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Microsoft

Taiwan Forces MS To Cut Prices, Unbundle Software 477

Posted by timothy
from the remember-to-make-it-look-like-a-concession dept.
bev_tech_rob writes "This article from ZDNet reports how Microsoft has agreed to cut prices on their software after a backlash from the country's effort to crack down on piracy. Seems the citizens were forced to obtain pirated copies due to the high cost and having to buy software they did not need to get the parts they DID need."
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Taiwan Forces MS To Cut Prices, Unbundle Software

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  • How long do I have before the BSA shows up at my door if I make the arguement that I was FORCED to use all those . .um ..demonstration copies ..of microsoft software because of the high cost?

    Yeah. Forced. Arm twisting and the whole deal.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:05PM (#5399966)
      Because all operating systems are written by programmers, I assume that any operating system is much smarter than me. Thus, any good operating system should try to outsmart me by restricting my options at every turn. Linux, like all versions of Unix, is lousy at restricting my options because at the command line virtually any operation can be performed with ease. (For example, 'rm -rf /win' could 'delete an entire mounted directory, with no popup window warnings whatsoever.)

      I'm proud to say that there is no such danger in XP. Windows pop up when I want to make a change, and then more pop up to ask if I'm sure I want the change. Thankfully, Windows XP looks after my computer's well-being by occasionally switching configuration settings from the way I want them to what the OS programmers think they might probably ought to be. Boy, I'm just impressed with how smart they are. Once I learned to live with whatever the default settings are on any new hardware I install, I can't say the number of hours I have saved.

      I use that spare time to reboot my Windows XP machine multiple times a day. Technical support personnel recommend that I do it regularly-- kind of like brushing my teeth. To help remind me of this necessity, windows pop up to tell me to reboot whenever I make a configuration change. By now my machine is minty fresh, I figure.

      There is no such useful rebooting in a Linux system. It is as reliable as the sunrise, with uptimes in weeks, months and years. Virtually no configuration change requires a reboot, to boot. Imagine all that plaque in the computer. Gross!

      In XP I am prevented from making dangerous fundamental configuration changes unless I use a special "registry editor". I have found it so useful to have this separate editor that I hope in future versions they go all the way and supply a separate editor for each file on the disk-- in that way windows could pop up at every keystroke to warn me that changing any line in the file I am editing could cause the system to not run properly. If this were only the case, people would finally learn that it is best to just stick with the mouse and they would be freed of the need to constantly move their hands back to the keyboard. (If one stops to think about it, the mouse is a much better device to use than the keyboard. Ever hear of someone getting carpal tunnel syndrome from a mouse? No. It's comfortable and ergonomic. Like Morse code devices. That's how long distance communication started, after all.)

      Linux, by contrast, requires no special editor to change configuration files. The fact that there is no "registry" in Linux allows the abomination of using any text editor whatsoever to do the configuration. Can you believe that configuration files are usually stored clear text? Talk about dangerous!

      I am also happy to report that I have experienced no truth to the rumor that Windows disks become corrupt after improper shutdowns. Indeed, I have been forced to improperly shutdown the machine innumerable times after it locks up, and I have no apparent problems to report regarding the disk. No such claim can be made for Linux. They say something about lack of data points. Excuses are all I ever seem to hear from the Linux crowd.

      By sheer size alone, Windows XP beats Linux hands down. It is so much bigger, it is _obvious_ that it is better. Why would you want a small OS with the large disks and RAM sizes we have these days? For this reason alone, I heartily recommend Windows as a way to maximize resource utilization. Your CPU and disk will constantly be pegged to the limit, the way god intended. The Linux kernel and drivers accounts for only about 750KB. Why, even the Microsoft Win16 subsystem uses more space than that.

      It is no surprise that Windows XP costs $300 on the retail market and Linux doesn't cost anything. People know what they want, and they want Windows XP. Because Linux is free, that means it's basically worthless. The same goes for all the development tools, remotable GUIs, and applications, which all cost money for Windows (i.e., are worth something) and free for Linux (worthless!).

      Installing software is very easy in Windows XP. I usually slip in CDs without even reading instructions or warnings, and just double click on whatever window pops up. There is no need to read anything or touch the keyboard. (Did I mention that I hate that thing?) Well, OK, I have learned the hard way the machine locks up if I don't take the time to close all other applications.

      Linux, by contrast, requires typing on the keyboard to get anything to install at all. And you always have to know the NAME of program you want to install. For example, in Slackware, you have to type "pkgtool" to install a program. Linux needs to get with the 21st century!

      Windows XP follows the DOS convention of putting \r\n at the end of every line of a text file. While this is only a mild concern because of the relative rarity of text files on Windows machines these days-- thank god--it helps to differentiate between the text files and the other files. Sadly, Linux makes no distinction between text and other files.

      If I legitimately purchase Windows XP, I can call Microsoft customer support to get help with my problems. After a short hold time of an hour or so, they always help me. Ever since I told them that I was dual booting to Linux, they were able to flag my account and now each time I call even the entry level support personnel I am connected to say that Linux is the source of my problems. Everyone seems to agree that Linux is no good. The more I listen, the more I'm impressed with the knowledge of the support staff there.

      By contrast, in Linux, all I have is stockpiles of resources and documentation that I would actually have to read in order to understand. Sure, I could obtain Linux support from a commercial organization, but they would probably just tell me I have to use a text editor to fix up my system.

      In the end, I have no need for that old computer donkey Unix. I don't need to run big Unix tasks, after all. I refuse to become one of those a bug-eyed computer users, that's for sure. As soon as I can keep Windows XP from crashing for long enough, I'm going to delete my Linux partition, i.e., the equivalent of moving it to the Recycle Bin, saying that I'm sure, emptying the Recycle Bin, and again saying that I'm sure I want to empty it.
      • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @06:53PM (#5401633) Homepage
        For most people, security is not important. Top performance is not important. Optimum configuration is not important. Control is not important. Not having to power toggle is not important.

        Being able to put the CD in the CD drive, press a button a couple of times, reboot, and get what you want is VERY IMPORTANT. NOT THINKING is VERY IMPORTANT.

        Users want things that work like coffee machines. You plug it in and it works. If you want a different coffee machine, you get a different coffee machine and plug it in and it works. Windows makes computers a lot more like coffee machines than Linux does. Having to turn your computer on an off to get a new feature is much less of a problem than having to know what to type to get a new feature. Linux wants you to figure stuff out. Microsoft wants your money.

        For most people, giving up money is easier.
        • by JCholewa (34629) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @09:26PM (#5402681) Homepage
          > For most people, security is not important. Top performance is not
          > important. Optimum configuration is not important. Control is not
          > important. Not having to power toggle is not important.

          > Being able to put the CD in the CD drive, press a button a couple
          > of times, reboot,
          > and get what you want is VERY IMPORTANT. NOT THINKING is
          > VERY IMPORTANT.

          > Users want things that work like coffee machines. You plug it in
          > and it works. If you want a different coffee machine, you get
          > a different coffee machine and plug it in and it works. Windows
          > makes computers a lot more like coffee machines than Linux does.
          > Having to turn your computer on an off to get a new feature is much
          > less of a problem than having to know what to type to get a new
          > feature. Linux wants you to figure stuff out. Microsoft wants
          > your money.

          I'm not sure that I can entirely agree with you. I don't think that Windows is inherently easier to deal with. I think that the fact that Windows is by far the dominant operating system means that all hardware and nearly all software developers pay specific attention to how their products work with Windows. This isn't due to any particular feature of the operating system. It's simply because they have to make it easy on the popular platform.

          For most applications, installations go like this:
          * In Windows 2000, I'd open up my web browser of choice. Then I'd go to one of the download sites or perhaps to google.com, and I'd search for an application online. I'd download the application (usually going through a few screens of ad-laden BS and choosing various mirror that are closest to me. I'd go to the location of the file (either through Start->Run or using a file manager like PowerDesk or simply by using Opera's excellent download manager). Then I'd double-click on the file. A "wizard" application opens and asks me a series of successive questions about where it wants me to install the program, whether I agree to a fifty-page application-specific legal document, where in the Start Menu I want this thing to go, and whether I want shortcuts placed in various locations. Then the program (sometimes) tells me that it needs to reboot, and I hit "OK". It reboots, occasionally does some further installation, and then I'm set. I would do all this every time for each program.

          * In Mandrake Linux 9.0, I go to the package managing program (By clicking on "K->Configuration->Packaging->Install Software", or by hitting ALT-F2, typing "rpmdrake" and hitting ENTER). I change the little radio button group from "Mandrake choices" to "All Packages". I type a program name into the Search bar and hit the Search button (or I'd just look through the efficiently categorized list of programs). I check the checkboxes of any and all programs that I want to install, and I hit the Install button. Then I sit back as the installer automatically downloads, installs and configures all the applications I selected, grabbing any prerequisite programs from the servers automatically. In the time it took to search for, download and begin the installation of a program in Windows, I've finished installing the Linux app. Before I've finished mucking with the Next->Next->Next->Finish screen of that installation, another Linux app has finished installing (without me needing to click on anything more). By the time my computer has rebooted into Windows 2000 from that one install, the Mandrake Linux package manager has installed six or seven different apps (and I only had to click the "Install" button once). And you know what? Everything is installed into logical, well thought-out places. Instead of going into "Programs" and having to scroll down a clumsy list of company names to find the app you've installed (difficult especially if you've forgotten the company name!) like I see on Windows 2000, the Mandrake installer puts everything into intuitive, user-friendly subcategories. Stuff that uses the network is in "Networking". All my email programs are in "Networking->Mail". My news (usenet) readers (Pan for binary downloading, Mozilla Messenger for general reading) are in "Networking->News". Card games are specifically in "Amusement->Cards". Know what I have to do to find all my card games in Windows? I have to look in "Programs->Accessories->Games" and figure out which ones are card games. Then I have to look in every subgroup in Programs (the aforementioned company names) to check and see which ones have card games. I have to *memorize* this stuff in Windows. In Linux, I just go to "Amusement->Cards". Holy crap, you can't get any more obvious than that! Oh, I need to watch TV? "Multimedia->Video". I have to put this 800MB SVCD onto my 700MB CD without data loss? "Applications->Archiving->Cd Burning". I want my kid to learn stuff? "Applications->Edutainment". I'll never accidentally click on the "Hot Boobies" interactive porno game when I intended to show my female colleague my PG-rated "Hard Bodies" fitness management program. It just won't happen, because one of them would be in "Amusement->Sex" while the other would be found in ... well, I dunno, maybe "Office->Time Management" or "Applications->Sciences->Health" (probably the latter). In Windows, it's a crapshoot. Yeah, real user-friendly.

          It's better than that. If I want to be lazy in windows, I can set up links on the taskbar, Office Bar (if I spend the untold hundreds for their Office product) or desktop to the programs. I could also (with a non-native third-party extension program) map programs to a Win-key combination. Currently, in Windows, I use Win-O to open Opera, Win-M to open my Mail program (Eudora), Win-X to open eXcel, Win-W to open Word, and so forth. Mandrake natively supports key combinations to open programs, and I believe you can differentiate between the two Win keys if you had the desire (LeftWin+W goes to OpenOffice Writer, RightWin+W goes to KWord, for example). I don't use it much, for the following reasons: Mandrake (and, by the way, I'm using KDE to manage my gui, so ymmv if you use other programs) allows me to put links to programs on the desktop. It also allows me to put links to programs on my taskbar. But it lets me configure these links in interesting ways (and we're not talking about difficult configuration; we're talking about Right-click-on-panel->Size->Large and similarly easy means). I can have (and I do) two levels of bars with these links. I have a big taskbar with my extra-lazy application links. These are full-sized icons, so they're easy to click on when I'm too slothful to competently use the mouse. On the bar right above it, I have (among other things) medium-sized icons for a whole bunch of programs that I tend to frequently use, like my text editor and my web browser. Incidentally, that bar also has a dictionary bar, an ascii character picker (I could paste odd characters into any program instead of having to rely on some arcane, application specific "Insert->Character" features that don't work universally), a web news scroller, an advanced clipboard manager (you know how more recent versions of Microsoft Office allow for multiple clipboard levels? Well, KDE's Klipper application does this for *every app*) and quick shortcuts to lock the computer or to logout. But I don't every really use those icons very often. Why not? Well, I have session management turned on. Whenever I turn on my computer, the system reloads active programs so that I can continue from where I left off. And most of my programs (Opera, Konsole, Konqueror, Kate, Pan) have their own internal session management, so I don't have to click on bookmarks or whatever to get to where I was before. The other thing that makes it easy to not have to move my mouse to hit those "shortcut" icons is the nature of linux pathing. Remember when I installed those programs above? Well, the executables are automatically put into a place that's in the system path. Most of the programs have pretty short filenames for the binaries. Most of the time, if I want to run the program and happen to remember the program's executable name, I hit F2, type in the program name and hit ENTER. F2,pan,ENTER. F2,mozilla,ENTER. F2,kate,ENTER. Heck, even those programs that I installed through other means than the Mandrake Package Manager (sometimes, you can install the very latest versions of programs before they get packaged) will work with this. F2,gmplayer,ENTER runs the GUI version of MPlayer, the only multimedia program that can play just about every format out there, from mpeg to avi to asf to quicktime to rm to ogg to DVDs and Mode 2 SVCDs (which I *almost* have working in windows, with some occasional bizarre inconsistencies). I have to have three or four different players installed on Windows 2000 to get that sort of compatibility, and that's ignoring the easier interface and hotkeys in MPlayer.

          The hardware side is sometimes easier in Windows, though my experience doesn't exactly completely agree with that. I have a somewhat generic 5.1 sound card with no discernable markings on it. It took me *forever* to find the drivers for Windows 2000, and it was actually Linux (and its "harddrake" hardware manager) that gave me enough clues about the main chips on this soundcard to find out that it was from some C-Media company or something like that. Some time after, I found the Windows drivers and everything went swimmingly. Know how much I had to look for the Linux drivers? They were already there. They. Were. Already. There. When I installed Mandrake 9.0, the sound card was autodetected and autoconfigured. I'll give you that an earlier version of Mandrake (8.1 or 8.2) didn't properly detect the card when I first installed it, but the drivers for it were in there and it was comparatively trivial to tell the computer this (I put the name of the sound card driver module, something like cmpci.so, into some configuration startup text file) compared to the herculean effort to get it running in Win2k.

          My TV card used to be an outdated Hauppauge that didn't support scaling past 640x480. I had to guess which drivers it used from Hauppauge.com, and I was eventually successful in Windows 2000. The scaling thing was annoying, but it worked, except that the video capture seemed problematic. A few months later, Win2k went crappy on me, and I had to reinstall it. For the life of me, I could not remember which drivers and in which order I needed to install, and I couldn't get the TV program to work, no matter how hard I tried. So I did it in Linux. The Mandrake 8.x install autodetected, autoinstalled, autoconfigured. And it installed a whole wad of different TV programs that could use the TV card. One of them (xawtv) could inexplicably scale the TV screen to whatever dimension I wanted. I still use that program.

          Heck, this past Christmas, my parents bought me an All-in-Wonder RADEON 8500. The installs worked fine on both systems. Unfortunately, I only have a choice of one TV program on Windows, and that program makes the system crash after I try to shut it down. I still have the exact same vareity of TV programs on Linux, and if I wanted to use my brain, I could probably pretty easily figure out how to broadcast the TV image onto my local network.

          The USB CD burner that I recently gave up was fun. When I installed it in Windows, the Windows Media Player tried to autoinstall a "CD Burning Plugin" which caused all my CD drives (even the CD-ROM) to disappear (until I got all technical and figured out how to remove the stupid plugin). Mandrake 9 (and 8.2, I think) just installed it. No fuss. It worked on installation.

          I think that my newly installed ATAPI burner is easier to install in Windows, but that's because (as I mentioned above) Windows gets the third-party support. I did have to change two or three text files (though I didn't need any installation program) to get this burner working in Linux. I haven't really tested the burner in Win2k, primarily because process management in 2k is sloppy. If I wanted to burn at the maximum speed, I'd have to close *everything* to avoid buffer underruns in Windows. In Linux, I'm simultaneously downloading from usenet, unRARing 800MB mpegs, viewing SVCDs from my CD-ROM drive and browsing the internet. It gives me a little trouble if I -- on top of all that -- run a particularly intensive parity checking program, but I think that this is on the whole better than having to avoid *breathing* lest Windows get cranky and reduce my CD-R media to useless silvery powder.

          Granted, linux does have some usability drawbacks. Moving drives around is a big no-no unless you're a learned user. My system forgot where that ATAPI burner went when I recently rearranged some devices. I fixed that in under ten minutes, but it felt like the end of the world before I figured out what was going on. I can't get my Gyration gyroscopic mouse working properly in Linux (I've gotten it to the point that it takes *some* input from this device, but said input is completely incoherent and unmouselike). That one is due to the third-party effect, but it's still tremendously annoying. Games aren't as developed, of course, but that's not really a usability issue.

          Damnit, doing things that I *need* to do, system-wise, is totally trivial in Linux. My Millennium II and Marvel G200 half a decade ago could zoom in with a hotkey in Windows, but I haven't been able to do that for years now since that feature is driver-dependent in Windows. Linux does this no matter what video card you have. This is set up intuitively in Mandrake's "please select the screen sizes you want available" install. These aren't things that you should have to reconfigure every time you get a new piece of hardware.

          Aaargh, I'm sorry. This has turned into just a straight rant. I know that different people have different habits, but my own personal experience is that Linux is *easier* and requires *less thinking* unless you *want* to be an advanced user, in which case it seems happy to give you the power to be advanced. I can finally do things that maximize my personal productivity. In most cases, hardware and software just works, instead of just works until the blue screen appears. That may be overly mean to Microsoft, and I readily admit that several of their programs are top notch (I've loved products from them going all the way back to Decathlon, a game that Microsoft made for non-Microsoft operating systems!). Excel is great. Access seems strong. I'm told that the "Ages of..." series is phenomenal. MS-DOS Edit was a fantastic MDI editor (and boy was I disappointed when they downgraded to Notepad and Wordpad!). Media Player (well, using the Classic skin since the more recent interfaces have been very clunky) is usually fantastic. But it's still my opinion that Windows isn't inherently easier. The thing that is easier for users is the fact that nearly every company in the universe tailors their hardware and software to work best with Windows. I mean, wouldn't Dodge look unbelievably superior if 95% of body shops only did work on Dodge vehicles?

          Eh, I'm done complaining. I may have made it sound like Linux is infinitely superior to Windows, but I was mostly overreacting to what I consider an equally extremist (but opposite) viewpoint. Windows 2000 is "good enough" for me. If there were no Linux, I could probably be comfortable using Windows 2000 for the rest of my life. Unlike the nightmare that was Windows 98, I can usually get Win2k to listen to me in a reasonably reliable manner. I use Linux largely because it prevents the need for me, a poor guy, to steal computer programs from P2P networks. I use free (and Free) software on Linux, and the very knowledge that people do these things to benefit others and not just to win a buck both makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside and compels me to be similarly generous with my gradually expanding coding knowledge.

          BTW, there is one area where I will be stubborn: Qt beats any OS-specific class/widget programming package ever. I love, love, LOVE being able to develop and compile applications for Windows, Linux, OS/X, various unix variants and a couple PDAs using OS-native widget sets on a single codebase. So pbbbbllllt! ;)

          Note: Hey, neat, I just discovered that I can drag
          copied text to my desktop background and it'll
          automatically paste it into a new text file. That's rather useful.

          -JC
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:40PM (#5399664)
    Too bad the US couldn't learn a little from Taiwan...
    • by Lysol (11150) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:05PM (#5399962)
      Cuz we can afford it. In a lot of other countries around the world where a worker only brings home $1200 a year (and that's rich for some villagers in China), how can they afford a $100-$300USD app suite? Enter the five finger or low cost piracy. Plain and simple economics, not ethics. And since when is M$ an ethical company anyway?
      • Er... you think a worker that only makes $1200 a year needs an operating system? I hate to break it to you but I doubt he has a computer.
        • by mikio71 (642132) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:57PM (#5400587)
          if they're using a computer, which has been sold to them from the back of a truck, they probably need an operating system Seriously speaking, it's all boils down to economics. While working in Taiwan, I was taking home a whopping US$11,000 / yr., and people generally working in the same salary range as me all had computers in their home. Why? The hardware is cheaper since most of its made locally anyway, and the software is all pirated. Think about the DVD or console gaming market. They price fix by using region encoding. I mean... for Region 2, for example, how are countries such as Japan and S. Africa, lumped into the same region as Europe? Or how is Mexico excluded from the US/Canada Region 1? It's all about the pricing and cost of living. So a person living in the US, could not go into Mexico to buy a cheaper DVD, and play it back on his own DVD player in America (of course, this isn't exactly true, but let's take the average consumer who doesn't hack his box). M$ is essentially in the same boat, but instead of region encoding, it uses language to regionally encode its software. For the most part, the average US computer buyer probably doesn't want a machine in Chinese, while the average Taiwanese computer buyer probably doesn't want a machine in English. M$ can essentially fix the price in Taiwan to a lower price point, and get more people to buy the software at the lower price, rather than selling it at a higher price point, but getting a handful of sales instead. While lowering the cost may lower M$ price margin, I figure that the volume being bigger would make its profit much higher. On the other hand, this is Taiwan we're talking about... It's a very price sensitive area, so the pirates will always be around. The trick is for M$ to lower their prices to a point that the difference between buying a legit copy over a pirate copy is trivial. The problem is that with the prices of hardware and media coming down as they are, the pirates will always be able to produce their wares for pennies, and it's all a matter of how much inventory they can keep in stock, without cutting into their profit margin, however minimal it may be after M$ puts a price cut. In the end, people should probably just migrate over to Linux, and not worry about licensing and payments as much, but I figure that's not gonna happen at anytime soon.
        • by That_Dan_Guy (589967) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @05:34PM (#5400949)
          I lived in Taiwan for 5 years. I was highly paid as an English teacher- about 15 bucks an hour for maybe 20 hours a week.

          When I heard computers calling me back I went up to AsusTek looking for a job writing manuals. Y'know how much they offered the first time? 12,000 USD a year plus "stock options." When I let my friends know I thought that was pathetic and turned it down they were amazed. People over there live on less, and dream about working at AsusTek. They have computers and cars. No S***! They just all live with their parents (my brother in law makes a bit more as an MCSE sysadmin at Viewsonic, has a PocketPC, a color couple cell phones, a car and counts himself really darned well off)

          Their final offer was 25,000, no stock options (the "options" could not be exercised until after you quit, you got a lot of 1000 after two years, and a lot every year thereafter. The "option" was not given to you, but kept in the President's safe and given to you when you quit if he liked you)

          Prices used to be a lot less for hardware over there. But that was when it was 25nt to the dollar. Last time I checked prices are about the same (if it costs a 100 US here, it costs within 3% of that there).
  • What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JanusFury (452699)
    Sorry, even with how much control over the computer industry MS has, I find it hard to believe that anyone can be 'forced' to pirate Windows, or Office, or whatever. There ARE free alternatives.
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Raul654 (453029) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:46PM (#5399742) Homepage
      Yes, but while they're free, they don't necessarily do the job. Despite what many on slashdot say, open source is not the end-all be-all of software. More to the point -- what are they supposed when someone sends them .doc files?

      (I fully expect to be modded down for this, but what the hell. I have karma to burn)
      • Re:What? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Fez (468752)
        I'll probably get modded down too, but Microsoft does provide a free .doc viewer, and viewers for other formats here [microsoft.com]

        Of course that only works if the person is already running windows.
      • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

        by fobbman (131816) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:05PM (#5399958) Homepage
        Open Office for Windows reads .doc files just fine.

        • Re:What? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tshak (173364)
          Open Office for Windows reads .doc files just fine.

          No it doesn't. Whenever a client sends me a contract in Word I have to ask my roommate to print it for me, because when I print from Open Office I get a bunch of garbage half of the time. I'd pay the ~$300+ (OEM) for MS Office in a heartbeat if it weren't for the security issues.
      • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by kalidasa (577403) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:12PM (#5400057) Journal

        (I fully expect to be modded down for this, but what the hell. I have karma to burn)

        Kalidasa's first law of slashdot: any poster who mentions that he expects to be modded down will invariably be modded +5 insightful.

      • Re:What? (Score:5, Funny)

        by 1010011010 (53039) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:14PM (#5400069) Homepage
        what are they supposed when someone sends them .doc files?

        Complain.
      • Need doesn't make right.

      • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:41PM (#5400367)
        > Yes, but while they're free, they don't necessarily do the job.

        Actually they get the job done, at least for me last quarter. As a small social experiment I decided to use only open source and non-MS apps for school. I study CS at an all-Microsoft campus so it's a bit more of challenge than it probably sounds.

        Open Office took care of my "office" needs just fine. The doc format didn't crap out on me often and the app itself isn't bad. It could really use some nice 16-bit cutesy icons though.

        Mozilla and other gecko-based browsers took care of all my web stuff. My school is heavily into making use of the web (for better or worse) and I didn't have any problems using Moz even though the sites had huge disclaimers about using non-IE web browsers. Other than pointing out the fact that they weren't sending proper MIME types I got along just fine.

        The stuff works, it may not be as pretty or arguably "user-friendly" (whatever that means when you consider MS's own learning curve), but it will do the job.

        You're right, open source is not the swiss army knife of software, but it is a workable and viable alternative. The biggest problem I see is that there's so little effort evangelizing open source Windows apps compared to Linux.

        I'd be a lot more comfortable if I heard something like "Oh, Open Office runs on Linux too?" more often. Or ever.
    • Political Scenario's 101:

      China sponsoring huge change to their own version of Linux.

      Taiwan resents being part of the R.O.C.

      Taiwan willing to do anything to silently jab mainland China.

      Taiwan is the economic leader of the entire R.O.C. If they use Windows for everything, then the rest of the R.O.C. will have to too, if they want it all to work right. ...
      • Huh?

        This comment doesn't make much sense.
        Taiwan is the economic leader of the entire R.O.C. If they use Windows for everything, then the rest of the R.O.C. will have to too, if they want it all to work right.
        I guess if Taiwan uses it, the people on the Pescadores, Matsu, and Querny will have to as well.

      • Taiwan is the Rebpublic of China. The mainland is The Peoples Rebpublic of China. Tawain *is* The R.O.C.

        http://www.flags.net/CHIN.htm

        http://www.flags.net/TAIW.htm

        And while mainland China claims that they are not independent it is clear to everyone involved that they are.
    • Correct, but I wish file types were more standard. It is silly that I get a WORD document, print it out under WordPerfect (I support a legal department)and the formating is not the same because it had to be converted.

      I'd say there are alternatives to WORD when there are no formating differences between different applications.

    • Leaving the options of opensource for someone else to discuss, I definitely think that cutting prices will encourage people to get original versions.

      I used to live in India and as a student have experienced this shift first hand. Good computer books from the US always costed a fortune and quite naturally pirated books started showing up in small petty shops. Although these books were darn cheap, they were printed on horrible paper and there was almost nothing to expect of the typesetting (fonts) - which ofcourse also forms a part of the reading experience.
      A year from then, the Publishers got smart. They began to authorize indian publishers to sell asian editions and almost all of us went for these books which were the books of great quality for a resonable price.

      i have an indian edition of Red Hat Linux Bible
      which costed me Rs499. The original US edition would have costed someone Rs.1720.

      i cant see why microsoft cant start popping CDs in Asia and sell it for much cheaper that people will actually buy.
  • yeah, right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fefe (6964)
    15% price cuts, what a monumental victory over Microsoft. Office still costs 400 US-$ in a country where that is about the average salary for a whole year.

    That'll surely show 'em!1!!
  • "Seems the citizens were forced to obtain pirated copies due to the high cost and having to buy software they did not need to get the parts they DID need."


    Gee, this sounds awfully familiar. Not a problem unique to Taiwan. I wonder if (and hope) it will ultimately have implications for the US market.

  • Hopefully (Score:5, Funny)

    by moc.tfosorcimgllib (602636) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:41PM (#5399686) Journal
    Hopefully after they see the positive effect this has on the consumer, they will start to do the same elsewhere.

    I am serious.

    No really, I'm being serious.
  • Even at the newly reduces MS pricing, Microsoft can't compete in the Taiwanese market. Pirated MS discs can be had on almost any street corner for a dollar a disc.
    • Actually, the Taiwanese government is making a strong effort to crack down on the pirates. You can't find them on every street corner in Taiwan. And they actually cost about NT$100(~$3 US) a disc.
  • Not just MS, but software making companies all over the world charge way too much money for software. The number one reason there's so much pirating is because software simply costs too much. But reduced prices or not, I'll still favor Open Source over anything else.
    • by Stonehand (71085) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:59PM (#5399896) Homepage
      Shareware gets pirated en masse as well. How many people actually register their copy of WinZip? The reason software copyrights get infringed is because it's trivial to do, usually, and the likelihood of getting caught is extremely low. Luxury cars, Armani suits and "collectable" card games are all vastly overpriced, but most people don't bother stealing them because they're intrinsically harder to steal without consequence.
  • by Yoda2 (522522) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:43PM (#5399703)
    I was once forced by pirates to use Microsoft software. Will that get me any sort of discount?
  • Possible? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by grub (11606)

    Assuming the software in Taiwan is a lot cheaper than in North America and Europe, what's to stop someone from buy^H^H^Hlicensing MS' software in Taiwan and using it here? Do the licenses actually have clauses against that?
  • Not just Taiwan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:43PM (#5399711) Homepage Journal
    Seems the citizens were forced to obtain pirated copies due to the high cost

    This is a problem most people under 24 seem to have...
    • [M$ crap costs too much] This is a problem most people under 24 seem to have...

      No, it's a problem everyone has. Ask your IT guys how much your company pays for software. The product is greater than the sum its the parts as it is passed down through the food chain. Where do you think M$'s billions of dollars come from? Those billions of dollars represent a significant but unnecessary economic friction. The waste M$ forces onto everyone in the form of file formats and work disruption is even greater than the billions that can be counted. I don't even want to think about privacy and data security issues, but the costs of "I love you" were reported to be in the billions too.

      The good people of Taiwan will be happy to pass thoses costs along and you can expect the cost of electronic components, clothes and other goods to go up by that little chunck. Or they will get smart and start using free software.

    • 24? (Score:2, Funny)

      by lysium (644252)
      Raise that number. We are in a recession.
  • So ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:44PM (#5399720) Homepage
    What do i do ?
    Bash Mircosoft ?
    Praise Taiwan ?
    Hail Linux ? (oops ... GNU/Linux )
    Seriously, I miss those days when slashdot's M$ stories were like ....Windows XP kills your kids, go with linux
    So easy to pick a side, now with these ambiguous stories, I don't know which side i am on.
    • I agree. I was skimming through the first few posts and wondering what I could add to the discussion. Here is what I see in this 5min old thread:
      • racism
      • disinformation
      • piracy
      • free alternatives
      Same old stuff, wait 30mins, set filter to 1, mine the gems yourself :) -broodje
    • Since Linux is now a business, /. can no longer bash rich white guys with software factory towns for being white, rich, or monopolists! So, we now have to resort to reasoned arguments... oh, wait... this is /.

      Children love both nicotine and windows!
  • but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tx_mgm (82188) <notquiteoriginalNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:45PM (#5399728)
    ....i thought it was integrated and couldnt be sold seperately??? wasnt that part of their argument at the monopoly trials? if they can break it up into components for those guys, why the HELL can't they do it for us here in the states? seems unfair to me...i dont want to pay hundreds of dollars for an operating system that is only nessessary for games, yet here i am...
    • According to the article (which is really short)

      Sounds like it ~26% off, so the OS is still hundreds of dollars. Also, they're going sell the bits of Office separately, not Windows. You can already get Office in pieces here if I recall.

      Kinda pointless really.

      Shae
  • Hooray! (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarklordJonnyDigital (522978) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:45PM (#5399732) Homepage Journal
    We're still not paying for Windows, though.

    DarklordJonnyDigital, officially surfing on Debian ;)
  • Boohoo (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrWa (144753) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:47PM (#5399761) Homepage
    Things are expensive. It definitely would be nice to buy Windows by the piece instead of all at once. I can see it now:
    Yes...I would like the Windows operating system, without the remote exploits and BSOD bugs. Also, add in Media Player but not the consumer activity record keeping feature - I dont' really need that.

    As for Office: yes, please include a copy Powerpoint, Excel, and Outlook (without the automatic emailing to all my address book entries feature.)
    Thank you.
  • Expensive bundles? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bytesmythe (58644) <`bytesmythe' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:50PM (#5399792)
    The article complains about software being packaged in expensive bundles.

    Just looking up the prices for MS software on Outpost.com, Word costs $340 and Excel costs $320, but Office itself only costs $440. Office also includes Powerpoint (another $320 by itself) and Outlook ($100 by itself).

    Even for just one component, you're far better off buying the bundle here in the US. How much is the bundle mark-up that they're complaining about?

  • by wizardmax (555747) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @03:53PM (#5399823) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft will also share its Windows source code as part of its Government Security Program, which allows governments to adapt the software and test its ability to fend off hackers.

    Russia was the first country to take advantage of the program in January. The source code--blueprints of Microsoft's dominant operating systems--is one of the world's most tightly protected corporate secrets.


    Knowing russian social structure, (considering I used to live there...) that source will quicly become public.

    KremlinXP anybody?
  • This is just the beginning. After Europe has dealt with MS America will follow.

    Man I sound like a starting Linux user. But I really think people are finally aware that they are mistreated by the giant and that they have the power to do something about it.
  • They could just use BSD or Linux with Open Office or KOffice.

    Better solution I believe!
    • Are you in Taiwan?

      Do you know what these features are that they need?

      Openoffice/Koffice/et al are fine products, but don't run around saying that they're automatically the solution. That's bad karma.
  • Strange... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gillbates (106458) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:05PM (#5399969) Homepage Journal
    Consumers said they had been forced to turn to illegal copies because Microsoft had used its virtual monopoly to inflate prices.

    So even though a federal court found MS guilty of doing the same thing here, MS got to keep their high prices and predatory practices. Amazing.

    It seems as if Taiwan has succeeded in doing what John Ashcroft and Co. (and his predecessors, for that matter) could never do: control Microsoft. Strange, isn't it, that Taiwan can effectively demand concessions from a foreign company when our own DOJ can't even enforce the judgements they do have against a domestic one...

    Yeah, the future's bright. I think I'm going to start a monopoly somewhere - then I can tell John Ashcroft and the DOJ where to go...

    • Re:Strange... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MxTxL (307166)
      Strange, isn't it, that Taiwan can effectively demand concessions from a foreign company

      One thing to consider (not saying this happened here, but it's interesting) is that Taiwan comes from a position of power in the computer world. Piss them off, and memory prices could triple. Similar situation with lots of other computer components.... MS can't sell so many new copies of windows when nobody is buying computers anymore....
  • by jratcliffe (208809) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:13PM (#5400062)
    It looks like what really happened here is that the Taiwanese gov't "implied" to MSFT that, if they didn't show some flexibility in app bundling (Office apps, NOT Windows), then they Taiwanese gov't wouldn't be very supportive when it came to cracking down on piracy. So MSFT cuts prices, and the gov't continues to make some effort to reduce piracy.
  • by Khalidz0r (607171)
    Pirated software (Especially MS software) is also used here, but then, this has a big draw back for the people using the software.

    Huge programs have localized specifications, which require a bit of more work, and cost the company money, if the company does not gain money through this country, these localizations will not be worked on anymore, and then the whole country/area would lose.

    Seems MS however, in this case, have thoughtfully considered the issue and found out that reducing prices and wining the user is worth more than otherwise, but would this always be the case? I really doubt so!

    Khalid
    • ...if the company does not gain money through this country, these localizations will not be worked on anymore, and then the whole country/area would lose. Seems MS however, in this case, have thoughtfully considered the issue and found out that reducing prices and wining the user is worth more than otherwise, but would this always be the case? I really doubt so!

      Microsoft would issue an Asian version even if they knew they would never make a profit on it -PERIOD-.

      Why?

      Because Microsoft would hate to see competition evolve anywhere in the world. Imagine if China/Taiwan/Wherever HAD to go over to a new operating system because MS refused to support the region. All those people writing software for another OS would cut into the monopoly hold they have over the desktop. MS would NEVER RISK it. PERIOD. When countries start talking about alternative OS's, Microsoft starts discounting and giving away software.

  • crazy. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Suppafly (179830) <.slashdot. .at. .suppafly.net.> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:22PM (#5400149)
    Seems the citizens were forced to obtain pirated copies due to the high cost and having to buy software they did not need to get the parts they DID need.

    So that explains why piracy effects nearly industry in asian countries. Its simply due to illegal monopolies and bundling useless stuff with useful stuff. Apparently people wanting to get something for nothing isn't the real reason after all.
  • by WillAdams (45638) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:31PM (#5400248) Homepage
    Well darn.

    (Taiwan's Ministry of Information Technology bought all rights to the PenPoint OS and UI back when Go Corp. when bankrupt (see Jerry Kaplan's book _StartUp_) and I'd always wondered if it'd been to use it as bargaining chip to get better prices.)

    Another great conspiracy theory down the drain.

    William
  • Forced (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _fuzz_ (111591) <me@@@davedunkin...com> on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:36PM (#5400310) Homepage
    Seems the citizens were forced to obtain pirated copies due to the high cost...

    Ya, and I was forced to steal cable TV and uncap my cable modem and copy videos I rented all because they're more than I can afford to pay.

    Geez, just because you can't afford something doesn't give you the right to steal it (or infringe on the copyright as the case may be). There are affordable alternatives out there to most expensive things.

  • by lseltzer (311306) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @04:41PM (#5400363)
    >>the citizens were forced to obtain pirated copies due to the high cost and having to buy software they did not need to get the parts they DID need.

    How many people really NEED MS Office applications? Literally nobody. You can't claim on the one hand that Office applications suck and the alternatives are better and on the other that people can't stop using them. You can't claim on the one hand that nobody uses anything more than the simplest features and on the other that the file formats are a big problem, since the file formats for basic Office docs are well understood.

    The truth here is that people used pirated copies because they didn't want to pay the price Microsoft asked. They're thieves.
  • by XJoshX (103447) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @05:00PM (#5400626) Journal

    It should be obvious to most people that the price demanded by microsoft is far to high for what you get. Office is ~$400 for five or six programs.. These programs were not that complex in the first place. I know I'd much rather program a program like Word then some of the harder parts of the Windows OS ( ~$150).. Add onto this that the programs in the suite haven't been changed by much in the last 10 years.

    If I was running a company, it would seem quite obvious that I could have my employees do exactly the same things with OpenOffice (free) or Corel Office (much less $$ than MS) and my company could save hundreds of dollars per employee.
  • by izora (412014) on Thursday February 27, 2003 @06:38PM (#5401535) Homepage
    1) My last pc (purchased early 2001) shipped with Windows ME. Come on. What was I supposed to do with that? Had it been clearly marked "Unusable Operating System" I would have waited until XP was released before buying. As it was, I sure didn't feel much like shelling out more dough for yet another MS operating system --- and I don't think I should have had to.

    2) My dad bought MS's Streets & Maps (yeah, I know -- dad, did you ever heard of Mapquest?) and put it on his XP machine. Then he tried to install it on my mom's XP laptop. Which it choked because it already had gotten hooked into his machine, I guess contacting the M(other) S(hip) to tell them what he was doing. I don't think my dad should have to buy TWO versions of Streets & Maps for one household.

    But, these kinds of things backfire on a corporation. People eventually get sick of it, like they did in Taiwan. What goes around comes around, I guess it's Karma.

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.

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