
    ``These moves, coupled with building strong relationships within the Chinese government and opening a major research center in Beijing, completely changed Microsofts fortunes in China.'' (emphasis mine)

    So it was good old favoritism. Buy a can of politicians, get one nation free!

    This is why those with power should be watched and their use of said power closely scrutinized. Of course, there's no such thing going on in China.
    • by jc42 ( 318812 )
      So it was good old favoritism. Buy a can of politicians, get one nation free!

      Well, of course it was! Back in 2000, Microsoft finally faced the facts about what it takes to maintain their position. That was when they suddenly became one of the largest "campaign contributors" to the US elections. And right after the election, the US government caved in their anti-trust suit against Microsoft, "settling" for an agreement that effectively promised a hands-off approach to all further Microsoft business methods
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2Bits ( 167227 )
      Well, let me give you my view from inside China. I'm living in Shanghai.

      Sure, favoritism is a big thing, guanxi has to be built. But that's just about the same everywhere, including the US (what do you think those lobbyists do in DC?), it just seems more obvious in China.

      However, you have to give Microsoft credit for doing their homework, they invested in building that guanxi. Where are RH, Ubuntu, Suse, Mandriva, and the gang? I don't see any. They don't even have an office here. Microsoft learned the rule
  • Desktop Ready NOW (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Werrismys ( 764601 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @05:52PM (#20026551)
    Linux has been 'Desktop Ready' for at least 10 years now. It's the applications, not the desktop. Functionally, KDE and Gnome have been on par with Winblows since KDE2 days.

    99% of Windows users don't know how to use Windows, at all. Really. They just know the couple of APPLICATIONS they use, and how to launch them.

    Example: I had just this week to teach a windows user how to remove entries from boot loader menu. He had to reinstall windows and the reinstall process partially borked, like it usually does.

    It was like 'start a command prompt' (+long explanation), change file attributes on boot.ini in C: root (+long explanation), launch text editor (+explanation), toggle back file permissions - oops I mean attributes... and boot and pray.

    How this was any easier than modifying GRUB config escapes me.

    'Readiness' and 'Intuitiviness' do not equal familiarity.

    • Of course you're right. It wasn't objectively easier. But it's not even "familiarity".

      Members of this forum are used to being called over to "Fix X." This involves User wringing hands in defeat, calling for help, glancing on in a partial attempt to learn about 20% of the fix, and then going back to work with the incident forgotten as long as it doesn't happen again.

      There's a Deep-FUD effect going on with switching. If you have Windows, and get stuck, User shrugs and calls ComputerGuy over. But like playing
    • Wow, that is a really roundabout way to change the Windows boot loader settings. The proper way to do so is to go to Control Panel --> System --> Advanced (Tab) --> Startup and Recovery (section) Settings (button). That brings up a GUI dialog for setting up the boot loader (only allows you to choose default OS and set timeouts, not delete or edit OS entries) and has an "Edit" button to bring up boot.ini in a text editor.
  • I question the reliability of this article because obviously Dell would not be seeking to expand its production of Linux-based (Ubuntu) PCs if they did not believe there is a solid market. Linux and the BSDs have been (and are) ready for the desktop. Unfortunately, Microsoft's desktop market share is so vast that it will be more of a "chipping away" than a large scale migration from Windows to Linux on the desktop. Meanwhile I applaud efforts like Dell's and I hope for continued penetration of open sourc
  • by dannycim ( 442761 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @06:35PM (#20026869)
    I don't know but, if I were a Microsoft product user, I'd be mighty peeved that some guy on the other side of the world is paying $3 while I'm paying $150 for the same exact piece of software.

    Where's the fairness in that? Why the preferrential treatment? Are we rewarding criminals now?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xoyoyo ( 949672 )
      US GDP per capita = $39,319.40
      China GDP per capita = $5,453.31

      Or put another way: $150 dollars in China would be the same as charging $1200 for a Vista license in the US

      Mark you I wouldn't be too outraged, if I were you. Vista Basic is 150 GBP here. That's $300.
  • This pattern of big companies getting chummy with oppressive governments is quite common. In the end, it doesn't matter that much. The fact that the Chinese managed to exert such pressure on Microsoft using Linux is already a win for Linux and a big loss for Microsoft. And in the long run, China will be free from Microsoft as Microsoft itself disappears.
  • ...that they have fallen into our trap!! Soon they will feel the icy grip of the crappy and expensive upgrade and maintenance agreements that flow from Redmond!

    Only when it is too late will they realize the power of the dark force. Muhahahahaha...
  • They sell us crappy pet food we sell them crappy software!
  • Like the Chinese government is going to standardize on an OS that Microsoft allowed the US NSA to break into

    Right, I believe that.


    I'm also personally acquainted with the Tooth Fairy, who looks a lot like Angelina Jolie.

  • by Eric Damron ( 553630 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @07:38PM (#20027323)
    In many countries it is a common business practice of giving "gifts" to the "right" people if you want to get something done. If you need a license in four months and not four years you bribe officials. Of course you don't do so in an obvious way but they reap your generosity anyway.

    It's usually done through third parties that are hired and given a large operational budget.

    Linux may be better for China but Microsoft money is better for some key officials.

    And that folks is the way it works.
  • is this even legal? (Score:2, Informative)

    by totalctrl ( 974993 )
    i thought what MS is doing in China should be called "dumping". other software companies in China should be able to sue MS according to WTO rules. $3 for a license would kill any domestic or international competitors.
  • They couldn't put Spyware in Linux - it's open source so people could just recompile, but with Microsoft's cooperation they could put it Windows. The WGA add-on the Microsoft sent in their 'Security Update' already tells Microsoft when you turn your computer on and off, your computers ID (combination of IP, BIOS, HDD volume #, windows product ids): enough to identify you. n tage []

    Given the Chinese Government's penchant for maintaining social order, this could b
  • by EjectButton ( 618561 ) on Saturday July 28, 2007 @08:42PM (#20027729)
    Microsoft attempted a strategy of lowering prices for Windows/Office while pushing for anti-piracy action from the Chinese government. These efforts failed, repeatedly, and the end result according to this article is that Microsoft will sell Windows AND Office, combined for a price of $3.

    If that if a victory I can't imagine what a defeat would look like. If they are going to get $3 per copy of Windows+Office Microsoft would be lucky to break even on the raw materials, packaging, and shipping. The thing is Microsoft can't afford to just break even, they have tens of thousands of employees, including many lawyers and accountants and sales people involved in pushing their products, plus the support staff for all of those employees. And for those that would say "well Microsoft is sitting on a huge war chest" this is correct, they aren't going to go out of business any time soon, but they also can't bleed money indefinitely and watch potential revenue streams dry up without their stock tanking.

    It looks like their game plan in China is to sell their software at break even or a loss just to get people used to the idea of paying for it and hopefully maintain market share. I guess they could make a profit in 5-10 years assuming:
    people in china get used to the idea of paying for their software AND they have the money to pay more in the future AND they are willing to do so AND a suitable alternative (desktop Linux) hasn't risen in popularity. Which to me sounds more like a pipe-dream than a game plan.

    I wish Microsoft many more of these sorts of "victories" in the future. Though their shareholders may feel differently.
  • I thought large numbers of machines in China used the proprietary Loongson/Godson [] series of processors (proprietary modified MIPS) for various reasons, the first of which I would see as to prevent operating systems not authorized by the Chinese govt from running (for example it might aid in their Great Firewall of China). Supposedly they are comparable to P4's but with a lower production cost, and is one less thing China has to import or license from foreign countries.

    I'm not sure just how many PC's in C
  • Microsoft cannot beat Linux anymore than it can beat mathematics. They are not competitors. Call it a "type mismatch", if you will.

    The contest here is between the organization known as Microsoft and the organization known as the Chinese government. I do not necessarily disagree here about the winner, but it's important to be clear about who lost if Microsoft won.

  • My in-laws are Chinese, and they can't stand Microsoft. The wife won't even put money into a mutual fund if she knows Microsoft's in it. Father-in-law can't stand 'em, either, and both have tried several different versions of Linux. I personally find Windows irritating to deal with, and use OSX and Linux exclusively.

    But they all came back to Windows, because there are Windows input methods and word processors for Simplified and Traditional Chinese that kick the pants off of anything available for Linux. The wife doesn't even care so much for Mac OSX compared to the one for Windows. And the fonts for Simplified Chinese in Fedora are mediocre at best, and awful at worst. Looking at a search in Firefox on Ubuntu 7.04 is hideous even to my untrained eyes -- you see many characters missing, and the characters that are there look like a mish-mash of multiple fonts.

    So, if you care about this issue, this is what needs to happen.
    1. Go check out NJStar on Windows. Make something like that for Linux, but better.
    2. Go check out how the Windows Simplified Chinese works, and put that there.
    3. And steal some decent fonts for Linux and make sure your favorite distro has 'em.

    This is one of those times where we need to recognize that the better product won. And the only thing for us to do is to make ours better.

It seems intuitively obvious to me, which means that it might be wrong. -- Chris Torek