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Nigerian Government Nixes Microsoft's Mandriva Block 327

An anonymous reader writes "After trying to bribe a local supplier with a $400,000 marketing contract, Microsoft has still apparently lost out in trying to woo Nigeria's government to use Windows over Linux. Microsoft threw the money at the supplier after it chose Mandriva Linux for 17,000 laptops for school children across Nigeria. The supplier took the bait and agreed to wipe Mandriva off the machines, but now Nigeria's government has stepped in to stop the dirty deal."
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Nigerian Government Nixes Microsoft's Mandriva Block

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  • Wow, just wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:26PM (#21295817) Homepage
    Microsoft really did try to Bribe them. That's crazy. I hope this makes the mainstream media.
    • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:36PM (#21296047) Journal
      My question is this:

      Did he get to keep the bribe?

    • The way it works is that the people in Nigeria send you money. I'm waiting on my 5% commission for moving $48,000,000,000 right now!
    • by btarval ( 874919 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:13PM (#21296773)
      Microsoft can't even pay people to use Windows

      Yes, this is a P.R. disaster in the making, in more ways than one.

    • Jeez, and they didn't even blink when they wrote the check out to "Father Bukkake".

      I bet MS feel like idiots right now for that one...
    • Dude, it's Nigeria. It only makes the news if they *didn't* get bribed.

      Chris Mattern
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      The article seems to indicate that the company that supplied the computers was paid off to do this. That's not really a bribe, it's just business. If they were paying off the government officials to mandate Windows on these computers, that would be a bribe.
      • Re:Wow, just wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Znork ( 31774 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:57PM (#21297567)
        "That's not really a bribe, it's just business."

        It's Microsofts standard way of bribing, you mean. Offering 'marketing incentives' is the way they've done everything from get people on certain ISO boards to making sure PC makers dont install Linux.

        They seem to get away with it on some technicality, even if they couldn't get away with giving actual money directly.

        In the end it's a legal grey area. For some companies and some situations it would be perfectly fine, but in the case of the convicted monopolist, I dont think there's any doubt that it's their practice of getting around legal language prohibiting certain anti-competetive behaviour.

        And morally, it's reprehensible and easily equatable with bribery. Both for those accepting the money and for those giving it.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:28PM (#21295865)

    You know you're corrupt when the government of Nigeria steps in to block your shady deal.

    • by athdemo ( 1153305 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:30PM (#21295905)
      I know, someone was actually going to give them a large sum of money, too. I'm totally lost as to how this could have happened.
      • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:55PM (#21298731)
        DEAR MADAMES;m,


    • by Azar ( 56604 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:49PM (#21296283) Homepage
      It takes a thief to spot a thief, I suppose.
    • Now, now. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pavon ( 30274 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:51PM (#21296333)
      The Nigerian officials are just upset the supplier is the one being bribed and not them :)
      • It's just tipping (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) * on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:55PM (#21296425) Homepage Journal
        Seriously, you have a very good point. That is the way business is done in some third world countries. They don't consider it wrong. Anyone with power expects to be paid, much like waitresses expect to be tipped here.
        Microsoft apparently failed to pay all of the right people.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by wattrlz ( 1162603 )
          Most first and second world countries too.
        • Re:It's just tipping (Score:5, Interesting)

          by xcomputer_man ( 513295 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:15PM (#21297913) Homepage
          Actually, I don't think so. Nigeria has had a reputation for a long time for being one of the most corrupt countries in the world, but ever since the new president Umaru Yar'Adua was elected earlier this year, he has been on a major crusade to eliminate corruption and enforce the rule of law. So I'm not surprised that this happened -- it's only one in what is becoming a long list of surprising moves by the Nigerian government lately. He was the first president ever to declare his personal assets. Just yesterday we heard that he revoked several arbitrary allocations of prime real estate in the most upscale suburb of Abuja (the capital city) that were given by the previous administration to top government officials. One of the plots of land was allocated to Yar'Adua himself. I lived in Nigeria for 17 years, and I have never heard of a president revoking his own land allocation.

          I'd say Microsoft *did* try to bribe someone thinking it was business as usual in Nigeria, and the federal government heard about it and said "Uh, no. You can take your $400,000 and shove it."
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheLink ( 130905 )
            I wonder how long Umaru will live for.

            If he's actually cleaning things up, I hope he somehow escapes harm for a long long time - Nigeria does need a big clean up, and given the amount of oil and other stuff it has it could actually do very well if all the money just wasn't draining away due to corruption.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by dch24 ( 904899 )
              The interesting thing is that, whether he lives to a ripe old age or not, his reputation -- even on slashdot -- is immortal.

              I suppose that other discussions about our civil liberties in the UK, the US, and elsewhere, come down to the same thing. Live comfortably for a few years? Or risk life and limb for liberty, and maybe your grandchildren will remember you. "Give me liberty, or give me death" - Patrick Henry, 1775 [wikipedia.org]
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Thing 1 ( 178996 )

                The interesting thing is that, whether he lives to a ripe old age or not, his reputation -- even on slashdot -- is immortal.

                Well, as Woody Allen said, "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve it through not dying. "

    • FYI: While it's nice to see some blow-by-blow news regarding government contracting, it's pretty much this way everywhere in the world.

      The GSA and Sun Microsystems are being accused of corruption in the U.S. http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2007/11/08/iowa-senator-rips-investigation [theinquirer.net]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by HangingChad ( 677530 )

      Recent spam message plogging mail filters around the world...

      GREETINGS MY NAME IS STEVE BALLMER I WAS referring to you by a trusted friend for a matter of great urgency. The government of Nigeria died and left no heir for 17,000 laptops awaiting installation of the WINDOWS operating system. We will happily pay you to for the sum of $400,000 USD for your assistance in getting rid of teh suck Linux and installing the wonderful operating system for the children.

  • It shouldn't be suprising that the folks who actually want to use them would want to keep the tried and tested localised Mandriva over the untested XP that costs more and would cripple the system. Hopefully they will all end up this way, but I don't blame them for accepting the MS bounty.
    • by varmittang ( 849469 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:19PM (#21296871)
      Your statement so wrong. From the Article:"In fact, Intel has tested and certified three operating systems for the Classmate PC: Mandriva Linux, Metasys Linux and Microsoft Windows XP Pro." So it has been tested and it works. Mod me down if you want, but your statement will still be wrong.
  • I wish (Score:3, Funny)

    by mastershake_phd ( 1050150 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:29PM (#21295879) Homepage
    I wished they pay me to use Windows...
  • wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:29PM (#21295891)
    And I thought they successfully bribed the government.
    Heh, apparently there are still honest people in there!
    Now just let's hope Mandriva doesn't screw it and their machines actually work :)
    There goes 400k for bad publicity for M$.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by denzacar ( 181829 )

      They just didn't bribe the RIGHT people with ENOUGH money.

      Well.. at least they didn't bribe them with 640k.
      Who could stand all those 640k jokes - AGAIN.
  • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:31PM (#21295953)
    That Microsoft didn't even try to push their new OS.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:32PM (#21295967)

    My name is Stephen Ballmer I am the Chair Executive of William Gates of Redmond in the United State of America. I am contacting you with regard to transfer of a huge sum of laptops from the OLPC project. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that everything has been taken care off, and all will be well at the end of the day. I decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction.

  • by MarkVVV ( 740454 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:34PM (#21296003)
    I'm dying to hear what do those people that tried to defend M$ on the last story about this subject have to say. And you also owe apologies to Mandriva CEO, too...
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:34PM (#21296025) Journal
    Because he did not get his proper cut. Let us not hang our hats on the Govt of Nigeria or Azerbaijan. The real battle is for the mind share of corporate America. That is the fountainhead of all the money MSFT is using to subvert ISO or bribe vendors in third world countries.

    Just an hour back there was this story about MSFT including some game vendor's malformed copy protection driver for six year into every damn computer in the world. What percentage of them played that software? Why a corporate server that might end up in a blade rack without even have a dedicated monitor or mouse got this driver? Why are the corporations not demanding full disclosure of what dlls are needed and what are not? Why isn't there a third party service that will advice corporations which components of Windows could be safely removed by looking at the company policies and use patterns?

    As long as the customers accept everything dished out by MSFT patiently, there is nothing we can do to make it change. Education of the customers is the most important thing if we are going to rescue computing from this monoculture.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      My computer doesn't have a malformed copy protection driver. You must be one of those Windows users.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Dishevel ( 1105119 )

      Why isn't there a third party service that will advice corporations which components of Windows could be safely removed by looking at the company policies and use patterns?
      Not exactly what you want but very close is http://www.blackviper.com/ [blackviper.com] They have wonderful sections on XP and Vista Services. At least its a start.
  • How dare they bribe a non-gov official! But seriously, I'd love to see Penguins take over the world.
  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:46PM (#21296241)
    See what happens when you cheap out? A few million bucks in the Swiss bank accounts of some high government officials would, I'm sure, have smoothed the shiny golden road to a stunning African Vista.
  • Dirty? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:48PM (#21296263) Homepage Journal
    Nigeria's government has stepped in to stop the dirty deal.

    I am not a lawyer, in Nigeria or anywhere else, but is this deal really "dirty"?

    The article tells us little:

    "After public statements from Mandriva officials implied the marketing deal is legally questionable, Microsoft said last week that it complies with international law and the law of the countries in which it operates."

    Mandriva can "imply" that the deal is "legally questionable", but this tells us nearly nothing about the actual legal situation.

    Setting aside reflexive Microsoft-bashing, this may be a case of business as usual, legitimately within the scope of the law.

    Until someone clarifies the matter by citing actual law, "dirty" seems like an overstatement to me.

    • I have no idea how this deal was made, but if you got my company a $400.000 marketing deal I'm sure I could see to it that that money comes into my personal possession. Things get more complicated when you have big companies and lawyers, but when you pay a company to do something it is still a bribe, perhaps not always legally but morally.
      • Things get more complicated when you have big companies and lawyers, but when you pay a company to do something it is still a bribe, perhaps not always legally but morally.

        I agree about the moral aspect. But courts are supposed to operate on the basis of legal precedent, irrespective of morality.

        Personally, I think it's a bribe. But the article doesn't use the words "dirty" or "bribe". All I'm asking for is clarification from someone who has the facts.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I learned that Mandriva is a French outfit. So, perhaps a handiwork of Sarkozy?
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:51PM (#21296331) Homepage
    Now that the dirty deal is uncovered, the first question is:

    "If this were done in the US, would it be considered illegal?"

    The next question would be:

    "If yes, then should Microsoft be prosecuted?"


    "If not, then why not?"

    And for all the Microsoft apologists:

    "Is this sort of behavior acceptable from your favorite software vendor/publisher/distributor, business partner? And if so, why is it acceptable? If not, please elaborate?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Now that the dirty deal is uncovered, the first question is:
      "If this were done in the US, would it be considered illegal?"
      The next question would be:
      "If yes, then should Microsoft be prosecuted?"

      Well, this is gonna be another slashdot bullshit claim with no backup because I am too lazy to go digging...

      My understanding is that US law requires that US corps not do things in other countries that would be illegal in the USA. My belief is based on some news articles about a US company that was caught bribing foreign government officials in order to get contracts with them - might have been IBM in Brazil now that I think about it. Apparently what they did in the foreign countries was technically not i

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by m0shen ( 974383 )
      While I do not condone microsoft's actions, I must point out that this is how international firms operate in nations that are perceived as "corrupt". Funds used for bribery are chalked up as business expenses. While in this instance, microsoft's actions are particularly spiteful and could be considered juvenile, I would like to recreate a scenario from a business ethics course. You work for company A. Company A produces a brand new AIDS cure. You have been notified that your first massive shipment of A
  • If what I am reading is correct, then that's good for Nigeria. I must admit that I thought corruption was a problem of the 3rd world alone. But now, we see that a [major] US corporation was perpetuating corruption.

    No wonder our economy is almost in doldrums. Can we sue Microsoft in any court of law? The other day, a senator from the south was fighting corruption charges.

    To those Africans and poor nations of the world that I was prejudiced about, I say: "I am sorry," since I now realize that the "cancer" of

  • by Dak RIT ( 556128 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:01PM (#21296537) Homepage

    "'We are sticking with that platform,' said the official, who would not give his name.

    The organisation reserves the right to choose whichever platform is best for Nigerian students, which could also include Microsoft's software in the future, said the official."

    Does anyone else get the impression that's code for: "$400,000 would go a long way in convincing me that Microsoft's software is best for Nigerian students."? Sounds like Microsoft just forgot to include Nigerian officials in on the deal.

  • by HermMunster ( 972336 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:14PM (#21296791)
    These countries building their technologies need to try at least to understand the negative impact of vendor lock in. With open source the road is full bright and open, like a true vista. With windows you condemn your nation to Microsoft's spyware. (As Vista has 47 programs that collect information about you and send it back to Microsoft, not counting the WGA/WGN. This process is essentially the equivalent of say having Walmart coming to your home on any given Sunday morning asking to search your belongings to ensure that those items in your home that come from Walmart are legally purchased, just because you are a shopper at Walmart. Because Microsoft does it with hidden programs (or hidden cameras) makes no difference. You wouldn't allow Walmart to place hidden cameras in your home).

    We all know about the vendor lock ins such as DirectX which keep you playing on and paying for Windows. With true OpenGL development you could find games on a number of platforms. There are many more lock in technologies and DRM was Microsoft's most important one until everyone revolted over it. It is still their number one hope to lock you into the Windows platform.

    So, let's hope that Nigeria has the experienced personnel in the right positions of influence capable of understanding what is happening to ensure that it doesn't happen there. If so, let's hope other regional governments learn from the negatives of vendor lock in and the sometimes illegal influences Microsoft exerts.

    90% of all people can benefit from Linux in that it does what those people need it to do, day in and day out. It is solid, safe, trusted, proven, performs very well, and is attractive. Most of the popular distros have taken the approach of ease of use for the customer, the development cycle for open source is superior to the closed source development cycle. The access to the programming code is also an incredible benefit unavailable (likely never will be available) to the government and the peoples of the world, whereas with open source if there's a conflict bug you can look at both project's code and resolve your issue yourself (as a programmer for some group).

    Hopefully we'll see that other governments understand that it is important to put measures into place that secure them from the influences and lock ins created by using Microsoft products.
  • by yorugua ( 697900 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:15PM (#21296815)
    ... as if 17.000 chairs cried in despair and then suddenly were silenced.
  • Not illegal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:15PM (#21296819)

    After public statements from Mandriva officials implied the marketing deal is legally questionable, Microsoft said last week that it complies with international law and the law of the countries in which it operates.
    Except for the US and the EU, of course, where it is a convicted monopolist.

    In fact, the statement "Microsoft complies with law" is demonstrably false. The courts have spoken.
  • by cesman ( 74566 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:18PM (#21296857) Homepage
    I for one am very happy to see this stopped! I grew up in a "third world" county (Belize), when my siblings and I joined our parents in the US, I recall one of the first things they did was get us a computer (CoCo 2). I wouldn't be where I am today if they had not (good job and my own little project http://mysettopbox.tv/knoppmyth.html/ [mysettopbox.tv] ). While I did do some growing up on Windows, it has been almost 9 years since I switched to using Linux exclusively at home. As someone that grew up in a developing nation, I firmly believe there is no better option for it that FLOSS.

    Education and technology can level the playing field. Perhaps in the first world, we can afford to argue about the merits of FLOSS vs closed source. However, this isn't the case when you are worried about where your next meal is coming from or if you can afford to vaccinate your child. The Gates Foundation could really show it's altruism by helping to support OLPC or the Classmate PC.

  • Dear sir: I am the former CEO of a Nigerian IT company. Lately we had been offered a large amount of money by Microsoft Corporation in order to install Microsoft Windows on very cheap laptops, but due to excessive government regulations, the deal has been ruined. Now I have been forced to leave the country, along with a hundred million dollars, that I'm willing to share, provided that...
  • Who to blame? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dafradu ( 868234 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:24PM (#21296939)
    Big corporations bribing government officials, i've seen this a million times, i'm brazilian...
    Just recently it was Cisco in Brazil http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/10/16/2334253 [slashdot.org] and now MS in Nigeria. I've only seen people been arrested or fired, couldn't the corporation be fined or something? Apart from theirs reputation, the corporation itself in the end is clean to continue doing its dirty business...
  • by Minwee ( 522556 ) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:28PM (#21297013) Homepage

    So what is going to happen to all of the money?

    Fortunately, I happen to have a contact at the Technology Support Centre who has offered to cut me in for a 40% share if I can help him get the money out of Nigeria. He contacted me personally on this highly confidential financial transaction after my having been recommended by an associate in confidence of my ability and reliability...

  • François, from Mandriva

    Says it all.

    http://blog.mandriva.com/2007/10/31/an-open-letter-to-steve-ballmer/ [mandriva.com]

    Why does MS insist on exhibiting NO CLASS?
    Duck Amuck?
    Ignore them and hopefully they'll go away.
    (blush - is MY BIAS showing - blush, bats eyelashes to looney tunes soundtrack)

    http://www.sarakadee.com/feature/2002/12/images/animate_02.jpg [sarakadee.com]

    http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/7/7c/Looney_Tunes.png [answers.com]
  • by tvlinux ( 867035 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:10PM (#21297813)
    Friday morning at 10:00 pdt, I filed a complaint with the Washington State AG.

    Microsoft is bribing "Technology Support Center (TSC)" a Nigerian computer company with $400,000.00 to install Windows after TSC already bought an operating system. To get around the word "bribe" they are calling it "marketing activities".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:06PM (#21300713)
    Bah. Late to the party, as usual, hope more than 3 people read this. Let me share a story... it's been over 5 years already, so I hope I don't get into trouble for sharing it.

    Picture a budding "third world" country, but one a little closer to the south of the border: Guatemala. Also picture a huge, monolithic Gov't institution, the Ministry of Education, where a small, dedicated team has been assigned a major project: switching all of the Ministry's PCs to Linux. This meant not only the PCs in the administrative buildings, but also the computers in every school in the country. Which in reality wasn't that huge of a project, because it's a smallish country, and at the time few schools had PCs for the kids.

    Still, it was a very exciting project! We sincereley felt that what we were beginning could have a very positive impact in the lives of Guatemalan kids, exposing them early on to the advantages (and difficulties, too!) of the gospel of Open Source. But we soon ran into trouble. The hardware was hopelessly outdated -- note we didn't have the advantage of Xubuntu and other nice modern end-user distros for legacy HW, plus we met with serious and organized resistance from the many Ministry bureaucrats who decided they weren't going to give up the Microsoft OS they barely knew how to operate.

    We soldiered on nonetheless, for a couple more weeks at least. But we could tell a storm was brewing at the higher ranks. Sure enough, the project gets axed, and a head or two rolls. Technical reasons were claimed, but we techs knew very well that the technical hurdles could've been overcome. Rumors abounded, and we all had our own suspicions. My own suspicions were confirmed when I had the chance to talk to a senior management guy who had managed to keep his job, who told me in no uncertain terms that Microsoft was very directly responsible for the project's cancellation, by courting Gov't officials and offering a generous "discount" on the many licenses the Ministry needed to fully comply with the law -- most of the Ministry's Windows PCs were illegal installations in the first place. And also, that palms had indeed been greased -- no proof, of course, but knowing how most (yes, most!) Gov't deals go down here would have been enough for me to believe this, but the confirmation by that bureaucrat left me with no doubt.

    Cut to 5 years later. Millions were poured into the "legalization" of thousands of the Ministry's PCs, but the benefits for the average schoolkid remain to be seen. I often wonder what this country's schools would look like today if greed hadn't gotten in the way.. but sadly that's a recurring theme in corrupt countries. MS has a lot to answer for, in my humble opinion.

    anon because this is still a very dangerous country

Friction is a drag.