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Microsoft Takes On the OLPC

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the close-to-free dept.

Microsoft 218

A number of readers sent us links to a BBC story on Microsoft's plan to provide the "Microsoft Student Innovation Suite" for $3 to governments around the world, for use in schools. The suite contains Windows XP Starter Edition and Windows Office Home and Student 2007, along with other educational software. To qualify, a government would have to provide free PCs to schools. Microsoft's stated goal is to double the number of PCs in use (and running Windows). An unbiased observer might wonder about an agenda of slowing the OLPC project and the spread of open source in general.

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218 comments

XP - Why not Vista? (3, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799693)

Hardware requirements? Need to dump old 'inventory' for a tax break? No compelling features?

Re:XP - Why not Vista? (2, Funny)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799947)

Probably so they can collect X*$3 on Jan 1, 2009 from all of the "upgrades."

Re:XP - Why not Vista? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800093)

Why not Vista?

Because you would need a Beowulf Cluster of OLPC's to run it!

But the PC still cost money (4, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800143)

Okay, OS+Software for $3. But the school has to provide free PCs to the schools using the deal. Sooooo...where does the PC come from? Or am I not supposed to not ask that question and just blindly applaud Micro$oft for their generous offer?

Any old $200 to $300 PC will work, right? Oh, wait, the OLPC is currently $150, or something like that.

Eh.

Re:But the PC still cost money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800359)

Business's that upgrade to new hardware with Vista. Computers as much as 5 to 6 years old were shipped with XP and now Microsoft has given these companies a way to upgrade to Vista and donate the old computers as a tax right off.

Re:But the PC still cost money (5, Insightful)

Rukie (930506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800583)

A think a fear of the OLPC is a little compatibility. Governments might spend a little more, 200, for a PC. M$ is definitely in fear of the OLPC, Linux, and Macintosh. If they can get em while they're young, M$ will have created a market in which they dominate entirely. M$ is afraid, and they want to crush the "uprising" of open source. So, how will they do this? Just create an even smaller percentage of "linux" and "mac" users by giving out the OS for three bucks. What does that cover, the cd, shipping, and a slight profit.
I still think the OLPC is a better idea. Cheaper, and less likely to crash.

Re:XP - Why not Vista? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800329)

Because the hardware requirements for Vista make it unlikelier to satisfy the 'provide PCs for free' license requirement. Remember, if the OEM price for XP + Office is a big stumbling point, the additional hw requirements[*] for Vista certainly are another.

[*] troll preemptive strike: This is not for a system that only boots in Vista - it needs to run Office, of all things. So RAM must be 1G+, CPU cannot quite be a low-end Sempron/Celeron, and so on. You won't be seeing runnable Vista+Office installs on $2-300 PCs in the near future.

Hmm... (3, Interesting)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799699)

So no Third World Countries can get MS software super cheap - just like before, but now with real licenses! Hooray. Also, they will need to spend $x more on hardware! On the otherhand, they can go with the variety of people working very hard to provide them cheap hardware and free software. Tough Choice.

Re:Hmm... (4, Funny)

ShorePiper82 (1027534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799753)

This is clearly a philanthropic move with no agenda to push whatsoever. clearly.

Re:Hmm... (2, Informative)

Ximogen (1033274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799869)

From the article: "This is not a philanthropic effort, this is a business," Orlando Ayala of Microsoft told the Reuter's news agency.

Re:Hmm... (1)

ShorePiper82 (1027534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800323)

I'm aware. I saw that and thought I'd throw some sarcasm at it... a "more to it than meets the eye" scenario.

Re:Hmm... (1, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799917)

Yeah, I'm not sure why anyone starting to build their infrastructure (not already locked in) would want to start with Windows. Even at $3 a copy, that's $3 more than Linux.

Re:Hmm... (2, Informative)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800013)

The OLPC box running linux is somewhere around $100-200 depending on the phase of the moon. A minimum PC (with monitor) for running XP will be at LEAST double that, and nowhere near as durable or able to run on low power as the OLPC box. This is no threat to the OLPC program or box itself.

Nothing to see here...

Re:Hmm... (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800713)

"Yeah, I'm not sure why anyone starting to build their infrastructure (not already locked in) would want to start with Windows. Even at $3 a copy, that's $3 more than Linux."

Well, maybe not. If MS is providing a retail box or install CDs for $3, that might actually beat the cost of acquiring linux. Here in the US, the market is fairly saturated with CD burners and broadband, but in the 3rd world, it might cost significantly more to download and burn a CD. I'm thinking of internet cafes that I've been in Ecuador and Bolivia.

If you're seeing conspiracies against opens source (4, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799711)

One could make the argument that you're not unbiased.

However....even paranoids have enemies, and just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Re:If you're seeing conspiracies against opens sou (1)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799837)

Todd Bishop of the Seattle P.I. [nwsource.com] points this out in his blog. On one hand, Microsoft is a company in business to make money, so this makes sense. But it still leaves a foul taste when coupled with all the other cynical things they've done. This has nothing to do with "the children" or the poor, just building the next generation of consumers.

Re:If you're seeing conspiracies against opens sou (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799915)

One could make the argument that you're not unbiased.
Especially if that one had just competed in a chair-throwing contest...

Seriously, if Microsoft's motives were entirely philanthropic, don't you think that they would use their very large and powerful cone of influence to provide these schools with some cheap hardware? I'll bet some folks at Microsoft have a few contacts at a few major OEMs who might just help them out if pressed...

MS is out to get something all right (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800009)

Of course it is an attempt to grab and retain marketshare by weaning people on cheap MS now in order to lock them into that in the future and make real money. They aren't doing this to feel good at night.

When people say conspiracy, this is what they mean.

Re:MS is out to get something all right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800503)

Of course it is an attempt to grab and retain marketshare by weaning people on cheap MS now in order to lock them into that in the future and make real money. They aren't doing this to feel good at night.

From TFA: "This is not a philanthropic effort, this is a business," Orlando Ayala of Microsoft told the Reuter's news agency.

Re:If you're seeing conspiracies against opens sou (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800635)

just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you

Where has this myth sprung up? paranoia is thinking that they're out to get you when they're not. If you think they're out to get you and they are, it's just reasonable concern for your safety.

Can't we stop Microsoft using the word innovation? (3, Insightful)

simong (32944) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799733)

It innovates nothing but new ways of taking money from computer users while frustrating them in what they want to do. /2p

Re:Can't we stop Microsoft using the word innovati (1)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799765)

Exactly. Doesn't an 'Innovation Suite' require, well, innovation?

Re:Can't we stop Microsoft using the word innovati (1)

seven of five (578993) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799821)

Yeah, it's a low form of cynicism: "A lie repeated often enough becomes truth - Joseph Goebbels"

Re:Can't we stop Microsoft using the word innovati (2, Insightful)

Unnngh! (731758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800245)

You know, I've never been more frustrated while at the keyboard than when I first learned my way around Linux. Wading through unintelligible man pages, cryptic commands, vague error messages, hit-and-miss support via newsgroups, and different flavors of *nix, really is a pain in the ass when you are not quite sure what you are even looking for to begin with. Not that I haven't gotten frustrated with many a Microsoft product, and the 'Net has become a much better resource than it was back then, but nothing can compare in terms of sheer piss-you-off value than going at the *nix command line as a newbie. The Gnome and KDE interfaces weren't much help, either.

That being said though, I've been away from Linux as a daily user for a while, and I downloaded Ubuntu a couple weeks back to see what it was like. I have to say, something like this would have been a much gentler in-road to an open source OS. The other stuff is still going on in the background but it has what I consider to be a practical menu arrangement and usable interface. I am pretty sure the tables have not turned in this area yet - OSX or Windows are going to be much less frustrating for the vast majority of the world population - but the gap is narrowing. The OLPC interface also looks like it was well thought-out for use by school children.

So, its a $103 laptop ;) (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799741)

Buy the $100 laptop.

Get cheap MS software.

???

Profit!

Re:So, its a $103 laptop ;) (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799895)

But, the $100 dollar laptop is designed to minimize price. Meaning it ships with the minimum resource-eating software required, meaning open source. Those laptops CANT run windows.

Re:So, its a $103 laptop ;) (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800393)

But, the $100 dollar laptop is designed to minimize price. Meaning it ships with the minimum resource-eating software required, meaning open source.

I've seen some pretty bloated open source systems, and some pretty compressed closed source systems.

Still, 400Mhz CPU + 128MB memory + 2GB disk space might be a tad much to ask for with $100.

And yes, I've seen XP pro, without mods, run relatively painlessly on such a setup (there was more disk space in the machine, but that was all it used.

Unbiased observer? (4, Informative)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799771)

I don't understand how this "observer" would be unbiased. If he sees a grand conspiracy, he's not unbiased.

Re:Unbiased observer? (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799951)

Agenda != grand conspiracy.
Microsoft sure has an agenda of slowing things fueled by/supporting open source. See SCO vs IBM.
Not only that, but Bill Gates spent awhile trying to talk the guy organizing OLPC into using Microsoft, so he is probably frustrated that he failed.

Re:Unbiased observer? (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800735)

The stated goal is to help the children of the world out with technology.

Now, if this agenda that the poster suggests is true, then the true goal is other than that stated. As such, it'd be a plan executed and planned in secret. Thus, it'd be a conspiracy.

Microsoft sure has an agenda of slowing things fueled by/supporting open source. See SCO vs IBM.

True. Microsoft conspired with SCO to slow down open source. I'm not sure how having an agenda and conspiring is different in this case.

Not only that, but Bill Gates spent awhile trying to talk the guy organizing OLPC into using Microsoft, so he is probably frustrated that he failed.

So he's conspiring to get back at the guy organizing OLPC?

Re:Unbiased observer? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799959)

I don't understand how this "observer" would be unbiased. If he sees a grand conspiracy, he's not unbiased.

First, they did not say the unbiased observer would see/think the agenda would be to slow down OLPC, they said they might wonder about that possibility. Second, the term "unbiased" has multiple connotations and meanings. You could argue no one with any opinion was unbiased (no one) but then the term has no real meaning when applied to people. You might, on the other hand, apply a meaning that unbiased is someone with no preference one way or another for or against MS, and then an objective person certainly would consider the motivations of MS and what effects such an action might be designed to create.

Re:Unbiased observer? (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800647)

You are correct about the denotation of the sentence, however the connotation is clear. It's just a weasel-sentence to appear unbiased, yet get a point across.

I thought about bringing up that point about "no one is truly unbiased", but that kinda makes the whole thing moot, doesn't it?

And yes, a truly unbiased person would consider the motivations of MS. But why would this truly unbiased individual only see that they wanted to slow down the OLPC (which is the only thing the sentence brings up)? Why wouldn't they see it as Microsoft wanting to help the children out? Yet the sentence, and I repeat, only brings up the "conspiracy" aspect of this.

Heh (1)

Doctor-Optimal (975263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799773)

An unbiased observer might wonder about an agenda of slowing the OLPC project and the spread of open source in general.
Unbiased? At /.? Surely you can't be serious?!

(I am serious, and don't call me Shirley!)

Re:Heh (1)

FMota91 (1050752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800277)

Whatever you say Shirley...

Unbiased my arse. (2, Insightful)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799797)

An unbiased observer might wonder about an agenda of slowing the OLPC project and the spread of open source in general.

No, an unbiased observer would probably see this as an extension of student discount programs Microsoft already offers or an attempt to make a little extra money from markets that currently bring in none. Only a tinfoil-hat-wearing free software zealot would wonder about an agenda of slowing the OLPC project and the spread of open source in general.

Re:Unbiased my arse. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18799913)

Especially considering how much more you get with OLPC, like hardware that doesn't require a plug, etc. If anything I see this as a reaction to the russian school administrator, not OLPC.

Re:Unbiased my arse. (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799937)

Only a tinfoil-hat-wearing free software zealot would wonder about an agenda of slowing the OLPC project and the spread of open source in general.

Are you a shill, or just incredibly stupid and/or naive?

Microsoft has stated repeatedly that Open Source is the enemy and in so many words. If you missed that, you are simply not informed enough to be qualified to contribute to this discussion.

Now, Microsoft is saying that they are prepared to work with Open Source. But based on Microsoft's past record of falsehood, fraud, abuse of their monopoly position, price fixing, illegal dumping and bundling, and the laundry list of other complaints, you would have to be some kind of idiot to trust them now.

Re:Unbiased my arse. (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800005)

Microsoft has stated repeatedly that Open Source is the enemy and in so many words. If you missed that, you are simply not informed enough to be qualified to contribute to this discussion.
Care to back that up with an actual reference for those of us in the uninformed masses?

Re:Unbiased my arse. (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800391)

Care to back that up with an actual reference for those of us in the uninformed masses?

Absolutely! The most important reference is the Halloween Documents [wikipedia.org] . Especially interesting (if you don't want to read the actual documents) is the following bit from Microsoft's Official Response to the Halloween documents [archive.org] . I refer specifically to this bit:

"Q: The first document talked about extending standard protocols as a way to "deny OSS projects entry into the market." What does this mean?"
"A: To better serve customers, Microsoft needs to innovate above standard protocols. By innovating above the base protocol, we are able to deliver advanced functionality to users. An example of this is adding transactional support for DTC over HTTP. This would be a value-add and would in no way break the standard or undermine the concept of standards, of which Microsoft is a significant supporter. Yet it would allow us to solve a class of problems in value chain integration for our Web-based customers that are not solved by any public standard today. Microsoft recognizes that customers are not served by implementations that are different without adding value; we therefore support standards as the foundation on which further innovation can be based."

You don't see Microsoft own up to Embrace-and-Extend very often (although they did it in marketspeak...)

Also interesting, right from my first wikipedia link, "Document X
An e-mail from consultant Mike Anderer to SCO's Chris Sontag, also known as Halloween X: Follow The Money. Among other points, describes Microsoft's channeling of US$ 86 million to SCO."

So right they're they were funding the assault on Linux. Although we all see how that has been working out; it's mostly cost IBM a lot of money and provided a lot of entertainment.

You might also read Ballmer: 'Open source is not free' [computerworld.co.nz] .

You could go back in time and read a commentary on Ballmer's assertion that Linux is like cancer [theregister.co.uk] , although that was just an idiot repeating something someone told him about the GPL once.

And ahhhh, here we go, this is one of the articles I've been looking for all this time. Google really needs to deprecate the blogosphere in pagerank, it makes it quite impossible to find old articles because most bloggers are too stupid to cite properly. Ballmer sees free software as Microsoft's enemy No. 1 [nwsource.com] . And keep in mind that Microsoft signed the Novell deal in order to attack Linux: "Ballmer said in a question and answer session at a technology conference that Microsoft signed the deal because Linux "uses our intellectual property" and it wanted to "get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation [theregister.co.uk] "."

Re:Unbiased my arse. (1)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800445)

Care to back that up with an actual reference for those of us in the uninformed masses?

Have a look at the Halloween documents [catb.org] . They're leaked memos from Microsoft, I think you'll find all the evidence you need in there. Here's a good quote:

OSS poses a direct, short-term revenue and platform threat to Microsoft, particularly in server space. Additionally, the intrinsic parallelism and free idea exchange in OSS has benefits that are not replicable with our current licensing model and therefore present a long term developer mindshare threat.

Re:Unbiased my arse. (1)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800379)

Only a tinfoil-hat-wearing free software zealot would wonder about an agenda of slowing the OLPC project and the spread of open source in general.

Are you a shill, or just incredibly stupid and/or naive?


Microsoft has stated repeatedly that Open Source is the enemy and in so many words. If you missed that, you are simply not informed enough to be qualified to contribute to this discussion.


Now, Microsoft is saying that they are prepared to work with Open Source. But based on Microsoft's past record of falsehood, fraud, abuse of their monopoly position, price fixing, illegal dumping and bundling, and the laundry list of other complaints, you would have to be some kind of idiot to trust them now.

If they're offering a superior product that will give their workforce more competitive range than the completely wacky proprietary lock-in of the 're-thought' sugar interface for their kids, it might be worth it.

At least they'll learn to use an OS that people actually use... that supports software that people actually use...

well, outside of what people *supposedly* run on places like /.

If Open Source threatens their marketshare, it's not even immoral for them to compete with it. End of story.

Re:Unbiased my arse. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800429)

If Open Source threatens their marketshare, it's not even immoral for them to compete with it. End of story.

I never said it was, although I do think it's immoral for them to hamper the OLPC, and I do think that's absolutely the only reason they're doing this.

But what I am saying is that anyone who thinks that Microsoft isn't on the warpath against Open Source is either ignorant or stupid. Especially since they have said as much in the past (citations in my other reply.)

Open your eyes. (0)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800599)

Stop trying to see this from your first world perspective. If its the same price, the governments would be best suited to choose Microsoft. The software works, and just about every company uses it. Its best for the customers.

If you see this as a conspiracy , you really have to consider what the *real* goal of OLPC is. I hope to God that its not : " To promote Open source"

From the web site of OLPC :

OLPC is not, at heart, a technology program, nor is the XO a product in any conventional sense of the word. OLPC is a non-profit organization providing a means to an end--an end that sees children in even the most remote regions of the globe being given the opportunity to tap into their own potential, to be exposed to a whole world of ideas, and to contribute to a more productive and saner world community.

Re:Unbiased my arse. (1)

torrija (993870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800481)

you could have replied without using offensive language.

Re:Unbiased my arse. (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800649)

Are you a shill, or just incredibly stupid and/or naive?

Yup, only one point of view possible in the world. If people don't agree with you they are either stupid or are being paid to do so. This is getting pretty common around here. Do the proponents of OSS* need to start every argument with an ad hominem?

*To be fair, others do as well, but "Microsoft shill" seems to be the most prevalent.

Re:Unbiased my arse. (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799973)

Only a tinfoil-hat-wearing free software zealot would wonder about an agenda of slowing the OLPC project and the spread of open source in general.
Well, not exactly. Slowing the spread of open source is on Microsoft's agenda. They want to maintain or increase market share, which means preventing the loss of markets to competitors -- including open source alternatives.

As for OLPC, I doubt they want to slow the project -- they want to make the pie bigger and OLPC will help them do that. They would, however, like to make sure that those children eventually migrate to Windows, which is where the $3 SIS comes in.

Re:Unbiased my arse. (3, Interesting)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800241)

No, an unbiased observer would probably see this as an extension of student discount programs Microsoft already offers or an attempt to make a little extra money from markets that currently bring in none.

It's interesting that the summary only surmises what an unbiased observer might wonder, whereas you claim to speak for all unbiased observers. You are clearly a Microsoft fanboy, therefore not an unbiased observer. I don't believe it takes a 'free software zealot' to realise that this move is as a direct result of the OLPC efforts. Microsoft are rightly worried they're going to miss out, losing market share to FLOSS. I would be worred if I were defending an outdated business model with an uncertain future [itpro.co.uk] too.

The BBC is pretty unbiased when it comes to technology and they made the comparison between this and the OLPC, or did you not bother to read the article? Even if they aren't unbiased they're certainly not 'free software zealots'.

Whilst it's unfortunate that you're a Microsoft fanboy I do applaud your spelling of the word 'arse'.

XP starter edition != education (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799809)

I guess Microsoft doesn't want these schools to teach any programming classes. This bundle is great for someone just looking for a good typewriter.

Re:XP starter edition != education (0, Troll)

Doctor-Optimal (975263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799901)

I guess Microsoft doesn't want these schools to teach any programming classes.
Yes, because third world schools have so much programming instructional talent.

This bundle is great for someone just looking for a good typewriter.
As opposed to what the schools REALLY want, which is?

Re:XP starter edition != education (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800115)

As opposed to what the schools REALLY want, which is?


Well, apparently, in many cases, a computer whose hardware and software suite designed from the ground up for both the physical environment and the expected uses, with a user interface, security model, application stack, and supporting hardware (like school servers, satellite uplinks, etc.) and services (like donated satellite time) all built around the needs involved.

At least, I infer that desire in several cases from the number of countries signed up to participate in the launch of the OLPC, to which Microsoft is responding with this offering.

Re:XP starter edition != education (1)

Doctor-Optimal (975263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800203)

So people (and countries) make different choices and this offends you?

Re:XP starter edition != education (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800381)

So people (and countries) make different choices and this offends you?


I certainly neither said nor implied that. In fact, nothing in the strand of conversation leading here has discussed (1) purchasers actually making different decisions, or (2) me being offended.

Perhaps if you can't respond to what people actually write, you should just not respond at all, rather than making up insults entirely unrelated to the discussion at hand.

Re:XP starter edition != education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800471)

Yes, because third world schools have so much programming instructional talent.

They get google too? Sweet!
...and here I thought looking up documentation and how-tos on tools like gcc,eclipse,python,php,java,ruby,mono,etc. was proprietary to wealthy countries.

And I'm glad to hear that their instructors may also have had some training. Other people may be trying to imply that they are a bunch of knuckle-dragging gorillas in need of magic Microsoft products...

Look, fucko (yes, that's my new name for you) OLPC is giving them a very good place to start, don't assume that people in third world countries are total mongrels that have no use for technology that YOU may or may not be comfortable using.

Re:XP starter edition != education (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800519)

The education standards for computers in most states cover this. In fact, from standards I've read, teachers should NOT be using computers just as typewriters or teaching "Word", but as creative tools to augment the core curriculum. That means research on the web, multimedia projects, etc. The document I read (not available online) actually pushes the theory that limiting instruction to standard office applications is "damaging."

Re:XP starter edition != education (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799989)

I guess Microsoft doesn't want these schools to teach any programming classes. This bundle is great for someone just looking for a good typewriter.

Step 1: Buy computers and announce intent to give them away free.

Step 2: Accept bundle for $3/unit.

Step 3: Distribute computers running Linux, with kvm virtual machines preloaded with Windows XP to allow running that one Windows program the user has absolutely got to have.

Re:XP starter edition != education (1)

VWJedi (972839) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800271)

I guess Microsoft doesn't want these schools to teach any programming classes.

Of course not! All programming should be either: (a) done by Microsoft employees, or (b) done by a company that pays Microsoft large amounts of money in licensing fees. If people are allowed to create their own software, the world will come to an end!

Or was that just Microsoft's world that would come to an end?

Why not offer to the plebes? (2, Interesting)

tsetem (59788) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799817)

<rant>
Maybe I'm the only one, but I'd certainly buy a copy of windows XP Starter if it was $3, or $10. I know I'm not in the majority, but for crying out loud. I build my own systems, I install Linux, and I have to make due without Windows for my gaming.

God, if they had any sort of soul, they would give XP away once it was discontinued. Hell, give Windows 2000 away!

Yeah, it's not OSS, but they're not making any money off of it, and if Vista were any good, it would stand and sell on it's own, without resorting to making Windows XP unbuyable...
</rant>

Re:Why not offer to the plebes? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800029)

God, if they had any sort of soul, they would give XP away once it was discontinued. Hell, give Windows 2000 away!
There is a thought: IF they had a soul? I should think that Redmond would be surrounded by Tom wannabes trying to save them. Laughable, but interesting thought.

Re:Why not offer to the plebes? (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800081)

Logic and reason do not exist in this place

Re:Why not offer to the plebes? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800251)

Yeah, it's not OSS, but they're not making any money off of it


The unit cost to Microsoft of XP licenses to mass purchasers is so close to nil as to be difficult to discern as existing at all, and even at $3 a license, enough licenses adds up to some money.

And, of course, anyone buying those basic machines is going to naturally want more capable machines for teachers, servers, etc., that are compatible with them, with more capable but compatible (and, hence, Microsoft) software—which won't the same sharp discount. And once institutions have invested in those machines, when they need machines for other users, well, they'll want to simplify support by having those machines and their software be compatible, too.

Re:Why not offer to the plebes? (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800797)

You are missing the fact that every single microsoft product except for Windows and Office loses money. They HAVE to charge a lot for Windows and Office to support that fact. This is why the cost of Windows and Office is going up every release - it's their only source of profit.

Re:Why not offer to the plebes? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800665)

There's always a catch. The XP Starter edition is a seriously crippled version. It only allows 3 or 4 applications to run at once. For the average person, who runs antivirus and a firewall that means only one other application can run. It has limited networking capabilities. So there's always a catch.

Twofo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18799835)

http://goatse.ch [twofo.co.uk] [gaotse.ch]

Meanwhile, in other news ... (1, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799843)

... crack dealers hand out free samples on school playgrounds.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800789)

I am completely disappointed in the slashdot response. The parent is the only response that is on target. This is so blatantly obvious a use of money from a monopolistic enterprise to further their monopoly that it should be illegal.

How on earth can anyone attribute altruism to this move. That would be like saying that Gates is a good guy for giving money away when in fact, he is just trying to buy respect after bilking the public out of the billions.

The only thing going on here is to get these people locked in to MS products so if any of these countries pull themselves up, they will be like the other MS masses.

Unbaised observer? (1)

Flyskippy1 (625890) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799845)

An unbiased observer might wonder if they are just going against open source? Hmm... Maybe. Or maybe they are giving cheap standard software to school children because they believe in charity. Can the open source community blinded by their distrust and only capable of seeing evil in everything Microsoft does?

Re:Unbaised observer? (1)

Doctor-Optimal (975263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800033)

Can the open source community blinded by their distrust and only capable of seeing evil in everything Microsoft does?
An unbiased observer might wonder...

Re:Unbaised observer? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800041)

Well, no, but an unbiased observermight consider that a for-profit, publicly-traded corporation with a legally enforceable duty to its shareholders is probably not doing anything purely out of kindness.

An unbiased observer might notice the Microsoft spokesman quoted in TFA saying as much: "This is not a philanthropic effort, this is a business," Orlando Ayala of Microsoft told the Reuter's news agency.

An unbiased observer might note that this sudden concern for getting cheap software to governments willing to provide Windows-running PCs to schools occurs at the exact time a project Microsoft had first offered its non-free operating system too, then when that was rejected, railed against the project as misguided, had entered the testing stages with its launch customers. A project in which governments would purchase computers not designed to run Windows to their schools and individually to every student, computers which would come with loaded with free software. An unbiased observer might consider that that timing is unlikely to be purely coincidental.

An unbiased observer might? (1, Funny)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799853)

An unbiased observer might wonder

might...?

Competition (1)

jamesl (106902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799873)

This is competition. Competition is good.

Re:Competition (1)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800479)

This is competition. Competition is good.

Competition or sabotage?

Re:Competition (1)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800521)

Agreed, this is proof that Open Source is working as a successful alternative to Microsoft since M$ has resorted to pricing their software near its true value. This proves that resistance is possible. OSS is *forcing* them to attempt to compete on price, at least in certain segments.

Stop Demonizing Business (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799881)

"An unbiased observer might wonder about an agenda of slowing the OLPC project and the spread of open source in general."

Give me a break! Another completely irresponsible statement make it into TFA's description here on slashdot. I can see it now, Microsoft called a meeting to talk about the threat of OLPC, right after they started working more with open source (Novell). Of course the cynics will say that it was just a "keep your enemies closer" move.

If anything, an unbiased observer would see this as a good thing, maybe the best thing possible, if you are the people this and OLPC will benefit. Competition will only help to get the OLPC under $100 someday, not hurt.

So what, Microsoft thought a different way to help those in need, and itself, in the long run. Tell me what is wrong with that?

Re:Stop Demonizing Business (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800337)

If anything, an unbiased observer would see this as a good thing, maybe the best thing possible

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Pricing and imaginary numbers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18799885)

Is Microsoft pulling this out of their ass or what?

$3 for software aimed at 'schools' around the world, yet would probably still be 100X that here in the states... (no I'm not going to look for it)

To me, this screams of,

Bill G.: We need to head off getting cut out of this OLPC thing.
Balmer: We can't give our software away, as our investors need piece of mind, and we need market shared.
Bill G.: Charge $3, as its something, but not quite free.
Balmer: That will at least keep the FOSS people at bay, as our software still has a tangible market value.


You can still sell MS software for $.01, that still doesn't make it right for them to force it on markets who are lucky to have technology at all.

/end mindless rant

Holy ripping off drudgereport.com batman... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18799889)

Now considering they are not manufacturing the PC's how are they taking on OLPC? Apples to Oranges anyone?

WHAT a fantastic show of generousity (1, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799929)

Of course, if we ignore the fact that $3 is a full time employed person's monthly salary in many of the developing countries, especially in africa.

Unbiased: yeah, right. (1)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799949)

An unbiased observer might wonder about an agenda of slowing the OLPC project and the spread of open source in general.

An unbiased observer would see that Microsoft is trying to make its software available to those that might not otherwise be able to afford it. An unbiased observer might wonder if Microsoft is trying to be competative with one of it's biggest competators.

Seriously, what's wrong with you people. If Microsoft continued charging third world students $400 for it's operating system, there'd be a snarky comment about "Well, a monopoly can charge whatever they want and get away with it". If they cut costs, then its "Well, they're just trying to get them hooked! M$ is like a drug dealer loolllerskates!!!112".

Re:Unbiased: yeah, right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800159)

You may want to read up on the anti-trust testimony before you start defending the pricing practices of the Borg.
What are you, a Microsoft shareholder?

One such document could be a 1997 e-mail note from Jeff Raikes, a Microsoft group vice president, asking billionaire Warren Buffett to consider investing in the Redmond, Wash.-based software company.

Some observers have likened Microsoft's lucrative operating system dominance to a "toll bridge," Raikes wrote in an exchange that The Wall Street Journal first reported Wednesday. With a worldwide sales force of just 100 to 150 people, Raikes wrote, "this is a 90%+ margin business."
Raikes, who noted in the e-mail message that his own net worth was "well into" the hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to Microsoft, tried to convince Buffett to change his mind. "A PC is just a razor that needs blades, and we measure our revenue on the basis of $ per PC," Raikes wrote. "In FY96, nearly 50 million PCs were purchased and Microsoft averaged about $140 in software revenue per PC or $7 billion...I don't really see our business as being significantly more difficult to understand than the other great businesses you've invested in."


http://news.com.com/2100-1016-5173992.html [com.com]

The value of Windows and Office (4, Funny)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 7 years ago | (#18799961)

Finally we find out the *real* value of Windows and Office: about $2.75, leaving another twenty-five cents to cover the "other educational software."

Sounds about right to me.

Taking on Edubuntu (3, Interesting)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800007)

A better comparison than OLPC might be with Edubuntu [edubuntu.org] since we're talking about providing software to run computer labs. And Microsoft does have something to worry about here -- Edubuntu is steadily improving alongside Ubuntu, and as a simple and easy way to set up an educational computer lab it is almost unparalleled. Not only does it have an easy to set up terminal server system, but it comes with a large array of educational applications out of the box. That makes it a very attractive option, as you get a complete lab setup and educational application suite shipped to you for free. Between this and OLPC I suspect MS is starting to worry about its position in developing countries where children are going to increasingly grow up largely using Linux in one form or another.

Where can I buy my $3 XP (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800087)

I'd prefer not to run Windows at all but at $3 the 'license dies with the machine' bullshit isn't so offensive when you want to move a license to a VM image.

Microsoft, where's our $3 XP you monopolistic fucks?

Hey, Bill! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800185)

Would you take $2.75?

Re:Hey, Bill! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800307)

The true motive behind OSS users ;) No matter what is charged, unless it is zero, there will be whiners.

Already too expensive. (3, Interesting)

strredwolf (532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800215)

Okay, that's $3 per PC, but you have to bring your own PC... which is, what, $500 w/o case, keyboard, mouse, or monitor? Mini-itx.com and damnsmalllinux.org have $110 EPIA 5000 boards, but $110 is $10 more than the famed $100 OLPC and you still have to get memory, storage, power, case, keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

The OLPC you get all the hardware, all the software, for a very very low price.

If you're a struggling country, what would you get? A $100-per-unit all-in-one, or $500-or-more-plus-three-bucks-per-unit system that does the same thing?

Come on, Microsoft! We've already done cheaper than that! ETRYAGAIN.

Buy SW for $3, need $500 to buy HW to run it (1)

rur (110111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800227)

What a good deal!

And what happens when the time to upgrade comes? From the article:

""This is not a philanthropic effort, this is a business," Orlando Ayala of Microsoft told the Reuter's news agency.
The Microsoft initiative was launched by Bill Gates in Beijing under the banner of its Unlimited Potential scheme, a program aimed at bridging the digital divide"

Looks more like unlimited profits to me.

Re:Buy SW for $3, need $500 to buy HW to run it (1)

rur (110111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800327)

Sorry, I know its lame to reply to myself, but I forgot to mention that most likely the HW being bought has already paid the M$ tax, having the OS pre-installed.

Comparing this offer to the $100-but-really-$150 OLPC, the later still sounds better.

Groan (1, Insightful)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800267)

Wow, what a completely unbiased article. Just maybe, it could have been titled, "MS practically gives away software to poor people in poor countries" rather than "MS SUX, LINUX PWNS", or whatever the hell the actual title really meant.

Re:Groan (1)

GotenXiao (863190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800743)

Giving away software to people who have no hardware to run the software on is somewhat stupid. And that's what Microsoft are doing.

To be fair, the title could use a little (cough) work, since the OLPC is a hardware project as well as a software project, whereas Microsoft are doing a $3-per-copy offer for software only.

Was Hardware Not the Issue? (1)

LuYu (519260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800331)

I thought the OLPC project was based on getting the hardware cost below US$100. Obviously, the cost of the software is not an issue since it is all based on volunteer work and even the distro was compiled by donated time and effort.

So, Microsoft is offering nothing. According to the article, the governments have to figure out how to buy and configure the hardware themselves. Only then can the governments purchase Windows and Office to put on the computers they have already bought.

Oh, wait . . . Is it not true that WindowsXP is going to be discontinued at the end of this year? So what happens then? US$3 up front and a US$500 per box upgrade in January? Or are they going to audit all the schools in India the way they did in Washington State?

It sounds like -- if the governments do not happen to be intelligent enough to use Free Software -- the governments should just give the hardware to the kids and let the kids figure it out. That way, at least, "illegitimate" copies of Windows would not be the responsibility of the government or school administrations. Maybe then Microsoft will start suing children like the RIAA.

If Microsoft was really pro-education, Windows would be free on all educational computers period. They would be reasonable to think that was a good enough advertisement. At least when Apple sold schools computers the hardware was included. Microsoft is offering aether [wikipedia.org] .

what a bunch of dicks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18800341)

"Microsoft Takes On the OLPC"
what a bunch of dicks

An "unbiased" observer.. (1)

tfiedler (732589) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800353)

You state: "An unbiased observer might wonder about an agenda of slowing the OLPC project and the spread of open source in general" but you're not really, are you now? An unbiased observer wouldn't give a shit either way, but a biased one would.

In any other product this is called "dumping". (3, Insightful)

raidient (751898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800385)

If the figures in the linked article http://www.cbronline.com/article_news.asp?guid=096 AC51E-EE83-413C-B32A-A4FFDE598E9F [cbronline.com] are close to being accurate then MS are losing $18.5 on each sale (this is without the addition of the cost of development & manufacture). Selling into markets at below cost is called "dumping" and is usually sanctioned. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumping_(pricing_poli cy) [wikipedia.org]
What makes MS a special case? Nothing.

"An unbiased observer might wonder" (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800497)

An unbiased observer might wonder

I think not even an unbiased [ thus non-existing :) ] observer would wonder these days. We all know all participants too well, sadly.
 

This is a good thing (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800659)

Seriously, competition is a good thing, and it's a pretty level playing field. MS can sell their software for a failry small amount and try to make a profit. Even in the countries this is aimed at, the price tag is fairly small, so pricewise, its competitive as long as Windows can offer something that Linux can't. It offers choice. Choice is usually good, and we're a long way from guarenteeing another MS monopoly here.

Of course, it's not that good. The version that MS is offering isn't exactly feature rich or better than the default OS in any discernable way, but if people want to spend some money on an inferior OS then let them.

About time (1)

p4rri11iz3r (1084543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800711)

The first countries to sign up to buying the machine, which is officially dubbed XO, include Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Rwanda, Nigeria and Libya.

Hooray, now Nigerians can recieve Nigerian scam-mail. That's what I call progress!

I, for one, applaud this move (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18800751)

I am surprised /. folks are so cynical about this move by Microsoft. After all, OLPC is *all about the children*, isn't it? I mean OLPC isn't just a component of some religious war on Microsoft, is it? Because I thought OLPC was about giving tools to those who needed them so they could lift themselves up out of poverty. This move by Microsoft does exactly that, just as OLPC does. Now, is this simply a response to the OLPC program? If it is, then once again we see clear evidence that competition is a much better way to foster progress than is regulation or coercion. If it isn't, then it's still laudable regardless of motives.
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