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Microsoft in Peru, Living Room 366

Two pieces of Microsoft news today. tfofurn writes "According to this AP quickie and this Reuters story, both on Yahoo, Microsoft is donating 'about $550,000 in money, software and consulting services to the Peruvian government for educational and "e-government" initiatives' to Peru. The AP story mentions the conflict of this with Edgar Villanueva's proposal to have the government use only open source software. Villanueva (/. interview), you may recall, wrote a famous letter to MS Peru a few months ago." And many people have submitted stories about Windows XP Media Center, coming this winter to a living room near you.
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Microsoft in Peru, Living Room

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  • Cool (Score:3, Funny)

    by unformed ( 225214 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:34PM (#3895599)
    I'm gonna write a letter to Microsoft saying they suck; then they'll send me a bunch of free software, which I can then resell on Ebay.

    Yeah! Free Money!
  • by jmv ( 93421 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:35PM (#3895611) Homepage
    It seems like MS is sending the message: "If you want to have 'free' MS software, say you're going Linux". Wonder how many organizations/countries without any intent to switch to Linux (will) have "Linux programs" just for negotiating with MS?
    • It seems like MS is sending the message: "If you want to have 'free' MS software, say you're going Linux". Wonder how many organizations/countries without any intent to switch to Linux (will) have "Linux programs" just for negotiating with MS?

      Yes, I've thought this too. I think Microsoft is just trying to hold back the tide at the moment. The strategy of giving software or substantially lowering prices for anyone who is thinking to moving to OSS is one that can only work in the short term. Unfortunately for Microsoft, there's not much else they can do. I think well just see more desparate attempts to lock their customers in in the future. As Steve Ballamer said the other day, they are no longer "the cheapest on the block" - he was essentially saying that it's difficult to compete with free.

    • by Malor ( 3658 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:57PM (#3895810) Journal
      Sure, but this is only a temporary gambit. Once you're hooked on Microsoft, getting yourself off it is terribly painful and difficult.

      This is not a gift. It is a free sample from a drug dealer.

      Consider... even if lots of countries start talking about Linux every time they want free software from Microsoft, there will eventually come a time when Microsoft will just chuckle and tell them to go right ahead. By then, they'll have built enough 'issues' into interoperability with free software that it will be difficult to make it work without totally ripping out the existing infrastructure... and very, very few politicians will have the guts to put their governments through that kind of pain.

      I hope that Peru has enough foresight to ignore this 'gift'. Mr. Villaneuva shows extraordinary intelligence in his analysis of free software, which gives me hope that they may indeed see the iron fist under the velvet glove.

      • Oh please.

        And if you were a company 100% on Linux or some other Unix flavor, you think switching to MS would not be "terribly painful and difficult".

        It's like this for any large company that does the most minor switch. OS switches are simply 10x more painfull. Try switching email clients, or email servers, or version control systems, or development environments... that's pain.

        Also, once your hooked on MS, the only reason you want to get off that boat is generally because of $$$. Which is generally going to pay for you to switch to some other system. But you forget, most companies are completely satisfied with the MS desktop/server line and consider the expense an investment. And at many companies, this expenses is so small compared with their bottom line, the concept of switching in order to save money will not make business sense. If it works, and does what they want it to do, why switch?

        • by einer ( 459199 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @02:46PM (#3896318) Journal
          And if you were a company 100% on Linux or some other Unix flavor, you think switching to MS would not be "terribly painful and difficult".

          Well, uhm... No. At least, not AS difficult. You see, Linux uses well defined standards and file formats instead of proprietary, constantly changing ones.

          If it works, and does what they want it to do, why switch?

          The business case for switching isn't JUST saving money. It's weening yourself off of said proprietary formats. Being locked in to a certain format might not be expensive RIGHT NOW, but using open formats means that it will never be any more expensive.
        • However, if you are on a variant of Unix, converting to another one is not as difficult as converting to/from a non-Unix like OS. I once had a junior programmer, who had been using C only for a few months, covert an application from NCR's SVR2 Unix to HP-UX. It took him about a week, with most of the time elapsed upgrading the ISAM interface. Having an alternative vendor available can be a wonderful tool when you're trying to negotigate a contract.
        • Most of the desktop software that I use on Linux is available on Windows. OpenOffice, Mozilla, the Gimp, Emacs, LaTeX are all readily available. The software that isn't available generally has Windows equivalents.

          The moral of the story is that Free Software allows you to avoid vendor lock in, which is good.

    • by malakai ( 136531 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:59PM (#3895827) Journal
      It's no different then scheduling the MS Sales Reps to come in for their 1hr long presentation, 45mins after you schedule the Oracle guys to come in for their presentation.

      The two end up meeting in the hall, and notice each-other. Within literally hours you get phone calls and email saying to the extent "We really want your business, and well beat anything they offered".

      Linux has to be prepared for this. Don't expect companies to back down from Linux competition simply because Linux is free. And don't expect companies not to use Linux as a expendable pawn in negotiations for better rates from existing vendors.

      This is after all, how the free market works.


      • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @02:41PM (#3896254) Homepage
        It would seem that the cost of Linux is no longer zero. Instead it is effectively negative because in order to compete with it, it seems, Microsoft has to give organizations a bunch of incentives. It says something that in order to create a reasonable value proposition for their software they have to, not just give it away, but actually pay people to take it.

        So the question for organizations now is, is it worth the upfront money Microsoft gives you to possibly be hooked into their products in the long run. Certainly you can use a possible linux move as leverage against MS prices, but in the end, is it better to use the leverage or to take Linux.

        You have to presume that Microsoft has a plan of how they intend to make back this money in the long run. I can guarantee you that they aren't cutting half billion dollar checks at a whim without thorough belief that they'll make up for it. I'm sure that 5 years down the road Microsoft will be coming around to collect on those incentives. They'll collect by increasing licensing fees, further invading privacy, etc.

      • "We really want your business, and well beat anything they offered".

        First, get that in writing. Second, take it to the logical conclusion and have one of them pay you an infinite amount of cash.
    • Wonder how many organizations/countries without any intent to switch to Linux (will) have "Linux programs" just for negotiating with MS?

      In the end I'm sure Microsoft will be more than happy to give every world government who wants it some "free" MS software. Remember what the actual cost of the software and CDs is, and how they get to write it off as a tax deductable donation at the retail cost. Then note that after a few years of running under the shackles of Microsoft it's hard to escape. Then MS recoups their 'costs' in your renewed licensing fees. Or, more simply:

      1) Give away 'free' software
      2) ???
      3) Profit

    • I don't want to single out Peru but in most countries in the world (including the US) corporations can grease the palms to get what they want.

      It would not surprise me one bit to find out that a good chunk of this money will end up in the hands of politicians or their friends and families. There are also probably all kinds of back door deals in the works too.

      To MS it's a trivial to spend a million or two bribing a third world country. The money goes a long way and they will get it back when the country upgrades.

      Until open source advocates start bribing politicians MS will win.
    • Others have mentioned Microsoft's giant cash pile, and said that they can keep giving away Windows practically forever in the third world.

      But it doesn't matter, this HURTS.

      First off, there's the simple fact that Linux made it onto the table, and it took Bill Gates himself to go 'bring back the account.' That's quite an endorsement Microsoft has given Linux, right there.

      Second, Linux made it onto the table, here and in Norway. Simply getting onto the table is new. Maybe for the next few rounds Linux will get onto the table as a bargaining ploy. But one of these times it's going to be a WIN.

      Third, Microsoft is sitting on a big pile of cash, just about everyone knows that. But now a big part of their invincible image has become that pile of cash. It's no longer completely fluid, it has become an essential holding. Besides, the death of a thousand paper cuts is perhaps more likely than a big wound. So add up X-Box subsidies, third-world givaways, European givaways, (Norway, anyone?) and no doubt some 'License V6 adjustments' to keep customers in the fold, and it's going to be tough to keep that wad of cash.

      That cash is also only part of the image. The Gates trip to Peru chips away, License V6 chips away, the DOJ trial took a big chunk out, etc.
  • Ahh, I see. (Score:4, Funny)

    by sllort ( 442574 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:37PM (#3895628) Homepage Journal
    Peru: We've decided to use Free Software.
    Microsoft: Ok, here's some free Software.
  • Take it and run (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrazyDwarf ( 529428 ) <michael.rodman@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:37PM (#3895632) Homepage
    I say Peru go along with only using Open Source software, but keep Bill's gifts anyway. I don't see anything in the article about them being obligated in any way to use the stuff for a particular purpose, and I'd like to see him go into Peruvian court and try to sue to get it back.
    • Re:Take it and run (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gosand ( 234100 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:49PM (#3895745)
      I say Peru go along with only using Open Source software, but keep Bill's gifts anyway.


      "Peru's President Alejandro Toledo was at Microsoft Corp. headquarters on Monday, where he signed a deal to put the Internet into the Andean nation's schools and modernize its government."

      The key phrase here is "signed a deal". Not that I wouldn't love to see them sell off all the software on eBay to fund their Open Source initiative.

  • If you change the channel too many times in an hour, do you have to call Microsoft to have your set-top box re-activated?

  • by NotAnotherReboot ( 262125 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:39PM (#3895653)
    If we subtract the 'free' software total from that sum, how much is Microsoft actually contributing? $5?

    This seems eerily similar to that settlement involving 'free' software to public schools.
    • ``This seems eerily similar to that settlement involving 'free' software to public schools.''

      Yep. It's free until the BSA comes knocking in a year or so.

      These donations seem a bit too much like those sales pitches for DSL that tell you ``only $19.95 a month' And then, very quitely, ``after the first two months regular prices apply. Other restrictions apply.'' Accepting a donation from Microsoft is, I think, a good indication that you're either: a) soft in the head, b) a natural born sucker, or c) both a) and b).

      As you should when offered drugs: Just Say No.

      • Don't get me wrong, this particular deal is nothing short of a bribe. However, Peru is not your typical company. The BSA might seem scary to an American company, but Peru has their own military and their own laws. Peru has, in the past, expropriated entire industries stealing billions from foreign investors.

        Peru is not scared of Microsoft, Peruvian officials are simply susceptible to bribes.

  • (Pertaining to the MS living room part of the topic)

    It sounds to me like someone (Mandrake maybe?) needs to come out with a Linux distro that mates well with the Wal-Boxen [slashdot.org] that are coming out now so that a plug-and-play competitor is available. I'd sure buy one (especially if it could also be DirecTV compatible somehow). I know TiVo's out there and has fine Linux support but an open-source variation that doesn't require a monthly fee would be something I'd be interested in.
  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:45PM (#3895711) Homepage Journal
    Let me tell you all the horrors of a capitalistic economy.

    I own a lemonade stand that sells $5 lemonade. I have about 50 customers every 2 hours, giving me a nice customer base.
    You see how I'm gouging people, so you open a lemonade stand for $1, and attempt to show people how to make lemonade at home for under $1.

    I'll see what you are doing, and sell my lemonade for $0.50, which is less than it takes for you to make lemonade. For you to compete is for you to lose money. I can afford it, because I have capital sitting in a bank account. You go out of business, and I raise my price back to $5.

    This is what MS is doing!

    Its basic economics, people.
    Now, don't give me the "linux is free" angle. Use the anology, but instead of money, use familiarity with the product, and the popularity with MS products vs open source ones.
    • by Dr_LHA ( 30754 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:50PM (#3895749) Homepage

      I'll see what you are doing, and sell my lemonade for $0.50, which is less than it takes for you to make lemonade. For you to compete is for you to lose money. I can afford it, because I have capital sitting in a bank account. You go out of business, and I raise my price back to $5.

      This is what MS is doing!

      And this is why they will utimately fail against Linux. Because no matter what they do, because Linux is not owned by a particular company, because it's free and GPL'd, it will always be there as a competitor. This is what scares MS the most - they can't buy out Linux or bankrupt it.
      • And this is why they will utimately fail against Linux. Because no matter what they do, because Linux is not owned by a particular company, because it's free and GPL'd, it will always be there as a competitor. This is what scares MS the most - they can't buy out Linux or bankrupt it

        I agree with most of what you say. There's no doubt that MS is aiming all guns at Linux (and is prolly scared). There's no doubt that Linux will always survive. MS's strategy is to keep linux low-key and claim standards and popularity.

        This article is a perfect example. Get all kids to know MS, so they will be comfortable with Windows, and uncomfortable with Linux.
        • With ads on TV like:
          You know, every line of code that you write for an Open Source project is causeing the suffering of hundreds of programmers here in Redmond. (Shows lines and lines of disgusting slovenly poor programmers working 20 hours a day) These hard working americans can hardly afford the payments on their homes and audis. So please, don't use Open Source software, it's communistic, unamerican and causes countless suffering for millions.

          Seriously, a couple of years of brain washing on TV might just work for them.
      • Precisely. You may force a Free Lemonade Distributor out of business, but since this guy was giving away his recipe, another guy can come along and start selling lemonade at $1 again.

        Microsoft realise this (which is why their prices aren't going down), but they're running around like headless chickens trying to work out how to kill linux.

        Well, here's one customer that Microsoft will never have ;-)

        Lets hope that their X-Box sales losses and politician bribery will seriously deplete their billions of reserve cash.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        > And this is why they will utimately fail against Linux. Because no matter what they do, because Linux is not owned by a particular company, because it's free and GPL'd, it will always be there as a competitor. This is what scares MS the most - they can't buy out Linux or bankrupt it.

        True, but they can make it politically/economically infeasable to use it.

        Consider that if Peru's gov't accepts this ...gift..., they will have gotten all this stuff for no up-front costs - nothing they have to justify to voters. Stuff that most likely, voters already are familiar with from use of past products. Now, having all this more-or-less familiar stuff for "free", they're supposed to turn around and start a conversion effort, with a non-zero cost, and have to explain this to Peruvian voters? No, I think that the politicians there, like almost anywhere, would rather take the safe route.

        It's NOT a simple equation, Linux cost vs MS cost. There are squishy human factors in there, too, and MS well knows how to work those to its best support. MS may well be scared of Linux, but that doesn't mean they're totally helpless in its face.

        They know what to do, and they're doing it.
      • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @02:43PM (#3896281) Homepage Journal
        And this is why they will ultimately fail against Linux....

        How about.

        School wants to save money and Install Linux.
        Microsoft donates computers/software (for free) and onsite configuration. School saves money.
        Year later, contract is up, Microsoft wants to charge for new licenses. They want upgrades fees for new OS for every computer. They also want upgrade fees on m$ office updates, server software, database, etc...

        Now repeat that on a whole school district, where everything is now M$ based, and the costs to change everything away from M$ would be too great of a cost.

        Americans have a problem looking 1+ years in the future, they dont see the BRICK WALL. We seem to be a "Show me NOW" culture. We need to have our state and federal governments use open source software NOW. (There's the culture buzz word)
    • Yeah but... (Score:3, Funny)

      by malakai ( 136531 )
      Not all lemonade taste the same.

      I've had some piss-poor lemonade in my times. Maybe that 5 dollar lemonade taste better? Maybe they spent more money on sugar, or use a cold filtering processes.....

      What matters in the end, is what the user experiences. If they are refreshed, and enjoyed their 5 dollar experience, the so what if they are paying more? Thank god we aren't some poor socialist country where I have to sell my lemonade at cost in order to be a good comrade. Thank god I can make money off my countrymen, and attempt to rise above them through my own hard work (and it's hard, whether i invented lemonade or not, it's hard running the company).

      Can't afford the 5 dollar lemonade? Feel left out? Stuck with drinking government issue, or homemade lemonade? Well then, this must be an incentive for you. Incentives are rare, so put it to good use.


      • Re:Yeah but... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pi radians ( 170660 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @02:56PM (#3896406)
        Okay, I'll bite.

        So what if your $5 lemonade is awful? It gets sour quickly and has a terrible aftertaste. A few times you buy this lemonade and the glass you got it in has a hole in it and your lemonade spills out. Since this $5 lemonade company has removed all other competition through "hard work" and now demandes that instead of charging for every glass, now you are charged for every sip you take.

        Not only that, but in the future this $5 lemonade company won't let you but anything else except for their lemonade in that glass. So your stuck, paying for every sip of lemonade and then being forced to drink more and therefore buying more.

        Yeah, that great. Because this lemonade (with that extra sugar that you can't remove from it) has given you cavities. And since you live in a non-socialist country that allowed the lemonade maker to thrive no matter how corrupt their practices are they have destroyed all other alternatives. By now they also own the water stand and are probably your dentist.

        So thumbs up to you dude. Great insight on it all.
    • This is what MS is doing!

      Not really. Microsoft's monopoly power in the software market is mostly due to the barriers-to-entry, and not due to the ability to undercut pricing by taking a loss on manufacturing. Current barriers include (but are not limited to):
      • startup costs - it costs a lot of money and time to develop a software "product." Remember that "Open Source != "free." It also takes money to set up for packaging and pressing disks and advertising, to get sufficient product to market and in the public eye while it's still "fresh."
      • currently installed user base - users already familiar with and using one product will prefer it to other products unless they are substantially "better," because of the learning curve and capital already invested. "Better" can be either a) same functionality at a lower price, or b) higher functionality, at a price determined by user experience with current products.
      If Microsoft was really using their monopoly power to undercut pricing by "dumping" - that is, buy selling at a loss, they would be charging less than the couple of bucks for cds and books that it costs them to make and ship a product now, assuming they've already recovered their development expenses. And before you try to counter with the idea that OEMs get some products (OS, maybe some productivity tools) for almost free, remember that MS probably ships them 1 or 2 copies of the products, in CD or data tapes or whatever form, for them to pre-install on their systems, and then also charges them for "backup" media for each machine, unless the OEMs are licensed to make their own backup media, etc.
    • The problem with this is that Linux not only has a lower price, but it costs far less to fund Linux development than Windows development. That's why Ballmer is going around giving interviews in which he admits that Microsoft is no longer the discount solution. Even with $40 billion in the bank Microsoft can't buy off enough customers to force Free Software vendors out of business (especially when you start talking about IBM and their Linux push). Well, they probably could do it, but not without spooking investors on Wall Street. Since Microsoft management is heavily invested in Microsoft, you can bet that they won't do anything to upset the short term stock price, even if it would be good for Microsoft in the long run.

      Microsoft's edge is that they aren't selling a commodity like lemonade. Ripping out Microsoft requires that you learn how to use some other system, which can be very expensive. However, this sort of momentum only carries you so far.

    • I'll see what you are doing, and sell my lemonade for $0.50, which is less than it takes for you to make lemonade. For you to compete is for you to lose money. I can afford it, because I have capital sitting in a bank account. You go out of business, and I raise my price back to $5.

      There is one slight problem with this analogy. "Capital-F" Free Software is immortal. It cannot die. There is no business to kill off, there is no way to make the software go away, and there is no way to undercut them (except to actually *pay* your customers to use your software, which is what Microsoft is doing here).

      Logically speaking, you will eventually drain away your capital while trying to best "small-F" free software and go bankrupt yourself.
  • According to the other tidbit of information the Windows XP Media Center is going to cost around $1000 - $2000. What can it possibly offer that you couldn't get with a normal PC? I just put an awesome (in my opinion) computer for somebody for around $1,500 with DVD burner and flat screen monitor. Take out the monitor and it comes to a little under $1,000. Just plug it into the TV instead... it just sounds like the media center is going to be a console type thing almost to me... I'm just not seeing the pricing benefits of this machine although I don't see any specs either...

    But really... would need much more than maybe a low GHZ P4, with like... 512 MB of ram, a sound card, a decent video card, and a few other minor things to have a media center? Can anybody find anything else about this? Otherwise you might as well just buy a dreamcast... it can play Video CD's, MP3's, check your e-mail, etc... the only thing it can't do is burn CD's and play DVD's...
    • I hope that price is correct - the real danger is that MS makes the media center dirt cheap - you can't afford NOT to have one. They replace everyones VCR / Etc with a system that doesn't work unless it has tons of 'copy protection' in place. MS could very quickly become the gatekeeper between the user and home entertainment.

      When was the last time 'copy protection' actually stopped 'copying' (i.e. large scale bootleg CD factories) instead of presenting an inconvenience to the end user (i.e. your new 'protected' cd wont play in your mac).
      • ``I hope that price is correct - the real danger is that MS makes the media center dirt cheap - you can't afford NOT to have one.''

        I hope he's right about that cost too. Combine that with the recent story about the TV networks wanting to place ads on the bottom part of the screen during the broadcasts and you'll have people turning off their TVs in HUGE numbers. Who'll need a Microsoft Media Center then?

        Besides, if I had $1000-$2000 to spend on entertainment hardware, a set top box wouldn't even be on my list. Hell, I'm down to about 4-5 hours per week of TV anyway. (Now rented movies are another thing altogether :-) ) What benefit would anyone's set top box provide to me?

    • But really... would need much more than maybe a low GHZ P4, with like... 512 MB of ram, a sound card, a decent video card, and a few other minor things to have a media center?

      I've been running a media center off my celeron 433, 128 ram, SBlive, and a low end agp card w/tv-out for years now. Total cost these days: maybe $100. It handles every type of media format I can throw at it just fine. Toss in a $200 160GB harddrive and I'd have more storage than I know what to do with.

      Why can't someone come up with something like this for the mass consumer market? Oh yeah.. XP runs like absolute crap unless you're in the Ghz range.

  • There's a good story on Advogato [advogato.org] about just this thing, provides more info about the current state of play.
    (Unfortunately the 3rd, and most informative, comment is by a guy miffed that /. didn't accept his story!)
  • Remember when everyone first discovered that if you call to cancel AOL, they give you several months free just so you don't leave? I can see a lot of governments learning from Peru's example: "Hey, if we express interest in going Open Source, Microsoft will give us tons of shit for free we'd otherwise have to pay millions of dollars for!"

    This would be entertaining at least.
  • ...give the customer a few free samples, get 'em hooked into the product and then that customer REALLY starts to pay.

    If the Peruvians fall for this, they deserve what happens to them: Forever paying premium dollars for really lousy products from a compamy with an exceptionally bad attitude.

  • by Carl ( 12719 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @01:54PM (#3895781) Homepage
    See also the following article on advogato: The positive things happening in Peru [advogato.org]

    One of the comments links to a article with a picture of the president and Bill Gates: PRESIDENTE TOLEDO SUSCRIBE CONVENIO CON BILL GATES [24horas.com.pe]

  • Does 'media center' sound like apple's 'digital hub' to anyone else? heh. When you can't innovate, rebrand and copy.

  • Did you folks see that screenshot of the "simple interface"? That thing looks more like the menus on my parents' satellite TV service than a computer interface. Note the preinstalled categories ("My TV," "My Music," etc.), as if "My Documents" and "My Computer" weren't bad enough.

    Also, did anybody else catch the marketroid jargon in the puffy-poo press release at microsoft.com? Wow, how many times can they use the word "freedom" in six column inches anyway? This from the same company who's pushing Palladium.

    And what was that about a computer going from being "a tool for productivity" (ok, if you say so) to being "a device capable of entertainment, communications and so much more." I don't like either term in that zero-sum equation. (Can't we just define computers as tools or something and leave "productivity" [whatever that's supposed to mean, really] out of it?) It's a little agendist for my taste, and all of that agenda is (natch) Microsoft. (Pardon me for stating the obvious.)

    I hate to lapse into darkly paranoid hypotheses here, but is this yet another multitentacled strategy to turn the Internet into TV with fewer moving parts? I don't think I like either term in that zero-sum equation, either...especially since I happen to like being able to create my own content (and look at whatever I want whenever I want), and I mostly quit doing TV years ago.
  • About $550,000 in money, software and consulting services?!

    How generous to give up $20 dollars, 50 copies of XP and 3 hours of tech support.
  • I suggest we go with one of these alternatives

    (B)Blue Screen Republics
    (C)Bill-me Republics
    (D)Restart Republics

    In addition we should probably start to redefine
    politics through the mouse, i.e are you a
    right-click fascist or a left-click anarchist?

    (I would have suggested Mouse-Republic, but that option was taken long ago by the great god Disney....)

    Microsoft "who do we want to own today?"

  • Media Center (Score:2, Interesting)

    Windows XP Media Center == TiVo on steroids

    Seriously, this is nothing new. It is also not a "Personal Computer." I wonder how M$ will handle the copyright issues with recording TV programs, or even if they will allow you to edit out the commercials.

    All in all, they are just taking a "PC" and further limiting its usage. No thanks, I think I'll pass on that one.

  • saw it coming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr. Awktagon ( 233360 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @02:08PM (#3895902) Homepage

    Ah I wish I could find the earlier comment were I said this is exactly what would happen in Peru. Well, no matter, this the usual Microsoft tactic. It worked in Mexico, now Peru. Will it work in Norway, a wealthier nation?

    Must be nice to be able to print your own money like that: here's 1,000 CD copies of MS Foobar Pro, each worth $5,000 !! So we just made a donation of $5,000,000 and it's tax deductible (not that we pay taxes). And they'll still have to pay for upgrades. Beautiful! Let's see Open Source beat that!!

    • Re:saw it coming (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wfrp01 ( 82831 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @02:57PM (#3896426) Journal
      here's 1,000 CD copies of MS Foobar Pro, each worth $5,000 !! So we just made a donation of $5,000,000 and it's tax deductible (not that we pay taxes)

      That's a good point. Who's calculating the value of this donation? Microsoft. Based on what? The retail shelf price?

      Donations should be valued according to what it costs the vendor to provide them. Peru is not giving MS upteen million dollars. MS is not providing Peru with software that they could have sold somewhere else. They are simply printing money.

      Since congress is so hot-to-trot about corporate oversight these days, maybe they should take a closer look at this particular form of bullshit accounting.
      • Re:saw it coming (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jsac ( 71558 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @03:12PM (#3896582) Journal
        [H]ere's 1,000 CD copies of MS Foobar Pro, each worth $5,000 !! So we just made a donation of $5,000,000 and it's tax deductible (not that we pay taxes)
        Open Source can beat this, using the same bullshit accounting. Just donate 1,000 CD copies of Mandrake Peruvian Gold Edition -- market price, whatever you want it to be.
    • Tax law does not allow you to take deductions on the retail price of your donations -- only the actual cost. In this case, it would be the cost of media. Of course, how you value the donation in press releases doesn't have to be related to how you value it to the IRS.
  • Frankly, anti-MS zealotry aside, I want an MS media centre.

    I've been toying with the idea of a media hub style PC for several months now but several things have stood in my way. My Wife hates Linux; She knows what almost any penguinista will ignore, that MS products are easier to use than Linux products.

    I've also been having difficulty overcoming the need for a wireless keyboard and mouse cluttering up the coffee table. Add to that the difficulty in finding software that will work just fine at 640x480 on a TV screen and I'm glad that MS is doing this.

    If anything, it will inspire a whole bunch of hackers to produce a GPL'd competitor. I also hope it means people will start thinking about GUIs specifically designed for media hubs (i.e. Burning, recording, playlists etc etc)

    Of course, it won't work with my digital cable box or my neighbour's digital satellite box. It'll probably speed the **AA's of this world into crypto encoding TV, Radio et al to be non-recordable by these new hubs.

    The media hub is a really complex piece of kit. Recording and managing (music|video) files and playlists isn't easy. Add the complexity of networking, removable devices, offline storage or burning, the ever present digital rights management and making it all easy to use? That's not a job I want to undertake :-)

    If the end game of this is a true standards based (i.e. works with firewire and ethernet) media hub then I'm all for it. I just hope I can add hard drives to it whenever I want...
  • How can a company (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pmz ( 462998 )
    get away with dumping its products on a nation to force that nation to adopt its products? Why do countries say nationalistic things about adopting non-Microsoft software and, then, just go back to using Microsoft software?

    How can Microsoft be so proud of being so obviously a pimp?
  • by 4444444 ( 444444 ) <4444444444444444 ... 444444@lenny.com> on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @02:21PM (#3896001) Homepage
    M$ found a way to fight free software. They give thier software away. I wonder how long they can stay in buisiness with this strategy?
    • This has been their strategy for a long time, just in a slightly different form.

      All those years they looked the other way while people and some companies ran illegal copies of Windows. That was essentially the same thing as giving it away.

      Then Windows was everywhere, and it became time to start turning the screws to squeeze money out of the entities using the illegal copies-- they fired off 'audit warnings' and sent in the BSA jackboots. Next thing you know, all those illegal copies have turned into legitimate licenses because Windows was too deeply ingrained and could not easily be removed.

      Now they just give away free copies of their stuff... those free licenses are not perpetual, the next round of 'manufactured-need' upgrades will have to be paid for-- but by then the Windows tentacles will have established their death-grip and the most hassle-free way to go forward will be to just pay them. Customer laziness has been Microsoft's best friend in the establishment of their market dominance.

      It really and truly is the 'first one's free, and you can't BEGIN to imagine the cost down the line' "dope dealer" method, as others have posted earlier in this discussion.

  • Donations (Score:3, Interesting)

    by loconet ( 415875 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @02:23PM (#3896035) Homepage

    How many people here have actually read the article? Everyone is going off about how this MS move will keep quiet any Nunez-like responses against Microsoft. This is an agreement towards Peru's education system, not government institutions which is what the bill addresses. Now, yes most educational institutions are controlled by the government in Peru but there are enought non educational governmental institutions left for an M$free world. Now lets just hope Nunez steps up to the plate once again and makes sure that happens.

  • re: Micro$oft donating $500K in free software and consulting services to Peru.

    Isn't this what a pusher does when a junkie tries to come clean? Give the junkie a free hit to keep him hooked.
  • Did people really think that after everyone made a big deal of Villanueva's letter to MS, that MS was going to stand by and watch Peru dump MS products and start using Open Source projects? When people make a big deal about some anti-MS happening, that is going to make MS even more adamant about jumping into the issue and "fixing" their reputation.
  • Kinda reminds me of the "Good Old Days"

    I had an Apple ][e with a Color RGB monitor, and I got a seperate TV tuner for Xmas with RCA hookups. I could flip a switch and 'watch TV on my computer'. Audio was routed through my stereo.

    Later, when I got a VCR (you know, the 150lb top load ones!),
    I was able to RECORD TV 'on my computer' :P

  • by Tetsujin28 ( 156148 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @02:53PM (#3896384) Homepage

    Bill Gates is desperate to keep Peru on his side, so he can finish his high-tech mountain stronghold lair high in the Andes. He's still jealous of Dr. Evil's hollow volcano.

  • "How convenient."
  • I have an idea, looking at the screenshots of the XP media center, that a few Photoshop'ed images of a copy of the XP start screen (with no yellow ducky for good luck this time around), with some highlighted buttons are not a product. This is just usual Microsoft "try to capture the market before it exists" FUD, much the same as Hailstorm and .Net were vapourware for an enourmous period of time before something actually materialised. Microsoft, by their own admission as of yesterday, is very worried that upstart Apple could have 8% marketshare instead of the 3 to 4% it now has.

    As for Peru, $500 000 is somewhat less than the $150 million that Microsoft gave to the South African government a while ago. I wonder if that reflects on the level of Cash that Microsoft eventually expects to get back from the 50% of South Africa's population that is actually employed, usually at wages of around $350/month? Or is it because Microsoft feels that they have a better chance of owning South African politicians?
  • Here in Peru (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kz ( 4332 )
    First: I'm peruvian, programmer by trade, mostly on Mac systems. And on the last few years i've integrated a lot of Linux servers on my recommendations.

    A big point in the presidential campain of the current president was a 'modernizing the schools' project. In practice that only means get a big donation of PCs on the schools and some software to run on it. Ah, also make sure there's a phone line somewhere to get online (yes, mostly with POTS modems)

    So, it's not surprising that M$ wants to be the one providing the software. Get the kids tinking windows==pc==computer, and internet==IE

    not only that, but the local IT industry will have to be 'compatible' with whatever is everywhere, so that's who will pay: any company that wants to do anything with this will have to have M$ systems.

    It was absolutely improbable to get the Free Software law approved. Nobody (I mean NOBODY) in the goverment would try to get rid of existing software. It just won't work. The first time they get a .doc file, they'll boot windows and forget about freedom, virus threats, spycode, etc.

    what would be possible (but still difficult) and much more important would be to require all documents in an open format. the Villanueva proposal mentions that, but briefly.

    I can't imagine a government-paid sysadmin saying to M$ (or any big software company) "I want your software but only if it's Open Source". But I can imagine saying "I want your software but only if it uses open format documents".

    And M$ could reply "no problem, use RTF" and hope they'll forget and use .doc (so that we would be still locked)
  • 1. Create new Linux distro - "PERUnix" for the sake of argument.

    2. Burn CD's.

    3. Charge $1 million per CD.

    4. Donate over $100 million worth of software to Peru, far exceeding MS "generosity". Point them to support groups to provide the equivlient of services offered.
  • Using the CIA Factbook for 2001 the US economy is 81 times the size of Peru's the this equates to about 40 and a half million dollars in terms of its percentage of the country's income.

    Scaled to GDP per capita it's about 4 million. Statistics: you pay your money, ya takes your pick.


    • Except that it still takes a given units of dollars to deliver a given unit of computing regardless of your standard of living. If MS gave money to Malawi it would be the equivalent to 1 year's income for every man, woman and child but that doesn't make the effect of computing on their lives any bigger or smaller.

      BTW BillG is worth ~the same as Peru.
      • Except that it still takes a given units of dollars to deliver a given unit of computing regardless of your standard of living.

        That's why I think the larger figure is a better guide as it relates to what the government would have had to remove from other programmes (such as social security and housing). The 550K will, as you say, only buy 550K worth of computing but the 550K saved will have a much bigger effect on the government's budget in other areas.

        Of course, an even bigger win would be to save all the money they currently pay MS.


  • by apt142 ( 574425 )

    MS has done this with companies in the United States as well. I work at a non-profit. We have very little funds. And, MS donates a lot of software to our organization. Because, I believe if they didn't we'd look more for open source solutions.

    Now, they aren't making a dime off of it in the short run. But, they are keeping employees here well trained in the MS apps.

  • Great. Someone managed to convince the Peruvian president that having the internet in their schools will make their country a better place to live. I wonder what Peru will be like if this donation makes the Peruvian legislature decide to adopt Microsoft software as the sole product used on the government. Well, personally, I think it won't be anything good.

    One doesn't have to read too many education-related journals to find studies that indicate that introducing high-technology solutions into schools rarely produces the end result touted by the people who push for it. The problems in education are hardly due to a lack of high-tech. But that doesn't stop companies like Microsoft who see a donation as a tax-free means of indoctrinating future customers.

    In the long run, I suspect that it'll pretty much kill any software industry that Peru might now have or hope to have. (Perhaps an ulterior motive on MS's part, eh?). The country will wind up spending a fortune on keeping current with new Microsoft products. Money that would have been much better spent on improving other things in Peru. Then, some years from now, the Peruvian government will be asking themselves why things aren't any better than they were in 2002. Maybe they'll come to the realization that they would have been much better off listening to Dr. Nunez, adopting a technology that would have put the country in a much better position to develop a local industry (one that could have possibly resulted in creating jobs exporting software and/or services to neighboring countries), and helping themselves than the course they did follow of taking the easy way out and accepting Microsoft's self-serving generocity. All for the immediate gratification of having a PC in the classroom with software created by the richest man in the world. (For some bureaucrats this is, apparently, a feeling that's better than sex.)

    It's the old ``Give a man a fish...'' concept. This donation doesn't help Peru do anything more than (eventually) send money to the MS (for upgrades, etc.) and to be consumers instead of creators.

    Note: Before anyone slams me for being anti-Microsoft (true as that may be ;-) ), it's more of a case of being anti-sleazy-corporation. I know of other large corps that go through these motions of wanting to help out in the third-world through programs like this MS donation and it's all a sham. When you listen closely to what they propose (and you won't hear it in a press release ; someone would catch on.), you find that what they're really after is getting XYZ Corp. seen as a nice bunch of people who the locals will eventually turn to when they finally have enough money to spend. There's no altruism there at all; it's all PR directed toward increasing market share. After you hear a couple of these presentations it makes you sick.

  • by Cinabrium ( 571473 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2002 @07:43PM (#3898393)
    I'm not currently authorized to reveal my sources, but have some first hand information about the events surrounding Peru/MS case that could help to clarify things a little bit. The process of countering Dr. Villanueva's bill had several escalation steps; some of them saw the light, and some others didn't. I guess it's time to tell what I know.
    1. Dec 14 2001 - Dr. Villanueva introduces the Bill.
    2. Mar 06 2002 - Public Forum in the House of Congress (attendance > 500), chaired by the President of the Congress.
    3. Mar 08 2002 - Universidad Nacional de Tumbes, a public university in Northwestern Peru, communicate their official support to the bill.
    4. Mar 19 2002 - First counterattack: the Peruvian Software Producers Association (APESOFT)'s Chairman objections to the proposed Bill in "Gestion", a local newspaper.
    5. Mar 20 2002 - Reply by Dr. Villanueva, in the same newspaper
    6. Mar 25 2002 - Second counterattack - The now infamous letter of MS-Peru's General Manager to Dr. Villanueva
    7. Apr 08 2002 - The well known reply of Dr. Villanueva
    8. May 20 2002 - Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria (second largest public university in Peru, specialized in engineering and science) gives official support to the Bill.
    9. May 27 2002 - Third counterattack - The American Chamber of Commerce of Peru (AmCham) sends a letter to the President of the Congress, opposing the bill. Same arguments as MS ones, plus some diplomatic threats as "...negative signals to private investments..." and Godzilla will eat our children.
    10. Jun 07 2002 - Dr. Villanueva replies AmCham's letter.
    11. Jun ?? 2002 - Fourth counterattack - Conversations, informal talks and "occasional meetings" of U.S. Ambassador Hamilton wih several high-ranked Peruvian officials, reminding them the dangers of approving the Bill.
    12. Jun 11 2002 - Fifth counterattack - Letter from the Prime Minister, enclosing a memo of the head of the e-government project objectioning the bill. Same arguments as MS ones, plus "...negative impact in the process of renewing the APTA (Andean Trade Preference Agreement", plus the usual seven plagues of Egypt. Mr. Bermudez, the e-government guy, is known as being closely related to MS. Mr. Dañino, the former Prime Minister, is a lawyer whose law firm has MS-Peru as one of its most prominent clients
    13. Jun 25 2002 - Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (the largest public university in Peru and the oldest in America [est. 1551]) gives official support to the Bill.
    14. Jul 15 2002 - Sixth Counterattack - President Toledo's pilgrimage to Seattle, to receive the 30 coins (or less) from the hands of Mr. Gates

    Except Mr. Hamilton's talkings, which were not recorded AFAIK, there is written evidence of all the facts stated above.

    In addition, let me point out that, if Microsoft is pricing its consulting services at the same rate it did for their agreement [granvalparaiso.cl] with the Chilean Ministry of Education, the $550K "donation" means just 5000 person/hours of consulting.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents