Thursday, April 19, 2007

Microsoft offers $3 software for developing world

[Nairobi, Kenya]
GREAT NEWS for Africa. Microsoft is about to steal some thunder from Linux by offering some of its crown jewels (Windows, Office, etc.) for a paltry $3 to developing nations, and needy people right in their own back yard (USA). I really don't what to make of this. Well, I do.

The rise of Linux & software pirates
You see, Linux (see pics of Tux the Linux mascot on this page) is a free open source operating system that's been making a lot of noise in developing nations since it doesn't require a serial number or activation code to install. In essence, it's FREE - like air. You can copy it as much as you like without worrying about the "pirate police" from the Software Publishers Association (now renamed the SIIA) showing up at your company's front door looking to throw the book (and a huge fine) at you. In addition, commercial pirates in places like Asia (Thailand, China, Hong Kong, India) make illegal copies of Windows for resale, but you'd never know the damn CD with your new computer was a fake. This was (is) costing Microsoft hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales.By the way, you can see what Linux and the open source movement is all about from some of my old posts on my Max The IT pro weblog.
My kingdom for $3
What can I say? My hats off to Microsoft for finally seeing the light. Let's face it. The writing was on the wall once Linux entered the lime light. And it didn't help that Windows had a reputation as being buggy and virus-prone. Only naive software executives believed that Linux was just a fad. Not so. Anyhow, here's the scoop on $3 deal:
In an effort to expand its global reach in computing, Microsoft plans to offer a stripped-down version of Windows, Office and other software for $3 to people in developing nations.

The program, which is being announced in Beijing Thursday by the Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, represents an ambitious expansion of efforts to introduce products to those who have lacked access to personal computers, especially in developing nations.

While these countries have a growing appetite for technology as a means to spur growth and raise living standards, they also have very limited budgets. Some governments have encouraged alternatives to Microsoft's Windows, notably Linux, a free operating system.

The Microsoft push comes as a nonprofit project, One Laptop per Child, plans this year to start producing machines priced at about $150 — with a goal of reaching $100 — that will run a version of Linux. Several countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Nigeria, have made tentative commitments to distribute the laptops to millions of schoolchildren.

Microsoft has offered discounted versions of Windows selectively in the past, to a few developing nations like Malaysia and Thailand, priced at $30 or less. But the new program, called Microsoft Unlimited Potential, goes further with more software and deeper price cuts and extends to all developing nations, said Microsoft's senior vice president for emerging markets, Orlando Ayala. {source}

Again, this is an excellent Go Africa go! story because access to quality, low cost ICT software is necessary in order for developing nations to move up to the next level. It would also help if countries like the US and those in the European Union stop protecting their farmers with huge subsidies that are unfair to food exporters here in Africa. But that's another story. Right? :-)


John said...

This is great news Maxwell. Do you know if Microsfot is going to also include things like Windows 2003 Server in this $3 deal? Also will this deal allow businneses to use these programs for $3?

Keep up the blogging. Great stuff you have here.

Max The IT pro said...

John, that question just crossed my mind. I'm sure they'll make businsses pay more than $3 for 2003 Server. :-) Let me check though!