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Namibia Says "No Thanks" To Microsoft Donation With Strings 700

The Register posted an update about Namibia's SchoolNet, Microsoft "donations", and what looks like Namibia final decision. Apparently, MS's "donated" contributions would have been so small (and would have required such a large investment in OS licenses), that SchoolNet Namibia found it wasn't even worth bothering with. A very interesting article.
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Namibia Says "No Thanks" To Microsoft Donation With Strings

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  • Typical MS (Score:5, Funny)

    by ChaoticLimbs ( 597275 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:48PM (#4575711) Journal
    Microsoft will never give away valuable items. That's why they are giving away Windows.
    • Re:Typical MS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Darth Coder ( 579139 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:53PM (#4575738)
      Did you actually read the article?

      MS was giving them $2000 worth of copies of Office, but they would have been required to spend $9000 in order to buy Windows to use it!
      • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:16PM (#4575847) Homepage Journal
        MS was giving them $2000 worth of copies of Office

        Oooh!! 5 whole copies!!!!
      • Re:Typical MS (Score:4, Offtopic)

        by dacarr ( 562277 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:31PM (#4575922) Homepage Journal
        At last count, one copy of the MS Office package for students was $300. For price comparison sake, WordPerfect 8 sold at Fry's for about this much back in 1998 - this was the full version.

        At any rate, assuming that the price scheme still stands, $2000 worth of this in California would buy you 6 copies of the software, tax inclusive, and you'd probably have enough for dinner at a nice place with your wife.

        (Note: I have not priced Microsoft software since 1998, as I've not had the need.)

        • Re:Typical MS (Score:4, Informative)

          by CheechBG ( 247105 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:05PM (#4576066) Homepage
          A small update for you then:

          At college bookstores, Office XP can be had for 20 bucks, in some places. Right now, MSFT has an initiative to sell student/teacher versions of Office XP (with PowerPoint added, it's not in the Standard versions) for US$149.97. I think the "burden of proof" is set on the buyer to verify that they are actually a student or teacher, but anyone can pick up the software off the shelf and buy it.
          • Re:Typical MS (Score:3, Redundant)

            by Malcontent ( 40834 )
            Buying education version when you are not a student is exactly like pirating it. Why not jut pirate it and call it a day? Does it really ease your conscience to buy education version illegally?
            • Re:Typical MS (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Lumpy ( 12016 )
              Exactly, a non student (if you aren't currently enrolled in college courses, you are NOT a student by their definition) your software is ILLEGAL and you are a thief. That also means, that as soon as you graduate, you must STOP USING IT, and you really cant use it on your summer break if you take one...

              People need to actually READ the eulas they agree to... they would stop supporting microsoft in any way if they actually read what they are agreeing to.

              (NOTE: this is the legal definition of a student as is regarded in legal contracts... the microsoft EULA does NOT specifically say anything but the fact that you must be a studen to use that student version... and you stop being a student the second you aren't registered for classes.)
          • this is true (Score:3, Informative)

            by b17bmbr ( 608864 )
            i am a grad student at cal state northridge, working on an MA in education. the ed dept. has a deal with m$ where by we can get office for $15-20 once per year. we must show our schedule to the bookstore manager, then we have to sign a sheet, they record the item number or something, then we get a cheap cd.

            what is most disgusting about this is that not only do they sell it for the mac, the professors require that we submit docs in .ppt or .doc format.

            trying to promote open source software is so hard when "office is 20 bucks". let me tell you, it sucks. it should be so obvious what m$ is doing.
          • NOT for $20! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by gunnk ( 463227 ) <gunnk@mail.fpg.u ... u minus caffeine> on Friday November 01, 2002 @09:15AM (#4577473) Homepage
            As far as I know, there is nowhere that MS Office only costs $20. Here at UNC-Chapel Hill, I can pay $20 for the "media duplication costs" at the Student Stores to get a copy of Office.

            UNC, however, ponies up several hundred thousand dollars every year to pay for the site license that lets me do that. Sure, I don't pay for a license at the checkout counter: students pay for it in their tuition and departments see it paid for out of the university IT budget -- which I'd rather see spent on infrastructure than on pushing MS software!
        • Re:Typical MS (Score:3, Informative)

          by cscx ( 541332 )
          At my school, you can obtain WinXP Professional, Office XP Professional, and FrontPage 2002 each for $5, and Visual Studio.NET for $10. That's almost $2000 worth of software (full, licensed versions) for about $25. Not bad, even for students.
          • Re:Typical MS (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ictatha ( 201773 ) <mike@nepsystem s . com> on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:11AM (#4576347)
            I guessing you also had to pay tuition... How much was that?

            Don't get me wrong... I'm sure you probably paid much less for that software than you would've otherwise... But I highly doubt that your total cost was only $25. Universities pay a lot for those Microsoft campus agreements, and the money they pay for it with comes from somewhere, either your tuition/fees, or your tax dollars. (unless a rich Alumni/'Partner'/etc. donated the money, then you may be off the hook, and getting a deal)
            • Re:Typical MS (Score:3, Interesting)

              by 26199 ( 577806 )

              At Cambridge in the UK, all the computer science students get Windows XP absolutely free... as well as Visio, .NET junk, and a few other bits and pieces. I severely doubt the university paid them anything for it... it's pretty obvious that Microsoft wants to make sure we're all programming under their OS.

              Then again, we also have a new building to house the computer science department... called... the William Gates building. I kid ye not. Paid for in its entirety by Microsoft, in return for which they got to name it, and that's it.

              Microsoft seem to be quite happy to spend money when they think it'll give them an advantage in the future... really, it's odd that they proposed such a lousy deal here.

      • by gotr00t ( 563828 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:18AM (#4576369) Journal
        In the business world, Microsoft's behavior would be considered business smarts, but in the real world, which is filled with morals and people with feelings, Microsoft is being a jerk, being hostile to people.

        This is just an example of how Microsoft is ignoring all morals and what is right just to earn some money. Although this is an isolated case, their "Office XP for students" is a much more broad case of how M$ manages to ignore morals to earn money. Sure, it's cheaper than regular Office, but that's not saying much, as regular Office is already ludicrously expensive. The student edition costs well over 100 US dollars. Let me get this straight - something THIS expensive was intended for students? And this is considered amnesty? I find it disgusting.

        Sure, there are other packages out there for students that cost a lot, like Mathematica, which has a student edition that costs the same as Office for students, but the regular edition is well over several thousand dollars. Consider that in a ratio. Moreover, while the essential features of Office have been claimed by other word processors, Mathematica is unparalleled in functionality by any other calculation package in existance.

        In conclusion, this is predictable old Microsoft behavior - overlooking almost all morals, disguising it as an act of charity, while earning massive amounts of profit.

      • by fwarren ( 579763 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @05:01AM (#4576980) Homepage
        The point being, these folks in Africa have a good plan. Take a nice new box, load it with Linux and some good software, and then network 20 cruddy boxes to run as dumb terminals.

        A local person should be able to keep or replace crap boxes to keep 20 workstations going. The server should run well, and should be maintainable remotely over their internet connection.

        Sounds like a good use of manpower, equimpent and finances.

        What does Microsoft offer to compete with this? The need for 20 laptops hooked to a server that just does file, printsharing and providing an internet connection.

        • They require the purchase of 20 copies of windows.
        • They require a local tech at each school who can handle keeping 20 laptops running windows operational.
        To sumarize, Namibia is using a free OS, cheep throw away computers, requiring very little technical support and a server than can be administered remotely.

        What is the best MicroSoft has to offer? The need for a full time on site tech support person. $2000.00 in Free Software that will only cost them $9000.00 in additional software to use, and the need to expend what little budget they had planned on using for servers instead to buy workstations that would be better replaced by dumb terminals.

        Maybe this is what Microsoft is talking about when they say the only way they can compete with Linux is by offering more value for the money spent on their products.

        Bart Bucks are not legal tender

    • by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw@snk[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:54PM (#4576015) Journal
      I expect that Microsoft's Proposal looked something like this:

      30TH OF OCTOBER 2002


      I am MR. Steven Ballmer, the Chief Executive officer at Microsoft Corporation in the United States of America. I am writing you this letter to ask for your support and cooperation to carrying this business opportunity in my corporation. We discovered abandoned the sum of US$6700 (six thousand seven hundred united states dollars) of Microsoft Software licenses in an account that belonged to one of our foreign customers,an American Larry Ellison, an software merchant of America who died along with his entire family of a wife and two children in a Air Transat Airbus (A310-300) flight KQ430 in November2000.

      Since we heard of his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come over and put claims for his software licenses as the heir, because we cannot release the licenses from his account unless someone applies for a new windows product activation code as the next of kin to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines. Unfortunately, neither his family member nor distant relative has appeared to claim the said fund. Upon this discovery, I and other officials in my department have agreed to make business with you release the total amount into your account as the heir of the fund since no one came for it or discovered either maintained account with our company, other wise the software will be returned to the government as death taxes.

      We have agreed that our ratio of sharing will be as stated thus: 30% for you as foreign partner making your share about $2000 and 70% for us the officials in my department. Upon the successful completion of this transfer, my colleague and I will come to your country and mind our share. It is from our 60% we intend to import computer accessories into my country as way of recycling thefund. To commence this transaction we require you to immediately indicate your interest by calling me or sending me a fax immediately on the aboveTelefax # and enclose your private contact Telephone #, Fax #, full nameand address and your designated banking co- ordinates to enable us fileletter of claim to the appropriate department for necessary approvalsbefore the transfer can be made.

      Note also, this transaction must be kept strictly
      confidential becauseof its nature. NB: Please remember to give me your Phone and Fax No .

      MR.Steven Ballmer.
      • by rampant mac ( 561036 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:54AM (#4576486)
        Actually, it would've looked more like:

        30TH OF OCTOBER 2002



        I am MR. Steven Ballmer,

        WHhhhhhooooooooooooo, yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, wooooooooooo, AAAAhhhhhhhhhh

      • by tshak ( 173364 )

        Don't you find it ironic that thier address is, "One Microsoft Way"?
  • No wonder ol' Bill got so damn rich.

    This Namibia "donation" was definitely some major snake oil, kind of like a car dealership altering their engines to only run on a "new" in-house gasoline that's five-times more expensive than everything else.
  • Yeesh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Eccles ( 932 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:49PM (#4575718) Journal
    No wonder Gates has more money than God. ...and less shame than the Devil, apparently.
  • by bpd1069 ( 57573 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:50PM (#4575721) Homepage
    Here is the letter [] itself...
    • Having read both this letter, and the one by Villanueva, it appears to me that officials of Namibia and Peru are not such fools as Microsoft arrogantly supposed. They are not backwoods rubes, but highly educated individuals. In fact, in Namibia's case, the use of English was positively breathtaking!

      When I contrast this with the fools we in America appear to prefer to elect, I get positively discouraged.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:50PM (#4575722)
    In other news, linux gives nothing to Nambia.
  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:53PM (#4575739)
    Perhaps Microsoft got wind of the hundreds of millions in locked-up foreign exchange that I'm helping a Mr. Jomo Kenwatta get out of the country (for a modest few mill thrown my way for my trouble, of course.) If the Namibians have that kind of dough lying around, they shouldn't be grousing about a few bucks for licenses.
    • by K-Man ( 4117 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:50PM (#4575999)
      Dear Mr. Jomen,

      I am an officer at a large American software company, in charge of shipping software to our customers overseas. Unfortunately, one of these customers, a US Special Forces Commando, paid a large sum for our Office 2000 product, but passed away without naming an heir to receive this valuable software. According to company regulations, I cannot keep this software for myself, but if a suitable foreign customer (such as yourself) is found, I will be able to transfer the sale to you with no cost, in order to meet our company's stringent quarterly profit goals. If you are willing to receive this software confidentially, we will both benefit, but we must act quickly to meet our sales deadline.

      All that I need from you to accomplish this sale is the presentation of your Windows 2000 licenses, as the original contract requires. If you do not possess these, I can assist you in acquiring them for a modest sum.

      Yours Truly,

      Mr. Ferreira
      Chief Ethics Officer
      Foreign Floppy Disk Desk
      Microsoft Corporation
  • by SourKAT ( 589785 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:53PM (#4575740)
    Namibia: I need a vehicle I could drive from home to work. Micorosft: I'll give you free floormats but you have to buy 6 cars.
  • by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:57PM (#4575755) Homepage
    Now, in addition to "jumbo shrimp," "military intelligence," and other legends, we have "Microsoft charity."

    What is it with these guys? Are they crazy like a fox, arrogant, or just dumb? Is Microsoft really that worried about market share in impoverished Africa, and is it this inept at promoting itself?

    Well, three cheers for Linux, which doesn't even have a promotional budget.
    • by MonMotha ( 514624 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:13PM (#4575837)
      Didn't you forget Microsoft Works? That has got to be the biggest oxymoron of all time.
    • Re:Oxymoron Count (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ender81b ( 520454 ) <<moc.aksarbeni> <ta> <dllib>> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:20PM (#4575862) Homepage Journal
      Is Microsoft really that worried about market share in impoverished Africa, and is it this inept at promoting itself?

      You know that cracks me up. I mean Africa has a mean Per-Capita-GNP of about $2000, a AIDS infection rate reaching 30% in some countries, massive amounts of foreign debt, corrupt governments, and the list goes on-and-on. And yet microsoft is paranoid about market share. You think they would realize that it is *really* hard to get a business/non-profit organization/individual to pay 600-1200$ for the latest Microsoft Products when they can get near-equivalents for *free*. As in free. As in don't have to sacrifice the equivalent of 1 years worth of pay to buy some MS products which might be marginally better than the equivalent *Free* products. The only hope they have is giving them free software since, in all likelihood, if the organization really wants said copies of MS software they will just pirate the darn things anyways. And, hey, wouldn't you if you made 1500$ a year? Note: Don't advocate piracy or stealing, just trying to point out how inept MS strategy is.

      To: Microsoft
      From: Africa

      Subject: Quotes

      After reviewing your offering of $15,000 to connect and equip 20 computers with software - from our grand total IT budget of about 50$ - we have decided to go with the competitions offer of *FREE*. That way instead of buying your over-priced software we can actually do some good like teaching rudimentry tech skills, feeding the poor kids we teach, and maybe attracting some tech jobs to improve the future of our grandchildren. We would like to assure you that your quote was appreciated and look forward to possibly doing business with you in the future.

  • by ChaoticLimbs ( 597275 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:57PM (#4575759) Journal
    for Codeweavers' WINE and crossover office. Take the stuff from M$ amd use office in Linux or BSD.
    • by martintt ( 512215 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:30PM (#4575915)
      This sounds like a good market for the

      Solo computer []

      a neat ARM powered machine that used 8.5 watts all in (including monitor) and can be solar powered.
      Instead of 500ish watts for a standard desktop.

      No I don't work for ARM I just like their kit.

      It looks like the ultimate silent pc - no noise even in the power generation.
      Although RISC_OS isn't open source it is pretty solid and isn't part of the Evil Empire.
      • It's ARM. Install linux. (ok, hardware drivers may be an issue, but that's just a small matter of coding:)
    • Nah (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bogie ( 31020 )
      then their locked into the MS Office monopoly. Plus when Office whatever comes out and won't run via wine they'll go to back to windows.

      Much better to stick to native software like OpenOffice. Wine is a crutch that keeps you locked in a windows world. The more you use wine, the less incentive companies have to build native apps.
  • In my ideal world (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Thurn und Taxis ( 411165 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:58PM (#4575766) Homepage
    In my ideal world, people throughout Africa, India, and Asia learn and become comfortable with open-source software. Then, US corporations get sick of dealing with Microsoft's heavy-handed business practices, and finally decide to switch to open-source alternatives. Where can they find qualified employees? Surprise, the "third world", where people have been using OSOSs (open-source OSs) since they were children. This, my friends, is globalization. I'm tempted to move to Africa to unionize their computer professionals.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:01PM (#4575775)
      I'm tempted to move to Africa to unionize their computer professionals.

      And what will the three of you do after you unionize?

      • Re:In my ideal world (Score:5, Informative)

        by rueba ( 19806 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:40PM (#4575956)
        Funny, ha ha.

        Being from Tanzania, I can assure you there are more than a few computer professionals in Africa. Believe it or not, most offices actually have PCs and many have internet access, hence "computer guys" are required to maintain them.

      • Not silly -- serious (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 0x0d0a ( 568518 )
        Actually, for developing countries, tech work is a pretty reasonable field. It doesn't take a tremendous amount of experience to become a tech at the skill level that can command a salary these days. The market for IT workers in all these countries is just going to grow. As for software development, you don't need a huge amount of capital to develop software (well, I suppose it depends on your target market, but I can sit down with xemacs and gcc and and old computer and write marketable Windows or Linux software). You can also work remotely very easily, doing contract work for a company in another country.

        It's pretty well recognized that India is heading to bypass the US in software development.
  • Nice! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psx29 ( 538840 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:00PM (#4575772)
    I hope this generates a PR Nightmare for microsoft and maybe other countries will follow. Especially with quotes like this:

    Judging from this example it would appear that the obscenely rich Beast intends to use non-profit organizations in desperately poor countries to subsidize its promotional ambitions and its sales strategy.

  • by distributed.karma ( 566687 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:01PM (#4575773)
    This is preaching to the choir, and instantly earns the +5, Anti-M$ moderation. The word is Slashturbation. What good is this article on these geek media? Someone get this on mainstream news, puhleeze.
    • by megaduck ( 250895 ) <> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:12PM (#4576094) Journal

      Slashturbation. Cool. I've got a new "Word of the Day".

      While this article is definitely "Slashturbation", it's not worthless. A lot of us have been saying that Free Software will gain traction in the third world because anything else is unaffordable. This provides practical evidence of that theory, and is relevant to those of us that care about IT in developing nations or pricing models in general.

      Of course, it also gives us anti-M$ cheerleaders a warm fuzzy feeling too.

  • by Frigid Monkey ( 411257 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:01PM (#4575777) Homepage Journal
    Isn't anyone worried that there will soon be a huge glut of highly proficient African warrior Linux Geeks?

    Damnit Bill!

    We need to get those kids on Windoze machines ASAP so they can grow to fear all technology, and we can all keep our jobs.

    --sarcasm off--
  • Cost of publicity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:05PM (#4575796) Homepage
    This article mentioned something on the order of 20 *refurbished* PCs to 5 schools (100 used PCs + 5 new servers). Given that PC prices are so relatively low (I've recently put together an Athlon XP1800+ based PC for under $400) It's amazing that a billion dollar corporation is so insanely profit driven that they can't even do something out of *good will*. It must become a profit opportunity. I don't know what level of PCs these are, but the local computer show often has Pentium 233MMX machines, AMD K62/500s and similar for under $100 for the complete machine (memory, disk, cdr).

    This is precisely the reason I don't use M$ products. I started using Linux for purely practical reasons, but now it's almost equally philosophical.
    • by adosoda ( 539994 )
      Interesting that you mention this, because i was thinking the same thing. Seems as though public image isn't worth much to Microsoft (albeit this story isn't on the eleven o'clock news).

      I work at a chain of bookstores that is in similar standing with Barnes and Noble, and we'll do just about anything for the image of the company, even if that means taking a loss on some transactions to give customers a good impression of the company (in turn keeping them loyal to us)

    • Re:Cost of publicity (Score:5, Informative)

      by McCart42 ( 207315 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:57PM (#4576295) Homepage
      It's amazing that a billion dollar corporation is so insanely profit driven that they can't even do something out of *good will*. It must become a profit opportunity.

      While I know there is a separation between the actions of Microsoft and the actions of Bill Gates, Bill Gates himself has done plenty of things purely out of good will. His charity donations are interesting to me, in that he donates to causes like disease research -- rather than following the tradition of many philanthropists of yesteryear, donating mostly to public works which are subsequently named after them (I'm sure he does this too, but I believe the main focus is on international health). Note that I'm not saying there's anything wrong or selfish about that--I'd rather study in the Kelvin Smith Library than study in my dorm room, but the selflessness Gates has shown with his riches is one thing I do admire (granted, it doesn't make up for Windows ME, but nobody's perfect). Here's a pretty good cache of stories [] about his charitable donations.
    • Re:Cost of publicity (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dsoltesz ( 563978 )
      So why don't we put together a fund and donate a pile of low cost linux boxen to the Namibians?
  • by Zen Programmer ( 518532 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:14PM (#4575843)
    Microsoft recently offered to give me a free Xbox. My first response was "Sweet!" But I knew there had to be catch, so I asked the MS Rep what strings were attached. "None whatsoever," he replied, "all you have to do is pay for it."
  • by kbielefe ( 606566 ) <karl.bielefeldt+ ... com minus threev> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:22PM (#4575864)
    This article made me want to send money to Nambia right now. How much would each slashdotter have to send to equal Microsoft's $2000 (if you ignore the $9000 debit for OS licenses)?
  • by Montreal Geek ( 620791 ) <`gro.xobrebu' `ta' `cram'> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:25PM (#4575882) Homepage Journal
    If M$ had managed to get their heads out of their butts long enough to think, this could have in fact been a Bad Thing for Linux and friends.

    You see, they *could* have given the hardware and software. The cost to M$ would have been actually neglectable and they would still have achieved their real goals of locking down a poor country in their web for the future.

    The scary part is that if they had done that, then, only us geeks would have been able to see the deception; the mass media would have played along (untwittingly or not) with the marketroids' plan and portrayed M$ as a savior of struggling countries whilst ignoring the dire long-term consequences.

    Again, M$ stupitidy manages to cancel out M$ evil, and the world is a bit safer for it.

    -- MG

  • Psssst! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dieMSdie ( 24109 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:27PM (#4575897)
    Pssst! Hey, kid... c'mere!
    Here, kid... have some of this...

    No, I can't afford an MS habit.

    Awww, c'mon kid, the first hits free!

  • Good thing to do.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jsimon12 ( 207119 ) <tzzhc4@yahoo. c o m> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:29PM (#4575907) Homepage
    You know what would be a good thing to do, it would be to get the Slashdot community together and help get these people some laptops, without continued community support these guys might fall to Microsoft in the end or just fall period. Open Source is about everyone giving a little, so it would only take everyone who reads this article donating a quarter or a piece of hardware. Anyone with me on this?
  • good move namibia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GoatPigSheep ( 525460 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:31PM (#4575923) Homepage Journal
    Now lets hope the money they saved from not having to buy windows licenses goes to help starving african children. In poor countries, every penny counts, and using linux could actually save enough money to feed a village for a year.
  • Actually... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:39PM (#4575953)
    Actually the office software HAD to be worth more than $2,000. Most people don't realize that Microsoft makes A LOT more money selling Office than their OSes. One copy of Office Professional costs $560 (office max). (Yes I know that you get discounts when you buy in volumes)

    50 laptops =

    $28,000 for Office Pro
    $15,000 for XP Pro OS

    So actually, they were getting a better than getting the OS for free and having to buy Office.
  • by astrashe ( 7452 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:13PM (#4576099) Journal
    I can see why the guys in Namibia would be pissed off -- it sounds like they got jerked around.

    It doesn't change the fact that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation does an enormous amount of good in Africa and the rest of the world. Look it up if you don't believe me.

    Bill Gates is the biggest philanthropist in the history of the world, and while critics can talk about soft donations of things like software licenses, in reality he does a lot of stuff like vaccinations and grants to develop basic infrastructure in the developing world.

    He's done far more than anyone else, certainly more than me or anyone slamming him here.

    • by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:54PM (#4576280) Homepage
      I think it is important to at least consider the % of one's icome or worth to figure how charitable one is being. Bill can give away a billion dollars as easily as one of us pays for a weekend out of town. Would it change his life in the slightest? Also, many of us question the way he came into those riches -- that monopoly thing.

      Considering how much more he has than he could possibly use, and the PR problems he faces, I view his charity with some skepticism, as much as I welcome it. (Yes, he could do nothing, but we don't have to flatter him for merely being more than a complete Scrooge.)

      Maybe there are too measures of charity -- how much good it does for others, and how much good it does your soul.

      All that aside, what MS did in the present discussion sounds like just plain old bad attitude, not parsimony.
    • by Blondie-Wan ( 559212 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:57PM (#4576296) Homepage
      It doesn't change the fact that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation does an enormous amount of good in Africa and the rest of the world. Look it up if you don't believe me.

      Bill Gates is the biggest philanthropist in the history of the world, and while critics can talk about soft donations of things like software licenses, in reality he does a lot of stuff like vaccinations and grants to develop basic infrastructure in the developing world.

      Of course, it's also known that many of Bill's & Microsoft's "charitable" donations are in fact calculated exercises to buy good PR. [] It's certainly true that it does in fact do some good, but as yet, all indications are they've never done anything they didn't perceive to be in their own interests, and that includes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and all its "good works."

    • Sorry to burst your happy Bill Gate's loving bubble. Do a little research, will you...

      The "Bill and" part on that foundation's name is for PR only. It is, in fact, the MELINDA Gates Foundation. She started it, she is the one involved in it. Bill goes allong to keep his WIFE happy.

      Look up how much charitable giving Bill Gates was involved in before Melinda came along and you will see the truth of who is the charitable one in that family.

      Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.
  • by thedbp ( 443047 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:13PM (#4576100)
    i find it very funny indeed that countries who have in a way been "behind" technologically have had the unique opportunity to see how the market played out before they were able to enter it.

    it seems they were watching closely, and made some very good decisions :)

    this sort of factual and witty approach to eroding M$'s façade of being a people-oriented company (to use the politest terms i know of to describe the lecherous and filthy backstabbing techniques that have become the hallmark of their business practice) could very well pursuade governments all over the globe, even those that have, due to misfortune, been into the technology game the whole time - and playing happily by M$'s rules.

    and as a side note, did any of you check out Math Boxing? great little game :)
  • All joking aside (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:07AM (#4576330) Homepage
    When struggling countries like Namibia are motivated to avoid Microsoft, the same motivations are coming soon to a computer near you.

    We all know it is possible to use Linux as an alternative to Microsoft. Most of us are accustomed to tolerating the Microsoft OS in order to get the functionality of their office apps. As time goes by, Linux has narrowed the gap to the point where the most cost-conscious users (schools and government) are ready to jump ship. The next wave will be home users, then small business, ultimately big business.

    Ironically, conquering the piracy problem is what got the ball rolling. If Microsoft turned a blind eye toward piracy in certain key markets, they could have prevented Linux from establishing market share. Sure, they need to collect money from those who have money, but they also need to give away product to anyone who can't or won't pay. If you can't get the customer's money, you have to at least stop them from using the competitor's product.

    Microsoft talks a good game about dealing with Linux as a competitor, but look at their actions. Higher prices, "software assurance", increasingly obnoxious EULA's, all the things they might be expected to do if there was no competition. The handwriting is on the wall -- time for Bill to cash in his chips and retire.
  • by mfterman ( 2719 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:27AM (#4576576)
    Assuming the best case scenario where the school system asked for a donation and Microsoft offered a $2000 discount on what would be a $11,000 package, whoever was in charge of drafting that deal should have known that the offer was going to be refused. A nation that poor can't afford usual Microsoft prices.

    In short, Microsoft made a very dumb decision making that sort of offer. As someone else said, it's like giving a homeless person asking for a meal a fifty cent coupon off a five dollar meal. Yes, you owe the homeless person absolutely nothing but making that sort of offer is verging on an insult, and at the very least is showing incredible stupidity.

    If Microsoft had to give $2000 in free software, why not make it a smaller number of Office/Window packages? Instead of offering just Office or just Windows offer a smaller combination of both. Of course that still skips support costs and so likely would have been tossed out but hey...

    In any case, it's not hard to see why Linux is becoming increasingly popular in third world nations. In those places you practically expect Microsoft to start promoting piracy of its software just to keep Linux from becoming more entrenched.
  • by Omega Hacker ( 6676 ) <> on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:45AM (#4576619)
    Looks like Microsoft has invented a new scam, coming soon to an email box near you!
  • by Kevin Stevens ( 227724 ) <> on Friday November 01, 2002 @02:26AM (#4576733)
    It would have been interesting if they accepted the donation, and then just sold the copies of Office XP on ebay or something. They could have really outsmarted MS, if even just out of spite, rather than an intention of making a decent profit.
  • by SystematicPsycho ( 456042 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @02:49AM (#4576754)
    Is this one of those countries that refuses any form of help from anyone, even if say the EU were to donate several tonnes of wheat to help it's starving citizens? Basically taliban/N.Korean style. Or is it about money? I think if anything, RedHat should get off there arses and spread the word to 3rd world countries on open source initiatives.
  • by andhar ( 194607 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @05:25AM (#4577019)
    Maybye there is a niche market for Lindows after all!

  • Right. Having read this article I did a quick bit of background research. According to this article [], the people who are helping the Namibian SchoolNet project are a UK based charity called CODA []. They're mainly funded by the UK government, but I'm sure they wouldn't say no to donations in cash. As well as their work in Namibia CODA is active in Central America.

    CODA work with another UK charity, Computer Aid [], who refubished the machines sent to Namibia. They're looking for donations of money but they're also looking for donations of old computers [], and for volunteers to help refurbish computers [] (in London, England).

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @07:44AM (#4577265) Journal
    Namibia, being a much smaller country and more homgenous than South Africa, enable a single person to get his voice heard. His seems like a voice of reason. South Africa, whose politicians are known to not be above taking the occaisional "motivational sum of money" gladly accepted MS's similar offer ($150 Million for a country of 45 million people with about 5 million kids in school does not work out to all that much, given that Office or windows costs a bit more than $3 per copy).

    Good on Namibia. Fuck the corrupt bastards in the ANC.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor