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Software Piracy Due to Expensive Hardware, Says Ballmer

michael posted about 10 years ago | from the passing-the-buck dept.

Software 814

frdmfghtr writes "ZDNet is running a story where Steve Ballmer tries to pin the blame of software copyright infringement on expensive hardware: 'One way to stem piracy is to offer consumers in emerging countries a low-cost PC, Ballmer said. "There has to be...a $100 computer to go down-market in some of these countries. We have to engineer (PCs) to be lighter and cheaper," he said.' Does he think that cheaper hardware will make copying software harder to do?"

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What's MS going to Do? (5, Interesting)

stecoop (759508) | about 10 years ago | (#10586199)

When Google integrates an OS as their service. Imagine that one-day a Google like service where you turn on your computer and it connects to Google without any local OS (other than a BIOS and hopefully the BIOS is the Open Source one). Your files, settings and information are stored on the service. Sure you could have USB drives locally to store private info if you desire. But I wonder what Mr. Ballmer would say to that lowest of low price cheap hardware? You could take the money that would have been spent on the OS and allocate that to help pay for the service. At $100/12 = $8 a month; even at $300/12 = $25 per month - not bad having a use anywhere service whereby you don't have to maintain the OS or the Hardware.

Re:What's MS going to Do? (5, Insightful)

xmas2003 (739875) | about 10 years ago | (#10586351)

YEP - right now, a retail copy of Windoze sells for something like $300 (my guess is bundled cost to Dell/Compaq/etc. is around $50 or so) ... so for the $500 hardware PC, the incremental cost of the OS from the manufacturer is 10% ... so it's still somewhat "hidden" - I DO wonder if they actually sell much Windoze at the retail price of about $300.

Now ... PC hardware drops to $100 ... so now the cost of the OS is 50% ... becomes a LOT more visible to both the manufacturers and also the end-users.

And finally, as the parent points out, what happens when a service is provided and the hardware is provided for free ... ala how Cell Phones are done today.

Re:What's MS going to Do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586469)

Windows Xp home is $95 at newegg.

Re:What's MS going to Do? (1, Insightful)

Errtu76 (776778) | about 10 years ago | (#10586356)

Running an aplication without the use of an OS ... uh-huh. Exactly *how* this application is supposed to run is beyond my imagination. Also think about this: would you really store your sensitive data on a public system? What if it's compromised? What if it crashes? And paying for something that's free now?

Re:What's MS going to Do? (1, Funny)

Libor Vanek (248963) | about 10 years ago | (#10586461)

When you have to buy 100$ computer you aren't expect to have any really-sensitive data on it...

GoogleOS? (1)

theluckyleper (758120) | about 10 years ago | (#10586357)

Good point.

I'd better run out and check if or has been registered, so we can start the rumor mill.

Tell that to the C64 warez community (0)

mekkab (133181) | about 10 years ago | (#10586203)

"Did you hear that Bob? Err, I mean, 'Blue Beard'?" (which is NOT a good pirate name!)

Geez Louise (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10586210)

He's really grasping at straws, isn't he? Anecdotal evidence suggests the exact opposite. When the price of hardware goes down, the market generally demands that software costs go down as well. That's why there's so much griping about Windows being large chunk of computer costs these days. I've even heard people use that as justification for pirating software! ("My computer only cost $500, so why should I pay Microsoft $250 for Windows?")

In addition, many people seem to be particularly upset that they're forced to pay Microsoft enormous sums again, and again, even if they don't want to. In other words, people feel like they've already payed Microsoft their dues, so why should they pay it all over again? This has the effect of delaying upgrades until new computers are purchased, with businesses being the primary exception.

Because of Microsoft's stranglehold on the market, they are able to rope companies into upgrade contracts that extort payment for new versions. Under these contracts, failure to upgrade results in higher costs for later upgrades. So much higher that it makes more sense to upgrade now rather than later. Could any other company pull these sorts of strong-arm tactics? Of course not! In any other business, you'd find a competitor and switch to them (or at least use it as a negotiation tactic).

Let's hope that the rise of Mac OS X, Linux, Novell, and Sun as desktop competitors will finally provide a viable choice for both home and business.

Re:Geez Louise (3, Interesting)

Steven Reddie (237450) | about 10 years ago | (#10586293)

He's a funny guy. How are they going to justify to customers that some general purpose software on $0.20 media costs more than a physical piece of hardware?

Re:Geez Louise (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10586400)

Starving Microsoft programmers. Yep. They'll start printing ads of programmers out on the street with signs that say "Will program for food!". Never mind that Microsoft programmers are some of the most handsomely paid in the business. They're starving because you won't pay more for software!

Re:Geez Louise (5, Insightful)

gcaseye6677 (694805) | about 10 years ago | (#10586412)

Balmer just keeps getting dumber and dumber. When will the board of Microsoft wake up and can his ass? He seems to be one of the few people in the world who just cannot grasp how fucked Microsoft will be once their Windows/Office revenue stream dries up. All he has to offer is excuses and half-baked ideas like product registration (did anyone not think this would be cracked?) and licensing deals that are so unappealing they lead companies to seriously consider other platforms. Balmer is the perfect example of a PHB in the extreme.

Re:Geez Louise (4, Insightful)

tambo (310170) | about 10 years ago | (#10586417)

He's really grasping at straws, isn't he?

Absolutely. By this reasoning, gasoline if cars cost less. Although the products are used together, their prices and markets are almost completely unrelated.

In addition, many people seem to be particularly upset that they're forced to pay Microsoft enormous sums again, and again, even if they don't want to.

Correct. That is, of course, Microsoft's core business: virtually all of their strategy involves cementing the position of Windows on the desktop, so that they can charge people again for the same product every time they buy the machine. An even better example is Microsoft Office, which hasn't noticeably improved since before 2000, yet still costs $250 or so.

Let's hope that the rise of Mac OS X, Linux, Novell, and Sun as desktop competitors will finally provide a viable choice for both home and business.

Sadly, that really won't happen until there is one compatible, OS-neutral software platform. Most new commercial software is written for Windows - that's simply a fact - and it's because of (a) the network effect of such a large market, and (b) the success Microsoft has had with making Windows software development incredibly easy. Compare a nicely-fleshed-out Windows application, with automatic visual styles and Direct3D and OpenFileDialog boxes, with wonky Java applets that might run in a browser, and might just break.

So the way to break the Windows monopoly is to create one finely-honed programming platform. When the latest 3D games and business apps run just as well (or better!) on Linux as on Windows, the migration barrier will be much reduced, and people will switch in greater numbers.

- David Stein

I thought it was obvious... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | about 10 years ago | (#10586437)

Push for the development of a standardized, low-cost computer, and you can ensure that whatever hardware you want goes into that computer. Like hardware-level access controls. (TCPA comes to mind.)

It's not the low-cost that would prevent piracy, it's the design. Otherwise, they'd strip down their XBox design and market it as a computer.

Re:Geez Louise (5, Insightful)

Daengbo (523424) | about 10 years ago | (#10586465)

When the price of hardware goes down, the market generally demands that software costs go down as well.

This is exactly what I was thinking. When I lived in Thailand, the government promoted a low-cost computer with Linux pre-installed. They offered easy financing with 0% interest through the governments ?credit union?, I think.

This did not in any way affect the piracy problem. In fact, it created such downward pressure on MS's prices that the first crack appeared in the "one price around the world" policy. The piracy rate didn't change (it couldn't really go up...), and in the end, nothing changed.

Low hardware prices will not solve MS's problems.

Yep. and give everyone a free gun (1, Funny)

acro-god (761485) | about 10 years ago | (#10586211)

...and crime will go down.

Re:Yep. and give everyone a free gun (2, Informative)

SparklingClearWit (792141) | about 10 years ago | (#10586338)

I'm not sure if you post in jest, or not, but there is some actual evidence to back up your comment.

Kennesaw county in Georgia (near Atlanta) requires every household to own a firearm and ammunition for that firearm. Their crime rate since the law was enacted in 1982 has fallen greatly.

Other places in the country where gun ownership has been restricted have likewise seen their crime rates climb, as the criminals obtain guns, regardless of the law.

Think about this: If you're a criminal, are you going to hit a house/person that probably *has* a gun, or are you going to go for a place where they probably *don't* have a gun? :)

Sorry for the hijack, but that little comment always makes me wonder if those who say it really understand the point they're making.


Re:Yep. and give everyone a free gun (1)

pmazer (813537) | about 10 years ago | (#10586390)

Actually, it could, by the same effect nuclear proliferation had. If everyone has a gun, no one wants to use it for the fear that the other will use his against you.

Re:Yep. and give everyone a free gun (1)

acro-god (761485) | about 10 years ago | (#10586430)

By the same token... If everyone had a copy of the latest OS, no one would steal it.

Re:Yep. and give everyone a free gun (-1)

zulux (112259) | about 10 years ago | (#10586453)

After serving for two years, each Swiss adult gets a free semi-automatic assault rifle to take home. And a few cases of ammo.

Crime is low in Switzerland. Very low.

This guy doesn't know geeks! (4, Insightful)

slars (410355) | about 10 years ago | (#10586217)

OK, give me a $100 computer, but I'll still refuse to pay for Micro$oft crap on my computer!

Re:This guy doesn't know geeks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586448)

couldn't agree more.

Wow. (4, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 10 years ago | (#10586218)

It's absolutely amazing that the head of one the biggest corporations can publcily say something so totally and utterly stupid.

Re:Wow. (5, Funny)

The Queen (56621) | about 10 years ago | (#10586313)

Why is that surprising? They let Bush do it all the time, and he's the head of the biggest corporation in the world. ;-)

Re:Wow. (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10586359)

It's not an accident. Microsoft has been trying for a long time now to convince consumers that software is more valuable than hardware. The problem is that I don't think Microsoft understands the issue of tangibility. Even the greenest user understands that hardware is tangible (they can touch it, see it, pitch it out the window, etc.) while software is intangible (can't do much other that look at it and interact with it).

When you take into account how natural it is to place more value on a physical object vs. an intangible (e.g. a service rendered such as plumbing), is it any wonder why consumers are ignoring Microsoft's mind-bender campaign?

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586444)

When you take into account how natural it is to place more value on a physical object vs. an intangible (e.g. a service rendered such as plumbing), is it any wonder why consumers are ignoring Microsoft's mind-bender campaign?

Exactly. That's why it only costs me only $20 to get a nice hummer from the corner streetworker, but 3 installments of $39.95 to get the Ronco Pump-O-Matic.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586361)

not really...

have you ever seen the video fo that man???

how can ANY microsoft employee show their face in public knowing that is the idiot at the wheel?

Re:Wow. (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10586449)

how can ANY microsoft employee show their face in public knowing that is the idiot at the wheel?

Because they know he's a puppet? And they know the puppet-master well? (Insert ominous music here)

Re:Wow. (0)

erroneus (253617) | about 10 years ago | (#10586394)

True that -- but have you heard Bush speaking on TV?

Re:Wow. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586452)

Why? The president of one of the biggest countries publically says stupid things [] all the time.

Re:Wow. (1)

Deviate_X (578495) | about 10 years ago | (#10586477)

if you actually read the ariticle you will see that he didn't say what you Micheal thought he said.

Zdnet said: "One way to stem piracy is to offer consumers in emerging countries a low-cost PC"

which was magically derived from the ballmer quote: "There has to be...a $100 computer to go down-market in some of these countries. We have to engineer (PCs) to be lighter and cheaper"

Software Piracy Due to Expensive Hardware (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | about 10 years ago | (#10586224)

Software Piracy Due to Expensive Hardware, Says Balmer
I think he spelled "software" wrong again.

Speeding due to long roads (5, Funny)

jarich (733129) | about 10 years ago | (#10586229)

In other news, it was announced that speeding was primarily due to long roads. Starting next year, all roads will be shortened by 10% and this should achieve a 10% slowdown in highway speeds.

Ummmm yeah... expensive hardware (1)

a_nonamiss (743253) | about 10 years ago | (#10586230)

Yeah, software piracy is completely due to expensive hardwre. It has nothing whatsoever to do with overprices software. How can we have cheap PC's when the OS costs 25% + of the purcahse price of the PC?

Re:Ummmm yeah... expensive hardware (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | about 10 years ago | (#10586466)

Let's see... my "friend" that copies software has the following illegal copies:

Microsoft Windows XP
Microsoft Office XP
Microsoft Visio
Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
Microsoft SQL Server 2000

They are prohibitively expensive. Lowering hardware prices won't help people come up with the $10,000 it would take to buy this stuff.

Dance, monkey boy, dance! (1)

donalbain (513712) | about 10 years ago | (#10586231)

Further proof, if any were needed that Ballmer's grip on reality is becoming yet more tenuous.

Linux / OSS will not bring M$ down, it's already happening internally.

how MUCH cheaper? (3, Interesting)

bondjamesbond (99019) | about 10 years ago | (#10586232)

When you can buy a pretty good OS-less computer at for around $250us, that's pretty good. No, BALDmer, we need cheaper software.

See, he's right! (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 10 years ago | (#10586323)

> When you can buy a pretty good OS-less computer at for around $250us, that's pretty good.

Yes, but when the computers get down to $-500US, they can be sold with lots of bundled software for $250US, and nobody will need to steal anymore.

I smell... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586236)

"Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!..."

price of the PC??? (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 10 years ago | (#10586239)

So I buy a $100 PC, but then need $700 for an OS and desktop suite (WP, spreadsheet, et. al)? Steve, put down the pipe, you've been hanging out with Darl too long.
Or is this a sinister MS plot to get people hooked on cheap PCs, then use a subscription $9.95 a month model to 'rent' the software?

Actually... (0, Redundant)

Chrontius (654879) | about 10 years ago | (#10586240)

Isn't the problem expensive software?

Re:Actually... (1)

fl3shymut4nt (823924) | about 10 years ago | (#10586311)

Cheaper hardware will let the comsumer afford the higher priced software, thus less pirating of M$ software, right?

That would mean that all this linux business is keeping hardware prices high.

More M$ FUD...

Re:Actually... (1)

G-Licious! (822746) | about 10 years ago | (#10586370)

Try and convince Ballmer to admit that.

Monkey see, monkey do. (2, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 10 years ago | (#10586243)

He's just been seeing too many politicians making absurd claims on television lately, and thought he ought to get in on it too.

Ah....No (5, Insightful)

deanj (519759) | about 10 years ago | (#10586244)

PCs are cheap here. You can get an entry level PC for less than $500. Still there's piracy.

Look at the Palm or mobile phones. Cheap cheap cheap. Still there's piracy.... and a lot of those programs only cost $5.

The cost of hardware and software have nothing to do with it. If there's a way to get a "free copy", some people will always go that route.

Translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586247)

Companies that make hardware shouldn't be allowed to make a decent profit. Microsoft should be allowed to continue to extort as much profit as possible.

Because (1)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | about 10 years ago | (#10586251)

Maybe it's because cheap hardware doesn't meet the requirements for anything worth pirating?

Low cost PC? (1)

thebudgie (810919) | about 10 years ago | (#10586252)

It is already possible to make very low cost PC's- any lower and manufacturers would make heavy losses, aren't there programs to send lots of the old hardware away to these countries instead of filling up landfills and recycling plants with it?

Another reason pirating happens is often the price of the software itself- how will cheaper hardware affect software prices?

software is expensive (1)

sporkums (618106) | about 10 years ago | (#10586253)

Maybe the reason for piracy is that the software itself is expensive. Duh...

Its the Software Stupid! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586258)

Um I have the feeling if a computer cost 10$ in 3rd world countries people would still steal software cause ITS THE PART THAT IS TOO BLOODY EXPENSIVE for their economy.

hundreds of dollars for office, photoshop, windows, ect. (Yes I know there are alternatives, but many people do not know about OpenOffice, Gimp, and Linux.)

cheap hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586260)

Does he think that cheaper hardware will make copying software harder to do?

lets hope so?

Better Solution... (2, Insightful)

YodaToo (776221) | about 10 years ago | (#10586262)

Offer them excellent open source software for free. This way they won't even be tempted to pirate the stuff.

OK, that explains it... (5, Insightful)

schon (31600) | about 10 years ago | (#10586264)

MS's problems aren't because they don't understand security, or customer satisfaction, or that monopolies are held to a different standard..

It's because the people in charge live in a different universe!

You have something with almost zero marginal cost, and mark-up measured in thousands of percent, and he thinks the problem is because the *hardware* (which has a large marginal cost, and has mark-up measured in the single-digit percentages) is too expensive?

Sweet Jebus, software is pirated in third world nations because the software is too expensive.

I wonder what color the sky is in his world?

Re:OK, that explains it... (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 10 years ago | (#10586471)

Why the hell did someone mod the parent post insightful?


You have something with almost zero marginal cost

I sure as hell hope you aren't talking about the software, because you would be dead wrong. You have to pay SOMEONE to write the software, and in MS's case, that's a lot of someones over a long period of time. I would imagine it's cost them billion+ to write the current version of XP.

That is hardly "zero marginal cost". And you know what? They have every right to charge however much they want for it. And you know what else? No one is entitled to use it. If you want to use it, you pay their terms.

Honestly, I hate people who steal software as much as I hate companies that charge too much for their crap. But you know what? It's THEIRS to charge whatever they wish.

That's a hard concept for a lot of people.

A $100 computer? (1)

G-Licious! (822746) | about 10 years ago | (#10586272)

A Windows license is atleast half of that, or slightly less in case of the XP Starter Edition. But we're not going to see that in alot of countries.

Either way, it doesn't leave alot on the hardware side of things.

XP costs as much as a CPU (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 10 years ago | (#10586276)

At the moment, Windows XP costs as much as a CPU.

I guess if the overall computer got cheaper, Microsoft could jack up the prices for Windows and nobody would notice a huge price change.

Well, considering Microsoft is looking at a bleak future in the PC operating systems market, this may be their only hope. A sign of desperation perhaps?

You can find $100.00 PCs (2, Insightful)

gi-tux (309771) | about 10 years ago | (#10586277)

If you look for something that is old enough. Oh, but they won't run his bloatware :-| I guess that he is still wanting to sell M$ software, not use them with Linux.

So he is talking a $100.00 PC with a $200.00 OS and $500.00 office suite? How is this going to cut down on piracy?

I beg your pardon? (5, Interesting)

delta_avi_delta (813412) | about 10 years ago | (#10586279)

I'm sorry, but less than 24 hours after a story here discussed the pirate industry in Russia, and made the point that the average monthly wage is $240, and some software licences cost $600, comes this?

Please. Cheaper hardware is going to exacerbate the situation by providing even more poor people with the desire for new software that the can't affoard. The only solution is to take computers from poor people. I'm joking, but I hope you can see my point...

He's crazy like a fox. (4, Insightful)

AtariAmarok (451306) | about 10 years ago | (#10586280)

He may look like Young Frankenstein, and dance like Elaine Benes, but the man is a shrewed business shark. Either what he says is true, or more likely it is a "FUD" plan by Microsoft to achieve some sort of effect that we are not discussing here. From my point of view, however, his statement makes no sense at all.

How will this work? (4, Insightful)

Negatyfus (602326) | about 10 years ago | (#10586281)

A $149 PS2 didn't stop GTA: San Andreas from being pirated.

It's a sport for the crackers, often easier than buying for the consumers and always cheaper. So how is paying for software to compete with getting it for free and without leaving the house?

Them's some big cajones. (1)

boinger (4618) | about 10 years ago | (#10586291)

MonkeyBoy [] has some serious balls to spout such BS when their most popular app (Office) costs more than many low-end computers as it is.

(And I maintain that Office is their most popular app because, as we all know, IE isn't an app - it's part of the OS. *cough*)

He still doesn't get it (1)

bblazer (757395) | about 10 years ago | (#10586292)

I seem to title every response to a Ballmer quote this way. Now he want cheaper hardware. Will microsoft also follow suit? He just wants hardware costs to come down so he can get into emerging markets AND keep his profits. I have absolutely no problem with profits. But this just shows how MS uses sideways tactic to get them. In a time when the tech industry is realizing the high TCO of the redmond giant, what do they do? Try to get the hardware makers to lower their costs. Someone really has to tell the emperor about his clothes.

Sure thing (1)

gowen (141411) | about 10 years ago | (#10586297)

Fact: my Athlon 2400 PC (a whole bundle of difficult-to-fabricate components) costs less than Microsoft Office Pro (a few easily duplicated CDs), and Steve tells me its the hardware thats overpriced. Sure Steve. Whatever.

On the contrary... (1)

ohad_l (683421) | about 10 years ago | (#10586298)

What mr. "You can run a clock AND a calculator at the SAME TIME with Windows 1.0!" here is basically saying, that out of the pie that is the money paid for a new computer, software vendors (Microsoft) should get a bigger piece (than the people who actually make the computer itself). They want the price of computer hardware to go down so it'll be easier for them to shove their malfunctioning OS down everyone's throat. No siree bob. I paid good money for a powerful, reliable set of electronics components. Software is the instruction manual for them to work. Instruction manuals should be Free. Go OSS!

Does he think that cheaper hardware ... (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | about 10 years ago | (#10586299)

Will make copying software harder to do?

No, he thinks he can starve the hardware companies, and take all of that $100 himself, which is more than Microsoft would have gotten out of thirdworlder anyway. Not to mention he'll then have software lockin, when in 50 years the third world is better industrialized and those people have more money to spend (and the police state to enforce infringement).

Steve Ballmer makes my head hurt (1)

lavar78 (573962) | about 10 years ago | (#10586307)

The main reason people aren't paying for software because hardware's too expensive? WTF?

It doesn't seem like his focus is on piracy (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | about 10 years ago | (#10586309)

After RTFA he talks about how pc's need to be under $100, he talks about how they need to do this in contries such as India where there are 5x as many hotmail accounts than PC largly do to internet cafe's.

He's not talking about piracy at all, He wants more money by having everyone in these countries buying a PC. Think of how much miney they are losing because many people use 1 pc. Piracy my arse. He's trying to make more money.

Ballmer Doesn't Seem To Know.... (1)

Chaotic Evil Cleric (622653) | about 10 years ago | (#10586310)

.... about the X-Box.

It's very inexpensive, and as far as I know, it's the most hacked system out there.

Don't bother RTFA'ing (1)

mekkab (133181) | about 10 years ago | (#10586315)

First of all, the writer of the article should be ashamed. This article makes no sense.

Second of all, if Ballmer said these things, HE should be ashamed. His quotes make no sense. "Integrated Innovation?" Even your own employees don't know WTF it means?! Come on!

Companies have been talking about making computers "simpler, easier, more productive" since Shockley "invented" the transistor.

Don't waste your time, move on.

Hardware price is not the problem (1)

Advocadus Diaboli (323784) | about 10 years ago | (#10586326)

If one can afford a PC spends an amount of money for that thing. Its something he sees, it has a sort of visible value. And usually it comes bundled with an operating system from a well known firm.

The software price is something else. Why the hell shall someone pay lots of $$$$ for a piece of software that can be copied easily. Especially since he has to pay, but the producer of the software product refuses to be liable for any problems that result in using this thing. So people see that they are just there to pay and to increase the profits of the software company.

Cheaper PCs won't solve this problem. And I know that its much more difficult to lower the hardware price because the margin in hardware is just a few percent for every unit sold. The big profit seems to be in software... deliver something that doesn't work, charge the user like hell and then refuse to make it work.

And BTW: Its not a problem at all since there is a lot of free open source software availabe for everyone. So all what Microsoft is going for is to lower the price of (PC+Software) without losing their profits.

WTF? (1, Funny)

Jakhel (808204) | about 10 years ago | (#10586332)

What the fuck is this guy talking about? Does he just pick random words from a dictionary and say them hoping to form a sentence in the process?

By the way, a press release has been posted on Microsoft's website today. It turns out that the reason for so many new Windows XP security flaws is because footballs aren't fuzzy.

huh? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 10 years ago | (#10586339)

I just have to ask -- if you're getting the hardware for $100, are you going to shell out $300 for software?

I don't remember there being so many complaints about software piracy when it was $3-4k for the hardware, and maybe $20-50 for most software.

All that you're going to have is more people who can afford the hardware, but can't afford the software on top of it... and more piracy as a result.

Hmm (1)

Vorro (124142) | about 10 years ago | (#10586340)

It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that many people consider downloading from the internet or talking a friend into burning a copy much easier than shelling out however much the program costs.

Even more, will making cheaper computers bring down the ridiculous price tag of some [] applications [] ?

A high price tag in software most certainly does not justify piracy, but it certainly helps to facilitate it.

Completely unrelated (1)

Trolling4Columbine (679367) | about 10 years ago | (#10586342)

If people can get ahold of cheaper hardware, then good for them. That isn't going to make them more willing to pay full price for software.

Some people will always want to get shit for free. Inexpensive hardware doesn't make that $125 OS any cheaper, let alone free.

Microsoft always thinks with their wallet (1)

hacker (14635) | about 10 years ago | (#10586343)

"Does he think that cheaper hardware will make copying software harder to do?"

No, but it will allow Microsoft to penetrate these markets even deeper by providing those $100.00 PCs with a slimmed-down version of the Windows operating system, of course. (Granted, those $100.00 PCs will also be used to run Linux, if they get to be that cheap, which furthers Microsoft's own assertion that Linux on PCs allow people to pirate Windows).

It also falls in line with their previously-stated goals to populate third-world countries with these PCs as well. Those countries can't afford it in their budgets, but if you make the cost of the PC $100.00 or "near-free", at some level, you can get more copies of Microsoft Windows into more people's hands.

Support Plucker, buy some gear! []

It's the software, stööpid (1)

multi-flavor-geek (586005) | about 10 years ago | (#10586346)

I have no problem spending money on computer hardware, but I balk at spending anything on software. More than half of the time it does not work the way would like so I get rid of it, and for that reason alone I refuse to pay for it. On the flipside of that arguement though, when I find something that I really do like I will buy it, even though I have a cracked copy.
If the software industry wants to put an end to piracy, maybe they could try putting out software that doesn't suck rocks once in a while. Although I know this would be tough for M$ to stomach, there are a lot of companies hat are coiming relatively close and just need to push quality to the last step to be respected and trusted.

Pure lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586347)

Cheap hardware causes people to reevaluate Windows, and use Linux instead (because Windows will cost substantially higher in pencentage cost compared to hardware). So, Microsoft certainly does not want so. However, because of fear of Linux, they will do whatever it takes to be first in the 3rd world country. You see how they did this with US market: take a large market share, and people will not switch easily. So, they will try to subsidize and sell cheap hardware (directly or not). Basically give a way for dirt cheap like XBox with a lost. Then gain market share. Why would this sneaky snaky guy talks about this. So it will help him later on when people start sueing them for undersell and dumping and anti competitive. It's all monopoly.

The thing they don't know is that Linux will be easier and easier until the point that their assumption about the migration pain proved to be wrong.

Oh, I just gave them this hint. Well, there's not much else they can do.

In other news, RIAA says manufacturing costs... (2, Funny)

tbase (666607) | about 10 years ago | (#10586352)

...of CD's is to blame for pirated music.

Let's see, the cost and performance of PC hardware is constantly dropping, and how's the price of software been doing?

You know, if they'd just sell hummers for $100, people wouldn't steal gas anymore.

i'd have to say.... (1)

to_kallon (778547) | about 10 years ago | (#10586354)

microsoft's problem may be more along the lines of......

Let me see here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586364)

A fair desktop machine can run between $300, and $400 to build. A copy of winxp pro is $200, and a copy of win2000 pro is $300, and server $800??? Why is it that the software is as much, or more than hardware? I can go download BeOS, Linux, or most other systems for free. Panther costs about $110. Why is windows pirated so much? Because it costs TOO much, just like paying $17 for a CD with 8 songs is plain rediculous.

He didn't say that..... (1)

chrisopherpace (756918) | about 10 years ago | (#10586373)

He said:
One way to stem piracy is to offer consumers in emerging countries a low-cost PC, Ballmer said. "There has to be...a $100 computer to go down-market in some of these countries. We have to engineer (PCs) to be lighter and cheaper," he said.

No where did he actually blame PC hardware for piracy. He simply said that in the "lower" markets, there need to be cheaper PCs to help curb the piracy issue. Big difference in the two statements.

Rubbish! (1)

rajinder83 (646283) | about 10 years ago | (#10586379)

What rubbish!!! Piracy of SOFTWARE has nothing to do with HARDWARE!!! Wake up MS!!!

Software most costly than hardware? (1)

Neil Watson (60859) | about 10 years ago | (#10586391)

I find it hard to believe that it costs more money to develop software that it does to design and manufacture hardware. This seems like FUD to me. Hardware, over time, becomes less expensive and gives better performance. Why is software exempt from this? Why does Windows cost more now that it did in the past? Why does MS Office cost more now than in the past? Is it somehow more costly to improve and existing code base instead of designing a new one?

Who to blame (1)

lecuyerjm (778596) | about 10 years ago | (#10586398)

Just think who profit the most of piracy.

-It make their software know
-It make their compagny know
-We speak about them (In good or bad)
-Piracy create a need for people who don't know how to pirate. So they go buy the software.

Think about that guy, Compagny are playing a game when they say that they suffer of piracy. In sort of manner, their software become know because of piracy.

Hardware is not the reason why we pirate, its only because we know how, and Software Compagny's know that.
But sure that in Software Compagny's were getting pirate too much, thing would change. No one work for peanut.


Huh? Ballmer's as unintelligible as ever. (1)

nuzoo (588862) | about 10 years ago | (#10586403)

"PCs are not selling to the lower end of the population in China and India. People buying machines there are relatively affluent. So...should the prices be lower? Not really. Until government and situational factors reduce piracy...those affluent people cannot pay, so they don't pay," Ballmer said.


This makes absolutely no sense. Though, if you look closely at most things Ballmer says, they don't make any sense either.

windows needs expensive hardware (1)

cwebb1977 (650175) | about 10 years ago | (#10586411)

The problem is windows is in dire need of fast and expensive hardware. Doing everyday stuff doesn't wotk faster now than with older windows versions. Why? hardware got faster for sure.

Maybe we "pirate" SW cause we're ...human (1)

FerretFrottage (714136) | about 10 years ago | (#10586413)

I think it's mostly a human "fault". Everybody has a moral compass more a less. I suspecy for very few it's always pointing directly North (eveyone has mud on their shoes), while for many of the "chronic" pirates. it's always due South. For many others, myself included, it's in the middle. I'll find something on a torrent/usenet group that looks interesting (may be music or sw) and if I truely like it, I'll buy it (doom3, far cry, painkiller, Children of Dune soundtrack come to mind). Now I don't always immediate delete the stuff I don't like, but I don't use it either. Now there are tons of gray areas; downloding tv shows from a that legal? I could have tivo'd it, but someone else just happen to do it for me.

I think part of the other problem with piracy is just civil disobedience (largely from people of our mind set) who are feed up with all the rules about what we can watch/hear, when we can watch/hear, and how often we may do so as dictated by the larger corporations.

Does anybody remember? (1)

IamNotAgeek (708764) | about 10 years ago | (#10586422)

When Microsoft commissioned a study that correlated lack of education to pirating? Their logic was that most pirating occured in counties that had very little education. So their plan was to increase education to combat piracy. (Of course any moron could tell that the real reason was that countries with little education also were very poor) This article just adds further to the fact that they are completely clueless (maybe intentionally) about how overpriced their software is.

Why hardware so expensive. (1)

seanyboy (587819) | about 10 years ago | (#10586428)

One of the reasons hardware is so expensive is because the hardware-requirements for current software (step forward microsoft) keeps going up. Any $100.00 computer they can currently make won't be powerful enough to run XP, Word and whatever other MS products that increasingly suck memory and processor cycles.

Even if this statement weren't bullshit, microsoft would still be partially responsible.

It'll work. No, really! (1)

nels_tomlinson (106413) | about 10 years ago | (#10586438)

Does he think that cheaper hardware will make copying software harder to do?

Yes, it will, because the down-market, sub-$100 PC will be a cardboard box whose guts are a picture of a motherboard and a mental image of a CD writer.

The part he hasn't thought through is that folks will only need a mental image of a blue screen to make it work up to MS's usual high standards.

This just goes to show that most of us aren't successful because we aren't stupid enough to say something like that with a straight face.

Responsibility (1)

RaisinBread (315323) | about 10 years ago | (#10586441)

The poor guys are just powerless - we really need to cut them a break, what with all the dirty third-party developers [] causing all their security problems ... and now look how the hardware developers are practically forcing people to pirate software becuase of their high prices.

And with the justice system constantly nit-picking...

(violins playing in the background) ;o)

I've been suspecting for a long time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10586447)

...that narcotics officers should raid the Microsoft HQ offices, and bring many drug-sniffing dogs with them.

Now, all doubt in such suspicion has been removed.

That's just...retarded. (1)

Juvenall (793526) | about 10 years ago | (#10586455)

What an asinine argument. No, it just can't be the fact we charge $400 for our software, it has to be something else. Please. This is no different then trying to blame global warming on the aluminium manufacturers on the grounds that "if we didn't have the cans, we wouldn't have anything to put the aerosol in".

sigh... RTFA (2, Insightful)

Jrod5000 at RPI (229934) | about 10 years ago | (#10586458)

i know i'm a fool for thinking /.ers should try reading an article before ranting (especially one about MS) but...

all ballmer is saying is that people in developing nations will be more likely to pay for software if they have the option of owning a computer. you can't pay for windows if you can't afford a pc! its a valid point, though obvious.

Steve, it's your fault ppl need faster hardware (5, Insightful)

Leknor (224175) | about 10 years ago | (#10586460)

Umm, Steve, it's partly your fault people need faster hardware? Each new release of MS {Windows,Office,Whatever} needs bigger and bigger specs. If Windows Longhorn ran faster than Win XP on the exact same hardware, the base price for new machines would drop due to natural market pressures. Instead each new release inflates the system minimum requirements which naturally inflates the cost of a baseline system.

Disclaimer: pretty much all of the computing industry, including open source software, are constantly requiring more and more powerful CPUs.

Cheap hardware, won't change the mentality (1)

embeejay (446541) | about 10 years ago | (#10586462)

The "engine" that drives software piracy has little to do with money, but more to do with mentality.

Most people in "the scene" do it for fun and the recognition they get from their immediate peers, not because of money. Since they will keep releasing "free" versions of the software, others will keep (ab)using it.

I'm so glad that I sold out (1)

Uptown Joe (819388) | about 10 years ago | (#10586463)

I was bought out of my share of a small computer store in January... If the software "greats" have this kind of attitude toward the hardware guys I guess I made the right choice!

The reason they are saying that now... (4, Interesting)

DeepDarkSky (111382) | about 10 years ago | (#10586467)

is because Microsoft now has cheaper versions of the software available to put on these cheaper PCs. The stripped down versions of Windows, for instance. It would certainly be hypocritical to say PCs should cost $100 when the OS itself costs more.

And the reason for this, after all, is to open up the low-end market so that Microsoft can tap that revenue source. After all, if they offer something for $200 normally, and offer a strip down version for $50 such that people can afford it, it's still better than getting $0 because people can't afford to pay for it and end up pirating it.

The funny thing is, from a certain standpoint, Microsoft is actually NOT trying to stop piracy (the official line is always to be anti-piracy, of course), but Microsoft probably realized that their software will be pirated, and in some ways, this loss leader in the emerging markets should strategically be allowed. Because then, Microsoft will dominate even more, especially where Linux is popular. On the other hand, Microsoft can't grow that market if the people cannot afford to pay for the hardware. Keep in mind that Windows is as dominant as it is today partly because it was easy to copy Windows. They could have put really difficult schemes to prevent piracy, but they didn't, because ultimately, that's not how they make their money anyway. They make their money by having dominance and then sell software based on it (Office, for instance).

And in the future, Microsoft want DRM and they want to do transactions. They want more people on the internet using windows, and the way they can get that is to have as many people as possible with little cheap boxes that run some form of Windows that can at the very least access the internet so they can spend money through Microsoft channels.

Huh? (1)

TheRealFixer (552803) | about 10 years ago | (#10586474)

Wait.... Ballmer wants the OS to make up 66% of the price of a new PC? Let's see... the cost of mass-duplicating a CD compared to the cost of manufacturing a rather complicated collection of electronic parts. Yeah, that makes sense.

So, where does Ballmer score his blow?

2 points (1)

Tomahawk (1343) | about 10 years ago | (#10586478)

I suppose with cheaper hardware, the total cost of purchasing the hardware/windows bundle becomes cheaper too, meaning that MS can sell more copies of Windows. The more copies they sell, the less people will need to copy it. Is that how Steve is thinking, I wonder.

In that case, what happens in the case that, since the hardware is being sold so cheap, it turned out that it is not capable of running Windows. Doesn't XP require 128Mb memory to run? And a few hundres MB of disk space? And a certain level and speed of Processor? Has Steve thought about that, I wonder. Could he, without realising it, be pushing for hardware that will only run another popular OS, and not his own product?

Just a thought.

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