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Microsoft Targeting Indian Developers 503

Pranjal writes "An Indian Business magazine, Business World is reporting that in it's war against Linux, Microsoft is taking the battle to the Indian developers. The logic is simple. India has 10% of the developer population of the world. If a significant number of these developers commit to work on MS platforms then the number of developers working on Linux platforms can decrease significantly and thus the number of applications. As Dilip Mistry, a director at Microsoft India's Bangalore office puts it, "This country can affect our (Microsoft's) destiny." [Quote From article] Local linux user groups are trying to counter this threat by targetting school and university students and increasing the awareness about development on a linux platform. Read the full story here. [Nice cover don't you think?]"
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Microsoft Targeting Indian Developers

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  • ...but which one's the penguin??


  • Already happened. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:32PM (#4644520) Homepage
    It's already the case that most of the programming shops in Bangalore specialize in Windows.
    • Guess what? Most of the programming shops in the US specialize in Windows too.
    • Yes, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kip Diamond ( 620384 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:58PM (#4644797) Homepage Journal
      They only specialize in Windows because Windows is pracitically free over there. In the Indian IT world, no copy protection laws are ever respected, and the Windows XP devils0wn edition runs on every computer.

      If Microsoft began enforcing copyrights strictly for Indian IT companies, then you would see quite a switch to Linux over there -- and quite possibly a boost to the hiring of American programmers with Windows skills, if the H1B training mills are shut down because of it.
  • Oh, Indian (Score:5, Funny)

    by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:32PM (#4644524)
    I first read it as Endian. I thought they were going after former 68000 developers.
  • In Related News... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gmajor ( 514414 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:33PM (#4644534) Journal
    In related news, Bill Gates is visiting India and gave $100 million to fight AIDS in India []. Although I geniuinely believe Bill Gates to be a humane person (really), _perhaps_ this action has something to do with leveraging Microsoft position in the Indian government?
    • Why would Bill Gates give $100 million of his own money to help promote Microsoft? Why wouldn't that be a donation from Microsoft? The Lord knows MS can certainly afford it.
    • Check out this story at The Register [], which basically says that "Indian Health Minister Shatrughan Sinha has lashed out at both Gates and US Ambassador Robert Blackwill, accusing them of spreading AIDS panic." Not that AIDS isn't a problem, just that they are predicting the the number of AIDS cases in 2010 as a part of scaremongering that serves no real purpose.

      I am not sure I see the real point of this article though. I don't think that Gates' donation and visit would have anything to do with gaining popularity in India, but the fact that I even considered it a possibility is scary. Have I become that paranoid of the Evil Empire?

      • That sounds like what China said up until last year - "We don't have an AIDS problem". Turns out they do, about 25 million cases worth. I imagine it'll be the same for India :-(

        The Indian government is unwilling to admit the vastness of the AIDS problem... and that's just going to screw over the entire country.
    • by malakai ( 136531 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @04:03PM (#4644845) Journal
      Jesus, this is low for even slashdot.

      The guy and his wife are pledging 100x what most countries gave to the African AIDS epidemic (Italy: 1.3million). And somehow you have to tie this to some sort of anti-linux campaign.

      Get real. The linux community over values itself if it thinks gates is going about eroding linux support by saving lives and preventing epidemics.

      You think the $250+ million he dumped into Africa was to squash the burgeoning Linux user groups starting to take hold in Kenya?

      Learn to draw the line guys. From early on the Gates Foundation has been doing about 50% of its donations to Global Health. So far that's like 2.7 billion. You don't have to like him, but you certainly don't have to belittle his philanthropic work.

      • WTG, malakai..!! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by krinsh ( 94283 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:06PM (#4645376)
        To the detractors: You know, if you hate businesspeople that much; especially those who try to give back; you need to find a country where you don't need that dollar a day in order to survive. Even communist states aren't that simple.

        I am the first to concede that Microsoft got to the top and then started knocking other people off the top by abusing their power. There is probably NO WAY to tell whether or not other powerhouses like Apple and IBM would have done the same -- on the other hand, there may be - Don Imus was talking about a book by a former IBM CEO the other day (but he was also mentioning that it seemed to be written in a vacuum; with no discernible mention of the worldwide sociopoliticeconmical situation at the time period; which is apparently the early 80s).

        It just so happens, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT, that Mr. Gates is very very rich. And you know what; even if 98% of what his company does is wrong; getting there was not as wrong as you think. And that man worked hard to get where he is; and deserves an ounce of your respect for that. There are two sides to a coin; and the very fact that he gives back in areas that many others do not or would not donate time or money towards is laudable.

        As far as "the memo" is concerned... you/we/they ARE the competition. Every Pro-Linux gathering has plans to defeat the competition that is Microsoft - or corporate greed or whatever your noble cause du jour is. So do it!

        Give Microsoft competition; give 'closed source' competition; don't just spew mindless immaturities - "Waaaaah, he gots a lollipop and I don't". Remember to ask yourself how you are going to make money giving something away for free - and DAMN you if you make only the first one free because that is the same practice you detest. And before you break out more immaturities; I use them all - Solaris, Windows, Linux - because each one has their uses depending on what or whom I'm working for. If you can get it in front of the multibillion dollar corporation and get them to adopt it as their baseline OS; then that will be my next job. I am less worried about the kind of systems I will be supporting than whether said support position will be funded next year.
        • Re:WTG, malakai..!! (Score:3, Informative)

          by JimRay ( 6620 )
          It just so happens, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT, that Mr. Gates is very very rich. And you know what; even if 98% of what his company does is wrong; getting there was not as wrong as you think. And that man worked hard to get where he is; and deserves an ounce of your respect for that.

          Please. That man was very, very lucky. When he dropped out of Harvard to start selling software, he had a million dollar trust fund in his back pocket to fall back on. When he started selling DOS (an application he stole, let's not forget) to IBM, it's because his mommy set up the meeting with then-CEO John Opel. Yeah, he's rich, but respect isn't something he deserves from me.

          Read all about it [].
        • by Shelled ( 81123 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:21PM (#4646023)
          Trying to paint any questioning of Gates' motives as resentment is pathetic. Are you familiar with the term 'ad hominem'?

          Instead of ranting, I suggest you look at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's financial [] statements for 2001. It made $1.2 billion in investment gains and $2.2B in contributions. Also take a look at their grant history, at a rough guess half goes towards installing Microsoft product in needy areas. Or not so needy areas, like the huge rollouts in Canadian libraries. Gates isn't withdrawning from his daily savings account with these donations. He should be given due credit for the good his foundation does but that doesn't mean that we should take the founder and driving force behind one of the most ruthless companies in the world at his word on everything related to it.

      • That's what I've been telling people... 100 years from now Gates won't be remembered as the founder of Microsoft... He'll be remembered as the founder of the Gates Foundation, and revered for what that foundation has accomplished (which hopefully will include stamping out AIDS). Basically he's following the Andrew Carnegie model... Hmm, will we someday see a Gates Unverisity?
      • "Some 20 percent of Microsoft's engineers are of Indian origin and Gates said in a recent interview the company took a special interest in the country because of that."

        Click here for the article []

        Hmm, 20% of MS developers are Indian. MS dumps $100 million into the fight against AIDS in India and only $2 million into Kenya []. Sure, it's awesome that they're contributing to the fight against AIDS, but I find it extremely hard to believe that he chose to dump so much $ into India for the sole purpose of helping them and had no thoughts about retaining developers and gaining new developers from a nation filled with code monkeys.

    • I highly doubt it.

      Let the man do a good thing without scrutiny. If he wants to use it as PR, let him. Better he get PR from doing good than not doing any good at all, right?
      • by HiThere ( 15173 )
        Maybe. It depends on what he uses the PR to buy. And color me cynical.

        I know I have my own agenda, and I suspect it of everyone else. Some people seem to be able to blend their personal agenda with doing general good. Mr. Gates, however, has a history of abusing trust and good will.

    • by El Cabri ( 13930 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @04:57PM (#4645317) Journal
      Now Indians can give the money back to the US industry to buy expensive patented drugs. How sweet.
  • That would explain this:
    br ews/4491707.htm
  • by Anonymous Coward
    For software they intend to market to say.. the USA, it makes a great deal of sense for Indian developers to develop for Windows. For their own market, I'm betting they will stick with Linux regardless of Microsoft's efforts. Indians might be, on the average, poor -- but they aren't stupid.
  • More specifically, how does MS or Linux convince development for one over the other? Would not the simple availability of tools and the inherint necesity of the project dictate which OS you develope for?

    Follow up: Ive been wondering about this. How is it that MS calls the GPL a cancer lic agreement or Pac-Man or whatever it wants to do. I assume part of their convincing of India would be to prove these evils of the GPL? Maybe I dont understand the GPL even after I read it.
  • Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RalphSlate ( 128202 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:35PM (#4644548) Homepage
    I suppose it makes sense that MS should target Indian developers -- they're at risk to losing the market to free software.

    Of course, perhaps the fact that many development houses only pay these developers $10k year has something to do with why they aren't plunking down a few hundred bucks for MS developer kits, and are instead using free software.

  • Dream on, M$ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:35PM (#4644552) Homepage Journal
    OK, so they have people develop for them. These people build up experience and skill in programming, unser pay of M$. In their free time, some of them code for Linux. That's the way it's always been. And the fun part is, if it wasn't for M$, there wouldn't be as many skillful programmers, and Linux wouldn't be as good. Obviously, this doesn't apply only to Linux, it applies to Open Source in general. Actually, I think that the whole Open Source world would benefit from more people having experience with windoze programming. It increases the probability of OSS being ported to Windows, which in turn increases familiarity with OSS, and so on. Way to go, MicroSoft! Sponsor your opponents!

    The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men
    of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
    -- Justice Louis D. Brandeis
  • Referenced Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by rjstanford ( 69735 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:35PM (#4644553) Homepage Journal
    Chapter I: The Importance Of Being In India

    While there are no published numbers, back of the envelope calculations indicate Microsoft's Indian arm currently generates sales in the region of Rs 1,600 crore. That's a little over $330 million. This ties in neatly with the fact that last year, India purchased packaged software worth $409 million - of which 80% were Microsoft products. But, honestly, for a juggernaut sitting on $40 billion in accumulated cash and a projected turnover of $32 billion in fiscal 2003, $409 million is loose change. So what "destiny" is Mistry talking about?

    The fast-talking British citizen of Indian origin has been in the country for barely 10 months now. He heads a team of 17 evangelists, keeps obscenely long hours, lives out of his suitcase and has an awfully tough mandate from Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond - do whatever it takes to keep Indian developers and programmers working on Microsoft platforms.

    Unlike any other director heading operations in the country, Mistry has no revenue targets to meet. "The Indian systems integrator, as he moves up the value chain, will finally make a decision on what platform to settle on. We have to capture them before they make that decision. Which is why, my team is very important for Microsoft Corporation, not just for India alone."

    Intrigued? Don't be. Estimates put the present size of India's developer population at anywhere between 450,000 and 600,000. That's about 10% of the world's developer population. By end-2002, India will probably have more developers than any country in the world. This is why it is important to gain control of this population.

    "We are paranoid someone is going to come along and take away mindshare from developers. We're paranoid something out there is going to be more exciting to developers." Quite clearly, Mistry is talking of the threat Linux poses to Microsoft. Probe him. He'll hark back to January, when he took up his Indian assignment. Among the first things he did was to put two people from his team on Linux forums. They were asked to figure out: what is it that excites the Linux community? Is it plain Microsoft baiting? Is it Bill Gates bashing? Is it a desire to change the world? For Mistry, answers to those questions hold solutions on how to choke the Linux community in India. By doing that, the open source world loses access to one of the largest developer bases. Deprived of that base, the movement suffers and Microsoft gains a major victory. "This is primarily a battle for the hearts and minds," says Mistry.

    Till sometime ago, Microsoft and Mistry didn't have to worry about losing the Indian developer. But with the tech downturn and corporates slashing IT spends, things changed. Public perception that using open source technologies reduce the cost of technology deployments convinced companies across the world to seriously consider cheaper alternatives. Consequently, the number of jobs available for developers working on these technologies went up. To get a sense of that, log on to, the world's largest online job board. The number of people needed with expertise in open source technologies is roughly the same as that of those with expertise on Microsoft platforms.

    Now add to this the fact that Indian contribution to the open source community has shot up over the last year. Chennaikavigal, a Chennai-based product company, is working on an Indian office suite designed to work on the Linux platform. In fact, language fonts for Linux are now available for practically every Indian language. There is Delhi-based Kandalya building applications that work on free and open source technologies. Then there's Anjuta, which is a development environment for C and C++ on Linux. There's also the Bangalore-based Peacock Solutions, which calls itself the first Indian company to commercialise supercomputing technology on a Linux platform. Peacock's projects include building Linux parallel supercomputers for high-speed rendering, molecular modelling, weather modelling and bioinformatics solutions. And, the list of converts to Linux keeps growing.

    Flashback to October 1999. Businessworld was talking to a senior Microsoft functionary on the sidelines of a conference on e-commerce. "What do you think of Linux?" Businessworld had then queried. "What's that?" he shot back. Things have certainly changed since then.

    It's the 'roaches-under-the-board theory' at work, says Javed Tapia, director at Red Hat (India), a Linux distributor. Cockroaches multiply because typically they're under a board and no one cares what happens below the board. One day when you lift the board and look, there are a few million of them waiting to get out. By the time you get around to swatting them, most escape. That's pretty much what happened with Linux, chuckles Tapia. "Microsoft ignored us for too long. Thank God for that."

    Chapter II: It's The Money, Honey

    Forget the developer argument for a moment and focus on the economics - a packaged software market currently worth $409 million, of which 80% is controlled by Microsoft. But the legal market is small potatoes. Estimates say for every licensed piece of software Microsoft sells in India, there are eight pirated copies doing the rounds. Which means, in an ideal Indian world, Microsoft would sell software worth a whopping $2.64 billion (that's 8 x $330 million) in India. Add another factoid here. In 2001, when IT spending was being slashed across the world, the packaged software market grew 37% in India. Growth rates are expected to continue at this rate for a few years to come. Those sort of numbers cannot be sneezed away.

    Now take another look at the Indian market. Two-thirds of the packaged software sold in the country is picked up by the government. The rest is largely accounted for by the private corporate sector. Now imagine a world where the government makes a conscious decision to move towards Linux.
    There are precedents. Over two dozen governments in Asia, Europe and Latin America, including China and Germany, are encouraging the use of open source software - the most popular of which is Linux. In Germany, the government argued that moving to Linux would help cut costs and improve security. In an interview to BBC, German interior minister Otto Schilly said: "We are raising computer security by avoiding a monoculture, and we are lowering dependence on a single supplier."

    In Taiwan, the government has announced a National Open Source Plan earlier this year. It aims to establish a software development infrastructure based on free and open source to create a foundation for Taiwan's software industry. It includes the creation of a "Chinese Open Source Software Environment" international cooperation on free application software development, and work with community colleges and non-government organisations to train 9,600 teachers and 120,000 users. Also, the national education system will switch to Open Source.

    That these initiatives are being observed seriously in India is evident from the number of government projects under way on Linux. Like we mentioned earlier, the judiciary, the Central Railways, Air-India, Central Excise, Delhi RTO, various e-governance projects across the country. The list is increasing. It's a battle Microsoft cannot afford to lose.

    Cut to Corporate India. At a recent Hewlett-Packard seminar on solutions for the manufacturing industry, attended by 300 CIOs, almost 60% said they would be moving to Linux-based systems. Kamal Dutta, HP India's country business manager, isn't surprised. "Enterprise customers are evolving strategies for Linux," he says.

    In India, manufacturing and telecom companies are looking at some form of Linux use, though banking firms are staying away at the moment. Explains Dutta: "Banks are conservative." He doesn't expect Linux to completely take over the rest of the market but he says that he can see a "more heterogeneous environment where say core applications like ERP, CRM could run on existing systems while others like VPN, mail, load balancing could be on Linux."

    Hughes Software Systems (HSS) started working on Linux almost seven years back. But in the last 12 months, there has been a spurt in interest. Says HSS' head of engineering: "Telecom OEM (original equipment manufacturers) who make boxes for telecom networks want Linux solutions. It's also becoming popular in the area of embedded applications.''

    To begin with, companies are deploying Linux to the extent of 15-20% of the total applications - mainly in mail servers, RAS, Web servers. And the reasons for going the Linux way is that "it decreases their dependence on the hardware vendor, the companies can negotiate with multiple vendors and hence get better deals, it lowers the total cost of ownership and offers flexibility,'' says Dutta.

    That's not an argument that Microsoft is willing to accept. Argues Sanjay Mathur, head of marketing at Microsoft India: "With fewer dollars to spend on technology, some corporations have been considering Linux. The irony is that choosing Linux may be more expensive in the long run. Emerging data indicates that corporations spend more for additional software, labour and consultant costs when they choose Linux."
    Precisely the reason why a ruthless battle on Indian soil appears inevitable.

    Chapter III: How Ruthless Does It Get!

    WHAT is clear is that Linux has made inroads into the Indian landscape. What isn't clear is: to what extent. Details are hard to come by. As Sandeep Menon, head of IBM's Linux initiative in the country says: "It is not owned or tracked by any one organisation. People simply download the software. Data from International Data Corporation, or IDC (a research firm that tracks IT trends) only shows how many CDs have been sold or how many downloads have been made." The problem with this data is that because Linux's terms of licence allow a user to make as many copies as he needs and distribute them freely, it is impossible to estimate how many copies actually exist.

    The other more significant problem is that those in the know don't like to talk. Menon, for instance, knows of virtually every major Linux project underway in the country. But he doesn't like giving out details. "Strategic reasons," he explains.

    It's much the same thing with Red Hat's Tapia. Now, Red Hat is the largest distributor of Linux in the world. "I can do with little publicity. In fact, I can do with no publicity." The reason, says Tapia, is that he doesn't know how Microsoft will strike back.

    For instance, says a Linux distributor speaking off the record, his company had recently concluded a deal with a large private sector company to implement Linux across the organisation. This was done after the company rejected a Rs 9-crore Microsoft proposal to upgrade its systems. Even as the ink on the deal was drying, Microsoft staged a counter attack by offering to implement the infrastructure for just Rs 2 crore. "And we lost out on what could have been the best lighthouse projects for Linux in the country," rues Tapia.

    Chapter IV: The Chinks in Linux's Armour

    But, for all its strengths, Linux has its own crosses to bear. "It's too early to conclude that Linux will be everywhere," says Srikant Acharya, SCO's (formerly Caldera) country director for India. SCO is among the largest implementors of Linux- and UNIX-based systems worldwide. The feeling is echoed by
    IBM's Menon. He reckons that though Linux will catch on, the chances that it will overthrow Microsoft are thin. "My guess is both will exist." There are various reasons for that.

    The most fundamental problem with Linux is that it is an amorphous entity around which robust business models are yet to evolve. Companies that have built a business around it are still gasping for breath. Take Red Hat. In spite of a 71% marketshare, it reported losses in excess of $140 million. Worse, Red Hat's total revenue is down from fiscal 2001. Now consider the other Linux vendors - SCO, Connectiva, Turbolinux and SuSE. In a bid to achieve greater strength, these vendors came together to create UnitedLinux. Mathur of Microsoft points out that Red Hat and Mandrakesoft refused to join the alliance. "The lack of unity among the Linux vendors offers evidence of continued fracturing," he says.

    The point in all of this is a simple one really. The largest Linux vendors are still trying to gain critical size in their home countries. Given this reality, the incentive they have to push their distribution unitedly in countries like India, where the market is still exploring the operating system, are remote. Over the last couple of months, Microsoft has used these facts to hammer home a key point with clients. That unlike others, Microsoft isn't likely to go down in a rush.

    Lack of Support: Then there is the issue of government policy itself. In spite of the fact that Linux evangelists have been pushing for increased acceptance of the software in India, truth is, until now, no policy documents have been framed. Frederick Noronha, a freelance journalist and Open Source evangelist points out that Goa actually went ahead and gazetted a pro-Open Source/Free Software notification. "But how does one implement this? The departments keep flouting it. The basic flaw is with the tendering process, which can be subverted in 101 ways if the intentions are malafide. Since then, the Goa IT minister (Ramakant Khalap) has defected from the ruling party. The so-called government policy turned out to be a one-man initiative, which has all come back to a big zero."

    Then there is the case of Karnataka. Here, the IT Department supports Open Source on paper. But even as the police force goes in for modernisation, it is being equipped with Windows XP machines. The only exception until now has been Kerala, where the IT policy makes it mandatory for all government departments to first consider free/open source software for all its needs. And only after open source solutions have been exhausted can the government go in for proprietary systems.

    The lack of legislation percolates to other areas too. In education, for instance. Dr Nagarjuna G, a teacher at the Homi Bhabha Science Centre in Mumbai and an active free software evangelist is pained as he flips through the IT syllabi of various colleges in the country. The reason is "a lack of secular IT education loaded almost entirely against free and open source software." What he means is this. In most colleges, teachers are asked to show the students how to use Excel or Word. "Why?" asks Dr Nagarjuna. "Shouldn't students be shown how to use a spreadsheet or a word processing document? What they ultimately choose ought to be up to them. Why should the state make a choice on their behalf?" He's been lobbying to get the discrepancies removed. And he's notched up some successes. But there's a long way to go.

    Misunderstandings: Tapia of Red Hat faces a rather unique problem. While the interest in what he provides is high, most clients are reluctant to pay for the services he offers. The problem stems from the fact that most people imagine Linux is free. They argue that since it can be downloaded from the Internet or purchased from any vendor at a nominal cost, the prices Red Hat quotes are too high.

    But Red Hat's business model, like those of other vendors in the Linux space, is built around a simple assumption. While the basic software itself is free, users will pay for the support vendors provide. It's an argument that has not gone down too well with Indian business. Weaned on a steady diet of Microsoft support that comes with software purchases, the new business model is still making itself understood in most places. "I end up not signing many contracts as clients don't understand they have to pay for support. Where else will my bread and butter come from?" asks Tapia.


    In the past, numerous contenders have tried and failed to dislodge Windows. But like we said earlier, Linux, has a key advantage. It isn't owned by anyone. To that extent, Microsoft does not know exactly whom to attack.

    Take Asia for instance. Linux, outside of Japan, is being driven by the fact that the continent is less developed than the US or Europe. What this means is that there are fewer computers in the region. Consequently, there are fewer small- and medium-sized enterprises committed to Microsoft products. More importantly, these companies don't have dollars at their disposal of the kind American and European companies have. Which is why, their propensity to acquire Linux is higher.

    Does that mean the future of Microsoft in this part of the world is at stake? Not quite. Sure, Linux has been growing rapidly. But it has, at least until now, been confined to servers. More importantly, this growth is coming in at the expense of older operating systems. By 2006, IDC estimates that 26% of the servers in operation will be running Linux while 56% will still run Windows. The remaining 12% will be on UNIX. As for the desktop market itself, shipment details are hazy. Compaq, Dell and, more recently, LG are shipping Linux machines into the Indian market. Until next year, when clear numbers emerge, it will be difficult to gauge how it is being accepted.

    Then there are questions on whether businesses based on almost-free technology can ever be profitable - a challenge for Linux companies everywhere, but particularly for those in Asia. A recent IDC report says that although worldwide sales of servers of all types will rise 17% annually over the next four years, revenues will inch up only 1%, largely due to the low cost of Linux.

    In Korea, growing competition among Linux distributors have forced prices of a basic Linux package to as low as $10. A Red Hat version that sells for $80 in the US, hawks for less than $3 in China. That's hardly any money worth writing home about. As for business models built around the support and services models, they're still nascent and have some way to go before they mature. It's a long haul - an awfully long haul.

    Additional inputs by Shelley Singh
  • Also a NYTimes story (Score:5, Informative)

    by mithras the prophet ( 579978 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:35PM (#4644556) Homepage Journal

    See also this NYTimes story [], which summarizes the situation nicely (a no-register link, BTW). A choice quote from the article, by India's minister for information technology:

    I don't want to comment on Linux so close to Mr. Gates's visit. Bill Gates is Bill Gates. He is a brand name. And I won't say anything controversial now.
    • Bill also wrote an NYT op-ed piece last week- see tml
      El Reg has a piece on the Indian Health Ministers reaction, which is less than recepetive- see
  • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:35PM (#4644563) Homepage Journal
    that's why we have to fight for tough laws to keep Microsoft money in America! Without legislation, the skilled trade of programming will go the way of machinist or pipe fitter: passed on to another country, with less pay and no benefits for the workers.

    India can have Linux. It's development model allows for multiple versions, so there could conceivably be a "US Linux" and an "India Linux (just don't include the Kashmir language packs in the main distro).

    Microsoft looking to farm out software development to other countries disturbs me mightily. At least we can count on IBM and Corel to stay true-blue.

  • Penguin rules. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:37PM (#4644585) Homepage
    Wow, look at that cover.

    And to think of all the people who have complained about the penguin being the Linux logo.

    The penguin on this cover is both cute and full of fury at the same time. When an a cute, iconic animal with National Geographic status is faced against a too-rich human head-to-head, you can't help but cheer for the penguin, even if you don't know what it stands for.

    I think the Linux logo is a powerful marketing tool indeed!
    • Wow, look at that cover.

      Is it just me, or is Gates starting to look like George Will []?
      • Is it just me, or is Gates starting to look like George Will?

        To me, gates has alternated between looking like an aardvark, and Beeker, the sesame street muppet.

    • Re:Penguin rules. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ed Avis ( 5917 )
      That cover image would be great as a login screen logo for dual-boot Windows / Linux machines (if you assume that the normal Linux login screen shows a penguin). I wonder if the Business World poeple would put out a version without the text?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I first thought when I read targeting Indian Developers it was for the use of pirate software, not to woo them to use more pirated MS software.

    Also, what about price. I don't think the average Indian developer has $1000US for software licenses, it is more likely that the $1000US will be used to feed the family, etc.

    As far as Western countries loosing jobs, yes that is a possibility, but there is enough racism at least in North America that will prevent massive job losses. Think "Made in America", and also how many taxi drivers were doctors in their homelands.

    It seems that programmers are one of the few occupations that are treated nearly equal. In some ways this sucks for us, but at least these people have a chance and their education is respected...
  • Precisely.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by deego ( 587575 )
    The battle between microsoft and open source is steadily moving overseas, and microsoft is realizing that.

    As more and more people in developing countries are gaining access to computers, the number of Free Software developers is growing exponentially.

    OTOH, that number is still a very small percentage of computer-using populations in these developing countries because , to quote from the above article, microsoft often succeeds in "capturing" most of them even before they have the chance to make a decision.

    The last I talked to some of my teenage cousins who live in India, they were very excited about "learning" a few things about computers and some computer-languages. I was shocked to learn that they never knew that there's such a thing as gnu/linux. The penetration of MS seemed to be total. OTOH, good news surfaces every once in a while, that it is in places like the villages of India where people don't have money for M$ that alternatives like simputer flourish.

  • by abhikhurana ( 325468 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:40PM (#4644606)
    I think MS will suceed in this war. The linux groups in India are all small and pretty restricted in terms of their activities. And Bill is doing his level best to woo the India programmers. There is a place in Delhi where you can buy any pirated MS software. Everyone knows about that. But there are hardly any raids there. I think MS is knowingly encouraging pirated software in India, so that they can get more developers.
    Another thing is that software industry in India is mostly a services business, as in they sell services to other companies. They dont make any software products. Now its easy to guess what work do they get more, linux related or Windows related.
  • by burnsy ( 563104 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:40PM (#4644611)
    So is Oracle...

    Oracle to double India workforce []

  • interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:41PM (#4644618) Homepage Journal
    It's fascinating to see these kinds of trans-ethnic business practices becoming a reality. To think that only a few hundred years ago, we were all in our separate continents, living in dull homogeneity. Now we've been thrust together, shaken up, and hung out to dry by the Information Age, and we have to adapt to a whole new set of rules.

    I'll come clean. I'm white. While I wouldn't want to lose my job to an Indian, I don't think that white folks have any more of a right to their jobs than Indians, or anyone else. If anything, the Indians are slightly more deserving, after we have gone back on so many treaties with them. I imagine I'd stoop to using Microsoft instead of Linux, if it meant I could stop working as a blackjack dealer. So please, try and offer a little understanding before ranting about how you lost your job to someone who happens to have darker skin. We're all people, too.
  • I want that cover... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:42PM (#4644628) Homepage Journal
    I want that cover, either in printed form or as a hi-res JPG or as vector Postscript.

    Thinkgeek, are you listening?

  • by Dot.Com.CEO ( 624226 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:43PM (#4644638)
    This article (or at least its description) makes it seem as if Microsoft is hiring developers in India just because it wants to cut Linux's momentum. Excuse me? Would the quality of Indian developers have nothing to do with it? I know I am generalizing, but 90% of Indian developers who have worked with me are excellent professionals, and I think that anyone who is doing IT recruitement of a respectable size will eventually go to India...

    This article's arguments are as valid as if it were saying "Microsoft is sabotaging the open source movement by recruiting the best minds at the best Universities. Give me a break...

  • The NYTimes reported today [] that Bill is donating $100 Million to help fight AIDS in India.

    Goodwill? Being magnanimous? What does the article say:

    He said he worried that India's enormous progress in information technology -- the country has the only Microsoft software development center outside the United States -- would be thwarted by AIDS.

    Ohhh. Okay.

    He also wore a "tika" (the deep red mark on the forehead). Anybody have actual pictures (as opposed to your 5 minute Photoshop efforts).

    • He also wore a "tika" (the deep red mark on the forehead). Anybody have actual pictures (as opposed to your 5 minute Photoshop efforts).

      Blatant karma-whoring, but since you've asked for it, here you go. []

      Nothing to it methinks, except for being a blatant attempt at positive Indian PR.

    • Parent comment is total flamebait, as far as I'm concerned.

      Bill Gates, via his foundation, has given more money, and more earnest attention, to public health issues like AIDS, tuberculosis, and vaccination, that any living human. He does this out of what I regard as a genuine thoughtful concern for the best way to make his enormous wealth do good in the world.

      He doesn't have to do this - he could be like Larry Ellison and just dick around with his money. To say he's fighting AIDS in India solely to make a market for Microsoft products is rude and inaccurate.

      But no, I haven't dug up any photos of him with the tika. I'd pay to see it, though.

  • Not a new thing (Score:4, Informative)

    by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:47PM (#4644674) Journal

    This is not a new thing at all. I was in India about 2 years ago, and even then I found the contrasts great. A slum to your left and right, yet hundreds of signs advertising C# training (Java training too) .. all kinds of computer skills (though I noticed a ton of C# in particular, this was in Bombay (Mumbai)).

    I would say one thing in addition--many of the indian developers aren't exactly leading Silicon Valley hot shot developer lifestyles. As such, they will learn what they need to learn to get jobs and get money--ideology has no place here.
  • In light of the information contained in this story, the donation Bill Gates gave to []
    India to fight AIDS recently makes a little more sense. I mean, I know that Mr. Gates is heavy into the cause of fighting global diseases but wouldn't it have made more sense to donate to the #1 country (Africa) dealing with an AIDS epidemic than #2 (India)? I suppose if there are more developers in India that you want on your side, then it makes more sense from a business stand point...
  • What we do every day Pinky, try to take over the world...
  • Get real. This has nothing to do with Linux. My company is also seeking programmers in India. They are simply cheaper (at least while they are still IN India.) and are appearantly not inferior intellitually.

    Linux, puhleez. FUD
  • What if Indian computer scientists in their effort to get the Hell out of India? []
  • Most of the development on Linux is done by individuals that do it for their own pleasure or need, it is not done by sweatshops like you find in India for profit. MS is just going their to cut their costs and get rid of some of their high paid workers here, IMHO.

  • Rediffusion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Monday November 11, 2002 @03:54PM (#4644752) Homepage is India's largest email server and it runs entirely on Linux.
  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @04:00PM (#4644816)
    After all, he does have a computer science degree....

  • Bill (the one on the left) even has his tuxedo on :~)
  • by BeBoxer ( 14448 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @04:08PM (#4644883)
    Estimates put the present size of India's developer population at anywhere between 450,000 and 600,000. That's about 10% of the world's developer population.

    So by these numbers, there are between 4 and 6 million software developers in the world. According to the Microsoft(tm) Annual Report, they have about 50,000 employees. So what percentage of the worlds developers need to be working on core open source projects before the open source developers outnumber the Windows developers? Looks like the answer is less than 1%!

    And that's why I think Microsoft is doomed in the long run. Open Source already has most of the functionality of Microsoft's offerings. And it only takes a small fraction of the world's developers to completely outstrip the amount of effort Microsoft can throw at the problem. Hell, if 10% of the developers spent 10% of their time on core OSS projects it would be more than enough to provide a nice stable feature-rich desktop and server environment. Interesting.
    • Uh, microsoft empoyees are not the only microsoft developers in the world. In fact, a large number of open source developers (including myself) use Windows platforms to do their development.

      Having tasted a variety of development environments, I do have to say that Visual Studio is one of my favorites. And with the newer versions becoming 99% standards compliant (C/C++), I doubt I'll be moving off it anytime soon. There's just no competition in the open source world for that kind of integrated development environment. Sorry, but emacs doesn't cut it. Open Source does _NOT_ have most of the functionality of Microsoft's offerings. And if your comparison is stability, I will just say one thing: Windows 2000. In fact, applications on my windows 2000 machine crash far less frequently than applications on my new red hat 8 machine.

      Microsoft is nowhere near failing and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves. Co-existence is the name of the game, ladies and gents. OSS is here to stay. It has great qualities, but it's not the end-all be-all of software development.
  • by El Cabri ( 13930 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @04:10PM (#4644895) Journal
    Here is the reasonning:

    If Indian programming shops are in majority unable to take up Linux-specific programming tasks, this weakness will be an opportunity to slow the leaking of programming jobs outside western countries. The US and European IT pros will, conscienciously or not, move to a configuration more favorable to their job security, and lead an evolution that will increase the value of their more versatile know-how. Hence tend to ditch windows. Already many politicians in Europe are aware that an OSS based infrastructure brings more jobs to their local service industry.
    • If Indian programming shops are in majority unable to take up Linux-specific programming tasks, this weakness will be an opportunity to slow the leaking of programming jobs outside western countries.

      And how, pray tell, is this a boon to Linux? It may be a boon to your yankee job, but Linux improved in India is still improved.

      Please, this is slashdot, let's have OS prejudice not race and nationality prejudice. On purely humanitarian grounds, parochial protectionism is no boon to the third world.

  • by tz ( 130773 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @04:25PM (#4645034)
    "We are paranoid someone is going to come along and take away mindshare from developers. We're paranoid something out there is going to be more exciting to developers."

    Lets see, a closed system with low quality, where they use proprietary protocols they don't want you to alter and then they change them, stop support and force upgrades, v.s. an open system of high quality that you can actually make better and costs almost nothing.

    "No, we don't want to tell you how this works, and we don't want you to touch it" is not an attitude that creates mindshare.

    I can see why it might be exciting to use Microsoft, but that type of excitement would reduce mindshare.
  • by demo9orgon ( 156675 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:16PM (#4645466) Homepage
    M$ will gleefully deliver a firehose of CD's, half-assed poorly documented API's, and happy-fun stickers, folders, and posters in the target localization at the first hint of being able to get a toe-hold in some emergent or established company anywhere in the world.

    Then they'll regularly send someone by to see how things are going, talk up their latest "inno-cough-vative" offering, and see if the target company is _motivated_. Sometimes, if they're lucky, one of the new programmers will have some "happy fun intranet site, or happy joy widget" made with said technology to show off (you know, the port of something which has already been working in PERL, PHP, or both using Sun, or Zeus) that will probably score them some nifty t-shirts, a mug, or hey, maybe another dousing with the developer-cd firehose.

    And then if they really want to see how things are going, they'll ask for a tour of the _server room_, the holiest of the holies for said company. The annointed one will be walked around, and they'll look for familiar names, like Compaq, or Dell. But, if they see "SUN", or beige boxen then the annointed one will carefully steer conversation towards determining the nature and purpose of these boxen. Depending on the cluefulness of the tour-guide, things could either go well, and the annointed one will leave, only making note of a possible hardware upgrade deal, or they will become wrathful, and the sales-calls, port-scans, and off-hours questioning through "chance meetings" will take place until they have enough information to confront the president of the company. They will act hurt, or betrayed, and say interesting things like,
    "I thought we had an understanding that you were a Microsoft Development shop", or
    "How can we help you fully become a Microsoft Developer?", or my favorite,
    "How has Microsoft failed to meet your needs? We are eager to help you in any way we can."

    Of course, years later when the BSA sends out their letters to the less-than-faithful, and begins bringing in the police to follow up on portscans and megabytes of downloaded header logs showing all of the boxen development-only copies of software running. there will be those who remember these honeyed promises aimed only at the hearts, minds, and struggling companies or schools.

    M$ has much to gain, but in the end, as they squeeze diversity and skill out of developing countries, they will also loose these possibilities forever. Linux is safe, becuase just like the smart people in Africa who refused flawed crop-seed to avoid a hideous cycle of dependency, developers in India and around the world know that freedom is more important than easily made promises. Held to a hard-line of artificial ability and capability(M$ API's are lookee, no touch-ee, no-feelie) with brittle security, smart developers and business leaders will realize that there is no get-rich quick incentive to supporting a core of fatally flawed intractable components supplied by a company which is really incapable of doing anything more than strong-arming hardware and software developers(even savvy developers need support--and when they become the support they are no longer developers), coercing companies with hideous licensing schemes by buying legislation and counting coup on the legal system of the United States. Companies seeking to get rich by suckling at the four-paned teat would do well to remember that M$ eats it's young, and often the young of others too.

  • by neo ( 4625 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:32PM (#4645593)
    Here's an article where Bill Gates has taken a real interest in India... I don't think these two event are unrelated.

    Bill Gates hands out millions to fight AIDS in India []

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.