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MS Gives Free Licenses To Oppressed Nonprofits

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the here-you-got-enough-trouble dept.

Microsoft 151

victorl19 writes "Microsoft is vastly expanding its efforts to prevent governments from using software piracy inquiries as a pretext to suppress dissent. It plans to provide free software licenses to more than 500,000 advocacy groups, independent media outlets and other nonprofit organizations in 12 countries with tightly controlled governments, including Russia and China."

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151 comments

How do I get over my TERRIBLE NONPROFIT LSD trip? (1, Offtopic)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928330)

I'm not going to try to be really detailed because I don't like thinking about it.. But I was with my bestfriend and two other friends and me and my bestfirend took two stamps at 517. we kept it on our tongue til 527 and chewed and swalled, everything was fine, we were so happy, laughing, everything looked so amazing, it was crazy. then i eat, and i lost my high. my friend was still high still, so the dealer said take 4 more and i should get my high back. I took 4 more at 1123. did the same, and i was a little high. then a friend of mine came over, he took 2 and he was trippin. then the dealer came over and chilled with us, and convinced us to smoke this weed he had that he got from his friend, he doesn't smoke weed so he doesn't know what it's like.. well, me the guy and my bestfriend smoked it, and about 10 minutes later we were ******... i know now we aren't suppose to mix weed and acid, and everything was ******.. everything was melting, we couldn't breathe, we were so scared, we were spacy, everything looked like a mario game, everything.. they tried to convince us to let them stay but we made them leave, woke pu my dad and told him something was wrong, he wouldn't listen, we called 911.. we got into the ambulence and we felt like the guys had planned this and got this 'ambulence' thing so they could kill us, my friend was begging for a badge and they wouldn't show her one so we freaked out more. we started punching them and trying to get out but it was useless.. about an hour and a half later i was seeing everything like a shrek movie. they were ogars, and they had 6 heads, everyone. i was tripping balls.... but now i can see clearly again, but my head is still cloudy, i'm a bit spacy, i have NO emotion in my voice or on my face, it's difficult to breathe since my chest feels so heavy and my left hand is still a bit numb. i have a black eye, and cuts around my eye from fighting...will this go away? i took so much and i'm so confused and i want it to be okay..i'm NEVER doing drugs again.

Mod parent up! (-1, Offtopic)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928796)

I also want to know how to get off my terrible nonprofit acid trip!

Re:How do I get over my TERRIBLE NONPROFIT LSD tri (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33930304)

You should be fine. LSD trips can last several hours, but they don't tend to have long-term effects. Stay calm, and good luck! :)

Repost (0)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928334)

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/09/13/221216/Microsoft-To-Issue-Blanket-License-To-NGOs [slashdot.org]

If slashdot didn't have a shitty search feature, maybe mods could find reposts easier. Just sayin.

Re:Repost (3, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928434)

Nope. It's an update. Look at the date of the story on NYTimes, it's 2 days ago. More importantly, it adds new info' - specifically

But it is now extending the program to other countries: eight former Soviet republics — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — as well as China, Malaysia and Vietnam. Microsoft executives said they would consider adding more.

If anything we now know that Microsoft was a little deceptive when they previously said they were creating a blanket license, clearly it's based on territory and limited in scope. That's not to say its a bad thing, but certainly not what was originally sold.

Re:Repost (5, Insightful)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928672)

Previously the "blanket" license applied in Russia. They're adding it to more countries.

That's not deceptive. That's you calling it deceptive.

Re:Repost (2, Interesting)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928766)

Not quite. They explicity stated [itworld.com] that they'd

issue a blanket software license to nonprofit groups and journalist groups outside the U.S.

Now maybe they meant only Russia but it doesn't take much to read that statement as applying globally. An ambiguity I'm sure they didn't mind.

Re:Repost (2, Insightful)

billsayswow (1681722) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928866)

There's a huge difference between a statement that's easy to misinterpret, and deliberately misinterpreting a statement.

Re:Repost (5, Informative)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928882)

I hate to tell you this, but itworld.com is not an official Microsoft outlet. What Microsoft actually said [technet.com] was:

One challenge, however, is that some NGOs in a number of countries, including Russia, are unaware of our program or do not know how to navigate its logistical processes, which involves ordering the donated software through a Microsoft partner. We'll solve this problem by providing a unilateral NGO Software License that runs automatically from Microsoft to NGOs and covers the software already installed on their PCs. We'll make this new, non-transferable license applicable to NGOs in a number of countries, including in Russia.

So they started in a few (mostly unnamed) countries and now they have expanded it.

Re:Repost (0)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929138)

Thanks for finding the original there, I had assumed that the definitive tone in the itworld piece was a quotation and that was pretty dumb on reflection.

It's fantastic that Microsoft is expanding the list of included countries and they should be applauded for it - but they shouldn't benefit from the positive PR of claiming to be doing something that they weren't.

Re:Repost (2, Insightful)

Sean Hederman (870482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929528)

What should they do exactly?

"We are terribly sorry to hear that a tiny number itworld reader have misinterpreted their misreporting of our original statement and unfortunately came to the mistaken conclusion that we had given this license worldwide. In order to rectify this horrible mistake (since it's unfair that we gain any advantage from people's misunderstanding), we will be cutting our marketing budget to compensate. But when people mistake what we're saying in a NEGATIVE light, then that's okay, and we must just take that on the chin"

Re:Repost (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929146)

how is quoting an ITWorld news story that generalises what was actually said come down to proof of explicitly stating it? So are we now holding Microsoft to account for how journalists write their stories? If you actually go and have a look at the actual MS statement they are not explicitly stating what you say at all. They say Russia and some other unamed countries.

Re:Repost (1)

wmac (1107843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928726)

But not Iran. Iranian groups don't get even a bed sheet let alone a blanket (license)!

Re:Repost (1)

linumax (910946) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928984)

Microsoft doesn't have any operations and/or sales in Iran. Almost all commercial software is pirated. Even if they did, in Iran government doesn't really need to offer an excuse to investigate anyone.

Re:Repost (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928500)

That story was specifically in response to Russian attempts to use software piracy as a pretext to harass opposition NGOs, and Microsoft was focusing on Russia alone to counter that. This is a follow-up where the same program is pre-emptively expanded to other regions where same tactics may be employed by the governments.

Re:Repost (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928542)

Not a repost. They seem to want to escape PR of this http://tinyurl.com/2usjw6p [tinyurl.com] [yhrm.org] has a link to a letter sent back ~April 15 2010.

Re:Repost (2, Insightful)

kholburn (625432) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928642)

Not a repost. They seem to want to escape PR of this http://tinyurl.com/2usjw6p [tinyurl.com] [yhrm.org] has a link to a letter sent back ~April 15 2010.

They could end up being accused of interfering in internal politics of another country by subsidising dissident groups.

No good way out of this really.

Re:Repost (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33929182)

Please don't use URL shortners. Im not gonna click that link, and a good portion of other people are not going to click that link. The information you were trying to spread is not being spread.

You take what very well may be an informative post, and relegated it to possibly being a trollish goatse post. It would be like taking a samsung dvd player and rebranding it as a $generic_brand. No one is gonna buy it, we all think its no good. No one is gonna click your link because it looks like $generic_goatse

Re:Repost (2, Informative)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929408)

I agree that the principle is bad. Apart from the lack of information in the link name, it doubles the number of servers involved and will break the way back machine. However, in the particular case of tinyurl it's worth knowing that if you go to their homepage you can set things so that you see the URL before visiting it.

Re:Repost (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929608)

Slashdot rejects some of the longer links with a "Filter error: That's an awful long string of letters there."
the link is
www . yhrm. org/ eng/news/network/ microsoft_avoids_taking_ responsibility_for_its_representatives_action_in_ anastasia_deni

ie remove spaces

Parent is GOATSE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33930018)

don't click...

Re:Repost (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33930306)

That story was specifically in response to Russian attempts to use software piracy as a pretext to harass opposition NGOs, and Microsoft was focusing on Russia alone to counter that.

To be more precise, Microsoft's actions were a response to an article in the New York Times about Russian attempts to use software piracy as a pretext to harass opposition NGOs and the fact that Microsoft representatives were supporting them. This had been going on for well over a year, but until the story hit the NYT no-one could get Microsoft to do anything about it.

I'm from the Oppressed (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929250)

Movement to Overthrow MS Tyranny.

Can I have a free MSDN license?

First ejaculation (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928344)

I hereby ejaculate that I got the first post! WOOO HOOOOOO!!!

Re:First ejaculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928478)

Not fast enough. You need more pr0n!

Not costing them anything. (1, Insightful)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928346)

So basically, they're taking a bunch of organizations in countries that probably have a 95% or higher piracy rate, and giving them free licenses.

So it's costing Microsoft essentially squat, but potentially improves human rights in said countries.

Commendable, but not exactly as philanthropic as MS probably wants to come across as....

Re:Not costing them anything. (5, Insightful)

shriphani (1174497) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928386)

yeah because it is almost everyday that a large software vendor aims to reduce someone's level of suffering by not collecting any $$ on their product.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929438)

Microsoft has always had this policy. "If You're Going To Steal Software, Steal From Us" [informationweek.com] . They attempt to identify groups who would never pay anyway and get them to get Windows/Office etc. for free, which starts a lock in so that the other people are forced to get Windows/Office etc. to read the documents sent by the people who aren't paying.

MS reacts mainly to threats to it's bottom line. In this case, it was likely that they would end up being sued in the US or elsewhere for the illegal acts of their agents in Russia; they want to distance themselves as much as possible from that. Remember that in China they have been actively handing over information about dissidents and in the recent case where Google pulled out they basically supported over spying on dissidents, they basically supported the Chinese government. None of this change has anything to do with trying to help small political groups.

If you are wondering why the Russian government (and others involved) aren't protesting, you should remember that MS actively collaberates with such groups, e.g. handing over the Windows source code. The Russian government is probably more than happy that the NGOs use Windows which they know more about spying on instead of Linux or something more obscure where they would have greater difficiulties.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33930030)

Even worse, shock horror, they might use free competitors products instead. Which of course is what it is really all about, get all journalists to become accustomed to the M$ product so the free product is different, not the same and as a result awkward to use and will reflect as such in reviews.

Of course most of those countries will end up doing the work on, mobile android products, easier to hide than a desktop.

Re:Not costing them anything. (2, Interesting)

igny (716218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928402)

So basically, they're taking a bunch of organizations in countries that probably have a 95% or higher piracy rate, and giving them free licenses.

So it's costing Microsoft essentially squat, but potentially improves human rights in said countries.

Commendable, but not exactly as philanthropic as MS probably wants to come across as....

The kew word is potentially. In reality it does squat, period. The governments can always find other pretexts to raid NGOs. There are other software companies, not just MS, products of which could be pirated too.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929252)

They don't even need to find pirated software, they could plant evidence of murder or something like that, or just make something up. Getting people arrested is much easier when you don't feel a need to be honest.

Re:Not costing them anything. (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928414)

Well, what else would you expect them to do? Recently, Russia was raiding the offices of politically undesirable organizations using software piracy as an excuse, and Microsoft lawyers were involved. Microsoft had stopped agreeing to press charges once it became obvious that the government was just using them as an excuse. Now, they're going ever further than they already had and being explicit about who they are giving licenses to.

Just because it doesn't cost them anything doesn't mean it isn't still worth something. And providing free licenses is a big step up from not prosecuting pirates. They'll be able to get software updates and security patches, which will cut down on the amount of out-of-date, exploitable software out there to become part of spam bots, which is good for everyone.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1, Informative)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928524)

Just because it doesn't cost them anything doesn't mean it isn't still worth something.

True. But it's probably worth more to Microsoft than it is to the recipients of these donations.

They'll be able to get software updates and security patches, which will cut down on the amount of out-of-date, exploitable software out there to become part of spam bots, which is good for everyone.

I have never quite understood this "can't get security patches on pirated software" statement.
I've seen dozens of pirated Windows installations, and almost every one of them was capable of running the Windows Update website and installing patches.
Every single one was running automatic updates, which installs all critical security patches.

Pirated Windows can always get security updates, with one single exception that I know of:
XP Pro Corporate with FCKGW-RHQQ2-blahblah, because SP1 won't install on that key. But changing the key to something that works is trivial.

Re:Not costing them anything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928668)

Troll?
WTF, mods?
That was a pretty well laid out post, with reasonable supporting arguments, too.
But maybe it was marked troll because it was remotely supportive of Microsoft.

Remember, idiots:

  Troll != I don't agree.

Which will probably get me marked troll, too, for coming to the defense of someone against a stupid moderator.....

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

Sean Hederman (870482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929548)

True. But it's probably worth more to Microsoft than it is to the recipients of these donations.

Umm, it's currently not getting Microsoft any money, and won't in future. Might stop them getting negative PR, and might even get them some good PR. The recipients will have less of a chance of going to jail on trumped up charges.

Yeah, I can see how you might think the recipients aren't getting much value from this compared to Microsoft

You know, sometimes even bad companies do good things (or at least stop doing bad things), and they should be commended in such cases, instead of this churlish suspicion and ill will.

Point of no return (1)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | more than 3 years ago | (#33930276)

sometimes even bad companies do good things (or at least stop doing bad things), and they should be commended in such cases, instead of this churlish suspicion and ill will.

I think Microsoft, because of its long tradition of foul play and , has reached a point of no return where anything good they might ever do will always be received with suspicion and distrust. They've got no one to thank but themselves.

Re:Point of no return (1)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | more than 3 years ago | (#33930288)

s/ ,/ lack of ethics,/

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928588)

I agree. They need to not be party to this bullying tactic by these repressive regimes. Regardless of any side benefits or underhanded motives one might ascribe to MS.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 3 years ago | (#33930110)

They'll be able to get software updates and security patches, which will cut down on the amount of freely-available FOSS software installations, which is good for Microsoft.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33930316)

Microsoft had stopped agreeing to press charges once it became obvious that the government was just using them as an excuse.

No, they stopped agreeing to press charges once it became obvious that the whole thing was a major embarrasment for them - that is to say, once it reached the NYT. Prior to that no-one could get Microsoft to do anything, even though it was blatently obvious that the license infringement claims were in fact a pretext and the police were making entirely false statements to the courts.

Re:Not costing them anything. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928424)

not exactly as philanthropic as MS probably wants to come across as

To you, maybe, but Microsoft could bankrupt itself inventing a machine that causes piles of food to appear in every village in Africa at the push of a button, and it wouldn't come across as philanthropic to Slashdot. What more do you want them to do? Pay the nonprofits to use their software?

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928562)

What more do you want them to do? Pay the nonprofits to use their software?

Well, with their warchest, it would certainly be affordable for them. :-/

But seriously...if they're that concerned about human rights in these countries, how about sending financial aid to the organizations that are fighting for those rights?
MS could even cover it as "paying the costs of software audits for non-profit customers where non-compliance is not noted" if they didn't want the oppressive government to take too dim a view of the company.

That would be a wonderful thing for them to do. But instead, they take an action that, while commendable, as I noted, basically amounts to: We'll let you run the software for free that you weren't going to pay for, anyway.

Re:Not costing them anything. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928708)

But seriously...if they're that concerned about human rights in these countries, how about sending financial aid to the organizations that are fighting for those rights?

What, you expect Microsoft to just pull out a wad of cash and hand it over?

For fuck's sake, Microsoft is a corporation whose charter very likely does NOT include, "LOL FREEDOM FIGHTIN'!"

Bah.

Microsoft has done a good here - far more good than any of the countless venom-spewing fanboys here have done.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928784)

If they're that concerned about human rights in these countries, how about sending financial aid to the organizations that are fighting for those rights?

Ah but that wouldn't be good enough for Slashdot, because Microsoft would be benefiting from the good press. If they really wanted to do the right thing they'd give all Microsoft shares to NGOs, make sure their wills were made out to the NGOs, and then commit suicide.

Seriously, just because it's good for Microsoft doesn't mean they're doing a bad thing. There is no such thing as pure altruism. The giver always benefits, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

Re:Not costing them anything. (2, Funny)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929028)

Hmm, but the source would still be closed after the mass suicide? Not good enough I'm afraid.

Re:Not costing them anything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928836)

1) They're not THAT concerned. But they sure are a lot more concerned than other companies or even individuals.
2) Doing that would probably get them in trouble- e.g. microsoft employees in those countries getting in trouble.

They're running a business, not a charity.

Re:Not costing them anything. (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928670)

"To you, maybe, but Microsoft could bankrupt itself inventing a machine that causes piles of food to appear in every village in Africa at the push of a button, and it wouldn't come across as philanthropic to Slashdot."

Hey, the guy or girl you're replying to does not speak for slashdot. Neither do I, just to set the record straight.

I don't like MS. I don't like their business practices. I don't like their efforts to frame things like .Net as cross platform. I don't like them when they're actively trying to screw things up for the FOSS world, and I don't like them when they're pretending to be friends. I have mixed feelings about their OS and office products and I try not to spend too much time using either.

All that said, well done Microsoft for this move. This is a good thing. It's perhaps not going to stop bad governments raiding some of these NGOs, but it does remove one more way they could try and cover it up and pretend it was reasonable.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928872)

What a wonderful succinct and insightful post. Not only do I totally agree with it, but if I didn't feel in a similar manner already, I would have a hard time arguing against it.

Mods, light up that score please!

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33930168)

Yes, you hit the nail on the head. Thanks.

Rgds

Damon

Re:Not costing them anything. (-1, Redundant)

Centurix (249778) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928426)

Maybe Microsoft is teasing them with a taste of their amazing technical support and after sales service.

I'd think most of these countries would benefit more by being given pre-thrown chairs.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928460)

a bunch of organizations in countries that probably have a 95% or higher piracy rate,
Citation needed.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928510)

It's 82% [nationmaster.com] actually, but I don't see how that invalidates GP's point.

Re:Not costing them anything. (2, Informative)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928618)

http://www.goehner.com/piracyru.htm [goehner.com]

First paragraph:

In Russia alone, with an estimated 94% software piracy rate...

Ok...so I was off by one percentage point.

http://www.chinatechnews.com/2009/05/14/9758-bsa-software-piracy-rate-down-to-80-in-china [chinatechnews.com]

So China is down to 80%, according to the BSA. Not that I trust their figures, but anyway...according to the same article,

there are seven countries where the software piracy rate is still over 90%, including Georgia, Bangladesh, Armenia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, and Moldova.

Now we look at the list of countries MS is providing free software to, according to the article:

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — as well as China, Malaysia and Vietnam.

At least a couple of countries appear in both lists. So a good portion of these countries are over 90% piracy. Maybe not all of them, but a significant amount.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929292)

When someone asks for a citation, he's not claiming you are wrong or that you have the value wrong, just asking for something more authoritative than a Slashdot post claiming it's so. This way when he makes the claim, he can point to what you cited rather than just your posting.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929476)

When someone asks for a citation, he's not claiming you are wrong or that you have the value wrong

Actually that depends. Mostly it's more like a "I find that fact surprising and difficult to believe; could you prove it". However in a case like this, where the statistics can be easily found on Google, it's definitely has an implication that the poster isn't right. Slashdot isn't Wikipedia and, for flow of conversation, a certain amount of stuff is normally assumed. Not even close to Wikipedia :-)

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928558)

So it's costing Microsoft essentially squat, but potentially improves human rights in said countries.

Commendable, but not exactly as philanthropic as MS probably wants to come across as....

Not philantropic at all, even on the short term...
The chinese govt., which pedals quite strongly on the RedFlag Linux [wikipedia.org] , is set on the track of: "What to see what is contained in the docs these pesky disdents exchange? Buy some licenses from us!"

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

lapsed (1610061) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928610)

Sometimes Microsoft does things that benefits both themselves and their customers. All businesses do this from time to time -- it's how capitalism works.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928804)

Probably the exact opposite. It's probably making them money in the form of reduced taxes. Assuming the percentage of NGOs in the countries covered that actually have valid windows licenses is less than Microsoft's effective tax rate they can effectively write off the "donations" as tax deductions and overall probably come out ahead.

Re:Not costing them anything. (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928962)

It's probably making them money in the form of reduced taxes.

This license is automatic, meaning NGOs and journalists don't have to do anything to be covered by the free license. How would they come up with a figure to write off on their taxes without some paperwork from their clients. The amount of money involved here so probably so miniscule that it would not make much of a dent in their tax bill.

Microsoft have plenty of other ways of avoiding their tax responsibility!

Re:Not costing them anything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33929142)

So basically we all need to start pirating ms products so they will eventually give it to us for free :)

Microsoft always encouraged piracy. (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928412)

Microsoft fundamentally believes there are some who will never pay for the software. Crackdown too hard on them or be too successful in preventing piracy, they might defect to Linux and open free software. So it did not try too hard to fight piracy. But the dissenters in oppressed countries might better served by specific hardened distros from Linux camp than by the free offerings from Microsoft. You never know if it has shown the source code to these governments or allowed them to install back doors.

Re:Microsoft always encouraged piracy. (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928546)

But the dissenters in oppressed countries might better served by specific hardened distros from Linux camp than by the free offerings from Microsoft. You never know if it has shown the source code to these governments or allowed them to install back doors.

You assume that dissenters (specifically, opposition NGOs, since that's what this story is about) engage in some kind of activity which they need to keep hidden from their governments.

This is not the case. I don't know, there may well be some real underground in both Russia and China, but NGOs are usually officially registered organizations that, while working towards some goals counter to the "party line", do so openly rather than undercover. They're not revolutionaries - their goal is not an armed uprising, but, usually, spreading the word (preferably via legal means), providing legal assistance to specific victims of state oppression, campaigning for law reforms, and so on.

I don't know how it is in China, but in Russia most opposition NGOs are already accused of being directly funded by CIA/Mossad/whatnot, and of acting solely in the interests of those powers to "dismantle the country and sell it to the West". For all the load of bullshit that it is, enough people believe it - and if those guys actually start to use hard crypto, or otherwise actively show that they have "something to hide", this will give all the proof the government needs to officially classify them as espionage fronts and crack down hard, under the cheers of the majority of the populace.

Another aspect of this is social... most folk in those places are not particularly knowledgeable in IT. I've helped a few with minor things in the past (basically just consulting), and I haven't seen any who could e.g. set up a Linux server on their own. Nor do they have the inclination - and, more importantly, the time and resources - to learn, since they have their hands full of more pressing stuff (like, well, documenting human rights violations, electoral fraud etc).

MS gives charity a bad name (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928416)

My god, how low will this company stoop for a dollar? Now they pretend they are displacing competitive software not because it will earn them more money, but because they are feeling charitable. Everyone knows it's a charade, except the dim bulbs who can't read past a headline. Go ahead Microsoft, take more money from the stupid people who support your shallow pretense. They're the only one who buy your crap anymore, you make the rest of us sick.

Re:MS gives charity... Do you even know who u are? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928682)

Oh gosh, whatever you say retarded fanboy is irrelevant. Microsoft or any other vendor does not have a responsability to fix all of the world problems. You got so much hatred that you are incapable of recognize a good deed from a socially responsible company.
At least they're doing something good.
And what are you doing to help those organizations?
And here you are bitching and whinning about it.
By the way, I'm surprised that no one complains about other supermillionaire it leaders for their little perhaps lack of philantropic work. Cupertino rings any bell? (to be fair they might like some privacy), but in this day in age, it's almost impossible for the world not to know what they do, inc family vacationing in Japan, on their private jet...

Re:MS gives charity... Do you even know who u are? (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929514)

Mod parent up (funny).

It's great the way the Microsoft astro-turfers have clearly been preparing for this story so much that they even jump on each other's postings as being MS

Or put another way Whooooosh... the sound you hear is a MS attack squadron coming in to kill NCO baby Bambies. Or possibly a joke.

Re:MS gives charity... Do you even know who u are? (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929526)

s/being MS/being anti-MS/ ... sorry; clearly to funny for me :-}

Anything... (5, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928526)

... to prevent them from switching to free and open software.

Microsoft, in its recent press efforts, has shown it is very concerned about free and open software. So now Microsoft is trying to disguise itself as a free and open software vendor. A crack dealer will give away free samples to obtain and retain a customer......

Re:Anything... (3, Insightful)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928908)

To be fair, if your oppressive government uses the software piracy pretext, "we use Linux" probably won't stop them from raiding the place (it would be treated the same as "but we paid for Windows"). Removing the pretext by making piracy a non-issue actually has some effect (how much of an effect depends on how much the government cares about having a plausible excuse). Yes, if everyone used Linux piracy would also be a non-issue, but unfortunately that isn't a realistic expectation.

Re:Anything... (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929090)

I don't know about you, but I will take crack over Microsoft Office any day. Apples to oranges people.

Re:Anything... (1)

Sentrion (964745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929340)

A crack dealer will give away free samples to obtain and retain a customer......

You stole my thunder. That's exactly what I was thinking when I read the headline.

Think this is philantropic? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928534)

Think again. Not doing it would a public relations disaster of epic proportions. As it stands it's an averted one. A narrowly averted public relations disaster.

The fact that they had to be told in the first place means they were well behind the curve -- as usual. I mean, seriously, they're the biggest software corp on earth, every resource you can think of. Think of what they didn't manage: A laid-back press conference saying they'd noticed years ago and quietly gave everyone they could think of a refund and free licenses. It's something you give your anti-piracy lawyers discretion to do, and hope to keep it quiet because of the abuse inherently possible with that, not something you want to have the nytimes splash all over the front page, forcing you to make an equally grand gesture to convince everyone you're not that evil.

FTFA: “We clearly have a very strong interest in ensuring that any antipiracy activities are being done for the purpose of reducing illegal piracy, and not for other purposes,” they say now, but that isn't what they always said: “Microsoft had long rejected requests from human-rights groups that it refrain from taking part in such cases, saying it was merely complying with Russian law.”

It's damage control, is what it is.

Re:Think this is philantropic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928850)

Think again. Not doing it would a public relations disaster of epic proportions. As it stands it's an averted one. A narrowly averted public relations disaster.

WTF are you trolling about?? So, Oracle would have a "PR disaster" because some gov't said that X organization was running Oracle DB without a license?? Or do you honestly think that now the said gov't will not use some other law to shit on X organization?? I guess it's easy to blame Microsoft or Oracle or some corp, but not the government that is trying to destroy the said organization!?

There was an old saying that is very true: "Find me a man you want eliminated, and I'll find the paragraph we'll hang him with". It doesn't matter if Microsoft gave them the license!

Want another example? See, wikileaks. They can't intimidate the man or throw him in jail, so they cut off funding. What law did he break? Yes, I'm certain there are plenty that can be found to crucify him too.

I, for one, (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928538)

celebrate Microsoft's initiative and commitment to making this world a better place. I will write a personal letter to whoever made this decision if I can find out who saying the same.

Re:I, for one, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928564)

I, for one, [will] celebrate Microsoft's initiative and commitment to making this world a better place. I will write a personal letter to whoever made this decision if I can find out who saying the same.

Footnote: using a pirated copy of Windows and Word of course.

This is pretty straightforward (0)

lavagolemking (1352431) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928566)

This is just damage control. Microsoft got egg on their face [slashdot.org] a while back when they backed "piracy" raids, so now they're trying to provide the illusion of remorse and "make things right" so the Slashdot/Linux crowd can't use it as ammo against them and their anti-piracy campaign.

Re:This is pretty straightforward (3, Insightful)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928694)

The Russian government treats copyright law as a criminal, as opposed to civil matter. The Russians would ask Microsoft if they were all licensed up, and Microsoft's people in the area were saying "no", probably because they didn't have enough pull to say "yes" within Microsoft.

It's typical bureaucracy. When the negative PR reached Redmond, they were like, "Whaaaaaa?" and responded by saying all NGOs in Russia are licensed, period.

Microsoft is now expanding the program in other countries where they suspect similar tactics may be used. How shameful.

The link you're looking for (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928770)

Ponosov's case [wikipedia.org] .

Aleksandr Ponosov was charged with illegal use of unlicensed (pirate) copies of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office on 12 computers being used in the school (article 146.3 of the Russian Criminal Code) and of damnification of 266,593.63 rubles (about 10,000 USD) to Microsoft Corporation. The charges could result in 5 years of imprisonment.

....

As a result of the pilot programs, in October 2008, Russian officials mandated that all schools use open source software.

Followup article [silicontaiga.org]

Okay, I'll play. (1, Funny)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928582)

America sucks. Where's my free copy of Office 2010?

Re:Okay, I'll play. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928924)

It's not America you need to criticize to be subject to such tactics in the US.

It's the Democrats, or their fearless, arrogant, selfish, cowardly leader, the annointed one, and his Czars.

Dear Microsoft (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928592)

We are oppressed Americans and Canadians who can't afford movies and TV shows. Can you pay the MPAA and TVAA on our behalf?

Thanks in advance.
Signed, everyone.

That's so nice of them. (2, Funny)

droidsURlooking4 (1543007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928604)

Linux should really do this too. Oh, wait..

open source windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928636)

they're going to need to open source windows to try and win the dough.

Description is misleading (0, Flamebait)

gratuitous_arp (1650741) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928664)

It plans to provide no cost, no freedom software licenses to more than 500,000 advocacy groups

Free can mean more than one thing. Gratis MS products enables a lower cost of entry into slavery.

Re:Description is misleading (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928700)

Yes, because that's completely a reasonable comparison to make. Buying Microsoft is really just buying yourself into slavery.

Geezus guys, who gives a frak if it benefits M$?!! (2, Insightful)

LazLong (757) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928712)

What the Russian gov't is doing to the political opposition is criminal. Odds are that M$'s motives aren't pure as I'm sure someone, if not the originator of the idea, knew M$ would get good PR in the West for their actions. If one grants that their ulterior motives are impure it only underscores the beauty of what M$ is doing: Giving the Russian gov't a dose of their own medicine. What M$ is doing is along the same lines as Russia in that they are both doing something that they know will get good PR in the West but with 'hidden' self-serving ulterior motives. Russia deserves a dose of its own medicine. Kudos to M$ for poking the Russian gov't in the eye, even if M$ gets some benefit from it!

To those who point out the possibility/fact that Russia will just find some other pretext to appear to be legally cracking down on the Oligarchy's enemies, this doesn't mean that simply rolling over and giving up because that could/will happen is the correct course of action. If the opposition does that, then Russia will just continue to be the frakked up entity it has been since at least the time of Kievan Rus'.

What the hell (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928818)

This is ridiculous. I thought Slashdot was finally over this kind of thing?

I'm sorry man, I lost you after the third dollar sign. No one will take your arguments seriously like this, anymore than anyone would take someone obviously biased against FOSS repeatedly using terms like "linsux" or "open sores".

No mercy... (1)

FalafelXXX (598968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928732)

First oppressed by the governments, and now oppressed by using Microsoft products. There is no mercy in this world.

harsh treatment (2, Funny)

cas2000 (148703) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928734)

wow, that's harsh.

it would be far less cruel to just leave them to the tender mercies of the secret police and torture squads.

Non-profits should use open source (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928806)

Non-profit organizations tend to be of the community centered local skills development political lean.
If they are true to their ideology they should be using open source.

Using Microsoft software is not very community focused and even if they are not paying for it they are supporting the monopoly through futher extending the install base. And the talent level in local software is limited to install the software and if it fails, reinstall it.

logical flaw (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928840)

How is a legal copy going to stop an "inquiry." Someone can have an inquiry that I've got a panda fighting ring in my basement and it being not true doesn't mean they can't investigate (or pretend to). I think maybe they just used the wrong word because it sounds like governments are using actual proof of piracy against them though.

Re:logical flaw (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928948)

It should hopefully prevent them from being arrested on trumped up charges of pirating $200 USD OSes, $400 USD Office Software.

Dumping? (1)

khchung (462899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928888)

Those software cost money to produce, so giving them away for free to another country's customers is obviously dumping by any measure.

So those countries can complain to WTO that USA is dumping IP products to their country and apply import taxes on these licenses, then they can bust those organizations for "tax evasion" instead of piracy. What's more, since Microsoft gave them those licenses, they can "investigate" Microsoft for "assisting tax evasion" as a payback.

Brilliant.

trying to avert Russia from being another Brazil (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#33928912)

from what I recall from this old story, there was lots of noise about using open source software instead of Microsoft's because of how the government was using the licensing issues to dig into the computers. The move was to push for completely replacing Windows and Microsoft software because at that point there is nothing but a public relations issue for the government if word started getting out there was nothing to warrant the searches.

This isn't unlike how Microsoft, via the BSA, was going after US School systems to get them to sign expensive licensing contracts.
The BSA would force an expensive audit and find some unlicensed software. There would be hugely expensive fines or Microsoft would agree to just an expensive multi-year license agreement and forgive all unlicensed software fines. The school systems were discussing this and some just jumped off of Windows and started to show how the others could too. Microsoft and the BSA pulled out and offered much cheaper licensing deals. The jumps to GNU/Linux and open source software dropped off.

LoB

Link (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33928976)

For anyone who wants to see the link without being prompted to register to nytimes.com:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/world/17russia.html

On hte other hand... (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929130)

Who do you think lobbied for laws that let government meddle in software licensing?

Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33929442)

The idea here is to emulate the good press Google got fighting the Chinese.

no no no, it is about new markets (1)

justhatched (1291470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33929516)

Piracy is much better than the alternative, using the alternative happily. Making a feel-good story out of giving to people what they have already taken that they cannot pay for must be such a cool result for a middlemanaging doublespeak specialist!

You people are typical slashdot idiots. Go away. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33929908)

All of you are a bunch of uncritical bozos. I applaud Microsoft for stopping the russian government from eviscerating any NGO they don't like because they run pirated software.

Uhh nuh, let's start me daiye to going to the slashdot to bash teh microsofts, I must am l33t.

You Fail It!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33930290)

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