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Microsoft Ties $235m IT Aid To Use of Windows

Zonk posted more than 5 years ago | from the developing-countries-just-the-way-you-want-them dept.

Microsoft 214

E5Rebel writes "Microsoft will spend $235m in schools worldwide over the next five years, part of a plan to triple the number of students and teachers trained in its software programs to up to 270 million by 2013. 'Microsoft's investment shows how important it views developing markets to its future business. Last year, Microsoft introduced the Student Innovation Suite, which includes the XP Starter Edition plus educational applications, for $3 for qualifying countries. Microsoft faces heated competition from companies supporting the open-source OS Linux and associated software in developing countries. "I think as a company we welcome choice," [Orlando Ayala] said. "Frankly, we welcome the competition." The company's educational funding comes with a hitch: "Of course, that includes the fact they [the schools] use Windows," Ayala said.' If you don't use Windows you don't get the cash." Microsoft has long been interested in the education of children.

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Of course they welcome competition... (5, Funny)

mr_resident (222932) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139406)


it's where they get all their best ideas!

(calm down modders - it's just a joke)

Actually... (3, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139490)

Isn't this pretty similar to what Apple was doing with schools back in the 80's?

Re:Actually... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139606)

If true then MSFT is even copying the one application at a time by using windows starter edition.

i say if as I don't know apple's eduction history.

Re:Actually... (1, Interesting)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139860)

Actually, this is similar to what Apple did to get the strong foothold they once had in the education market. I don't know what the balance is these days, but it is a good move by Microsoft to get better established in an important market. I'm not a huge Microsoft fan, but there isn't anything evil about this, other than the usual profit motive which may or may not be evil depending on who you talk to. In my book, if it helps increase computer literacy then it's a good thing, especially if it increases that of the teachers!

Re:Actually... (2, Insightful)

Rob Y. (110975) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140792)

...unless they're taking huge tax deductions on what is essentially money spent to buy marketshare.

Actually... #2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140040)

Possibly - until you realise Apple didn't have an OS monopoly.

Re:Actually... (1, Flamebait)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140394)

What is it with americans (sorry, I don't see anyone else doing it) that you always feel the need to point out that [some unrelated entity] has done the same in the past, or might do the same in the future if it had the chance? Especially considering that it is invariably a wildly inappropriate comparison?

Don't you find it incredibly tiring to hear this tireless propaganda? Does anyone honestly believe that Apple back then can be compared to Microsoft now? Or that the lies perpetrated by Bush, that led to the invasion of two countries and hundreds of thousands killed, are comparable to those of Clinton about getting a blowjob? Does anyone think it is smart or witty to make such comparisons?

The mind boggles...

Re:Actually... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140684)

It's similar but different. Apple sold hardwares at a steep discount to schools, but they don't offer money to school to be used only to buy Apple hardwares. Sometimes they donated hardwares too. The distinction is important since the school aren't under any obligation to force Apple's platform on students. OTOH, schools are obligated to force MS solutions on students. Of course, you may argue that the schools are not under obligation to receive the cash, but do you know what school refuses cash? Once a monetary donation is given, schools are free to appropriately use the fund in any way they see fit as long as it doesn't violate the general guideline of the donation. Dictating a specific solution as a condition of a donation is inappropriate. It violates the principle of academic freedom.

IMHO, these platform wars has no place at schools. Students who work for a computer degree should understand computer basics and a little bit of each major platform. Then they can specialize in a platform they are interested in. It's still called computer science and computer engineering, isn't it? Not Windows science and Windows engineering. If students aren't interested in the basics and the other platforms, they can just go to a vocational school specializing in Windows softwares. There is no need to waste time with other stuff.

doubletake (3, Funny)

Speare (84249) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140364)

I hate it when I glance at something and read it slightly wrong. Ever happen to you?

If you don't use Windows you don't get the crash.

It has to be said (2, Informative)

guisar (69737) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140510)

Last year, Microsoft introduced the Student Indoctrination Suite, which includes the XP Stuckwithit Edition plus educational applications, for $3 for groveling countries. Microsoft has avoided competition from companies supporting the open-source OS Linux and associated software except in countries which can be bought off. "I think as a company we welcome choice," [Orlando Ayala] said. "Frankly, we welcome the competition, we just don't like other people trying to take our business." The company's educational funding comes with a hitch: "Of course, that includes the fact they [the schools] use Windows," Ayala said.' You don't think we're doing this for good of the students do you?.

Subsidy not aid (4, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139428)

This isn't aid, its a subsidy to grow the Windows market. Aid would be focused on the end-goal of the people, not on the end-goal of the company.

This is a blatant case of a monopoly subsidising to establish itself in emerging markets.

The NYT has a page that is still up [nytimes.com]

Re:Subsidy not aid (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22139682)

it's even worse. If I give you $ you need to give it back as $+.

Re:Subsidy not aid (4, Insightful)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139700)

Free training is not monopoly subsidising. Its just a different business model, they charge for the software and give free training. Other companies give away the software and make their money on support and training. There is nothing wrong with giving away free stuff (like training) in order to grow your market share.

I would like to see more competition in the consumer OS market as well and MS may have crossed the line in the past, but screaming "monopoly abuse!" every time MS makes any kind of business deal is just silly.

Re:Subsidy not aid (2, Interesting)

ronadams (987516) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140330)

The problem here is that I don't pay taxes to fund public schools so Microsoft can go advertise their products. Enhancing vendor lock through targeting public institutions is not cool with me. OTOH, maybe open-source advocates should just offer free training and resources of their own.

Withholding judgment...

Re:Subsidy not aid (1, Funny)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139792)

Wow... I didn't see this coming. I figured it was impossible for Microsoft to undercut free software... guess I was wrong! I'm teaching my kids Ubuntu, however, I can be bribed to switch :-) If Microsoft would like one less slashdotter bashing Windows, a promise of free lifetime software and maybe a few hundred bucks would do the trick.

Re:Subsidy not aid (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140348)

i don't know. I think that being forced to use windows for y entire life would make me complain more, not less.

Re:Subsidy not aid (5, Insightful)

natenovs (1055338) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139862)

When I was in elementary school none of our class rooms had computers. My fifth grade teacher when to the Microsoft Technology training course and was able to get our class room 5 computers. This was my first exposure to computers. I don't care if you hate Microsoft, the fact that they put a keyboard in my hands got me interested in computing. I would not be where I am today if that did not happen. To this I am grateful to Microsoft, and more accurate probably, my fifth grade teacher.

Re:Subsidy not aid (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139908)

This is a good thing for all of IT. I learned Microsoft as a kid through DOS, Windows in all its forms, and their servers. Proficiency in computers translates to all systems. OSS is a heavy hitter in the server market, so anyone going into a serious career with IT is going to have to learn to deal with it.

In other words, this will help grow the Microsoft user base, but only for people who will get functional with computers and won't excel. For those who want to excel, they'll learn alternatives as naturally as a normal person tries a new food at their favorite restaurant.

Re:Subsidy not aid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140152)

How do you figure that it will not grow the amount of people who will excel with computers? Just because someone who excels needs to know more than Microsoft (if you are accepting that premise, I do not), doesn't mean that a properly trained teacher on Microsoft products can't teach a student who will then say "Hey, I know how to use this machine now, I wonder what else it can do." And that may never have happened if the classroom didn't have the computers or had the computers but the teacher had no idea what to do with them.

Also, there are lots of people who can excel with just Microsoft technologies. Are you saying that there are no businesses running Server 2003? Are you saying there are no applications developed strictly for Windows? If you are, then you are a fool. PC Game development is almost entirely Windows based, and then there is the XBox which is a Microsoft product. That is just one industry where you can excel and never touch a linux box.

Saw This on a Billboard This Weekend (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139430)

I saw something similar to this this weekend as I was riding a bus to NYC. A billboard in Delaware or some other state said "FREE $50 When You Join!" referring to a casino membership. But in very fine print (hilariously fine for the size of the billboard) it said, "Money must be spent inside the casino within a half hour of joining." I remember thinking to myself, that sure is free.

How free is something when you're told what to spend it on? How free is money when it goes into a fund that invests in the United States companies and stock markets and you can't control that fund?

My answer would be 'not very' but, you know, when you see these 'donations' from the rich like Bill Gates, that seems to be the case every single time. I'm glad they're getting something, I'm upset about the strings attached. Better than nothing, yes. But sounding more and more like a fishy tax loophole or legacy purchase (he'll go down in history as a philanthropist no doubt) every day.

Why they give money with strings attached. (1)

Name Anonymous (850635) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139882)

How free is something when you're told what to spend it on? How free is money when it goes into a fund that invests in the United States companies and stock markets and you can't control that fund?

My answer would be 'not very' but, you know, when you see these 'donations' from the rich like Bill Gates, that seems to be the case every single time. I'm glad they're getting something, I'm upset about the strings attached. Better than nothing, yes. But sounding more and more like a fishy tax loophole or legacy purchase (he'll go down in history as a philanthropist no doubt) every day.


It's a way to screw with sales numbers. They give away money it looks good. They sold another 50,000 copies of windows it looks good. If they just gave away Windows, it only looks half as good since the sales numbers won't increase from the donation.

Re:Saw This on a Billboard This Weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140820)

I always take these baits and always come out of the casino with the free money - just split the money in halves and bet on binery events with equal odds.

There, classic money laundering technique put into legal use.

Re:Saw This on a Billboard This Weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140892)

just split the money in halves and bet on binery events with equal odds.
There are no binary events with equal odds at a casino. Are you going to tell me that betting even/odd or red/black on a roulette wheel is equal odds? Because it's not, don't forget the two greens (0 & 00).

Re:Saw This on a Billboard This Weekend (1)

Moonpie Madness (764217) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140918)

You're dead wrong about one thing: Bill Gates has generously donated billions to great causes in ways that do not benefit Microsoft products. We can all say that this is no big deal for a billionaire, but the man's done some good no matter how you slice it.

Yes, I know it's lame that MS "helps" schools by giving them money for Windows. That's just marketing in disguise and probably hurts schools. After all, if you can use Ubuntu competently, you are probably not going to have any problems with Windows. The real educational software is generally open source, since you can, ya know, see it working.

Free software is not money (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139436)

It looks like they are giving free software and support valued at the overinflated prices Microsoft gets for there product. Using this metric, Ubuntu is also donating $235 million to schools, students, businesses and people. (Support via Ubuntu Forums)

Windows' superiority is not about money (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22139940)

It looks like they are giving free software and support valued at the overinflated prices Microsoft gets for there product. Using this metric, Ubuntu is also donating $235 million to schools, students, businesses and people. (Support via Ubuntu Forums)

The difference being, of course, that people have to actually be willing to pay money for your product. Which is something Ubuntu can't boast... as has been proven all over the world, like in China, or Poland, or anywhere else. People would rather STEAL Windows than use Teh Lunix FOR FREE. Look at ANY country with high software piracy. Everyone STILL uses Windows.

Is that MS somehow FORCING these people to pirate their software and use it? Of course not... it's consumer choice. Just because they are stealing doesn't mean they aren't consumers. So the reality is that Windows wins, regardless of price. Windows can, and does, successfully compete with free... because price isn't everything.

The problem with Teh Lunix, and FOSS in general, is only focusing on the "free". What they should be doing is looking at what consumers want... and addressing that. Instead, they just whip up whatever it is they want at the moment to address some short term need, and if anyone wants something easier to use they can go F themselves, the cheap ungrateful bastages. Obviously that mentality won't win if it were a software company seeking to gain more customers, which is precisely why these people aren't making commercial software in the first place.

Re:Windows' superiority is not about money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140124)

Lunix [sourceforge.net] is a cut-down unixoid operating system for the C64. Did you mean linux, perchance? Either way, you're (a) wrong and (b) an asshole.

Re:Windows' superiority is not about money (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140186)

The difference being, of course, that people have to actually be willing to pay money for your product. Which is something Ubuntu can't boast... as has been proven all over the world, like in China, or Poland, or anywhere else. People would rather STEAL Windows than use Teh Lunix FOR FREE. Look at ANY country with high software piracy. Everyone STILL uses Windows.

Er... that undermines your argument. People in these countries aren't willing to pay money for windows, and they certainly aren't willing to pay over-inflated retail prices for windows.

But given a choice between not paying to use windows and not paying to use linux they choose to not pay to use windows because its what everyone else is using.

Yes, it is. (2, Insightful)

smitth1276 (832902) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140166)

It doesn't cost Ubuntu anything (in practical terms) to do that. It does cost Microsoft to do that. Microsoft pays people to work for them. Time absolutely is money.

Re:Free software is not money (1)

smitty97 (995791) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140256)

Hey, that's a great idea. I'll donate my time by setting up each PC for them. I normally charge $10,000,000 each for this service, but I am thinking of the children here and will do it free!! After about a classroom full of PCs I'll have surpassed Microsoft's donation.

Re:Free software is not money (2, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140334)

It looks like they are giving free software and support

What's very funny is Microsoft had a 10 question quiz in an ad here on slashdot. The quiz was to "test your knowledge of software licensing". For grins, I took the test. It will not let you go got the next question (training maze) until you got the current question correct. If they just scored it, I would have done poorly as I chose what a consumer friendly answer should be. Taking the quiz fully convinced me that with GNU style licenses out there, the MS license will lose.

For example, you have a computer with an OEM Windows install. It dies. Can you reinstall the software on another computer? The answer is no. The license is only for the dead computer and is not transferable. Just how does that stack up against my other software which includes the permission to install it on any and all computers I own. Getting me to buy their software is going to be tough. With Open Office, everyone has the same version. With MS Office, I have a machine with Office 97. The daughter has the Office 2003, and the wife's new Vista laptop has the new copy provided for the cost of the media through my employer. It expires when I lose my job or retire. Compare licenses again. One copy on one machine or a site license for all the machines in my house.. Easy choice.. We all have a copy of the up to date Open Office. It supports ODF out of the box, not as a plug-in.

http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/2075/word_2007_open_save_odf_documents [tech-recipes.com]

Schools who have to deal with donated machines and per seat licenses have the BSA to fear. Schools who use OSS software do not have this legal liability. MS will either have to blanket change their license or continue to find their market erode.

http://www.linux.com/feed/37845 [linux.com] (Oregon school faces BSA Audit)

Business also has to deal with the sticky terms of the MS license

http://www.news.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.html [news.com] (Ernie Ball's BSA audit, cost $65,000, plus $35,000 in legal fees)

Those badly hurt and afraid will need a lot more than just a sweet deal to switch back.

For Comparison... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22139442)

For comparison, let's look at how much money Lunis Torvballs has given to charity.

(crickets chirping)

Wow, easy comparison. If MS wants to give money to people who use Windows... what's the big deal? Everyone except the wealthy elite (Apple users) and serial killers (Lunix users) use Windows.

Get a grip Lunix d00dz. It's an operating system, not a lifestyle statement.

$235m? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22139446)

I can afford that! It's less than a quarter!

(Hey editors, learn your SI: m means milli (1/1000). M means mega (1000000). SI is case-sensitive, just like Unix)
Or maybe I'm just being pedantic. Wouldn't be anything new for this website, though.

Re:$235m? (2)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139562)

Yes, however, the "m" after the dollar figure isn't an SI measurement.

You're being pedantic, but you also don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Which is nothing new for this website.

Links that work (1)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139452)

Here's the story, Yahoo! [yahoo.com]

Maybe it's not cash? (2, Insightful)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139464)

Maybe they're giving out, oh I dunno, licenses for Windows and free copies that amount to that much money? What the fuck do you expect them to do, buy the equivalent value of Macs and give that instead?

Re:Maybe it's not cash? (1)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139568)

I expect them to give out that much money in hardware, training and then throw in all of their software for free.

Re:Maybe it's not cash? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139794)

Sounds like a homeless guy demanding new clothes and a place to sleep in addition to the free meal.

Re:Maybe it's not cash? (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139924)

This isn't a free meal for a homeless guy. This is akin to Madonna tossing the homeless guy a free copy of her latest CD.

It costs microsoft nothing, they get a tax writeoff, and it's either useless to the target demographic, or will perpetuate microsoft's monopoly and later charge them their left nut.

Re:Maybe it's not cash? (1)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140184)

licenses for Windows and free copies that amount to that much money? What the fuck do you expect them to do
As previously stated, it costs nothing to give out licenses. What is more significant is that if people have nothing to run the software it doesn't matter how many licenses you give them.

This isn't a free meal for a homeless guy. This is akin to Madonna tossing the homeless guy a free copy of her latest CD.
No, it's even worse, this is more like Madonna telling a homeless person that he has legal permission to download her new album even though he has no way to even utilize it (not that I think many people do)

Re:Maybe it's not cash? (1)

monk2b (693792) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140160)

I would agree with you if you simply gave a homeless guy a free meal, but it sounds to me like the homeless guy was then ask what he thought. When you ask someone what would they do, then you should expect an answer, that is how dialog works.

Re:Maybe it's not cash? (4, Insightful)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140376)

More like giving the homeless guy drugs when he needs food, knowing that he'll come back to you for the next hit. They're "developing markets to their future business."

Re:Maybe it's not cash? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140070)

Show me where a FLOSS company has done similar.

Re:Maybe it's not cash? (0)

Schmool (809874) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139608)

That for one would at least make it seem like they're not just doing it out of self-interest. This way it just looks bad, like a cheap method of conversion, in the style of Gilette razor blades.

Of course they only pay for windows training (4, Interesting)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139482)

Why is it a surprise they would only fund free training for their own software? I mean isnt that kind of a duh thing? Are linux companies sinister too now because they dont pay for free windows training for people who dont buy linux?

Re:Of course they only pay for windows training (1)

osgeek (239988) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139788)

Careful, dude, this is Slashdot. Special pleading for open source software is allowed and even encouraged.

I mean, what non-zealot could even half take the premise of this article/editorial seriously?

Re:Of course they only pay for windows training (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22139904)

I think the premise is correct - Microsoft can get a tax deduction for growing their business. It is the same thing the Bushes did -- got a big tax break by getting schools to buy software by one of the Bush kids. It is no more sleazy for Microsoft to do it than for the Bushes to do it, and it is very typical tax sleaze -- all the rich people do these kind of dirty tricks.

Re:Of course they only pay for windows training (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140016)

And Novel, Redhat, etc can get a tax deduction for growing their business too. All they have to do is donate support licenses and training for their product.

Re:Of course they only pay for windows training (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139848)

Why is it a surprise they would only fund free training for their own software? I mean isn't that kind of a duh thing? Are Linux companies sinister too now because they don't pay for free windows training for people who don't buy Linux?
It's no surprise. The disappointment is the requirements.

From TFA:

"Of course, that includes the fact they [the schools] use Windows," Ayala said.' If you don't use Windows you don't get the cash."
It doesn't matter what the intentions are.

That makes so much sense to me. It wouldn't be logical for Microsoft or any company to donate money for their competition (i.e. donate money for computers to run competing software). I would not suspect anything else from a for-profit company. I'm sure Microsoft's shareholders would agree. Nothing new in this news.

Re:Of course they only pay for windows training (1, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140000)

MS can go ahead and fund Windows training... but they should call it 'funding Windows training' or 'advertising' or 'market capture' (depending how honest they want to be). Calling it 'foreign aid' is a stretch, and part of the problem.

There is also the fact that MS is, apparently, only offering free training to schools that agree to be purely Windows institutions. If a Linux outfit offered free support, but only on condition of NOT using any non-Linux software, you can be sure that the community would cry foul. Providing Windows-only support is fine. Providing support only to purely Windows institutes? Nasty.

Lastly, there is the usual monopoly issue. Things that might be fair game for most companies can quickly become unfair (even illegal) for monopolies. This appears to be another case of MS leveraging their existing dominance (and corresponding cash) to create a monopoly in a new market. Generally, allowing a monopoly to extend itself like this, at the expense of competitors, is a bad thing.

Re:Of course they only pay for windows training (1)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140164)

Providing support only to purely Windows institutes? Nasty
Where did it say this in TFA? You and several others seem to be assuming that this is the case. TFA says only that they provide free training to schools that use windows. It says nothing about a requirement that the schools use no non-MS software. It seems like everyone is assuming something that isnt true.

Watch where you point that thing! (1)

smitth1276 (832902) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140210)

Watch were you point that thing*, dude. This is slashdot, someone might get hurt.

*And by "thing", I mean "logical, sensible statement".

Re:Of course they only pay for windows training (1)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140656)

Please don't confuse this with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I dislike MS like everyone else, but his personal foundation seems to be quite seperated from Microsoft. It's focus is more on health than IT anyway.

And this is a shock why? (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139546)

Why wouldn't Microsoft offer support to Schools that teach Windows and not offer support to schools that do not?
This isn't some foundation it is a company. Sorry but this isn't shocking or news. Do you think Novell or Redhat would donate money to schools that teach Windows?

Re:And this is a shock why? (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139622)

The trouble is, Microsoft does "aid" projects like this, and then wants to be treated as though they've just committed some great act of charity.

They can't have it both ways.

Re:And this is a shock why? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139826)

All acts of charity are acts of selfishness. Would you donate time / money to any cause if it caused you some kind of pain or made you feel bad?

Re:And this is a shock why? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139628)

I don't think a convicted monopolist should be allowed to do this at all, and should have some substantial fraction of its net worth seized as punishment.

Re:And this is a shock why? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140380)

Well that is for the courts to decide.
The end result is that Microsoft wouldn't donate any money for IT projects and just donate the software. That couldn't be considered anti-trust since it isn't undercutting the cost of FOSS.

Not a shock, an outrage. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140076)

I know your type. MICROSOFT KILLS BABIES!!! Yeah, well, they're a company, don't act like you're surprised.

News flash: Incorporation does not automatically remove ethical responsibility.

Aside from that, in case you're the cynical type who views "doing the right thing" as a bleeding-heart, touchy-feely concept that has no place in a cold, capitalist world, try this: Free press and goodwill.

I should also point out that there are corporations which genuinely do just give, without necessarily a direct ulterior motive. Google's Sumer of Code is a good example.

Re:Not a shock, an outrage. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140336)

"I should also point out that there are corporations which genuinely do just give, without necessarily a direct ulterior motive. Google's Sumer of Code is a good example."
Yes they do but Google's Summer of code isn't a great example. It is a recruitment tool and does buy them a lot of good publicity.
The company I work for does donate to a charity that helps disabled children. We don't publicize it because the owner thinks of this as an act of charity.
We also give away our software to school that in our industry and train their teachers for free.

Yes a corporation can be expected to make charitable contributions that do not directly benefit them.
What you can not expect them to do is to provide donations that are actually counter to their interests!

Isn't this like.. (1, Insightful)

Paranatural (661514) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139548)

Isn't this sorta like those missionaries who will feed the starving if they convert?

Re:Isn't this like.. (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139656)

It's actually the same. You must just accept Bill Gates as your father in the high router.

Re:Isn't this like.. (1)

DarkSarin (651985) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140496)

Then there are the missionaries who will feed the hungry even if they won't convert. Or who feed the hungry and don't ask about your faith at all.

Which is how it should be.

Here's how all churches should do service (and this is how I do service). See a need for help. Donate time, energy, money, food, talent, whatever is necessary. Leave. That's it. If people ask questions, you simply state, "I believe that this is what Christ (or whatever rolemodel you prefer) would do/have me do, so I'm doing it. What else can I do to help?" If they ask more about where they can learn about your church, you say, "Well, once we have this problem fixed, our services are at this time. We'd love for you to visit. Right now, let's get this mess taken care of."

That's how charity should be done. Oh, and you don't advertise. Which is why some churches give millions in aid each year, but almost no one knows about it. Why? Because they don't advertise. Frankly, what MS is doing is worthless except that there may be some slight benefit to the recipient, but even that is hard to tell. I would rather see MS join up with a bevy of other IT companies and form an IT aid charity that was tech-neutral. This would be more appropriate, and more helpful.

In other news... (1)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139576)

Water is still wet.

It gets dark at night.

fancy that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22139610)

once again microsoft is scorned by slashdotters for the same reasons that apple is praised.

Re:fancy that (0)

Schmool (809874) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139754)

It might have to do with the fact that if you give a child a Mac or Linux box, it's empowering, while if you force them to use Windows, it's borderline child abuse.

Re:fancy that (0, Troll)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140110)

Even if you assume that these are the same Slashdotters, Microsoft is a monopoly. Apple is not.

Monopolies have to play by different rules.

Re:fancy that (2, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140468)

Good point. I just looked to see if Apple is a BSA member.

Unfortunately according to Wikipedia, they are..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Software_Alliance [wikipedia.org] Scroll down to the members list.. Yuck!

" * Adobe Systems
        * Apple Inc.
        * Autodesk
        * Avid Technology
        * Bentley Systems
        * Borland
        * CA, Inc.
        * Cadence Design Systems
        * Cisco Systems
        * CNC Software/Mastercam
        * Dell
        * EMC Corporation
        * Entrust
        * Hewlett-Packard
        * IBM
        * Intel Corporation
        * McAfee
        * Microsoft
        * Monotype Imaging
        * Network Associates
        * Oracle Corporation
        * PTC
        * RSA Security
        * SAP
        * SolidWorks
        * Sybase
        * Symantec
        * Synopsys
        * The Mathworks
        * UGS PLM Solutions Inc.

You were expecting them to buy Macs? (5, Funny)

hawks5999 (588198) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139618)

Can I mod an article -1 Troll?

What for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22139648)

Use of Windows is declining amongst the computer literate. Is the next step in the MSFT strategy to begin subsidizing clay for teaching cuneiform?

I can smell the "innovation" already, pfft!

Open Source forces... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22139654)

...Microsoft to pay for future customers.

Which means they would have to increase prices for their software, which makes more people decide to use the free open source alternatives instead.

I just love it when a plan comes together. ;)

muhahahahaha!!!

I am willing to donate 6 trillion! (4, Interesting)

saterdaies (842986) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139686)

In 10 grants contingent on recipients of said aid only use it to purchase special Educational Grant Editions of my Ubuntu clone at a cost of $600,000,000,000 a piece. That way, I'm donating a huge amount, but I don't actually have to donate a penny (unless I'm off by a decimal place there).

On a more serious level, I could donate $1,000,000 to schools that could only be used to buy licenses of my slightly modified Ubuntu clone and never have to spend money - if they don't buy my licenses, they don't get the money; if they do buy my Ubuntu clone, I get the money back and maybe have to eat the cost of some CD-Rs.

"Donating" money that can only be used to purchase an intangible good (and software, other than the physical media, is intangible) from yourself is like donating nothing - especially when you're donating to people who wouldn't buy your product if it weren't being given to them.

Re:I am willing to donate 6 trillion! (2, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140006)

You missed one point. You also write it off as a tax deductible. If you try to write off $600,000,000,000 as a tax deductible expect black helicopters and men with assault rifles as a responce to your tax return. If a company with a turnover bigger than some nation's GDP does this, it gets an applause in the press for its enormous charitable contribution. Which is a pity - it should get the same treatment (scaled for size - cannons instead of assault rifles).

Can't hate 'em... (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139736)

What's going to really cook the noodle is how they came up with 'spending' 235Mil. Why not 250? How about 500? Did they calculate how many versions of Windows each potential customer will purchase in their life time and take inflation into account. Then figured that a 1 to 4 or 5 return value over 25 years isn't a bad investment after all.

I don't care for M$ either (while typing this on a M$ platform, necessary evil..blah,blah,blah), but you have to give them credit for trying to continue growing their customer base. They are in the business of making money (read not top quality software) and that is what they are doing. The schools do benefit some. And potentially the local tax payer since the bill is not flipped by them.

Re:Can't hate 'em... (1)

j79zlr (930600) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139976)

Easy, 1 million for each one of the patents they have that linux infringes upon.

Re:Can't blame 'em for trying... (1)

Schmool (809874) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139980)

"The schools do benefit some." How is that? It just means that they'll likely forego decent comparison of operating systems and their total cost of ownership. Remember, the Windows license is just the start, they'll also have to factor in the cost of managing the systems, troubleshooting, and eventually, the cost to upgrade all their Microsoft applications because of security issues and vulnerabilities. This stunt just delays the inevitable. "as a company we welcome choice" [Orlando Ayala] ...and that's why we give them the choice to use any OS as long as it's Windows.

HA (1)

shamer (897211) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139806)

if you can't beat your competition, buy them out. if your user base drops, buy them too.

Wrong! (3, Interesting)

goldspider (445116) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139818)

Microsoft faces heated competition from companies supporting the open-source OS Linux and associated software in developing countries.

Microsoft isn't confronting competition in these targeted regions, they're confronting rampant piracy of their OS. They figure it's better to get $3.00 per copy than nothing.

Re:Wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140876)

The NYT article on this referred to a Russian project that is purchasing one million of these $3 licenses. I wonder if some of those legit install CDs don't end up in a bazaar in Moscow instead of a poor school east of Ural...

Still using Windows? (1)

jmcwork (564008) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139856)

What if they buy VMWare and run Linux with that?

How dumb do they think schools are? (1, Insightful)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139894)

Why would any decent school system accept an offer for a severely crippled OS at a severely discounted price when the school could just as easily get a full-featured OS for free?

If this is the best Microsoft can do to compete against free operating systems in the developing world, then they are throughly screwed. Even using an illegal full copy of XP would be a smarter decision than taking up this offer, despite the inherent liability involved.

Re:How dumb do they think schools are? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140284)

As someone whose 22 year olds, I can say that from your comment it is obvious you haven't been to a school lately.

"If you don't use Windows you don't get the cash." (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22139926)

"If you don't use Windows you don't get the cash."

This is a great message to send to kids. Excellent lesson in early childhood corporate corruption.

FUD... (1)

ral315 (741081) | more than 5 years ago | (#22139990)

The writeup leaves much to be desired. Microsoft is giving free support for its own software -- certainly not a crime, and certainly something they'd be interested in doing (I somehow doubt they'd give support for Ubuntu and OpenOffice). This is no different than Norton offering free support for their product, but not offering it for AVG. No, it's not a humanitarian effort, it's them trying to lock in their monopoly -- something that most of us don't like, but something that's in their best interests, and isn't illegal by any means. I'm not a big fan of Microsoft, but it would be nice to have legitimate criticism of them.

MS SIS: Student Innovation Suite? (1)

MacarooMac (1222684) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140032)

More like 'Student Inoculation Strategy': Prepare kids' immune systems as early as possible for a lifetime of MS bloatware; inoculate the young minds from all Windows & Office usability issues, grooming a whole new generation of narrow-minded corporate drones with a "that's what we're familiar with/ that's what we've always used/ everybody else uses it too, so.." ignorant, conformist and sceptical-of-change mentality.
Or is it me who's gone all sceptical?

Buying the hearts and minds of kiddies everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140050)

Yay, Microsoft.

I do not see a problem.. (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140058)

With this, as long as they don't add stipulations that exclude other applications and OS's. As long as the aid moneys/software/training is not used to finance other applications and such, then this is not a big deal, but if they say you can only get the "aid" if your environment consists only of MS products, then I have a major problem.

Wester governments do the same too (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140074)

Ayala said.' If you don't use Windows you don't get the cash."

I wonder whether slashdotters know that western governments' dollar aid to needy countries is tied to these countries purchasing hardware and technical services from corporations in their countries. It does not matter whether the beneficiary country has better technocrats who know the [local] language and are ready to deliver cheaply and immediately.

I guess Microsoft borrowed a leaf from the USA. Sadly, the results of this practice have been very dismal and not those one can be proud of. They continue to do the same after all, there is a saying that goes..."a beggar has no choice...!"

Isn't this illegal? (4, Insightful)

mormop (415983) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140088)

I seem to remember that along with using an existing monopoly to leverage one of the illegal sides of monopoly is the concept of predatory pricing, i.e. deliberately pricing a product well below it's market value in order to strike down a competitor.

With the cost of Windows as it is, "giving" software to schools along with a condition that they must be using Windows is about as predatory as you can get. What's the EU's phone number again?

Poor Microsoft (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140188)

Microsoft seems to be operating under the same deluded stereotype that many people have about the developing world:
<stereotype>
- They're desperate for help
- They're take any help they can get
- They'll be thankful and greatful for the help
- They'll be loyal to whomever gave the help
</stereotype>

The reality is this: People are people. No matter where you go, they are always the same. Sure, they have different foods they eat, different religious trappings, and different customs about who's allowed to do what when to whom for how many cookies. Basic human nature however is absolutely no different between America and India. (I should know, I've lived in both places for multiple years.)

In China, Christian missionaries tried to convert some Chinese to Christianity. The Chinese were very enthusiastic about this conversion, and tried to pick up as many English language skills as they could. After learning enough English, they'd stop visiting the missionaries.

In India, Christian missionaries were paying(!) Indians to convert from the Hindu religion to Christianity. Indians were very enthusiastic about this conversion. After getting a dunk in the water and ~$1 USD (for the really poor, enough to buy food for the family for a couple of days), the whole Christianity thing was quickly forgotten by those who attended. The government was in a bit of an uproar however, as it threatened to throw a lot of "scheduled caste" stuff out of whack had it been anything more than a passing fad.

Microsoft thinks it can donate some equipment and get some future loyalty to Windows out of it? Hah! They are in for a surprise.

Please note, I'm not saying that helping people is bad. I'm saying that having an ulterior motive for helping people is unwise, and usually won't get you what you truly want. (Especially people in the developing world, who are remarkably efficient at identifying and making the best use of limited resources.)

This wouldn't have happened without Linux (1, Insightful)

clenhart (452716) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140208)

You know, this wouldn't have happened without Linux. They'll charge as much as they can get away with. I guess they are starting to see real competition.

Microsoft is Evil (surprise!) (2, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140354)

This is an example of how evil Microsoft is. They'll donate some "thing" only as long as it contributes to their business. Why this is wrong is pretty subtle. They have no intention of saving anyone any money. Typically with contributions, the outcome is a net gain for the organization receiving the contribution. Not with this deal, this will be a net loss for the schools receiving the "grants." Only the costs will be differed.

The "training" microsoft is talking about is their typical "training" where general concepts and understanding is not part of the instructional course except where necessary to use their product. If you have ever taken any Microsoft training courses you'll know what I'm talking about. A networking class is not about networking, but about "their" networking tools.

I have taken a couple Microsoft courses for various reasons, and have always come away saying (1) that was a huge waste of time. (2) It was like a big commercial for Microsoft products. (3) It was useless in any practical sense.

Now, all these nicely trained people aren't going to be looking at the cost-saving alternatives like OpenOffice and/or Linux, nope, they'll be revved up to buy MS Office and Windows (because that's what they were trained on!)

My Advice, when Microsoft offers you anything for free, turn it down, because it will always end up costing you.

Re:Microsoft is Evil (surprise!) (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140436)

As far as being Evil, this isn't much different than what Apple used to do back when I was a kid in the 80s.

Don't know how bad their training classes are, but weaseling your way into schools is a time tested marketing strategy. It's probably the only thing that kept Apple going for years.

Re:Microsoft is Evil (surprise!) (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140618)

As far as being Evil, this isn't much different than what Apple used to do back when I was a kid in the 80s.

I never said it was original. Microsoft doesn't know how to be original. Everything Microsoft has ever done has been stolen, copied, or bought from someone else.

libraries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22140512)

This is pretty much the deal they have been giving public libraries for a long time now.

I think Red Hat should... (0, Flamebait)

thanksforthecrabs (1037698) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140522)

Give $235 Million worth of hardware w/ Linux installed and quit complaining.

Here is 1 million dollars (1)

thorkyl (739500) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140578)

You can only buy red meat sold by vegetarian farmers born on the third sunday after the second full moon. BTW this is my cousin he meets the criteria...

The end of the article is far more interesting (2, Insightful)

Comboman (895500) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140592)

While slightly off-topic, the end of the referenced article is far more interesting:

While Microsoft is nudging consumers and businesses in developed markets to use its latest Windows Vista operating system, XP will remain the OS the company supports for low-cost laptops such as the Asus Eee and Intel's Classmate PC, Ayala said.

The reason is XP has a smaller footprint than Vista, Ayala said, referring to factors such as how much memory the OS uses and the size of the OS on a PC's hard drive.

Microsoft is still working through some of the "technical limitations" that remain in putting XP on the XO, the green PC from the One Laptop Per Child project, Ayala said.

Considering MS is already talking about Vista's replacement next year with Windows 7, is anyone else shocked that they are continuing to put development resources into XP?

Should schools turn down this gift? (3, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140624)

I am reminded of that Simpson's episode with the Oscar Myer periodic chart with "bolognium" and "delicium."

I think schools should turn this msft "gift" down. There is nothing that msft is offering, that does not have a free alternative.

I am sure a lot of people will label me a linux zealot. But the truth is, I completely understand that linux is not for everybody. But schools are a different matter. Schools should teach vendor-neutral concepts. Students should not be taught that vendor specific jargon and standards are somehow universal. For example, what msft calls a "domain" is different than what is commonly understood. I already notice a lot of students thinking that anything non-msft is non-standard.

Unlike commercial institutions, students do not have the same concerns about the acceptance of vendor specific document formats. For example, some accountants will only accept Intuit formated income statements - so some small businesses have to use Intuit, but students should be able to learn the concepts of accounting, and accounting concepts, without being tied to a specific vendor.

Again, I want to emphasize: students should be taught *concepts* then those concepts can be applied to software from any vendor. Schools should not be in the business of promoting a particular vendor - especially if that vendor does not offer anything that is that freely available anyway.

Sometimes it is very difficult to avoid vendor-lock, but for students, it's easy. So why be vendor locked if you don't have to be?

Microsoft (1)

om_mani_padme_hung (1195527) | more than 5 years ago | (#22140872)

Microsoft pelus! Linux yeset dop!
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