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How Microsoft Inadvertently Helps To Fund FOSS

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the i-has-ur-monies-kthxbye dept.

Microsoft 122

christian.einfeldt writes "The State of California sued Microsoft for anti-trust violations, and now the proceeds of the settlement of that case are being used to fund the acquisition of computers for any school district in California. The terms of the settlement allow every school district in California to be reimbursed a set dollar amount for the purchase of computers with the software of their choice. Microsoft probably anticipated that school districts would mainly use the settlement to buy more Microsoft products, with a few Apple purchases sprinkled in here and there. But now that Free Open Source Software is being commercialized by hardware vendors such as Dell, System76, EmperorLinux, Zareason.com, and TechCollective.com, acquiring computers powered by FOSS is straightforward. I'm a volunteer sysadmin at a northern California public charter school and in my Slashdot journal I detail the step-by-step process for using Microsoft's money to pay for the Linux purchases of your school's choice." And then there's the Ubuntu team in Belgium that is raising funds by auctioning off a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate that a Microsoft rep gave them at a trade show. So far the bidding is up to 101.76 Euros, about $144.

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Who exactly do I pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20940439)

For my Linux purchase? How does not paying MS fund FOSS?

Re:Who exactly do I pay? (4, Informative)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#20940627)

The fines Microsoft were given are being used to buy computers that have Linux installed on them. Rather simple to understand really.

Re:Who exactly do I pay? (2, Insightful)

bcattwoo (737354) | about 7 years ago | (#20940833)

The fines Microsoft were given are being used to buy computers that have Linux installed on them. Rather simple to understand really.
Perhaps I missed it when Dell announced that a portion of every Linux purchase would be donated to the FOSS project of your choice.

Still not funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20941271)

MS paid a fine. What the state chooses to use that money for is their own business, and has nothing to do with said fine. So I still don't see how that is funding FOSS.

It's like saying my employer bought me a car, because they paid me for working 40 hours a week, and I then used that money to buy a car.

Re:Still not funding (2, Interesting)

russ1337 (938915) | about 7 years ago | (#20941375)

MS paid a fine. What the state chooses to use that money for is their own business, and has nothing to do with said fine.
It seems ridiculous to use the money to buy Microsoft products with the money you took off them, essentially giving them the money back.

Re:Still not funding (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 7 years ago | (#20941455)


yes it seems stupid, but that is exactly what Microsoft was expecting to happen.. after all they got away with "rebates" for overcharging in other cases. That doesn't really hurt their market much does it? I think this is still a MINIMUM impact and most are probably going to more Windows PCs.

Re:Still not funding (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20941681)

and most are probably going to more Windows PCs.
Well, at least the smart ones will buy Windows PCs for their students, since that will best prepare them for their future.

Re:Still not funding (3, Funny)

russ1337 (938915) | about 7 years ago | (#20941953)

Well, at least the smart ones will buy Windows PCs for their students, since that will best prepare them for their future in the monopolistic non-thinking 'customer-is-a-criminal' world they'll going to grow up in, where large corporations dictate all terms, including the fines they receive, and tell you what is good for you whether you like it or not.
There, I fixed that for you.

Re:Still not funding (1)

kdemetter (965669) | about 7 years ago | (#20942193)

Well, at least the smart ones will buy Windows PCs for their students, since that will best prepare them for their future.
i tend to disagree :
  • Since no-one can tell the future , it's better to teach student the basics of multiple OS , so they know what's available , instead of being slaves to 1 product .
  • There are linux distros wich bundle tons of educational software , making it easier for the schools to get what they need
  • The fact that linux is free , decreases the cost per computer . So they will be able to give more students computers .

Re:Still not funding (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20942369)

Ah yes, just as a friend of mine got an Amiga for Christmas in 1988, so it would best prepare him for the future.

So far as I can tell, what's growing increasingly important is exposure to Google. Windows is just another GUI and Word is just another word processor, but students will likely need the ability to do smart searches far more than learning which icon means Print or navigating the latest variant of the Start menu.

Re:Still not funding (2, Insightful)

JohnBailey (1092697) | about 7 years ago | (#20943627)

Well, at least the smart ones will buy Windows PCs for their students, since that will best prepare them for their future.
Quite the opposite. Any school that just teaches specific applications is letting their students down and wasting any money spent on computer equipment. Teaching someone that a certain menu option is here, and you do a certain task like so is a waste of time. The entire class could be replaced with a set of cheat sheets that list the whole process.
What they are supposed to be teaching is how to use a computer. The person who only learned the specific steps without understanding what those steps mean is not going to really understand the finer points and be able to adapt to different software. Teach someone how to use the help menu, and they can find out for themselves how to do things that were not covered in the class. And if the teachers can't do the same, they need to spend the money on better teachers instead of new hardware and software.

Re:Still not funding (1)

multisync (218450) | about 7 years ago | (#20941489)

It's like saying my employer bought me a car, because they paid me for working 40 hours a week, and I then used that money to buy a car.


When your employer pays you he is basically trading money for the efforts of your labour. So it is more accurate to say you funded the purchase of the car through the efforts of your work.

If schools use the proceeds of a fine to purchase computers, in my opinion it is fair to say the company who paid the fine funded that purchase. The money the schools received was a wind fall; the computers may not have been purchased if the company was not fined.

Re:Still not funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20944607)

I love this: The economists leading the economists.
Read his post, realize he has a clue, and go pick on someone who doesn't

Re:Still not funding (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | about 7 years ago | (#20941577)

The government says smoking pot and driving a 'gas guzzling' SUV funds terrorism.

I think we should trust the government on this one. Its definitely funding.

Re:Who exactly do I pay? (1)

bcattwoo (737354) | about 7 years ago | (#20940797)

For my Linux purchase? How does not paying MS fund FOSS?
From the title you would think that MS accidentally funded some FOSS project. In reality a small portion of the computers might be purchased without MS software. How this translates to funding FOSS is indeed a mystery.

In Soviet Russia... (1)

Dusty00 (1106595) | about 7 years ago | (#20940483)

...Linux funds Microsoft!

Re:In Soviet Russia... (2, Insightful)

jimstapleton (999106) | about 7 years ago | (#20940565)

Look at all the Linux users who buy pre-built machines with Windows, because until recently, they lacked many alternatives short of building their own.

That's not just Soviet Russia my meme spouting friend.

Re:In Soviet Russia... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20941013)

Dammit, the Russkies won!

Re:In Soviet Russia... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | about 7 years ago | (#20941065)

Take it a step further: how about people who work on Linux who have Microsoft in their stock portfolios or as part of the 401 K where they work? Microsoft is funding Linux in myriad ways, even subtle ones.

Re:In Soviet Russia... (1)

russlar (1122455) | about 7 years ago | (#20942127)

Look at all the Linux users who buy pre-built machines with Windows, because until recently, they lacked many alternatives short of building their own.

That's not just Soviet Russia my meme spouting friend.
You raise a good point. Much of Microsoft's dominance is cemented by the fact there is no good alternative out there for many of the Joe User types who just want to use a computer to surf the internets.

You must remember, however, that while here in Amerika we do the spouting, in Soviet Russia memes spout you!

Hey KDAWSON! I have ONE word for you!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20940857)

die

Wow. (2)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | about 7 years ago | (#20940491)

And then there's the Ubuntu team in Belgium that is raising funds by auctioning off a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate that a Microsoft rep gave them at a trade show.
This is exactly why Linux will never gain mainstream acceptance... Shitty marketing. Instead of doing something cool with it, and making a big PR stunt out of it.. (i.e., blow up your Windows disks.. that worked pretty well at the "blow up your disco records" event..) they're... auctioning it. Good job, guys.

Re:Wow. (5, Interesting)

Sumadartson (965043) | about 7 years ago | (#20940635)

IANAE (I am not an economist)

Actually, I really like the initiative. If done properly (that's a big if), the auctioned price could give an indication what people perceive the value of Vista to be. My guess is that it will be significantly lower than the price Microsoft set for is. Which, in itself, is an indication of the market power of MS.

Re:Wow. (3, Insightful)

jimstapleton (999106) | about 7 years ago | (#20940695)

Conversely, the though of supporting FOSS could artificially inflate the price, MS could ignore that fact, and could argue that people percieve Windows to be worth more than they are charging.

Double-edged-sword, that.

Re:Wow. (2, Insightful)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | about 7 years ago | (#20940721)

Or.. most likely.. the auction will come and go with little fanfare, and a handful of snarky Ubuntu users will get a good laugh, but that's about it.

Re:Wow. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 7 years ago | (#20941823)

the auctioned price could give an indication what people perceive the value of Vista to be
Not really, since it's not a commodity good. What's more likely is that the final price will be just under what someone would need to pay directly to MS. That is if there is no perceived value added by the specific situation (such as the good feeling of 'sticking it to the man' by supporting Linux when buying a MS product, or the possible good publicity for a company choosing to bid high).

If we really wanted to find the value of Vista, we'd have multiple suppliers of potentially infinite copies of Vista all competing for buyers. This is where IP gets involved, since copies of Vista are essentially free to produce.

The real "value" of Vista is equal to the [risk]*[negative impact] of getting caught using a pirated copy. This is why MS expends so much effort both on authentication and to make sure that global legal network has stringent IP laws.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20941341)

Astroturf bingo number 4 [slashdot.org] , claimed for B12.

Re:Wow. (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 7 years ago | (#20941929)

Are you blaming people for astroturfing by stalking them? I don't know who to support.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20941723)

Aw, come on. $144 will buy a lot of ramen...

Ubuntu team in danger of liability action ... (5, Funny)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 7 years ago | (#20940497)

If they knowing sell on something with known defects (that copy of MS Vista) and it screws up someone's machine -- would they not be liable for any loss that they endured ?

Re:Ubuntu team in danger of liability action ... (4, Funny)

Entropius (188861) | about 7 years ago | (#20940593)

I imagine they'll send the guy a complimentary (or should that be "complementary"? ;)) (K)Ubuntu disk in the mail, with the instruction "You'd probably be better off using this instead, but here's the Vista disk you bought."

Re:Ubuntu team in danger of liability action ... (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | about 7 years ago | (#20940625)

Were that the case, microsoft would have been bankrupted many years ago.

Re:Ubuntu team in danger of liability action ... (0)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#20940671)

Gees I dunno. Is any seller of Windows held liable? I haven't heard of any instances.

Re:Ubuntu team in danger of liability action ... (4, Funny)

jkrise (535370) | about 7 years ago | (#20941015)

If they(Canonical) knowing sell on something with known defects (that copy of MS Vista)...

I imagine the support call to go something like this:

Vista User: Hi! I got a problem with Vista.
MS rep: Only one?
VU: Yep.. I can't activate
MS: Where did you get it? Or is it pirated?
VU: I bought it from Ubuntu
MS: Those guys haven't paid us protection money... like the good folks at Novell, Xandros..
VU: But it is still Microsoft Vista on the package... It's got this shticker as well... can I have a license key?
MS: Okay here you go... 54524524087698032413243064087513243404353040453204753047340873453207.
VU: I didn't ask for Ballmer's bank balance; just a license key!
MS: That's what I gave you...
VU: Okay... I typed it all in.. still won't go forward...
MS: Okay do this. Put that number in Excel 2007 and divide it by 345.43521; enter the first 128 digits, and then.. .hello? you still there????
VU: ..................
MS: Status: Waiting for customer. Next call please!

Why Is this Important?!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20940555)

And then there's the Ubuntu team in Belgium that is raising funds by auctioning off a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate that a Microsoft rep gave them at a trade show. So far the bidding is up to 101.76 Euros, about $144.

This is about as irrelevant and pointless as kdawson can get. A hundred bucks or so that would raise wouldn't "fund" anything more than a catered lunch, if that.

This is as low as kdawson can stoop to, if he thinks stunts like this really helps the cause or promotes Linux in any way. It's just petty and childish behavior.

Re:Why Is this Important?!! (2, Insightful)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#20940741)

Why would anyone be trying to promote Linux here at Slashdot? Everyone is either converted or never will be.

Re:Why Is this Important?!! (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | about 7 years ago | (#20940817)

Oh, come on... that's like not talking about God at Church. There's lots more insight for us all to gain, even if we are a bunch of calcified stuck-in-their-ways old farts :-)

Re:Why Is this Important?!! (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 7 years ago | (#20941389)

A hundred bucks or so that would raise wouldn't "fund" anything more than a catered lunch, if that.

Are you insane?

Do you know how many copies of Ubuntu that'd buy you?

Inadvertently (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20940563)

Inadvertently. That hurt, and English isn't even my first language!

Re:Inadvertently (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20941005)

Fixed.

I wonder (2, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | about 7 years ago | (#20940581)

Do you think there are people at Microsoft who go home and secretly work Linux by night?

Re:I wonder (4, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | about 7 years ago | (#20940647)

You make that sound so... dirty.

Tell me more.

Re:I wonder (4, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | about 7 years ago | (#20940679)

From the "CREDITS" file distributed with current linux kernel versions:

N: Raymond Chen
E: raymondc@microsoft.com
D: Author of Configure script
S: 14509 NE 39th Street #1096
S: Bellevue, Washington 98007
S: USA

So yes, at least some do or have done.

Re:I wonder (2, Informative)

wumpus188 (657540) | about 7 years ago | (#20940893)

Raymond Chen [wikipedia.org]

Re:I wonder (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20941055)

How long 'til "I hold here in my hand a list of more than 200 people who are working at MS..."

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20941349)

Commie Joke. Hah.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20941571)

>How long 'til "I hold here in my hand a list of more than 200 people who are working at MS..."

How about "never"? Nobody really cares about that stuff here unless you go out of your way to be obnoxious about it or you do something that falls afoul of HR's third-party source code rules without an exemption.

We pretty much leave the fanboyism to the fanboys.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20942225)

I knew that! If a kernel doesn't build due to some problems in the configure script it's Microsoft fault!
Woohoooo!! [dancing]

Re:I wonder (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 7 years ago | (#20942645)

Yes, though I do not speak for Microsoft in any capacity.

I was employed by Microsoft for a while (I figured it was a good way to understand them first hand -- I worked setting up internal automated test labs and mobile services, not producing software for licensing.), and I used Linux exclusively at home, though during my employment at Microsoft I was careful to not contribute ANYTHING back to the OSS/Free Software communities other than the odd bug report.

There was no prejeduce against a personal perference for GNU/Linux, BSD, and in fact many coworkers liked it. But, it was not the "Microsoft Way" for our customers.

I once brought in a HD MythTV box running on a nano-ITX board in a SilverStone case to contrast it to a MS HTPC (which I found low def and noisy at the time). Sure, they could have had the details of how it was put together - it was all open or free software anyway. A few people we upset at how well it worked but pointed out every little "glitch", as in, "We'dve designed the menus better." I'd agree that different, perhaps, but "better"? That arrogance, I think, is one thing that stifles them.

MSFT is like any large company: they're in business to make money. They aren't "evil" any more than any large business is "evil": they will get away with whatever they can. Call it evil if you must, but it strikes me as human nature to (ab)use power when one can.

Like buggy whip manufactures, the recording industry, motion picture industry, the mass-market proprietary software industry will eventually go the way of the dinasaur, though not without a tooth and nail fight to the death, with lobbied-for laws to their benefit, and other tactics. There will always be a place for proprietary software, for custom, niche customers and embedded special-purpose devices.

In order to survive, Microsoft will have to adapt. IBM had to adapt or die in the 80s and 90s. They have the resources to do this. And, I think they are well on their way. At some point, software will become an expense for them, and not a revenue stream.

I know something about the hows, whys, and schedule, of their adaptation, but obviously, I am not at liberty to discuss those details.

The point to note, however, is that one should not assume that a company that sees a threat to their business model will simply lay down and die. It will fight, in a variety of ways, some perceived as clean, some as dirty, but it will fight. Success is not guaranteed, and complacency is fatal.

It is public knowledge that Microsoft has a Linux lab. It would be foolish to think that they do not hire Linux enthuisiasts who do not necessarily buy into the Free/Open Software philosophy.

Microsoft claims to have a huge Linux farm (1)

christian.einfeldt (874074) | about 7 years ago | (#20943653)

@ billosaur

You wrote:

Do you think there are people at Microsoft who go home and secretly work Linux by night?
In an article which recently appeared here on Slashdot [slashdot.org] , Pamela Jones posted to Groklaw a link to an MP3 [peapodcast.com] (MP3 warning) of a panel discussion of the negotiators for the parties to the Novell - Microsoft deal. One really interesting quip from about three-fourths of the way through the 1.5 hour discussion is an off-hand remark by one of the Microsoft reps to the extent that Microsoft claims to have the largest server farm west of the Rockies.

I thought that was an odd statement to make. But maybe it's true. After all, Microsoft runs Hotmail on Linux. At least that is what a Microsoft employee told me during a cable car ride on the California cable car line in San Francisco, which runs from near the foot of Market Street (San Francisco's main street) up the hill toward Van Ness on California Street. Supposedly, he took that cable car line to and from work every day, because Microsoft apparently has an office near Spear and Market in San Francisco, according to this guy.

At any rate to answer your question, there are apparently lots of Microsoft sys admins who are paid to work on Linux during the day. Well, and I'm sure that there are also plenty who are paid to work on Linux during the night, too. After, Microsoft isn't going to trust its mission-critical operations to anything other than the best. snicker.

Huh? (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | about 7 years ago | (#20940605)

...now that Free Open Source Software is being commercialized by hardware vendors such as Dell, System76, EmperorLinux, Zareason.com, and TechCollective.com, acquiring computers powered by FOSS is straightforward...


Isn't that conflicting with the definition of "FOSS?"

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20940655)

The F in FOSS stands for Free as in freedom. Not free as in gratis.

Re:Huh? (1)

kmac06 (608921) | about 7 years ago | (#20940675)

Of course not. No one said the hardware would be free.

Re:Huh? (1)

everphilski (877346) | about 7 years ago | (#20941207)

Software isn't free either. It costs money. But its free as in freedom.

Re:Huh? (1)

jhines (82154) | about 7 years ago | (#20941095)

Software by itself doesn't do anything, it needs hardware, training, support, etc to be a complete system. Teachers should be good at teaching, not being computer geeks.

FOSS unlocks the software piece of the system, but the rest is still needed.

Re:Huh? (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | about 7 years ago | (#20941281)

While that's a good point, is it a guarantee that Dell isn't charging anything for the FOSS being on the system? Dell may claim that they're not charging for the FOSS itself, but for the time it took to get that software set up when it shipped the PC (or something to that effect), but how do we as consumers know that they aren't ripping people off?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20941575)

By comparing prices and letting market forces work out the price for the hardware and services. If they're really worried, they can ask the 17 year-old computer nerd, the one who works for pizza and cola, down the street if it's a fair price.

You also present a common misconception: Free software refers to freedom, not to price. If you wanted, it would be perfectly legal for you to burn a CD with GCC on it and sell it for a million dollars. You would be required to distribute the source either on the CD or for a nominal duplication fee to your customer, but you could sell it for as much money as you wanted.

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

jhines (82154) | about 7 years ago | (#20942009)

The lines on the finances can be drawn anywhere, but to stay in business a company has to earn a little profit. Are they marking up Linux, or their services, the hardware, or?

What is key here is that companies have noticed they can make a profit off of FOSS, rather than being forced to suckle at MS's teat. This isn't bad for FOSS.

The business (and educational) world wants computers and software that just work.

Re:Huh? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | about 7 years ago | (#20942133)

Del pays about $50 for a copy of Vista premium, and the same for Vista basic (since they have to give the customer DVD software as well). So the 50 dollars less they charge for the Ubuntu machines spot on in terms of price.

More annoying is their refusal to sell low end hardware. (Must but the nVidia card, even though there's a more than powerful (and compatible) enough Intel onboard graphics card in the D530, etc).

Oh but from the mouths of babes... (1)

Mariner28 (814350) | about 7 years ago | (#20943285)

While that's a good point, is it a guarantee that Dell isn't charging anything for the FOSS being on the system?

Just where do you get the idea that FOSS software must not be charged for? Really - can you give us any reference that says "Thou Shalt NOT Charge Any Gratuities For Free/Open Source Software"?












We're waiting...

And I quote [fsf.org] (from the GPL FAQ over at the FSF):

Does the GPL allow me to sell copies of the program for money?
Yes, the GPL allows everyone to do this. The right to sell copies is part of the definition of free software. Except in one special situation, there is no limit on what price you can charge. (The one exception is the required written offer to provide source code that must accompany binary-only release.)

using Microsoft's money (5, Informative)

muuh-gnu (894733) | about 7 years ago | (#20940633)

> using Microsoft's money to pay for the Linux purchases of your school's choice.

This isnt Microsofts money. This is the money Microsoft extorted from you and is now being forced to give back a tiny amount of this. Any cent that is not going to Microsoft (or even worse, to Apple), but to someone distributing Free Software is great, though.

Even worse? (2, Interesting)

jgs (245596) | about 7 years ago | (#20941103)

Why is Apple "even worse"? Just curious -- Apple has various unappealing qualities but unlike Microsoft they don't have a monopoly which they've been found guilty of abusing to extort money from you. "Even worse" would seem to be a pretty high bar.

Re:Even worse? (3, Insightful)

Machtyn (759119) | about 7 years ago | (#20941561)

Perhaps, it is because HAD Apple gained the marketshare that Microsoft did, not only would we have closed software, we would also have closed hardware.

While Apple certainly has an extremely creative group of engineers, would we have as much choice and innovation as we do now for hardware if 80+% of the market went with Apple? I think not. This is where the "even worse" comes in, it is in the possibility of what might have happened.

/Won't somebody please think of the games?!

Re:Even worse? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 7 years ago | (#20942683)

Apple purposely chose to appeal to a niche market, with a closed architecture, so there never was a threat of an 80% Apple market. The closed system/just-works mentality of Apple is so ingrained in their corporate culture, the chance of Apple developing open systems will never been an option. This isn't to say that Apple doesn't WANT a huge market share, it is simply stating that Apple would rather make as good as products as possible and that having a large market share has no correlation to the quality of their product. I'd argue that actually there is a correlation between market share and quality, in that it is inverse. The phrase, "The masses are asses", comes immediately to mind.

Apple "even worse"? (1)

Nymz (905908) | about 7 years ago | (#20941585)

Why is Apple "even worse"?
Like the grandparent poster said, this is money extorted from you. It doesn't belong to Apple, thus it can't be stolen from Apple when we redistributed it to the rightful owner, FOSS.

How the money got into your hands, or why you thought you had a right to decide how to spend that money, is beyond the scope of this thread :-)

Re:Even worse? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20943369)

because apple deliberately tries to tie their software to their hardware. Now that Macs run on a x86 architecture and MacOS is basically a modified version of BSD you would think that you could run MacOS on any PC. Not so - it has deliberate crippleware to stop it working on non-macs (or so it was the last time that I heard). You want to use their software? You must buy their over-inflated hardware. At least with what M$ is up to (with Media Player and IE), you do still HAVE the choice. MS office is designed to run on Windows, you can't run it on linux for technical reasons, but you could run it on something that mimics windows, like WINE or ReactOS. It hasn't been designed (afaik) to check that it's running on genuine windows and arbitrarilly refuse to work if it finds that its not, even if it actually would work were that check not there.

Also, they still ship 1-button mice.

Re:using Microsoft's money (1)

jkrise (535370) | about 7 years ago | (#20941177)

This isnt Microsofts money. This is the money Microsoft extorted from you ....

Well said!! I wish more people realise this simple fact; and the amount of clout money can bring.

Still, it would appear that a hatred of Microsoft; and the idea of subvreting the business of an 800lb. gorilla appeals to some people. Personally I wish people use Linux because they LOVE its Unix-like architecture, and the the freedom offered by the GPL; not because they HATE Bill Gates, Ballmer or Microsoft. The latter is a transient emotion; and leaves one wistful after it passes.

Re:using Microsoft's money (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20942513)

I wish people would use software because it's the best tool for the job. Loving and hating operating systems and software, or fretting about licensing, is the hobbiest and geek fascination. If MS-Word has some function that's a must-have and can't be found in OO.org or some other competing word processor, then use Word.

What I don't like is when people use arguments like "Windows is easier to use" when, in fact, it's really not that much easier to use. I find Ubuntu's installer and update system far easier and more reliable than Windows'. By the same token, it still suffers driver problems that make it a right pain on laptops, so unless you're tech-oriented, I still wouldn't recommend it to the average laptop user.

Poor, deluded fool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20941769)

Don't you realise that you are merely the temporary (very temporary) custodian of that money that rightly belongs to the corporation? That's how you're now a consumer and not a customer. Customers are consumers who have enough money to attempt to bid-out a corporation.

Looks like you need to report for reprogramming.

Cool! (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 7 years ago | (#20940663)

I like the fact that schools are (finally!) looking at Linux as a viable OS for the classroom. Seriously, we've come a long way - I remember trying to get it introduced as curriculum in 2000 at the college I taught at, and it took a metric ton of tooth-pulling to get done.

I've seen (at least in Utah when I lived there) schools transitioning from NetWare servers to Linux-based ones, but the classroom pretty much was all Windows, all the time.

Now when will we see OpenOffice being taught in the High School and collegiate business courses, instead of you-know-who?

/P

Re:Cool! (2, Insightful)

ExE122 (954104) | about 7 years ago | (#20940947)

I come from a nerdy IT college that was almost exclusively Linux. However I've worked on setting up labs with a friend of mine at another college down the road, and they insisted on being exclusively Windows. Their argument was that Windows was more "user friendly".

I think the problem is that most schools don't realize that running Linux doesn't mean you have to learn how to write bash scripts, develop C code, and use vi to edit documents (even though regex editing pwns).

I think Linux vendors just need to do a better job of marketing themselves as a user-friendly and low cost professional solution that can be intuitive to an inexperienced user.

I wish... (2, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | about 7 years ago | (#20941391)

... they insisted on being exclusively Windows... I think Linux vendors just need to do a better job of marketing themselves

This is the equivalent of the Photoshop/GIMP discussion that's endlessly recycled on /. "If only GIMP had feature X...." Well bad news, even when GIMP gets feature X, they'll have a new reason for not switching.

In both cases they are so single-minded they happily accept all of the limitations/expenses they bring upon themselves. Trying to convince them otherwise is a steep, nasty, uphill battle that probably can't be won.

Pick your battles very carefully and figure out what the school needs and is ready to pay for then provide it for free. An excellent start is the domain controller. An even simpler start is a dumb file server.

Re:Cool! (1)

kwandar (733439) | about 7 years ago | (#20941483)

I've been on Ubuntu Linux for about 3 months, and had dabbled in it many, many years ago. I'm an XP user both at work and at home, and I'm not a techie.

I was absolutely stunned at how much easier Ubuntu was to use, than Linux. Cleaner desktop and with Expose from Compiz it is a wonder. The only thing is that while you can use it, you need further learning curve if you want to get in any deeper (like where files are, etc).

Tell your non-nerdy colleague to try a Ubuntu Live disk (probably Mandriva, SLED and many others would do as well) before he says that it is more "user friendly". At least compared to Ubuntu, there is no question, it isn't. It's just more "familiar"

Re:Cool! (1)

maxume (22995) | about 7 years ago | (#20941579)

Professional solutions pwn.

Re:Cool! (2, Insightful)

halber_mensch (851834) | about 7 years ago | (#20941619)

I come from a nerdy IT college that was almost exclusively Linux. However I've worked on setting up labs with a friend of mine at another college down the road, and they insisted on being exclusively Windows. Their argument was that Windows was more "user friendly".

I rather think that users and observers commonly mistake "user-friendly" to be "a familiar type and amount of pain". Windows is less easy to use than it is familiar, and remembering the pain it took to gain that familiarity many users will shy from diving into something new fearing what new pain to unveil from a different system.

Re:Cool! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20942431)

And let's remember that every major new revision of Windows has had a lot of pain for users. Going from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 was a helluva big change, and moving from Windows 95 to Windows XP was, while somewhat less daunting, still getting used to changes. Hell, look at all the people screaming about Vista and how things don't work like they used to and how they can't stand all the popups and so on and so forth.

The fact is that there would be no more pain in going to Ubuntu or to OSX if that's what a user had to do. It's the great myth that Microsoft has propogated that all those other GUIs are strange and weird and hard to use, even as they release a GUI that's strange and weird and hard to use.

Re:Cool! (1)

halber_mensch (851834) | about 7 years ago | (#20944643)

And let's remember that every major new revision of Windows has had a lot of pain for users. Going from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 was a helluva big change, and moving from Windows 95 to Windows XP was, while somewhat less daunting, still getting used to changes.

But it's got (Can you believe it?!), Reversi! And all this for $500? $1000? Even more? No it's just $99! All these feature plus reversi all for just $99, what an incredible value!

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20941907)

great! morons who won't know the os and apps that they'll be running in the real world. it's good that little johnny can't land a real job so that you can feel good about microsoft losing some table scraps

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20943523)

Fuck off shit face. Are you really going to tell me that little johnny fucknuts can't land a job because he didn't learn the basics of Microsoft Office, which is the same as every other word processor. Maybe you need to get another job and step down from being Primo Douchebag.

Re:Cool! (1)

argiedot (1035754) | about 7 years ago | (#20942037)

I've always wondered why people were 'taught' Office. It sounds so ridiculous. Or maybe you do some fancy stuff, because in school our questions were like, "What is the shortcut key for Italics?"

But they own linux (5, Funny)

neokushan (932374) | about 7 years ago | (#20940681)

But Microsoft owns all of the copyrights for Linux anyway, according to Ballmer, remember?

Nah, nah (1)

Mariner28 (814350) | about 7 years ago | (#20943375)

Novell owns all the copyrights. Ballmer just wishes they owned the copyrights - just think how much money they could make on copyright infringement. Have you ever heard of companies having copyright cross licensing agreements? Didn't think so. MS could keep all the money for themselves!!!

And! (0, Redundant)

Otter (3800) | about 7 years ago | (#20940715)

But now that Free Open Source Software is being commercialized by hardware vendors such as Dell, System76, EmperorLinux, Zareason.com, and TechCollective.com, acquiring computers powered by FOSS is straightforward.

Don't forget the teaching-mental-patients-to-install-Ubuntu-on-old-computers-and-that's-much-more-important-than-saving-the-gorillas guy!

Libraries can do this too... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20940805)

with the Gates Foundation grants. Unless the process has changed since the last time my organization went through it, it's possible to spec out alternate equipment and software instead of accepting the "recommended" equipment. That, and if you have funds remaining after your purchase, you can buy more equipment, so long as it's for public computing. I funded a LTSP-based thin client server that way...

ethicaly dubious (0, Troll)

Arthur B. (806360) | about 7 years ago | (#20940829)

This is money the state bullied out of Microsoft pocket, it most definitely stinks. Sure this money was bullied out of the consumer pocket in the first place through copyright law, but what the state of California has done is a whole other league of stinkiness. The best thing would be to install Linux and give back the money to Microsoft.

Uhh... (1)

Selfbain (624722) | about 7 years ago | (#20940879)

Not to sound like a dick but this sounds pretty anecdotal. I'd be willing to bet 90%+ will still be going right back to Microsoft.

Re:Uhh... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20941113)

Well, there's a third option. How about using the money to get new hardware and transfer the existing licenses? I'm fairly sure a good deal of schools will go for that.

The more they know FOSS, they more they like it. (1)

christian.einfeldt (874074) | about 7 years ago | (#20944093)

@ Selfbain

Not to sound like a dick but this sounds pretty anecdotal. I'd be willing to bet 90%+ will still be going right back to Microsoft.
IMHO, the more school administrators who know that they can just buy an off-the-shelf Linux box from a commercial vendor like Zareason.com or System76 or EmperorLinux or TechCollective.com or Dell, the more likely they are too feel comfortable making a purchase of FOSS-based computers.

So, Selfbain, if you would like to help make sure that 90%+ do NOT go back to Microsoft-based products, please feel free to send them to send them to the California State Education website to find out how they might be able to get some free FOSS computers.

http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/et/st/etvfaq.asp [ca.gov]

Equally important, send them to a FOSS vendor who has experience with the process of working under the Microsoft Anti-trust Settlement Agreement. I happen to know that Zareason.com has that experience, but System76 or TechCollective.com or EmperorLinux might also have serviced some California schools. Shop around.

$64bn dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20940907)

Makes MS per year.

Surely they can give $100M to various popular distributions to provide an os that is:
- dog slow bloated
- pushes forward MS codecs and respects patens
- very unstable (makes windows look stable)
- binary-only extremely insecure (makes windows look secure)

IOW, it makes linux seem like windows poor cousin.

From that $100M, $10M will end up in various programmers, which is a good thing.

Re:$64bn dollars (1)

KlomDark (6370) | about 7 years ago | (#20941007)

What? Can someone translate that for me?

Re:$64bn dollars (2, Insightful)

jmac1492 (1036880) | about 7 years ago | (#20941379)

In Slashdot form, here's a (bad) car analogy translation: Say your computer is like a car. Just like your car needs gas to do anything useful, your computer needs an operating system to do anything useful. What Microsoft did was pretty much muscling all the gas stations out of town so they could jack up the price, which is illegal. California made them give some of the money back. What this is is basically taking the money Microsoft is giving you as their fine, and using it to buy Linux gasoline.

What Microsoft thought doesn't really matter (2, Interesting)

Julie188 (991243) | about 7 years ago | (#20940915)

"Microsoft probably anticipated that school districts would mainly use the settlement to buy more Microsoft products, with a few Apple purchases sprinkled in here and there." That's a pretty big "who cares" isn't it? Whatever Microsoft thought the fine would be used for doesn't make a bean of difference. The true irony would have been if the money WAS really being used to buy mostly Microsoft products. Then you'd have bamboozled consumers paying --> microsoft paying --> government fines paying --> schools paying --> microsoft ... end result Microsoft has the money. But that's not the case so it's all cool.

-- Julie

Microsoft Subnet [networkworld.com] : the independent voice of Microsoft customers

Re:What Microsoft thought doesn't really matter (1)

smussman (1160103) | about 7 years ago | (#20942693)

While Microsoft may end up with the money, the school districts end up with newer, hopefully better equipment, without having to pay from their regular budgets. Microsoft is still being forced to give up something of value.

I solved MS issue when XP came out (1)

techwrench (586424) | about 7 years ago | (#20941841)

I switched to Linux!

1. No Licensing
2. Updates that work, and don't crash my OS.
3. Bundled software that works, without paying outragous costs, and more licenses.

Most of State of California website still has issues with browsers other than I.E. ...

So much for a technically progressive state......

Kind of Misleading (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 7 years ago | (#20942269)

The headline and Christian's summary are pretty misleading. They make it sound like the voucher money is being used for a massive adoption of FOSS in California. But all Christian really knows about is his own efforts to implement FOSS at his own charter school. I suspect that most of the money is actually getting spent as Microsoft thought it would: on Microsoft technology. This would be particularly likely at the non-charter schools that still make up the vast majority of the California system. The educational bureaucracy in these schools in particularly aversive to experimenting with alternative technologies.

Which is not to devalue Christian's hard work bringing FOSS to his charter school students. He's not only saving his school money, he's bringing the kids technology with a greater educational impact. But his story is really a How To item, not news item about Microsoft being hoisted by its own petard.

Re:Kind of Misleading (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 7 years ago | (#20942583)

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but could you defend your statement that FOSS allows for a greater educational impact? You aren't wrong, btw, I just like other people to see why. My MA Education thesis is steeped in Educational Technology, and I'm constantly amazed at how many people think we need to teach kids how to use Microsoft, because "that's what they use in the business world". This declaration is ridiculously short-sighted and fails almost every premise of the purpose of using technology for education in the first place.

Re:Kind of Misleading (0)

bcattwoo (737354) | about 7 years ago | (#20943271)

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but could you defend your statement that FOSS allows for a greater educational impact?
For Pete's sake, if you like other people to see why and you did an MA thesis on it, why don't you tell us yourself? The roundabout ways that people try to make points on here sometimes drives me crazy. I really would like to hear about the greater educational impact FOSS has on high school students though.

Re:Kind of Misleading (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 7 years ago | (#20943481)

I'd tell you myself, but I don't know why FOSS allows for better education, because my research didn't focus on FOSS. This is why I'm asking this guy to tell us. I'm not trying to make ANY point about FOSS, nor am I going about it in a roundabout way. Like you, I would LOVE to hear about the impact FOSS has on education.

What I WAS trying to do, however, was not sound like an argumentative jerk. I apologize for being too apologetic. (Oh, the irony of that statement).

Time to move! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20942447)

*** I'm a volunteer sysadmin at a northern California public charter school and in my Slashdot journal I detail the step-by-step process for using Microsoft's money to pay for the Linux purchases of your school's choice." ***

Time for me to move to CA and get an admin position and start buying Windows products with MS money to counter you :)

At least it's schools - you don't have to worry about games. When people go home, and find that FOSS doesn't run the games they wanna use easily, they will end up with Windows systems anyways.

I imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20943011)

I imagine that there are a lot of companies out there who are unknowingly funding FOSS. For example, they pay someone to do some job for them during the day and at night, that person works on FOSS code for fun/whatever. That FOSS is basically being subsidized by the company that pays for the FOSS programmer to eat.

Also, by this measure, if you sell anything and then give the money to some FOSS project, whoever made the thing you sold is supporting FOSS.

While such measures may make kids think they're being uber-geek-cool being subvertive or something, it's just a bunch of dorks snickering about something they think is a cool inside joke that no one cares about.
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