Microsoft spreads more misery in Africa

Education, Free Software, Gadgets, Politics, Project Mayhem Add comments

I’m quite saddened and disgusted to read this open letter to “Steve” (I would guess Ballmer) from François Bancilhon from Mandriva. The Nigerian government made a deal with Mandriva to supply a localised version of their system for 17000 classmate PC’s that have been ordered for local schools.

Unfortunately, Microsoft got to the government, and those classmate PC’s will now be running Microsoft Windows instead of Mandriva. How utterly disgusting. I can’t believe that a government could make such a bad decision. I wonder if the Nigerians are actually paying for the software, it wouldn’t surprise me if they provided the software for free, simply to undercut Mandriva. And if the Nigerians did pay for licenses, they should be ashamed of sending more money out of the continent on something that’s such a big waste.

From a technical perspective, those machines are very nice. However, they are heavily underpowered for running current versions of Windows. Does this mean that those machines will be running the quickly aging Windows XP? What an injustice to the poor kids who will be using those laptops, especially after effort has been put in to give them an optimised, localised system for the machines. Support for the current versions of Windows XP ends on 14 April 2009, which means that the operating systems on those machines will have an even SHORTER lifecycle than a short-term-support Ubuntu release. Do anyone want to place bets whether Microsoft will care enough to upgrade 17000 machines in Nigeria by then? My bet is that they won’t.

If you’re in Nigeria, please write to your local government and express how you feel about this (write to your vice president, his name is Goodluck Jonathan, so he must be good for something!). Send a copy of your appeals to Mandriva too, maybe they could set up a “wall” page where all these letters are posted. I don’t think the people of Nigeria should simply accept this. Nigeria deserves better. Africa deserves better.

Edubuntu running on Classmate

Classmate PC running Edubuntu

13 Responses to “Microsoft spreads more misery in Africa”

  1. Matt Says:

    GRRRR! I hope in some day they will realize what mistake they made with the software giant. I agreed with you and Nigeria deserves better with the budget to their people. I think they should keep Linux running on 17,000 machines because of freedom! I don’t think Microsoft will help Nigeria folks at all or Nigeria government does not still understand about open source anymore? Microsoft don’t care about Nigeria folks, just green papers, that is not right!

  2. Wolfger Says:

    I’m sure the deal is, “The first hit’s free, but upgrades you have to pay for”.

  3. Balukka Says:

    I think they may just give it entirely free (with updates), since they feel the squeeze of the open source operation systems they have to do some damage control.

  4. Brad Johnson Says:

    If we assume that MS gave up the software for free, does that make any company that gives up initial revenue for future sales evil? If so, the list of companies going to hell is long and distinguished. Additionally any such ’special deal’ could very possibly include a special support agreement.

    Nigeria made a bad decision on a technical basis for sure and we should be asking the Government WHY they made this decision. Unfortunately this is exactly the kind of topic which will drown in conspiracy theories before the original question gets any real attention.

  5. troll Says:

    It might end up using the mobile/embedded version that they have. It is surprisingly light on hardware requirements and for instance on same hardware beats nowadays Symbian in usability and features. It’s really not such as bad idea as it comes with good application development platform (awesome libraries, ides, etc) and already runs a great amount of established software.

  6. oz Says:

    The Nigerian gov’t *might* have more up its sleeve. Perhaps MS greased them, but what’s to stop the Nigerian gov’t from turning around and re-installing whatever OS they want?

  7. Ruairi Fullam Says:


    Great entry and I completely agree. The points about software life cycles weren’t obvious to me at first but you’re right on the money.

    Perhaps in time the Nigerians and Africans who have fallen for Microsoft will migrate to a free software operating system over time.

    You can imagine the annoyance a user would have if Windows Genuine Advantage mistakes a system as invalid and then disables the operating system.

  8. Dominic White Says:

    Microsoft could very well have given them the software for free with free upgrades or very cheap upgrades, as I think Microsoft is more interested in ensuring that the kids are MS and not Linux competent so that when they start their businesses Microsoft will recoup the costs by having seeded another generation with their products.

  9. Simon Scullion » Mandriva Vs. Windows Says:

    [...] more commentary out there including this and this. Technorati tags: Mandriva, linux, Windows, Microsoft, ethics, Nigeria, ClassmatePC [...]

  10. tenshu Says:

    Don’t worry the Bill & melinda foundation will come to rescue africa …

  11. Zexy Says:

    As much as I detest the actions of M$ for doing such a thing, can you really blame them? I mean, what are they supposed to do….watch as country after country adopts OSS and not do anything about it?

    M$ is in this game for keeps. They want world domination(100%) and for them to sit idly by let something like this happen would be extremely foolish on thier part. Thier actions are justified in thier own twisted thinking and way of doing business. C’mon, given past history, did you expect any less from them?? I didn’t think so.

    I wish Linux had more of a market share around the world. It’s going to be a long uphill climb and beating back M$ every step is the only way to move forward. You can bet your last dollar they (M$) will be beating on us too.

  12. jonathan carter » Blog Archive » Microsoft vs Mandriva: The plot thickens Says:

    [...] I blogged about how Microsoft wants to make sure that they don’t lose market share to Mandriva. The plot has thickened as more details emerges in a PC World [...]

  13. jonathan carter » Blog Archive » OLPC Sadness Says:

    [...] the hands of kids in an irresponsable manner can do more harm than good. I previously blogged about Microsoft trying to force their old software on users, and this isn’t too much different. Microsoft is already reportedly releasing the next [...]

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