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Fears About Microsoft Return, in Mexico

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the but-what-is-that-in-pesos dept.

Microsoft 238

Z` points to this New York Times article, which begins: "While Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, defended the company against charges of monopolistic practices before Congress this week, legislators in Mexico City prepared their own attack against a new agreement by Microsoft and the Mexican government that could drive millions of new Internet users into Microsoft's waiting arms by the end of the year."

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looks like it may be just the start.. (2)

56ker (566853) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424155)

of foreign countries taking Microsoft to task now that the US DoJ has led the way.

Re:looks like it may be just the start.. (3, Funny)

linzeal (197905) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424158)

This may actually be the crux that forges international anti-trust laws, congrats microsoft for innovating justice (lol).

Re:looks like it may be just the start.. (4, Insightful)

sweet reason (16681) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424159)

...foreign countries taking Microsoft to task now that the US DoJ has led the way.

i hope they do it with more backbone than the DoJ showed.

Re:looks like it may be just the start.. (1)

brocheck (59415) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424224)

They almost certainly will. The US is reluctant to come down hard on a US company, because we like to protect our interests.<p>However, other countries like to protect their interests and their budding industries as well, and may not look too kindly on a Monopolistic corporation from America destroying local competition.

Re:looks like it may be just the start.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424245)

  • Fuckwit.Learn.to.use.the&n bsp;.HTML.formatted.checkbox..Yo u.are.sooooo.retarded.

Re:looks like it may be just the start.. (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424253)

You have to think about this from a political standpoint as well. Who has the most to lose from Microsoft's restraining? The United States of America economy. The US government must protect the economy from the backlash that follows with the DoJ settlement. Microsoft is financially a *huge* company. Other countries will care far less about Microsoft because they have no agenda with economy. The american economy does very much affect everyone elses, but it's a less direct relationship when it comes to this corporation. The mexican govt. couldn't give two shits about Microsoft, they just don't want their hands tied together sitting in a corner like the rest of the Microsofts pawn^h^h^h^h customers.

Whoever said 'There's no press like bad press' was wrong. Bad press has got to suck for them. Slashdot is a forum for geeks, but when I see this shit on my local news broadcast, they really fucked up.

Maybe they should just slow down for a while, let this blow over?

Re:looks like it may be just the start.. (3, Informative)

Reziac (43301) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424497)

Mexican justice tends to be somewhat more draconian than U.S. justice. If M$ pulls anything illegal while M$ personnel are in reach, said personnel could find themselves chucked into prison for some indeterminate period, and a judicial system that runs on, um, grease can be quite immune to any external influence it feels an urge to ignore.

Re:looks like it may be just the start.. (1)

Krapangor (533950) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424186)

Maybe but what countries ?
If you are honest, you must admit that Mexico et al are pisspot 3rd world countries.
In more developed countries MS will have much more difficulties. E.g. the anti-monopoly commissar Ponti of the European Union is well know to crush any competition-disabling behavior and has the guts to challenge any company, no matter the size. And high-level software development goes on in higher developed countries, so these are important for the future of MS and the internet.

Start? Welcome to the world... (2)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424490)

Maybe but what countries?

China (one billion). India (800 million). Russia (some hundreds of millions). Indonesia. Thailand. Korea. Phillipines (typical `pisspot' country, that, roughly the same population as the USA). Germany. France. Italy. Sooner or later, it starts to add up. (-:

Redneck detected! You can fit seven of Texas in our backyard. The shire of Meekatharra is larger than Texas. Jindalee OTH radar can watch planes taking off and landing in Los Angeles from here. What we don't have is enough resources to bury Sydney under warships.

There's more to the world than the USA.

Good morning! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424162)

First first post!

FIRST POST! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424164)

FIRST POST! No... really. I find that this whole thing, M$ moveing its interests to '3rd world contries' just further proof of their monopolistic behavior... To the point we must ask... when will it stop?

-If you build it, it can fall...

Similar situation already (2, Troll)

CmdrTaco (editor) (564483) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424174)

If I recall correctly, there is already a virtual monoply as far as ISP's go in Mexico and most other Hispanic nations. There was an article in Wired on a man a couple years back, and I believe it's the same guy who now owns CompUSA. Anyway, he pretty much runs the entire tech industry in Mexico (at least the part that isn't farmed out from the U.S.) but the government can't touch him because he also controls the stock market. Threaten him, he bails and takes the whole Mexican economy with him. Anyone have a link to the article? I couldn't find it in the archives.

Re:Similar situation already (1, Offtopic)

CmdrTaco (editor) (564483) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424181)

Yet another reason to love google.

The man's name is Carlos Slim Helù [wired.com] . Fear him.

Re:Similar situation already (1)

handsomepete (561396) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424217)

multinational giants AT&T and WorldCom consider him a ruthless, gouging monopolist who is stifling competition at the expense of the Mexican people

That's pretty frightening. He really sounds like the Mexican Microsoft only with his hands much much deeper in the country's life. It seems that, at least until Vicente Fox came on the scene, nobody has been willing (or more likely able) to do anything about it.

Although he's hardly what you'd call new economy, Slim says he knows enough about the Net to see that it's one of the biggest business opportunities in his lifetime

Well *I* could've told you that, and I don't even own half of Mexico.

Re:Similar situation already (2)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424502)

CompUSA? CompMEX, more like it. Slim owns Prodigy and CompUSA.

Subscription (3, Insightful)

jocks (56885) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424175)

This has to be a first step for Microsoft to move towards subscription based software.

The administration sees its deal with Microsoft as a donation. The critics say the gift is not free: they estimate that the fees Microsoft will collect, which are not specified in the contract, will exceed $30 million.

The fees may initially be just for consultancy to install their own software but I would be highly suspicious of Microsoft's long term intentions towards the installed software base.

Once the software is installed and Microsoft has royalties, it would be almost impossible to bring in alternatives. The cost of a change to another product would be higher than the royalty and why would you want to when you always have the latest and greatest from Microsoft on your desktop.

Unless this strategy is stopped in it's tracks, we will be facing an almost insurmoutable barrier to entry for any other system.

Not to mention... (1)

kingharrison (574393) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424176)

the countless programming sweatshops in Mexico that M$ is using to program there OS's.

Slashdot == Microsoft reporting system (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424177)

Good grief. Lay off already guys. I'm sick and tired of all the Microsoft stories.

Lets see some news for nerds. We all know Microsoft sucks... OK, move on already. Lets make some better software or do something useful with your time.

How about some useful stories. I don't know, programming books reviews, new web-sites about programming techniques. Something good.

no kidding (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424187)

Slashdot has always kinda sucked in that regard. Are there any good web-sites for real geeks?

I want a programming news site. Software technology, etc. Something updated as often as Slashdot but with better topics.

LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424295)

you're totally right. Funny that I just came to /. today for the first time in ages.

Re:Slashdot == Microsoft reporting system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424587)

Yes it can be a little heavy handed at times but there is just so much to report on Microsoft.

I, for one, do not want my children to wake up one morning in their Microsoft Automated House, watching the news on the Microsoft News Channel(msnbc), driving to work in a Microsoft Car(mabu), and then working all day using Microsoft Business Apps(office). Answering their Microsoft Cell Phone only to find out that the kids have broken the Microsoft Game Console(xbox). Damn!! we're almost there!!!!

And like with a TV you can always change the channel or at least only read articles that interest you.

Take it before Judge Judy? (5, Funny)

Thenomain (537937) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424179)

Shouldn't this be in front of "The People's Court".

Microsoft: But she invited me in!
Mexico: I didn't say you could rifle through my things.
Microsoft: I didn't rifle through your things!
Mexico: Did too! I found my underwear in the bathroom and --

And so on. Maybe this demands a new class of "Reality Television": When Corporations Go Wrong. F/X would eat it up, put it on right after Son Of The Beach.

... Or maybe I watch too much television.

Reality TV (2)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424355)

I love those "fucked up shit caught on tape" shows. I remember one of the cop ones a little while back where I swear the patrolman sounded like the guy from King of the Hill over his radio.

What the hell are you doing? That boy's messed up."

Moving on to pastures new (4, Insightful)

DirtyDuck (540166) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424183)

It's clear that what Microsoft is doing is securing markets outside of the first world nations by giving away much now and reaping the benefits later.

This makes perfect sense for Microsoft. After all, if they are forced to change Windows in the US marketplace you can bet that other contries which see IT as a way to improve their economic conditions and will gladly jump at the chance for some 'free' software from Microsoft will not sue them later for monopolistic practices.

It also seems that these contries which are developing fast are almost dazzled by the Microsoft marketing and spin machine and don't realise the long term consequences of their actions.

I suspect this is a slightly larger symptom of the same problem that some companies face. The high level executives are dazzled and wooed by Microsoft and the order goes out to use only Microsoft products.

Also, don't forget that Vicente Fox has promised this will be complete by the end of his term in office and Microsoft proably swore that it would be done in time.

Re:Moving on to pastures new (3, Insightful)

sweet reason (16681) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424216)

It's clear that what Microsoft is doing is securing markets outside of the first world nations by giving away much now and reaping the benefits later.

M$ has learned from the purveyors of tobacco and infant formula.

Re:Moving on to pastures new (4, Insightful)

joib (70841) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424364)

Well, it's like dope dealers: "The first hit is free". And tobacco multinationals giving free cigarettes to schoolchildren in countries where it's not forbidden etc.

I don't blame Microsoft. It's a company after all. It's mission is to increase the value of its stock. Not to feel sorry for people without net access.

The blame falls entirely on the mexican government. For _believing_ MS marketing bullshit and doing some shady backroom deal with MS. Instead of a proper public tendering where they could have compared the TCO of a MS solution with other solutions. I find it hard to believe that the TCO of a MS solution would be lower than, say, one using the linux terminal server project and second hand hardware.

Ignorance is bliss... (2, Insightful)

rafelbev (194458) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424189)

Microsoft have always used the tactic of making it a point to be the first thing the user experiences when computing. Thus, they get people hooked with the Microsoft way of doing things. Once you get people used to the system, it is highly unlikely that you move out.. for two reasons.

1) It just works (TM) factor
2) I already paid. Why switch ?

This is probably one the few chances of experiencing an "alternative" product to a fresh group of people. Would be interesting to see how "easy" people would find it to use these systems, since, Microsoft technology would then be the alien product which you have to re-learn.

Re:Ignorance is bliss... (2)

Technician (215283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424303)

There is lots of Linux in Mexico. The price is right and it supports Spanish. MS is acting to keep it from becoming too established. The free stuff is just to get control of the market share problem. After that is out of the way, look out!

Ugh. (4, Insightful)

digitect (217483) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424190)

I don't know if it's just me, or if I've been hanging out on SlashDot too long... this article makes me feel sick.

Can it really be that we're the only ones who see Microsoft's business "initiatives" for what they really are--predatory monopolisitc struggles to rule the world? Or have we all become stained by reading SlashDot and they really mean well?

IMO, Mexico is the perfect place for Open Source software. It's a real shame that portions of the Mexican government can't see their opportunity to leapfrog existing software technologies and jump into the first world.

Re:Ugh. (1)

rafelbev (194458) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424194)

I totally agree with you. Sometimes governments just HAVE to pay all that money for software to make them seem good. You can do sooooo much more by using free alternatives. If you really HAVE to spend money, then pay developers to work on the software. Like this you are also training your own community instead of paying the Microsoft tax to corporate America.

Re:Ugh. (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424200)

Could be a bit of both. I mean, our opinions are generally influenced by what we experience. We build our opinions over time, for the most part, with dramatic experiences having more of an impression then casual ones.

Therefore, if you get a majority of your "tech news" from Slashdot, you're going to most likely (but not always) going to develop an anti-Microsoft attitude. Because, quite frankly, the majority of the Microsoft/Bill Gates/Windows articles on Slashdot either paint their activities in a bad light, are worded to sound bad, or receive so many anti-MS comments that it doesn't matter what they're doing.

Kierthos

Re:Ugh. (2)

connorbd (151811) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424392)

I had an anti-Microsoft attitude long before that, believe me.

Microsoft is shaping up to be just another obliviously greedy multinational, not that that's any big surprise. Smart of someone to be looking to head this mess off.

Incidentally... somehow a side note on Venezuela seems relevant... okay, Hugo Chavez will make me pay higher prices at the gas pump, but somehow I don't really have a problem with that. I mean, how often has a Latin American coup failed so utterly?

/Brian

Re:Ugh. (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424235)

any third world/close to third world nation was supposedly good for communism. Capitalism is the only system that seems to work anywhere.

Re:Ugh. (2)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424247)

any third world/close to third world nation was supposedly good for communism. Capitalism is the only system that seems to work anywhere.

Uhhh, since the definition of "First World" is capitalist society, "Second World" is communist society (or at least those biggie countries that claimed to be communist at the time the terms were coined), and much later, "Third World" was loosely defined as everybody else/broken economies, your statement doesn't quite make sense.

--
Evan

Re:Ugh. (2)

56ker (566853) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424293)

I'm not sure about all these 1st/2nd/3rd world arguments - but I do know that Microsoft tried to do a similar thing in the U.K. Once the tech journalists got wind of it, the plans were soon changed to allow people who weren't using Microsoft technology to use it. However it still seemed very much like the government had done a deal with Microsoft and not put the contract out to tender from a few different companies first.

Re:Ugh. (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424297)

I thought it was: Old world == Europe and the Mediterranean. New world == the Americas and Australasia. Third world == everywhere else.

About the origin of "Third Wolrd" (2)

Khalid (31037) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424301)

Third world comes from "Tiers Etat" Tiers means Third in French, this comes from the composition of the "constituante" which was a kind of parliament under Louis XVI just before the French revolution. Louis XVI has been obliged under mass protestation to call for a new "constituante"

The constituante was equally composed of :
1) Les nobles ; Aristocrates
2) Le Clergé : Clergymen
3) All the last remaining third part : "Le tiers", who where neither Aristocrats nor Clergymen, mainly represented by the "Bourgeois" who where rich or educated people who were not aristocrates.

I Don't recall exactly the details, but the "Constituante" will lately vote for the death sentence of Louis XVI and the Republic, and the "Bourgeois" will take the power. The most progressive people used to sit at the "left" of the president, the conservative ones at his right, hence the left "la gauche" and the right "la droite" which have seen become common in politic.

It's sad very sad that this country who has given so much to democracy his now leaving so harsh time with Le Pen.

Re:About the origin of "Third World" (2)

Khalid (31037) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424347)

Forgot to add that "Le Tiers Etat" while mainly represented by "Les Bourgeois" was mainly composed of very poor people, hence "Tiers monde" in French and then "Third world" to name countries which were neither capitalist, nor communist, but just poor :) .

Don't believe propoganda... Learn the facts. (5, Informative)

alexhmit01 (104757) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424299)

Communism fell for two reasons.
1. It can be (in all but the most theoretical case) less efficient for consumers than capitalism.
2. It was adopted by agrarian societies.

Marx's theories were NOT that communism was an alternative to capitalism. Just as capitalism evolved out of mercantilism (which evolved out of feudalism), capitalism would evolve INTO socialism/communism. Marx NEVER advocated that poor countries should become communists. The problem was that poorer countries have people that are less inclined to believe in capitalism, and get more focused on grabbing and taking the little wealth that is there for themselves. Capitalism takes a long time to reach the mature point that the US topped off in in the mid-late 20th century. Its only then that there is heavy upward mobility available to all.

Western Europe and to some extent the United States supports this theory. As countries develop stronger economies and wealthier societies, they start deciding that the capitalistic reality of winners and losers is "bad." You end up with ridiculous crap like national health care or other instances of a welfare state (socializing parts of the country).

When enough members of society decide that they would rather eliminate winners and losers by all being losers, you drift into socialism.

Marx inspired soviet communism, but their command economy functioned more like fascism. Compare the US and Russia in 1917, then look at how well the Soviets kept up for the next 60 years.

A simplified explanation: An economy can spend money on capital goods (which help you produce more goods in the future) or consumer goods (which are consumed now, making people happier). The US economy is somewhere on the order of 90%-95% consumer goods. The Soviet Union did something like 30% capital goods. They forced a growth of industry. The problem was the lines for food; 10 year waits for cars, etc. They under produced stuff for their citizens. Additionally, production wasn't focused on the Darwinian process of capitalism (where production is normally demand focused, though advertising can be used to try to shift demand), but on the whims of the central command. This is where communism is VERY inefficient; people produce what a committee tells them. In a capitalistic world, every company has its own committees. Those that produce the wrong stuff suffer, if they produce the right stuff they do well. That's the capitalism advantage.

The issue of success motivation is a more minor point though it makes a better "US-vs-THEM" split in the American mind. It does retard the efforts of SOME of the top brains/innovators who don't think/innovate without a profit motive. However, most talented people try to succeed, regardless of the incentive, so this is more of a minor point. OTOH, without the profit incentive, it's a lot harder to think that we'd bust ass 60 hrs/week instead of just getting by like everyone else. So you definitely lose something there.

Communism was never intended to "replace" capitalism by the violent revolutions that it was. It was supposed to be the workers throwing down their chains in DEVELOPED countries and seizing control. They would remove the capitalists from the equation (investors who just provide money) and let the people own their own means of production.

To do so, you NEED mean of production to seize. Therefore, you become communistic AFTER the capitalists build in the economy. In this scenario, there are already lots of things for people. If the US were to become a Marxist state right now, we'd probably all be less upset. We'd have our current standard of livings. Sure we'd stop the improvements in our standard of living, but we'd be doing so now, not with the standard of livings that the Czars left their people with.

I do not, BTW, advocate communism in the least. I'm thrilled that Reagan discredited it by showing the Soviet Union's economy to be a farce. The military buildup and arms race forced a growing percentage of the economy to be for the military and military industrial complex. The strong American economy could weather this, the weak paper economy of the Soviets collapsed under the pressure to produce more military goods, further stifling the consumer "economy" leading to massive dissatisfaction. The lack of profit incentives (that do affect medium sized business, though larger businesses tend to become really bureaucratic empire builders) masked a lot of corruption that caused the economy to be much smaller than the planners envisioned.

However, in being an unabashed capitalist, I do read. You should know the positions of others and their role in history. Simply writing comments like that indicate a lack in education. Try to study the liberal arts more and you'll be a more well rounded person (and in a different way that most techies become rounded over time).

Re:Don't believe propoganda... Learn the facts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424440)

Just b/c Marx wanted it to do one thing, does NOT mean that was the basis of the communism we became familiar w/.

It was obvious that developed countries would most likely not adopt it. Third world countries would be the most likely to switchover.

So your long winded comment is negated.

One reason (2)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424539)

Communism fell for two reasons.

One reason only. They tried to do it with people instead of angels. The rest is window-dressing.

Oh, except in the case of the USSR, the revolution apparently got a big whack of funding and political help from the Roman Catholic Church to help them wipe out the Russian Orthodox Church (which is why the Russian Communists were so heavily Atheist) - only they buggered it up big time and lost practically all of the gold they invested in that little enterprise until they snuck it back via Germany during WW2. That initial help kind of skewed the situation a bit.

Capitalism at least has a shorter feedback loop, although in practical there's not much else going for it. If the people in a political system are hardworking and altruistically inclined, almost any political system will work. Which is why the top-down political approach always fails.

Back on topic, Microsoft corporately inherited Bill's personality. Bill's greedy, an overachiever - comes of being nicknamed `Trey' as in WHG3, I reckon - to whom the prize is all, the methods and fallout nothing. That's not a sustainable approach. Here and there, people pay more attention to that, and pragmatic issues, and less to Microsoft hype. The USA seems to be collectively less aware of these undercurrents than most societies.

Like China, Mexico is fundamentally different to the USA. Until you grok the society, a lot of things that happen there don't seem logical and reasonable. If OSS succeeds in Mexico, it will be for political reasons; finance and freedom have almost nothing to do with it at the political levels that matter. Red Flag Linux will do well in China for social-political reasons, not for technical merit, cost or copyright reasons. How Red Escolar will go in Mexico, I can't predict. I don't know enough about who is paying/doing what to whom.

Re:Ugh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424240)

Yes .you .have .been .hanging .around .on .slashdo t .too .long .Any .attempt .to .hate .Microsoft .i s .easily .snatched .up .Hmmmm .and .yeah .it's .t he .perfect .place .for .Open .Source .software .s ince .they .don't .have .any .exports .to .begin . with.

Posting .anonymously .to .preserve .my .precious . karma.

Re:Ugh. (2, Informative)

rnd() (118781) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424361)

stop being so idealistic. Mexico will benefit from Microsoft technology. Microsoft has the leverage ($$) to enter into the software business in Mexico as a business investment. You don't see OSS doing that on a large scale.

Increased awareness and familiarity with software & technology will make Mexicans more likely to embrace OSS in the long run, for exactly the reasons you mention, and for the same reasons that most of us embrace it.

This kind of OSS elitism is really absurd in this case b/c Microsoft products generally have better UI standardization and they are generally easier to learn/integrate, plus they are embraced by more businesses, which makes them more valuable for those seeking (mostly non-technical) jobs.

The creation of jobs and economic development (creating a new market hungry for Windows, X-Boxes, and Office 2004) is what Microsoft's initiative is all about.

Let's not lament this. It is a Good Thing. More software --> more nerds --> better /. discussions. Comprende?

Even beter ... (2)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424400)

What i find most extraordinary is that
- On one side Microsoft tells companies "TCO on Unix is very high because you need to contract expensive Unix specialists - to avoid that you should use Windows"
- On the other side they're convincing governments that training their citizens in Windows is the best path for a country to be successful in IT.

Basically Mexico is choosing to create a country full of cheap Windows specialists instead of high-paid Unix specialists

If competition has already driven the "price" of Windows specialists down (compared to Unix), investing in training more Windows specialists is like spending money to place more product into an already/going-to saturate(d) market.

--------------

At the same time it's patently obvious that in a couple of years a lot of that software will need to be upgraded, and by that time Microsoft will charge big bucks for the Licenses on a country which by then will have a huge (and unrecoverable) time and money investment on Windows.

Open Source (1)

DarkWarriorSS (518859) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424191)

Didn't Mexico say that they were gonna use Linux/Open Source [slashdot.org] for applications like this. Oh, wait, just found This Slashback [slashdot.org] article about Mexico and the movement. Interesting how things have flopped back and forth down there.

Re:Open Source (2, Informative)

mxpengin (516866) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424260)

Yes, But If you read with attention it's "Mexico City" who adopted Linux. And they did it fine( I live in Mexico City and have looked at it :) ).
Mexico City is ruled by a different political party (PRD [prd.org.mx] )than the hole country (PAN [pan.org.mx] ). And the deal is about E-mexico [e-mexico.gob.mx] , A program to put on-line all the Federal Government, and to privide on line access to ALL the mexicans.
As a mexican Its a shame that Fox accepted this deal, and there a lot of people here trying to push this back.

A Quiet Revolution, Subverted by Noise (4, Interesting)

ChaoticCoyote (195677) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424196)

Consider, for a moment, that Slashdot and other pro-Linux sites trumpeted the introduction of Linux in Mexico. Did anyone think Microsoft wouldn't notice?

Sometimes, it's best to tread softly and carry a big stick; if you yell too much about a potential success, some bigger fish might come along and eat your lunch. Microsoft perceived the Linux-Mexico initiatives as a threat, and reacted with their drug-dealer attitude: "The first one is free." It sounds *so* good, until you find your country trapped by a monopoly...

Perhaps Linux needs to work harder and quiter, instead of bringing undue attention upon itself with artless boasting.

Re:A Quiet Revolution, Subverted by Noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424338)

Consider, for a moment, that Slashdot and other pro-Linux sites trumpeted the introduction of Linux in Mexico. Did anyone think Microsoft wouldn't notice?

Security by obscurity?

Re:A Quiet Revolution, Subverted by Noise (2)

Peyna (14792) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424352)

My thoughts exactly. You can't expect to really get anything done by hiding behind a curtain, someone is bound to stick their sword through it and stab you.

Re:A Quiet Revolution, Subverted by Noise (2)

gclef (96311) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424389)

Unfortunately, you have a bit of a chicken & egg problem:

People won't use Linux unless they hear about it being used successfully elsewhere, and that other folks are happy with it. To get that sort of word out, you have to trumpet the successes. This alerts your competitors, and they try to undercut you.

Yeah, it sucks...but, if you want Linux to come out from the "niche" market, it's going to have to go toe-to-toe w/the Beast for sales eventually. There's really no avoiding it.

Re:A Quiet Revolution, Subverted by Noise (2, Interesting)

moose_hp (179683) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424592)

I dont really think that the problem with Linux here in Mexico is the introdution of Linux, most large universities here had some Linux subjets (only for computer science and informatics) and so. Here in my school (the university of Guadalajara, at the CUCEI) we are going to have an event called (free softway days (DSL in spanish)). Also in the work we are going to mount linux servers (I work for an school that Im not going to mention) in all the facilities. Here in Guadalajara you see at leats one Tux in every shoping mall (well considering that Guadalajara is called Mexican Sillicon Valley).

But one big problem here is education, while like the third part of high schooll graduates enters to a large universities, everybody else enters to a cheap university where (whea you go it) they teach how to use MS Windows and MS Office, and computer tech that came from that schools never learned what and IP is...

Most people here nows how to write a letter in word, how to avoid the password by pressing the escape key, and listen MP3's in winamp, also how to use the cheap app (that the whole enterprice) that some "$&#$&/() cheap coder wrote in COBOL some years ago, if you want to switch them, you have to have a solution for every need, that meand programs, capacitation, etc..

Well Im soory that my opinion is mostly University around, but its mainly because is my environment...

Can Mexicans really afford this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424202)

Hell all the mexician geeks I know are trying to get linux running on their brooms.

No-reg-required link to article on Yahoo (4, Informative)

Seth Finkelstein (90154) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424204)

Re:No-reg-required link to article on Yahoo (2)

56ker (566853) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424242)

The e-Mexico project sounds like our Government Gateway project which was severely criticised a while back for only being accessible by IE. I think Microsoft is striking up deals with governments all over the place now the desktop market is saturated with Windows and other Microsoft products.

Re:No-reg-required link to article on Yahoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424358)

I wonder why slashdot would even consider hiring someone who runs such a crappy website as censorship.org (Slashdot ran by children?)

the article (1)

GutBomb (541585) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424212)

the article mentions the fact that they were flirting with the idea of passing a bill that would require the e-mexico initiative to use opensource technology. I don't think this is the right direction. forcing free software on people defeats the purpose of free software. I thought it was all about free to choose what you want not forced to use non-microsoft tools.

huh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424215)

Mexico? Where's that?
Microsoft? Never heard of.

from the but-what-is-that-in-pesos dept (1)

StuffYourReligion (452006) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424228)

What is that in Pesos?

Well... the URL ends with "24PESO"

Forget Microsoft, Senor Fox... I'll happily donate 24 Pesos to the e-Mexico initiative myself.

Hell, I'll double their offer! 48 Pesos and all the free software you can download!

Just give me a call.

Big Mistake for microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424229)

Here's why.
Q. What do you call a Mexican on a new ten-speed?
A. A thief (okay bad old joke)

But...
Q. What do you call thousands of Mexicans with CD Burners?

Re:Big Mistake for microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424268)

Hahahahaha!! That's like feeding a fucking fire with fuel

Re:Big Mistake for microsoft (2)

Technician (215283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424317)

Same thing you call the USA in the heyday of Napster!

Microsoft BAD! (now mod me up) (0, Troll)

Moosifer (168884) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424231)

Oh No! Could it be a business making a *gasp* a smart business move?! Good Lord, NO! Look - over there - Bill Gates blew his nose! Quick, write it up and submit it slashdot so that those keen conspiracy theorists will see it for what it really is: Bill Gates trying to take over the whole wide world!

Would slashdot have any content at all if it weren't for a handful of successful organizations like Microsoft, Disney, NTT DoCoMo, and the RIAA to constantly drag into the spotlight in order to cleverly expose their obvious embodiment of Evil?

Re:Microsoft BAD! (Tree Pretty.) (2, Insightful)

Thenomain (537937) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424276)

"Good for my business" can also be "monopolistic" and is often "manipulative". The valid points most people make about Microsoft is they give with one hand and take with the other. Or: They give with both hands, hang around and stop anyone else trying to help you out because only THEY are allowed to help you out, and because of that you owe THEM for all your independence and the better state of your life. And this is "good business move", but only for that business.


Re:Microsoft BAD! (now mod me up) (2)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424278)

It is a *profitable* business move, I don't know how good or ethical it is. Microsoft would be happier with everyone using their products, even if theirs aren't the ideal product for the problem. They want people to be happy with their products too. And, if you can't at least be happy with them, at least have you be tied to them. Their products are tightly integrated for two reasons:

1. Make it difficult to seperate the pieces and introduce non-MS made add-ons. This is a big one. Microsoft has never released the exact specs for MS Office file formats because they don't *want* compatible prducts on the market.

2. It's easier for the user if everything 'goes together'. This is a byproduct of #1.

Fear About Microsoft Return: Daily Occurence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424232)

You never know when that BSOD hits.

Didn't know this was restricted to Mexico somehow? Maybe I should move.

Contraband (2)

rnd() (118781) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424243)

Last time I was in Mexico (Nogales, near the Arizona border), I noticed that a lot of 'prescription' drugs were offered for sale in drugstores, no prescription required.

Most noticable among these was Rogaine. I wonder if the future will find Mexican copies of Windows, sold for pennies on the dollar, available next to the Rogaine in glass display cases in Mexican border towns.

Re:Contraband (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424275)

I wonder if the future will find Mexican copies of Windows, sold for pennies on the dollar.

Here in Nuevo León in the North of Mexico one of the richest states, this is commonplace already. In a poor state in the South finding a legal Windows copy would be like finding a needle in a hay-stack I figure.

Also, I've heard of business here that were being visited by the BSA and were faced fines if they didn't get licenses for the software they were using illegaly. Licenses were offered at far below market prices. I don't have to tell you what tactic some businesses have adopted as a way of getting legal software...

Re:Contraband (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424409)

Rogaine doesn't require a prescription in the US. Maybe it does in Mexico, but I doubt it.

Re:Contraband (2)

Reziac (43301) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424517)

Likely so -- in fact I was going to post something to that effect myself.

Per my experience with many years living next door to first-generation Mexican immigrants, I can also attest that their idea of "theft" does NOT include "borrowing without asking". Which presumably would make it no crime in their eyes to "borrow" (copy) Windows freely.

But that's no doubt exactly what M$ wants, since winking at software piracy [sic] is the best and most proven way of achieving market saturation. If Windows had been uncopyable from Day One, its desktop penetration would never have reached its present 95%. And where the desktop goes, the business server follows.

What is this about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424248)

It doesn't explain what this is about.. and I refuse to register for the New York times to read it :)

Free/open-source software needs a sales force (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424254)

The basic problem is that nobody is out there selling free/open-source software.


We create a great product and expect people to recognize it. The world no longer beats a path to the door of the builder of the better mousetrap. The world has become so accustomed to being sold the products people buy that failure to sell means the product isn't taken seriously.


We need to organize the free/open-source community around a business model that creates incentives for people to get out and sell free/open-source software and make "deals" just like the proprietary companies do.



One major component of the model needs to be that someone takes responsibility for supporting the software sold in any deal. We are already doing this, but we need to make it explicit that the support is competitive. Perhaps the formation of support consortia that sell the software and compete for providing support would be an approach.

Puff puff... (1)

Darth Paul (447243) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424262)

The government put the value of the donation at $30 million; Microsoft valued it at $6 million.

If the MS staff are smoking $24 million of Mexico's finest, I wonder what the next version of Windows will behave like ;-)

Multihued Swirling Screen of Death anybody?

Re:Puff puff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424336)

Ha?

..

..

Not funny.

Re:Puff puff... (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424442)

> what the next version of Windows will behave like

It's already here. It's called Windows XP. Just look at the ads for it - how else could anyone come up with such faggy ads unless they where smoking bad weed?

This is where Jobs's seem shortsighted to me... (1)

Oswald (235719) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424286)

Remember when people said "Apple should license use of MacOS on other's hardware", but they didn't. Then later they tried it, but it didn't take off, and everyone said "Apple waited too late, and now Microsoft has closed the gap enough that MacOS can't get traction in the market," so again their was only MacOS on Apple hardware.

Well, guess what? Apple has a new OS, and by all accounts (sorry, haven't used it myself) it's a good bit better than anything Microsoft is offering. And with BSD at its heart, it should be a lot easier to port to Intel hardware than the previous MacOS was (seems to me, anyway). But they won't do it for fear of losing the fat margins on their overpriced hardware.

But here is a perfect example of why they should. Nobody can afford to give away enough computers to go from zero to dominant in a whole country--but it's no great stretch to give away that much software, and then you own the place.

Re:This is where Jobs's seem shortsighted to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424430)

I don't think you really understand what market Apple is selling to. Apple sells a package because its customers like that. You buy the machine, plug it in, turn it on and it works. Not you buy a cpu, monitor, hard disk, video card, install the OS, then install a bunch of third-party drivers and hope that it works.

Volunteer projects? (1)

rodo (133624) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424287)

iirc a major reason why the previously planned introduction of linux to mexican schools failed was that there were not enough skilled people to manage the rollout.

I wonder if there are any projects that organize volunteer help for free software related work in south america. I would welcome a possibility to spend half a year or more as a volunteer in a south american country, doing stuff that I am skilled at and that is fun (e.g. installing linux all the time ;-).

Something like this http://www.ganeshas-project.org [ganeshas-project.org] is doing for schools in Nepal (although the website has not been updated for months, hopefully they have not all been eaten by yaks).

Any pointers highly appreciated.

Who has been sleeping? (1)

Oswald (235719) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424291)

While Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, defended the company against charges of monopolistic practices before Congress this week...

Did I sleep through this, or did the reporter? I saw Gates in court last week, but didn't see anything about him in Congress.

Will cost them dear in the long run (1)

weycrest (170770) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424305)

Our Microsoft obsessed UK Government thought it had a good deal
getting MS to create their e-commerce portal. Now local government and various departments will *have* to buy MS Servers .

See http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/25003.html

M$ brainwashing the Schoolchileren (2, Informative)

greg2000 (558606) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424310)

Although I'm from the UK, a developed country. I, a school student couldn't help but notice that the sheer volume of M$ software in the schools is phenomenal. It seems only fitting to expose another one of their abusive stunts they pull in this thread. The tactis they seem to deploy is "Give it away cheap to all of the educational institutions so they don't know how to use anything but M$ products when they leave". I wonder if they'll try and pull a stunt like this in Mexico. My School, for example, has an M$ windows NT workstation with every app that Microsoft has made. I (foolishly) tried to bring in an Open Office document to use on the School's network and I had to go to the Sysop who had a computer with it on (his own, the only .nix box in the school). When I asked him about it he replied "Because it's cheap and nowerdays nobody knows how to use anything but it, neither are they willing". If they do something like this in a developing country (which they undoubtably will and are probably doing now) I can only inagine the damage it could do, especially when the BSA scumbags start putting the Kybosh on unlicenced software users.

Re:M$ brainwashing the Schoolchileren (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424467)

It's not just in schools, today in the Sunday Times (the Doors section) David Hewson basically said to parents "you should only ever buy Windows XP with Office because otherwise when they go into business they'll hate you for not giving them professional tools" or something like that.

He compared it to Dutch children learning Latin instead of English - an analogy that doesn't make sense considering the vast effort differential between learning a new language and learning a new OS/Office suite.

Re:M$ brainwashing the Schoolchileren (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424574)

You have hit the nail on the head. IBM did this in the 60's with the main frames into the universities. The first computer I programmed on was an IBM for this reason.

We have to wake up and smell the coffee and get the openSource solution into the schools!!!

We have to start doing this NOW. And while we are doing this we have to become rather political and anal and demand explanations why the bearacracy is blocking us.

Mexican Developers (3, Interesting)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424326)

The deal presents such huge advantages for Microsoft in many critics' minds that several members of Mexico's Congress have begun to question how it came about. They say the Fox administration may have simply signed on to a Microsoft-written proposal with no debate of its wisdom or its implications for Mexico's software industry.

Maybe this is the way that Microsoft can use to grow developers that will be cheaper for them to hire than those in the USA. They'll be able to hire them for less, and then export those expensive dev jobs over the border.

What happened to manufacturing jobs in little towns all over the USA will now happen in other places as high paying dev jobs migrate over the border. They'll probably find that the product produced is completely up to Microsoft Standards.

Of course, if you get a job flipping burgers, this means that you do not count as un-employed, even if you took a big pay cut.

I do not believe that MS would ever be this evil. Really.

I can see it now, people getting nostalgic for the days when you could be a serf for Microsoft, and live in the USA

Same as the 'Piracy' setup Microsoft uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424374)

It is the same in all countries Microsoft dominates, even the US. Buying software outright never worked. It was never a usable model for Microsoft. Their model is to give it away through various means and then charge for the upgrades by killing off piracy. It works too. Most of Europe, Australia, Singapore, and the US have lost their pirate channels. That is also why everybody is complaining now. No one ever thought their shit was worth paying!

Misleading (1)

Otis_INF (130595) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424382)

The title suggests the return of MS will bring hell on earth for the people of Mexico. I think the average Juan Pablo doesn't care if MS or someone else is behind the software running on computers, but IS concerned about how the local and countrywide economy is doing and if he has a job next week.

Try to keep it all in perspective please.

Re:Misleading (1)

greg2000 (558606) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424406)

Of course that depends Wherther the average "Juan Pablo" requires a computer, thus an operating system for his living. If he/she has to spend stupid ammounts of money on an abusive, closed system, proprietary OS because there's no alternative, or because he is deliberately kept in the dark as the the existence of these alternatives, then yes, it could well affect them. Mexico isn't going to stay in a Primative state (comapred to the US) forever, and the decision on wherther to embrace free software or be exploited by yet another foregn Corporation is drawing near for them. I know which I would chose.

Re:Misleading (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424450)

The average Juan Pablo in Mexico does not have the pesos to pay for Microsoft crap. They barely have the pesos to live. Microsoft is a monopolistic capitalist sucking the life blood out of the average Juan Pablo.

Schizophrenic arguing at slashdot (1, Troll)

software_non_olet (567318) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424415)

Now score me down for calling a spade a spade.

Microsoft is just playing it's role as a global player within a capitalistic market - and playing it as good as it can. What's wrong about that? In other cases, slashdotters are vehemently defending the modern (not only American) way of free market competition - of course this has to include direct and indirect advertisements and all other ways someone markets his products and services.

A company supporting the local baseball team wouldn't do that without having the right to put their logo on the players dresses. But when Microsoft does similiar things (only on a larger scale - but they ARE large, that is a fact) suddenly everything turns evil. That's speaking with a split tongue.

Or on the other hand, just look at the "ask slashdot" questions: often there are questions of the form "where could I get free software or services for blah...". So nearly nobody want's to pay what it costs to provide the goods. Consequently free software projects lack time and money.

Internet has become ego-net. Everything has to be free if I want it and return as much (money or attention) as possible if I'm on the producer side. This is egocentric and schizophrenic arguing.

And exactly because of this baby-mind attitudes, companies like Microsoft have the influence they have. Slashdotters play their active part in this setup.

Re:Schizophrenic arguing at slashdot (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424536)

Business also lacks time and money. It isn't just open source that lacks time and money - this is a universal problem. The concept of management is how this is overcome.

Read some of the essays at http://www.wipout.net/winners_eng.htm These are some rather excellent essays about how Intellectual property laws are causing huge problems.

What is frightfully clear is that the large corporate interests typically in the USA (but clearly they are not confined to the US) are not following their own rules. For instance, there was an artical in www.smh.com.au where Telstra is looking to obtain content to role out its own broadband services where the writer is warning that AOL Time Warner is suffering at this point.

Well, the point is that while Telstra in Australia is desperate for content at the some time Telstra pays USA interests to obtain content and Telstra refuses to pay Australian companies to do the same thing... as pointed out in slashdot last week - it is cheaper to locate a server in the US than it is to locate it in Australia.

This point doesn't have a lot to do with M$ and Mexico but the principal is universal... if you expect fairness you are going to be disappointed.

The sad thing is that OpenSource has provided much better options than anything M$ has accomplished. Sadly we can't seem to muster the sales force. Nevertheless, even the prospect of getting a printer running on a *nix system is forbidding.

So we really need to clean up our act and while we are doing this we really need to start moving *nix into the school systems and into government offices. We need to be rather anal about this and political and we have to start asking these people who are paid by our tax dollars why they persist in wasting our tax dallars by sending them to M$. When we accomplish this then Mexicican beuracrates will have a more difficult time supporting their equally bad decisions.

Better Use of Time (BUT) algorithm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424418)

  • // Better Use of Time (BUT) algorithm

  • while (feel_like_complaining_at_MS()) {
    • if (!helping_friend_install_linux()) { program_on_GNU_project_instead();
    }
}
//Nemm

Let us face the truth... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424419)

First off, before I get flamed, I have been a diehard Linux user since about '97.

But I have given up trying to convince my non-nerd friends and relations that Linux is useable on the desktop; the usual response to the most basic descriptions of the setup process usually gets a response of "'Tis but Geek to me"...

Until we can come up with an interface that [insert perjorative here] Windows users can cope with, there is little point in complaining when Wicked Willie claws back his market share wherever he can.

Re:Let us face the truth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424591)

Apples and oranges; they got Windows pre-installed, they are used to it. Linux doesn't come pre-installed, it's slightly different...

It's not Linux (desk top) that's missing, really. Installation process scares people away; even just installing Windows is a daunting task for many (most?) people.

eMexico: Microsoft to Bring Mexico Online by 2006 (2)

securitas (411694) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424429)

[There didn't seem much point to submitting the above story after it was previously rejected. How fickle. From the rejected pile: April 17 2002. ]

The Mexican government aims to give its entire population public Internet and computer access by 2006 with Microsoft [nytimes.com] licensing Windows, Office and Encarta software, as well as providing consulting and training. Microsoft says the deal is worth $58 million. Ximian's CTO comments on the deal and Mexico's Linux community.

*knock knock* (2, Funny)

rscrawford (311046) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424478)

I'm just curious: how long until the BSA decides that they have the authority to bring entire nations to task for license violations?

"In a move which is sure to spark controversy worldwide, Microsoft today made an offer to the government of Nigeria to outsource all government functions in the wake of massive fines levied against the Nigerian government for their failure to bring all of that nation's computers in full compliance with this hour's EULA terms. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates continues to deny to World Court authorities that corporate takeovers of African governments was the ultimate aim of the 'e-Africa' initiative launched in 2005.

"In other e-Africa news, anti-Microsoft riots continue to rage in Johannesburg, effectively shutting that nation down for a third straight week, while another six BSA agents were dragged through the streets and executed in the Somali capitol..."

Not that I believe such a scenario will ever come to pass, of course. After all, there would certainly be no profit potential in bringing all of Africa online.

Probably wrong argument (1)

Drashcan (113359) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424534)

This might constitute just a detail to the result-driven part of the Slashdot-readers but an important factor in favour of Linux (or better against Microsoft) in countries like Mexico, France et altera is their negative stance against the US.


I for once am not particularly a US patriot (nor am I against the US) but I think that the main argument for/factor in the acceptation of Linux should lie in its qualities (not some perceived product attributes as there are "Linux is the system of the anti/alterno globalists" etc.)

!Hola! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424542)

Microsoft es el diablo! !El diablo! (and I'm Canadian)

NYTimes Article (0, Redundant)

Patrick Cable II (521813) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424554)

Yes, its karma whoring at its finest, but for those of you who dont want to register at NYTimes or even go over to yahoo, here it is:

MEXICO CITY, April 23 -- While Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, defended the company against charges of monopolistic practices before Congress this week, legislators in Mexico City prepared their own attack against a new agreement by Microsoft and the Mexican government that could drive millions of new Internet users into Microsoft's waiting arms by the end of the year.

Last week, Microsoft agreed to support the e-Mexico project, a government initiative to bring Internet access within reach of 9 of 10 Mexicans by the end of the six-year presidential term of Vicente Fox. Microsoft will provide millions of dollars worth of free or discount-price software, training and support over the next five years and train 20,000 technicians and engineers to set up and run hundreds of e-Mexico public computer centers across the country. The government put the value of the donation at $30 million; Microsoft valued it at $6 million.

The deal is the second that the country has signed with major American companies. In the first, Intel agreed to donate $17 million to train 17,000 elementary-school teachers in computer technology. Julio César Margain, director of the e-Mexico project, said deals with I.B.M. and Hewlett-Packard were imminent.

But it is the deal with Microsoft that has drawn criticism, because to many it smacks of handing the company a de facto monopoly.

The deal does not formally require Mexico to use the 50,000 discounted copies of Microsoft Windows and Office software. But, Mr. Margain said in an interview, "we are not going to reject discounted software -- we are going to accept donations."

He added, "We are open to the generosity of any system that will work."

E-Mexico is one of Mr. Fox's most ambitious public works projects. Besides the public computing centers, it calls for the public school and public health systems to be brought online. With them will come millions of Mexicans whose first interaction with a computer may now be one set up for them by Microsoft.

The deal presents such huge advantages for Microsoft in many critics' minds that several members of Mexico's Congress have begun to question how it came about. They say the Fox administration may have simply signed on to a Microsoft-written proposal with no debate of its wisdom or its implications for Mexico's software industry.

"We are going to closely examine the Microsoft deal because it appears a good part of it places conditions that try to promote the use of Microsoft in the public schools and the payment of licenses and royalties," said Ildefonso Guajardo, an opposition member of Congress from the state of Nuevo León.

A spokesman for Microsoft said that the deal was reached "in open and public discussions" with e-Mexico officials.

Mr. Guajardo said that he and a group of legislators were considering introducing a bill to require the use of open-source software, like the Linux operating system, in the e-Mexico initiative, rather than proprietary software like Microsoft's, which is protected by copyrights and patents and must be paid for through license and upgrade fees.

The administration sees its deal with Microsoft as a donation. The critics say the gift is not free: they estimate that the fees Microsoft will collect, which are not specified in the contract, will exceed $30 million.

More broadly, lawmakers and software executives here say Mexico is yielding access to the e-Mexico project, and the millions of users it will soon bring online, on terms that are much too lenient. They say contracts to supply software and services should be put out to public bid.

Many Mexican technology companies hoped that Mr. Fox would use e-Mexico to help promote open-source software in the country. Only 4 million of Mexico's 100 million people now have Internet access, but the number is expected to grow rapidly, in part because of the Fox administration's determination to bridge the "digital divide" and have more of its citizens participate in the global economy. That presents an open field of new users with no preferences or habits to overcome.

Other Latin American nations, like Brazil, Argentina and Peru, have moved to promote the use of nonproprietary software, downloaded freely from the Internet, as a way to keep costs low and to create more opportunities for their own nascent software industries. Though Microsoft's Windows operating system still runs on about 9 of 10 desktop computers worldwide, Linux and other open-source programs have made inroads, especially in running servers.

The municipal government of Mexico City, run by opponents of Mr. Fox's National Action Party, has been phasing in open-source software to run services like auto registration.

But proponents of open-source computing complain that they are being left out of the e-Mexico project because they lack the resources to offer multimillion-dollar donations.

"I was hoping that Mexico, for once, would do the right thing and become a leader in the open-source software world," said Miguel de Icaza, a computer engineer and a prominent leader among Latin American open-source proponents. He is president of Ximian Gnome, which makes Linux-based application programs.

In the past, Microsoft has opposed government measures to promote or require use of open-source software on a variety of grounds, including that they undermine the protection needed to reward innovation.

Microsoft says its donation will help Mexico foster its national software industry by training Mexican engineers. Critics reply that what the engineers will be trained to do is to use Microsoft's technology.

"The effort here is basically to create a cadre of trained professionals who are oriented to Microsoft products," said Gary Chapman, who directs an open-source initiative at the University of Texas. "It's a very good strategy because it comes across as being concerned about the developing world. But at the same time, these countries could be making themselves independent of Microsoft with free software."

I'll up Microsoft's bid... (2, Funny)

countach (534280) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424566)

So MS is going to donate $6M in licences? I'll up that, I'll donate 100 million licences to use RedHat. Valued at the official price for RedHat, that ups MS's bid by thousands of times.
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