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Microsoft

Fears About Microsoft Return, in Mexico 238

Posted by timothy
from the but-what-is-that-in-pesos dept.
Z` points to this New York Times article, which begins: "While Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, defended the company against charges of monopolistic practices before Congress this week, legislators in Mexico City prepared their own attack against a new agreement by Microsoft and the Mexican government that could drive millions of new Internet users into Microsoft's waiting arms by the end of the year."
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Fears About Microsoft Return, in Mexico

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  • of foreign countries taking Microsoft to task now that the US DoJ has led the way.
    • This may actually be the crux that forges international anti-trust laws, congrats microsoft for innovating justice (lol).
    • ...foreign countries taking Microsoft to task now that the US DoJ has led the way.

      i hope they do it with more backbone than the DoJ showed.
      • Mexican justice tends to be somewhat more draconian than U.S. justice. If M$ pulls anything illegal while M$ personnel are in reach, said personnel could find themselves chucked into prison for some indeterminate period, and a judicial system that runs on, um, grease can be quite immune to any external influence it feels an urge to ignore.

    • Maybe but what countries ?
      If you are honest, you must admit that Mexico et al are pisspot 3rd world countries.
      In more developed countries MS will have much more difficulties. E.g. the anti-monopoly commissar Ponti of the European Union is well know to crush any competition-disabling behavior and has the guts to challenge any company, no matter the size. And high-level software development goes on in higher developed countries, so these are important for the future of MS and the internet.
      • Maybe but what countries?

        China (one billion). India (800 million). Russia (some hundreds of millions). Indonesia. Thailand. Korea. Phillipines (typical `pisspot' country, that, roughly the same population as the USA). Germany. France. Italy. Sooner or later, it starts to add up. (-:

        Redneck detected! You can fit seven of Texas in our backyard. The shire of Meekatharra is larger than Texas. Jindalee OTH radar can watch planes taking off and landing in Los Angeles from here. What we don't have is enough resources to bury Sydney under warships.

        There's more to the world than the USA.
        • In addition to the entirely valid points made by leonbrooks, it's well known that the EU (you Yanks do know what that is, right?) is waiting in the wings with its own actions against MS. I'm not sure how much has been put in place already, as several of those involved have commented that it would be in the best interests of the European body to wait and see what happens in the US first. But the actions are in place and ready to go, and have been for some time. If the US legal system would just get its act together and have the guts to slam a convicted corporation, the rest of us could then join in on similar terms so MS actually feel the pain.

          • I seem to remember something about prompt justice being a right. BE Inc (their shareholders, employees, directors and other companies too) have died waiting for justice. Is that prompt?
  • If I recall correctly, there is already a virtual monoply as far as ISP's go in Mexico and most other Hispanic nations. There was an article in Wired on a man a couple years back, and I believe it's the same guy who now owns CompUSA. Anyway, he pretty much runs the entire tech industry in Mexico (at least the part that isn't farmed out from the U.S.) but the government can't touch him because he also controls the stock market. Threaten him, he bails and takes the whole Mexican economy with him. Anyone have a link to the article? I couldn't find it in the archives.
    • Yet another reason to love google.

      The man's name is Carlos Slim Helù [wired.com]. Fear him.

      • CompUSA? CompMEX, more like it. Slim owns Prodigy and CompUSA.
      • link [pressroom.com]

        ...Telefonons de Mexico (Telmex, Mexico largest private company) has a $100 million dollar joint venture with Microsoft to establish the hemisphere's largest Spanish language gateway to the Internet, providing electronic mail, voice services and commercial facilities. (www.telmex.net;www.microsoft.com) Telmex has also taken a 49% stake in the cable subsidiary of Televisa, Mexico's dominant media company. This will allow Televisa to use Telmex's fiber-optic cables to expand its subscription television service. In turn it would help Telmex move into video and data telephony. The Telmex-Televisa venture is expected to increase usage of Telmex's new 13,5000km fiber-optic network, enabling Televisa to send cable signals throughout the country. www.televisa.com...

    • by jamirocake (456380) <`mgarcia2' `at' `binghamton.edu'> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @01:40PM (#3425113) Homepage Journal
      His name is Carlos Slim [google.com], and he actually owns the only Phone company in Mexico -Telmex [telmex.com.mx]- (there is another one Avantel [avantel.com.mx], but they only offer long distance) and he owns as well the biggest ISP (Prodigy [prodigy.com.mx]) and as well is the major head at CompUSA [compusa.com] (funny: CompUSA is actually a Mexican company!).

      To close the circle look at the Prodigy [prodigy.com.mx] website! Now the relationship between Slim and MSN is clear and that this whole thing is being played by "special intersts".
  • Subscription (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jocks (56885) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @08:12AM (#3424175) Homepage
    This has to be a first step for Microsoft to move towards subscription based software.

    The administration sees its deal with Microsoft as a donation. The critics say the gift is not free: they estimate that the fees Microsoft will collect, which are not specified in the contract, will exceed $30 million.

    The fees may initially be just for consultancy to install their own software but I would be highly suspicious of Microsoft's long term intentions towards the installed software base.

    Once the software is installed and Microsoft has royalties, it would be almost impossible to bring in alternatives. The cost of a change to another product would be higher than the royalty and why would you want to when you always have the latest and greatest from Microsoft on your desktop.

    Unless this strategy is stopped in it's tracks, we will be facing an almost insurmoutable barrier to entry for any other system.
  • the countless programming sweatshops in Mexico that M$ is using to program there OS's.
    • the countless programming sweatshops in Mexico that M$ is using to program there OS's.

      You joke, right?

      I live in Mexico. Believe me, I am not aware of any Microsoft effort in Mexico except for sales. I don't think MS does any programming down here.

  • by Thenomain (537937) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @08:14AM (#3424179) Homepage
    Shouldn't this be in front of "The People's Court".

    Microsoft: But she invited me in!
    Mexico: I didn't say you could rifle through my things.
    Microsoft: I didn't rifle through your things!
    Mexico: Did too! I found my underwear in the bathroom and --

    And so on. Maybe this demands a new class of "Reality Television": When Corporations Go Wrong. F/X would eat it up, put it on right after Son Of The Beach.

    ... Or maybe I watch too much television.
    • I love those "fucked up shit caught on tape" shows. I remember one of the cop ones a little while back where I swear the patrolman sounded like the guy from King of the Hill over his radio.

      What the hell are you doing? That boy's messed up."

  • by DirtyDuck (540166) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @08:17AM (#3424183)
    It's clear that what Microsoft is doing is securing markets outside of the first world nations by giving away much now and reaping the benefits later.

    This makes perfect sense for Microsoft. After all, if they are forced to change Windows in the US marketplace you can bet that other contries which see IT as a way to improve their economic conditions and will gladly jump at the chance for some 'free' software from Microsoft will not sue them later for monopolistic practices.

    It also seems that these contries which are developing fast are almost dazzled by the Microsoft marketing and spin machine and don't realise the long term consequences of their actions.

    I suspect this is a slightly larger symptom of the same problem that some companies face. The high level executives are dazzled and wooed by Microsoft and the order goes out to use only Microsoft products.

    Also, don't forget that Vicente Fox has promised this will be complete by the end of his term in office and Microsoft proably swore that it would be done in time.
    • It's clear that what Microsoft is doing is securing markets outside of the first world nations by giving away much now and reaping the benefits later.

      M$ has learned from the purveyors of tobacco and infant formula.
    • by joib (70841) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @09:53AM (#3424364)
      Well, it's like dope dealers: "The first hit is free". And tobacco multinationals giving free cigarettes to schoolchildren in countries where it's not forbidden etc.

      I don't blame Microsoft. It's a company after all. It's mission is to increase the value of its stock. Not to feel sorry for people without net access.

      The blame falls entirely on the mexican government. For _believing_ MS marketing bullshit and doing some shady backroom deal with MS. Instead of a proper public tendering where they could have compared the TCO of a MS solution with other solutions. I find it hard to believe that the TCO of a MS solution would be lower than, say, one using the linux terminal server project and second hand hardware.
  • by rafelbev (194458)
    Microsoft have always used the tactic of making it a point to be the first thing the user experiences when computing. Thus, they get people hooked with the Microsoft way of doing things. Once you get people used to the system, it is highly unlikely that you move out.. for two reasons.

    1) It just works (TM) factor
    2) I already paid. Why switch ?

    This is probably one the few chances of experiencing an "alternative" product to a fresh group of people. Would be interesting to see how "easy" people would find it to use these systems, since, Microsoft technology would then be the alien product which you have to re-learn.
    • There is lots of Linux in Mexico. The price is right and it supports Spanish. MS is acting to keep it from becoming too established. The free stuff is just to get control of the market share problem. After that is out of the way, look out!
  • Ugh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by digitect (217483) <digitectNO@SPAMdancingpaper.com> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @08:22AM (#3424190) Homepage

    I don't know if it's just me, or if I've been hanging out on SlashDot too long... this article makes me feel sick.

    Can it really be that we're the only ones who see Microsoft's business "initiatives" for what they really are--predatory monopolisitc struggles to rule the world? Or have we all become stained by reading SlashDot and they really mean well?

    IMO, Mexico is the perfect place for Open Source software. It's a real shame that portions of the Mexican government can't see their opportunity to leapfrog existing software technologies and jump into the first world.

    • by garcia (6573)
      any third world/close to third world nation was supposedly good for communism. Capitalism is the only system that seems to work anywhere.
      • any third world/close to third world nation was supposedly good for communism. Capitalism is the only system that seems to work anywhere.

        Uhhh, since the definition of "First World" is capitalist society, "Second World" is communist society (or at least those biggie countries that claimed to be communist at the time the terms were coined), and much later, "Third World" was loosely defined as everybody else/broken economies, your statement doesn't quite make sense.

        --
        Evan

        • by 56ker (566853)
          I'm not sure about all these 1st/2nd/3rd world arguments - but I do know that Microsoft tried to do a similar thing in the U.K. Once the tech journalists got wind of it, the plans were soon changed to allow people who weren't using Microsoft technology to use it. However it still seemed very much like the government had done a deal with Microsoft and not put the contract out to tender from a few different companies first.
        • Third world comes from "Tiers Etat" Tiers means Third in French, this comes from the composition of the "constituante" which was a kind of parliament under Louis XVI just before the French revolution. Louis XVI has been obliged under mass protestation to call for a new "constituante"

          The constituante was equally composed of :
          1) Les nobles ; Aristocrates
          2) Le Clergé : Clergymen
          3) All the last remaining third part : "Le tiers", who where neither Aristocrats nor Clergymen, mainly represented by the "Bourgeois" who where rich or educated people who were not aristocrates.

          I Don't recall exactly the details, but the "Constituante" will lately vote for the death sentence of Louis XVI and the Republic, and the "Bourgeois" will take the power. The most progressive people used to sit at the "left" of the president, the conservative ones at his right, hence the left "la gauche" and the right "la droite" which have seen become common in politic.

          It's sad very sad that this country who has given so much to democracy his now leaving so harsh time with Le Pen.
          • Forgot to add that "Le Tiers Etat" while mainly represented by "Les Bourgeois" was mainly composed of very poor people, hence "Tiers monde" in French and then "Third world" to name countries which were neither capitalist, nor communist, but just poor :) .
          • Third world comes from "Tiers Etat"

            I wasn't sure where it had come from. I know "First" and "Second" come from some political book that I would know if I were not many years away from my college days. Toffler springs to mind as first guess, but my second guess thinks that's wrong, simply because it seems to me he was popular after the period those terms were created. My mind is pretty cloudy on the original source, but I recall the definitions quite precisely. Plus, it came up on one of the NPR game shows recently. Armchair political theory has never much interested me, as opposed to anthropology or group psychology.

            --
            Evan

          • I believe that what you are referring to is that which caused the press to come to be known as "the fifth estate", but the First World is the Old World (Europe, basically, and perhaps the European colonies in Africa and Asia), the Second World is the New World (the more industrialized parts of the Americas and perhaps Australia-New Zealand), and the Third World is all the parts of Central and South America, Africa, and Asia where practically everybody is dirt poor and uneducated.
        • by jedrek (79264)
          I thought it was:

          1st world: Europe
          2nd world: USA/Canada
          3rd world: everything else.

          At least originaly.
          • Nope. The terms were coined by a specific political author. I found a Cecil Adams article that supports me [straightdope.com], but is only about the origin of the term "Third World", and dosen't mention the origin of the other two terms. That's as far as I can find on Google. Somebody ask a university politics professor. As I say, a few weeks ago on NPR, there was a quiz show that asked "what is the Second World", implying that it's now obscure, but factually known. The correct answer was, of course, communist countries.

            --
            Evan

      • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @09:24AM (#3424299)
        Communism fell for two reasons.
        1. It can be (in all but the most theoretical case) less efficient for consumers than capitalism.
        2. It was adopted by agrarian societies.

        Marx's theories were NOT that communism was an alternative to capitalism. Just as capitalism evolved out of mercantilism (which evolved out of feudalism), capitalism would evolve INTO socialism/communism. Marx NEVER advocated that poor countries should become communists. The problem was that poorer countries have people that are less inclined to believe in capitalism, and get more focused on grabbing and taking the little wealth that is there for themselves. Capitalism takes a long time to reach the mature point that the US topped off in in the mid-late 20th century. Its only then that there is heavy upward mobility available to all.

        Western Europe and to some extent the United States supports this theory. As countries develop stronger economies and wealthier societies, they start deciding that the capitalistic reality of winners and losers is "bad." You end up with ridiculous crap like national health care or other instances of a welfare state (socializing parts of the country).

        When enough members of society decide that they would rather eliminate winners and losers by all being losers, you drift into socialism.

        Marx inspired soviet communism, but their command economy functioned more like fascism. Compare the US and Russia in 1917, then look at how well the Soviets kept up for the next 60 years.

        A simplified explanation: An economy can spend money on capital goods (which help you produce more goods in the future) or consumer goods (which are consumed now, making people happier). The US economy is somewhere on the order of 90%-95% consumer goods. The Soviet Union did something like 30% capital goods. They forced a growth of industry. The problem was the lines for food; 10 year waits for cars, etc. They under produced stuff for their citizens. Additionally, production wasn't focused on the Darwinian process of capitalism (where production is normally demand focused, though advertising can be used to try to shift demand), but on the whims of the central command. This is where communism is VERY inefficient; people produce what a committee tells them. In a capitalistic world, every company has its own committees. Those that produce the wrong stuff suffer, if they produce the right stuff they do well. That's the capitalism advantage.

        The issue of success motivation is a more minor point though it makes a better "US-vs-THEM" split in the American mind. It does retard the efforts of SOME of the top brains/innovators who don't think/innovate without a profit motive. However, most talented people try to succeed, regardless of the incentive, so this is more of a minor point. OTOH, without the profit incentive, it's a lot harder to think that we'd bust ass 60 hrs/week instead of just getting by like everyone else. So you definitely lose something there.

        Communism was never intended to "replace" capitalism by the violent revolutions that it was. It was supposed to be the workers throwing down their chains in DEVELOPED countries and seizing control. They would remove the capitalists from the equation (investors who just provide money) and let the people own their own means of production.

        To do so, you NEED mean of production to seize. Therefore, you become communistic AFTER the capitalists build in the economy. In this scenario, there are already lots of things for people. If the US were to become a Marxist state right now, we'd probably all be less upset. We'd have our current standard of livings. Sure we'd stop the improvements in our standard of living, but we'd be doing so now, not with the standard of livings that the Czars left their people with.

        I do not, BTW, advocate communism in the least. I'm thrilled that Reagan discredited it by showing the Soviet Union's economy to be a farce. The military buildup and arms race forced a growing percentage of the economy to be for the military and military industrial complex. The strong American economy could weather this, the weak paper economy of the Soviets collapsed under the pressure to produce more military goods, further stifling the consumer "economy" leading to massive dissatisfaction. The lack of profit incentives (that do affect medium sized business, though larger businesses tend to become really bureaucratic empire builders) masked a lot of corruption that caused the economy to be much smaller than the planners envisioned.

        However, in being an unabashed capitalist, I do read. You should know the positions of others and their role in history. Simply writing comments like that indicate a lack in education. Try to study the liberal arts more and you'll be a more well rounded person (and in a different way that most techies become rounded over time).
        • Communism fell for two reasons.

          One reason only. They tried to do it with people instead of angels. The rest is window-dressing.

          Oh, except in the case of the USSR, the revolution apparently got a big whack of funding and political help from the Roman Catholic Church to help them wipe out the Russian Orthodox Church (which is why the Russian Communists were so heavily Atheist) - only they buggered it up big time and lost practically all of the gold they invested in that little enterprise until they snuck it back via Germany during WW2. That initial help kind of skewed the situation a bit.

          Capitalism at least has a shorter feedback loop, although in practical there's not much else going for it. If the people in a political system are hardworking and altruistically inclined, almost any political system will work. Which is why the top-down political approach always fails.

          Back on topic, Microsoft corporately inherited Bill's personality. Bill's greedy, an overachiever - comes of being nicknamed `Trey' as in WHG3, I reckon - to whom the prize is all, the methods and fallout nothing. That's not a sustainable approach. Here and there, people pay more attention to that, and pragmatic issues, and less to Microsoft hype. The USA seems to be collectively less aware of these undercurrents than most societies.

          Like China, Mexico is fundamentally different to the USA. Until you grok the society, a lot of things that happen there don't seem logical and reasonable. If OSS succeeds in Mexico, it will be for political reasons; finance and freedom have almost nothing to do with it at the political levels that matter. Red Flag Linux will do well in China for social-political reasons, not for technical merit, cost or copyright reasons. How Red Escolar will go in Mexico, I can't predict. I don't know enough about who is paying/doing what to whom.
          • How Red Escolar will go in Mexico, I can't predict. I don't know enough about who is paying/doing what to whom.

            The Red Escolar proyect died before it was born, Microsoft paid for its demise. e-Mexico is the name of the proyect now, and its heavily backed by Microsoft
          • Shouldn't that be "Mexico is fundamentally different from the USA? Oh well, at least you didn't say "different than".
          • Capitalism at least has a shorter feedback loop, although in practical there's not much else going for it. If the people in a political system are hardworking and altruistically inclined, almost any political system will work. Which is why the top-down political approach always fails.

            There is a complexity issue as well. Modern economies are so complex that it simply is not possible to centrally plan production in an efficient way. You also get idealism/corruption (same diff) in the central planners where they produce what people "should" want rather than what they actually do want.
        • Marx's theories were NOT that communism was an alternative to capitalism.

          The marxist position was really more like Capitalism is the problem, communism is the solution.

          capitalism would evolve INTO socialism/communism.

          Actually, I think he advocated a revolution and a "dictatorship of the proletariat" to bring about the change. This is a key point of contention-- a lot of others (including communists) foresaw the obvious problems with this. I think the seizing of the means of production was supposed to be abrupt and violent, because Marx didn't believe that a process of gradual reform was possible.

          Western Europe and to some extent the United States supports this theory. As countries develop stronger economies and wealthier societies, they start deciding that the capitalistic reality of winners and losers is "bad." You end up with ridiculous crap like national health care or other instances of a welfare state (socializing parts of the country).

          This is nothing like what Marx proposed. Actually, it is these reforms to capitalism that demonstrate a major flaw in Marxs premise that capitalism is incurably evil.

          I do not, BTW, advocate communism in the least. I'm thrilled that Reagan discredited it by showing the Soviet Union's economy to be a farce.

          Reagen had little to do with it. The Soviet economy collapsed because that's what happens to communist economies. A thriving weapons production business is not detrimental to an economy. A Marxist economic model is.

    • Re:Ugh. (Score:2, Informative)

      by rnd() (118781)
      stop being so idealistic. Mexico will benefit from Microsoft technology. Microsoft has the leverage ($$) to enter into the software business in Mexico as a business investment. You don't see OSS doing that on a large scale.

      Increased awareness and familiarity with software & technology will make Mexicans more likely to embrace OSS in the long run, for exactly the reasons you mention, and for the same reasons that most of us embrace it.

      This kind of OSS elitism is really absurd in this case b/c Microsoft products generally have better UI standardization and they are generally easier to learn/integrate, plus they are embraced by more businesses, which makes them more valuable for those seeking (mostly non-technical) jobs.

      The creation of jobs and economic development (creating a new market hungry for Windows, X-Boxes, and Office 2004) is what Microsoft's initiative is all about.

      Let's not lament this. It is a Good Thing. More software --> more nerds --> better /. discussions. Comprende?

      • As a mexican citizen, I am naturally leery of any plan made by my goverment with the support of private businessmen that supposedly is going to make my life better.

        It has always been a scam.

        It happened with NAFTA (where only the US benefits), it happened with the bank rescue (where only corrupt bankers and people with large ammounts of money in banks benefited), it happened with the privatization of the phone company... it has happened over and over and over again.

        The fact that Bill Gates and Carlos Slim are involed only make matters worse. I fear for the future...
      • This kind of OSS elitism is really absurd in this case b/c Microsoft products generally have better UI standardization and they are generally easier to learn/integrate, plus they are embraced by more businesses, which makes them more valuable for those seeking (mostly non-technical) jobs.

        No, what is really absurd is your brand of bean-counting cost-benefit analysis. If you look at its overall contribution to the economy, the Exxon Valdez disaster was a boon for the economy: it created jobs and stimulated economic activity. You need to look at the details of some endeavor in order to determine its effect, not just at money.

        Microsoft's envisioned role is in contributing software to run Internet servers and web access terminals. But Windows machines are not the most important Internet server platform. Furthermore, Windows machines make lousy web access terminals: they are hard to secure and unreliable. On top of that, maintenance of Windows servers and Windows clients is very costly and labor-intensive, and while that creates jobs, the labor and money that is wasted on maintaining those machines could be more usefully redirected to other purposes.

        Linux handles both tasks, Internet servers and public web access terminals, beautifully and at a much better TCO than Windows.

        • by rnd() (118781)
          I agree, Linux is a great OS, and it handles internet related things extremely well. The question is, why is an agreement between Microsoft and Mexico a mistake?

          Exxon Valdez: The environmental cost was enormous. The world would have been better off if the spill hadn't happened. Are you saying that Mexico will be better off if the deal with Microsoft doesn't happen?

          But Windows machines are not the most important Internet server platform. Furthermore, Windows machines make lousy web access terminals: they are hard to secure and unreliable

          Windows machines are an option for an internet server platform. Where does the notion of importance come into this? Windows machines are pretty easy to administer, which is a big plus. IE6 offers a state of the art web browsing experience. I recall the first time I browsed with IE after a few years of Netscape 4.x on linux -- I realized where all the hype about the internet came from -- IE was a richer experience. Mozilla has come a long way, but IE still takes the cake in my opinion... don't get me wrong, I really want to start liking Mozilla best... the lizzard is inching closer and closer.

          • Windows machines are pretty easy to administer, which is a big plus.

            Windows machines are not easier to administer if you have to administer a lot of them. (It is debatable whether they are easier to administer individually; tools like Webmin actually present a more unified and streamlined view of Linux administration than anything Microsoft offers, IMO.)

            IE6 offers a state of the art web browsing experience. I recall the first time I browsed with IE after a few years of Netscape 4.x on linux -- I realized where all the hype about the internet came from -- IE was a richer experience. Mozilla has come a long way, but IE still takes the cake in my opinion... don't get me wrong, I really want to start liking Mozilla best... the lizzard is inching closer and closer.

            Mozilla 1.0 is as good, if not better than, IE6, and there are several other good web browsers for Linux out there. In the Mexican case, much of the content is going to be authored for the chosen browser anyway.

            But, what's more important, Mozilla on Linux is much easier to transform into a reliable and robust public, multiuser web client platform than IE on Windows.

            Have you actually tried using public Windows web access terminals? They are full of security holes and privacy problems, in large part because Windows simply has no good infrastructure for supporting multiple users. I have yet to see a single public Windows-based web access terminal that I would trust with important information.

            Are you saying that Mexico will be better off if the deal with Microsoft doesn't happen?

            Absolutely. Microsoft contributes $6 million, but actually likely generates many times that in business and revenue, money that will ultimately be paid by the Mexican tax payer. Overall, the deal is very costly for Mexico in the long run. And for what? A platform that is less secure, requires more costly hardware, and is harder to administer (at least in bulk) than Linux.

            Remember, we are not talking here about someone with a home machine running zillions of games, oddball multimedia plug-ins, or requiring nitty-gritty office suite compatibility. We are talking about a robust, widely-deployed, multi-user, secure Internet access infrastructure. Something that doesn't require upgrades every few months. Something that you can put down and that works for years to come. Microsoft simply has nothing to offer in that space. UNIX, and by extension Linux, have served exactly that need for nearly two decades, and UNIX and Linux have been hardened in generations of attacks on college campuses, in financial institutions, and on the Internet.

          • Exxon Valdez: The environmental cost was enormous. The world would have been better off if the spill hadn't happened.

            And that's my point: yes, the Exxon Valdez spill generated lots of jobs and economic activities, but generating economic activity isn't useful in and of itself if there are externalities or opportunity costs involved. As another example, East Germany used to have lots of jobs just to keep people employed, like people who would stand at escalators to warn people about reaching the end of the escalator.

            By analogy, deploying Microsoft operating systems for a nation-wide infrastructure may generate lots of MS sysadmin jobs, but thousands of Mexicans clicking away mindlessly at Microsoft dialog boxes is not productive work when the same tasks can be automated on Linux. The same people would be better off learning real computer science and programming skills and developing the next generation of killer apps and operating systems.

    • What i find most extraordinary is that
      - On one side Microsoft tells companies "TCO on Unix is very high because you need to contract expensive Unix specialists - to avoid that you should use Windows"
      - On the other side they're convincing governments that training their citizens in Windows is the best path for a country to be successful in IT.

      Basically Mexico is choosing to create a country full of cheap Windows specialists instead of high-paid Unix specialists

      If competition has already driven the "price" of Windows specialists down (compared to Unix), investing in training more Windows specialists is like spending money to place more product into an already/going-to saturate(d) market.

      --------------

      At the same time it's patently obvious that in a couple of years a lot of that software will need to be upgraded, and by that time Microsoft will charge big bucks for the Licenses on a country which by then will have a huge (and unrecoverable) time and money investment on Windows.
    • IMO, Mexico is the perfect place for Open Source software.

      However, Open-Source software doesn't put money into the pockets of corrupt government officials.

      It's a real shame that portions of the Mexican government can't see their opportunity to leapfrog existing software technologies and jump into the first world.

      If third-world governments actually gave a shit about their citizens, they likely wouldn't still be in the third world.
  • by ChaoticCoyote (195677) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @08:28AM (#3424196) Homepage

    Consider, for a moment, that Slashdot and other pro-Linux sites trumpeted the introduction of Linux in Mexico. Did anyone think Microsoft wouldn't notice?

    Sometimes, it's best to tread softly and carry a big stick; if you yell too much about a potential success, some bigger fish might come along and eat your lunch. Microsoft perceived the Linux-Mexico initiatives as a threat, and reacted with their drug-dealer attitude: "The first one is free." It sounds *so* good, until you find your country trapped by a monopoly...

    Perhaps Linux needs to work harder and quiter, instead of bringing undue attention upon itself with artless boasting.

    • Unfortunately, you have a bit of a chicken & egg problem:

      People won't use Linux unless they hear about it being used successfully elsewhere, and that other folks are happy with it. To get that sort of word out, you have to trumpet the successes. This alerts your competitors, and they try to undercut you.

      Yeah, it sucks...but, if you want Linux to come out from the "niche" market, it's going to have to go toe-to-toe w/the Beast for sales eventually. There's really no avoiding it.
      • People won't use Linux unless they hear about it being used successfully elsewhere, and that other folks are happy with it. To get that sort of word out, you have to trumpet the successes. This alerts your competitors, and they try to undercut you.

        But it wasn't being used successfully elsewhere (Mexico, in this case). It was potentially going to be used. They weren't using Linux for everything - they were talking about it. And people made a huge stink about them talking about it. *IF* this played a part in 'alerting' MS to the Mexico situation, it's a shame.

        However, MS is not stupid, and I'm sure they have their finger on the pulse of various markets and know when best to go in for deals which maximize the benefit to them (while maximizing the loss to competing technologies).
    • I dont really think that the problem with Linux here in Mexico is the introdution of Linux, most large universities here had some Linux subjets (only for computer science and informatics) and so. Here in my school (the university of Guadalajara, at the CUCEI) we are going to have an event called (free softway days (DSL in spanish)). Also in the work we are going to mount linux servers (I work for an school that Im not going to mention) in all the facilities. Here in Guadalajara you see at leats one Tux in every shoping mall (well considering that Guadalajara is called Mexican Sillicon Valley).

      But one big problem here is education, while like the third part of high schooll graduates enters to a large universities, everybody else enters to a cheap university where (whea you go it) they teach how to use MS Windows and MS Office, and computer tech that came from that schools never learned what and IP is...

      Most people here nows how to write a letter in word, how to avoid the password by pressing the escape key, and listen MP3's in winamp, also how to use the cheap app (that the whole enterprice) that some "$&#$&/() cheap coder wrote in COBOL some years ago, if you want to switch them, you have to have a solution for every need, that meand programs, capacitation, etc..

      Well Im soory that my opinion is mostly University around, but its mainly because is my environment...

    • The e-Mexico project sounds like our Government Gateway project which was severely criticised a while back for only being accessible by IE. I think Microsoft is striking up deals with governments all over the place now the desktop market is saturated with Windows and other Microsoft products.
  • Last time I was in Mexico (Nogales, near the Arizona border), I noticed that a lot of 'prescription' drugs were offered for sale in drugstores, no prescription required.

    Most noticable among these was Rogaine. I wonder if the future will find Mexican copies of Windows, sold for pennies on the dollar, available next to the Rogaine in glass display cases in Mexican border towns.

    • Re:Contraband (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I wonder if the future will find Mexican copies of Windows, sold for pennies on the dollar.

      Here in Nuevo León in the North of Mexico one of the richest states, this is commonplace already. In a poor state in the South finding a legal Windows copy would be like finding a needle in a hay-stack I figure.

      Also, I've heard of business here that were being visited by the BSA and were faced fines if they didn't get licenses for the software they were using illegaly. Licenses were offered at far below market prices. I don't have to tell you what tactic some businesses have adopted as a way of getting legal software...

    • Likely so -- in fact I was going to post something to that effect myself.

      Per my experience with many years living next door to first-generation Mexican immigrants, I can also attest that their idea of "theft" does NOT include "borrowing without asking". Which presumably would make it no crime in their eyes to "borrow" (copy) Windows freely.

      But that's no doubt exactly what M$ wants, since winking at software piracy [sic] is the best and most proven way of achieving market saturation. If Windows had been uncopyable from Day One, its desktop penetration would never have reached its present 95%. And where the desktop goes, the business server follows.

    • I wonder if the future will find Mexican copies of Windows, sold for pennies on the dollar, available next to the Rogaine in glass display cases in Mexican border towns.

      If you go to Mexico City you will find that there are folk selling copies of virtually every software under the sun (Windows, Excel, Word, Adobe, whatever) for about 40 pesos (US$5 or so). You go up to them, they show you a catalog, you pick the software you want, they call someone on their little hand radio, and a few minutes later someone comes riding by on a bike and drops the CD-ROM off and disappears. You pay 40 pesos, take the CD, and you're done.

      So, yes, you already can get Windows for pennies in Mexico. As far as I know that doesn't happen in the border towns, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

  • Although I'm from the UK, a developed country. I, a school student couldn't help but notice that the sheer volume of M$ software in the schools is phenomenal. It seems only fitting to expose another one of their abusive stunts they pull in this thread. The tactis they seem to deploy is "Give it away cheap to all of the educational institutions so they don't know how to use anything but M$ products when they leave". I wonder if they'll try and pull a stunt like this in Mexico. My School, for example, has an M$ windows NT workstation with every app that Microsoft has made. I (foolishly) tried to bring in an Open Office document to use on the School's network and I had to go to the Sysop who had a computer with it on (his own, the only .nix box in the school). When I asked him about it he replied "Because it's cheap and nowerdays nobody knows how to use anything but it, neither are they willing". If they do something like this in a developing country (which they undoubtably will and are probably doing now) I can only inagine the damage it could do, especially when the BSA scumbags start putting the Kybosh on unlicenced software users.
    • It's not just in schools, today in the Sunday Times (the Doors section) David Hewson basically said to parents "you should only ever buy Windows XP with Office because otherwise when they go into business they'll hate you for not giving them professional tools" or something like that.

      He compared it to Dutch children learning Latin instead of English - an analogy that doesn't make sense considering the vast effort differential between learning a new language and learning a new OS/Office suite.

  • Mexican Developers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alien54 (180860) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @09:36AM (#3424326) Journal
    The deal presents such huge advantages for Microsoft in many critics' minds that several members of Mexico's Congress have begun to question how it came about. They say the Fox administration may have simply signed on to a Microsoft-written proposal with no debate of its wisdom or its implications for Mexico's software industry.

    Maybe this is the way that Microsoft can use to grow developers that will be cheaper for them to hire than those in the USA. They'll be able to hire them for less, and then export those expensive dev jobs over the border.

    What happened to manufacturing jobs in little towns all over the USA will now happen in other places as high paying dev jobs migrate over the border. They'll probably find that the product produced is completely up to Microsoft Standards.

    Of course, if you get a job flipping burgers, this means that you do not count as un-employed, even if you took a big pay cut.

    I do not believe that MS would ever be this evil. Really.

    I can see it now, people getting nostalgic for the days when you could be a serf for Microsoft, and live in the USA

    • I can see it now, people getting nostalgic for the days when you could be a serf for Microsoft, and live in the USA
      Now imagine the US push for open source as a reaction against the export of American jobs. Besides, Washington wouldn't let it happen that easily; every action has an equal and opposite government program.
  • [There didn't seem much point to submitting the above story after it was previously rejected. How fickle. From the rejected pile: April 17 2002. ]

    The Mexican government aims to give its entire population public Internet and computer access by 2006 with Microsoft [nytimes.com] licensing Windows, Office and Encarta software, as well as providing consulting and training. Microsoft says the deal is worth $58 million. Ximian's CTO comments on the deal and Mexico's Linux community.

  • I'm just curious: how long until the BSA decides that they have the authority to bring entire nations to task for license violations?

    "In a move which is sure to spark controversy worldwide, Microsoft today made an offer to the government of Nigeria to outsource all government functions in the wake of massive fines levied against the Nigerian government for their failure to bring all of that nation's computers in full compliance with this hour's EULA terms. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates continues to deny to World Court authorities that corporate takeovers of African governments was the ultimate aim of the 'e-Africa' initiative launched in 2005.

    "In other e-Africa news, anti-Microsoft riots continue to rage in Johannesburg, effectively shutting that nation down for a third straight week, while another six BSA agents were dragged through the streets and executed in the Somali capitol..."

    Not that I believe such a scenario will ever come to pass, of course. After all, there would certainly be no profit potential in bringing all of Africa online.
    • Eerie that this should be modded 'funny'. But then I guess there's no way to give it a "+1 Yikes!".

      If you acknowledge that this is not a ridiculous suggestion, it's actually pretty damned scary. One false note, however: in Somalia, where there is no functioning government, the BSA agents could easily be the BEST armed, by a very large margin. In a situation like that there are no rules, nobody will ever know, and it's a question of how much MONEY you can spend on armaments. There is no reason to believe organisations like the BSA will go into a situation with a known absence of government, and set out to lose. That's just stupid. They'd not go at all, until the amount of 'legitimate money' they could earn in such situations became enough to justify the expenditure, and then they would go in with a very good understanding of the ground rules.

      While it is hugely unlikely that BSA agents in 'the civilized world', under government, would come and kill you for defaulting on debts to them, in a world where this is commonplace they would be well suited to adapting themselves to the new situation. Governments have been doing this for some time, and now corporations are not only more powerful than many governments, but are taking on agendas of an activist, 'get mine' nature.

      So don't laugh too damned loud here. All the libertarians will tell you authority comes from the end of a gun. What purchases armaments? Money. What uses armaments? High-intensity struggle over a contested prize. What undercuts this use? Ability to fall back on legal attacks and still win.

      Barring amusing details like 'this hour's EULA terms' and the notion that corporate interests do not ALREADY control anything you might think of as a 'world court', what about the premise is actually unlikely? This is genuinely prescient, if ugly.

  • So MS is going to donate $6M in licences? I'll up that, I'll donate 100 million licences to use RedHat. Valued at the official price for RedHat, that ups MS's bid by thousands of times.
  • by Phil Hands (2365) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:15AM (#3424595) Homepage
    If Microsoft sold fish, this deal would be equivalent to being taught how to fill out the MS order form for your next fish consignement, and being given a discount on your first order (but still paying enough to cover the cost of the training and the fish).

    If they kept their money, and spent it on training people as GNU/Linux trainers, they would have taught themselves to fish, and would soon be in a possition to export their fishing skills to the world, including the USA.

    I know which I'd prefer if I were Mexican.

    And of course, this is in a free software ocean that cannot be over-fished. It actually becomes more productive, the more people fish it.
  • by guanxi (216397) on Sunday April 28, 2002 @11:51AM (#3424730)

    From the article:

    But proponents of open-source computing complain that they are being left out of the e-Mexico project because they lack the resources to offer multimillion-dollar donations.

    Huh? Well, I just won't stand for it. Using my personal fortune, I hereby donate to the people of Mexico any and all open source software they desire. In addition, I'm giving them the source code, and they are free to use it or modify it any way they like!

    Now, this will be quite a blow to my accumlated wealth, so I'd appreciate any donations to defray the cost, in cash or in kind. Please either send me one legally licensed copy of Linux, Star Office and/or KDE, or use my PayPal account to pay for the equivalent. I'll forward all donations to the Mexican gov't.

  • by Mansing (42708)
    " ... the first one is free."
  • Someone should teach Mexican politicans about Microsoft's penchant for money-grubbing on the inevitable software upgrades. Further, someone should teach them that Microsoft's upgrades usually add very little or no new functional value, unless you consider eye-popping graphics to be an essential new feature. And the upgrades usually contain a lot of bug/security fixes to problems that shouldn't have been there in the first place. If Mexico wants to have its financial pants pulled down, then teaming up with Microsoft is the quickest way to do it.
  • by first axiom (311777) <slashdot&jorge-ortiz,com> on Sunday April 28, 2002 @02:00PM (#3425181)
    Being a Mexican, a Windows user, and a Linux user, I think some perspective needs to be thrown into the picture.

    Most people in Mexico don't speak English, and don't know how to user a computer. In fact, this is what Fox's rival campaigned on: English and Computer education for everyone. He was basically laughed at by anyone with a clue, but it piqued popular interest, and he has the right intentions.

    What Mexico needs is education. The public school system is a farce. Most people don't make it to high school. Most of those who do probably haven't ever used a computer. This is unheard of in the US... Who doesn't finish high-school? Who hasn't used a computer by then? In the US, this only happens at the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder. In Mexico, the bottom rung involves living in a rock cave kilometers from any civilized location. Forget electricity, telephones, running water, sewage, or clothespins. They hang their clothes to dry on trees.

    If Microsoft offers to drop software and training to go with it, the software might be a leech intent on locking-down an already impoverished country on expensive monopoly-ware, but the training is essential. Getting people to learn and use computers should be the focus of the e-Mexico initiative. I agree free/open software is the better choice. I agree we shouldn't dish out money on a Microsoft-tax. But who is willing to teach Linux to the third-world masses?

    I believe free software will spread in Mexico in the face of all barriers to entry exactly because it's free. Training is essential, and if Microsoft gaining a foothold is the cost, then so be it. But once people learn Windows, they might have -personal- incentive (and the new technical know-how) to learn Linux, if it will save them $200. That's a big savings, in Mexico.

    Free software will come, but you must teach people any software first.
    • This is unheard of in the US... Who doesn't finish high-school? Who hasn't used a computer by then?

      Perhaps you need to visit the prosperous southern U.S., where every student is equally denied access to a good education? People not finishing high school in the U.S.A. might be more common than you think.
  • Between MS donating a few million dollars to eventually make a profit and introducing a bill to outlaw proprietary software, the later is so much more fair.

    Once again free software promotes freedom.

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.

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