Microsoft Corp. may not have beaten French Linux vendor Mandriva in a large deal to supply Nigerian elementary schools with laptop computers and software after all. Mandriva had closed a deal in mid-August to provide a customized Linux operating system and support for 17,000 Intel Classmate PCs intended for Nigerian schools, but found out last week that the company deploying the computers for the government, Technology Support Center (TSC), planned to wipe the computers' disks and install Windows XP instead. Now, however, a government agency funding 11,000 of the PCs has overruled the supplier.[more]Doug Aamoth aadds:
Remember a little over a week ago when the CEO of Mandriva François Bancilhon sent an open j’accuse! letter to Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer saying that Microsoft convinced the Nigerian government to use Windows on its computers instead of Mandriva Linux even though Mandriva and Nigeria already had a deal? ... I’d be interested to know whether or not this change of heart came about because of Bancilhon’s letter or if someone at the top of the food chain saw that the order was changed to Microsoft software and was like "what in the hell does the night shift team think they’re trying to pull here?" [more]David A. Utter:
Someone break out the champagne for Francois Bancilhon ... That change [would have] meant Mandriva would lose out on maintenance agreements, which would contribute an ongoing revenue stream to the company. Open Source companies like Red Hat and others have demonstrated this business model can make "free" software profitable ... The motivation for the original shift will have to remain a matter of speculation, despite Bancilhon's hinting of back-door shenanigans taking place. [more]But Cade Metz is cynical:
Banchilhon was informed of this mysterious about-face just as they were being delivered ... [and he] urged the Nigerians to reverse their about face ... he might get his way. Temporarily. [more]Znork is careful in the choice of words:
Offering 'marketing incentives' is the way [Microsoft has] done everything from get people on certain ISO boards to making sure PC makers dont install Linux. They seem to get away with it on some technicality, even if they couldn't get away with giving actual money directly. In the end it's a legal grey area. For some companies and some situations it would be perfectly fine, but in the case of the convicted monopolist, I dont think there's any doubt that it's their practice of getting around legal language prohibiting certain anti-competetive behaviour. And morally, it's reprehensible and easily equatable with bribery. [more]But shadow_slicer disagrees:
It's not a bribe--there is no individual that is receiving the money. Instead, Microsoft would spend $$ marketing the TCS's classmate PC in Africa (if they choose windows). Things like this occur in businesses every day in America. This is neither illegal or even shady. [more]Ibukun Olumuyiwa offers his insider knowledge:
Nigeria has had a reputation for a long time for being one of the most corrupt countries in the world, but ever since the new president Umaru Yar'Adua was elected earlier this year, he has been on a major crusade to eliminate corruption and enforce the rule of law. So I'm not surprised that this happened -- it's only one in what is becoming a long list of surprising moves by the Nigerian government lately ... I'd say Microsoft *did* try to bribe someone thinking it was business as usual in Nigeria, and the federal government heard about it and said "Uh, no. You can take your $400,000 and shove it.". [more]Somebody had to make this joke; it happened to be Tackhead:
My name is Stephen Ballmer I am the Chair Executive of William Gates of Redmond in the United State of America. I am contacting you with regard to transfer of a huge sum of laptops from the OLPC project. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that everything has been taken care off, and all will be well at the end of the day. I decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction. [more]And finally...