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05.10.08

Leaked Memo Reveals Microsoft’s Latest Anti-GNU/Linux Moves

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, OLPC at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dumping Windows? Then Microsoft will dump virtually gratis copies.

This one has been circulating for the past few hours (also sent to Groklaw and added by now). The articles really speak for themselves and they all originate from (or cite) IDG. Although it is not related to Novell, it sure relates to anti-consumer — and probably anti-competitive too — moves from Microsoft. One issues we have been tracking in this Web site is Microsoft’s ‘dumping crusade’ against GNU/Linux (see links at the very bottom).

The latest is this:

Microsoft to limit capabilities of cheap laptops

[...]

Microsoft plans to offer PC makers steep discounts on Windows XP Home Edition to encourage them to use that OS instead of Linux on ultra low-cost PCs (ULPCs). To be eligible, however, the PC vendors that make ULPCs must limit screen sizes to 10.2 inches and hard drives to 80G bytes, and they cannot offer touch-screen PCs.

The program is outlined in confidential documents that Microsoft sent to PC makers last month, and which were obtained by IDG News Service. The goal apparently is to limit the hardware capabilities of ULPCs so that they don’t eat into the market for mainstream PCs running Windows Vista, something both Microsoft and the PC vendors would want to avoid.

[...]

Microsoft notes that the OSes under consideration for the devices include Windows and Linux. Some PC makers have expressed a preference for Linux because it helps them keep down the cost of the devices.

[...]

By offering Windows XP Home Edition at bargain prices, Microsoft hopes to secure its place in the ULPC market and reduce the use of Linux, according to an official at one PC maker, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the program.

“[Low-cost PC makers] have made some good inroads with open-source, and Microsoft wants to put a stop to it,” the official said.

The official did not seem opposed to the program. It should stimulate more competition between Windows and Linux in the ULPC market, and it could invigorate sales because consumers who want an easy-to-use PC are likely to prefer Windows, the official said.

What we might be seeing here is a case of spec-fixing, price-fixing, collusion, and anti-competitive practices. For further explanation refer back to previous posts that dissect and explain similar incidents (appended to the bottom of this post).

A reader has sent us another relevant article on this. It speaks even more directly and bluntly about GNU/Linux as Microsoft’s threat in mind.

Microsoft U-turn to stop Linux dominating ultra low cost PCs

[...]

By offering Windows XP Home Edition at bargain prices, Microsoft hopes to secure its place in the ULPC market and reduce the use of Linux, according to an official at one PC maker, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to discuss the programme.

Mind the fairly juvenile-yet-honest comments added to the article above. Additionally, from USENET (half an hour ago):


   From: Richard Rasker < spamtrap@linetec.nl>
   Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
   Subject: Microsoft pushes crippleware to defeat Linux
   Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 16:52:46 +0200

I hoped that the recent stream of lightweight Linux laptops wold mark the
beginning of a liberated computer market, with real competition, leading to
ever more powerful machines for lower prices, and more consumer choice.
But apparrently Redmond not only wants to claim what it thinks should be its
share of the market, but now it seems they also want to dictate what those
machines should be capable of — as in: cheap Windows infected laptops must
also be severely crippled in the hardware department, no doubt in order to
keep their Vista crapware sales up.

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/145719/microsoft_to_limit…

So what will happen? If enough manufacturers give in to the bastards from
Redmond, pretty soon the only cheap laptops built will be the ones
complying with Microsoft’s crippling standards — and together with the
huge discount Microsoft gives on their crapware, they will make certain
that cheap, powerful Linux laptops are pushed from the market even faster
than they appeared.

This is yet another very clear example where our convicted monopolist once
again tries abuse its dominant position for the sole purpose of maintaining
that position — once again screwing customers and the market alike.

OK, over to you, Windolts, to explain that artificially crippled Windows
preloaded machines under Microsoft’s control are better for consumers than
far more powerful Linux machines for the same price.

Richard Rasker


Many thoughts and stories spring to mind given this rather obnoxious context. One article you are encouraged to read is this one: Microsoft selling hobbled software to poor countries

Surprisingly, no-one seems to have told Microsoft that it is not good marketing strategy to treat your customers as if they are stupid. Which is exactly what the company is doing with the release in Africa of the stripped-down operating system it calls Windows XP Starter Edition.

Microsoft South Africa launched Windows XP Starter Edition (XPSE) into the African market last week with very little fanfare and market hype.

Which is not surprising considering how the product was received by other media on its intial launch in 2004. Known for its straight talking, The Register labelled XPSE “crippleware”. Analysts Gartner said the product had “good intent, poor execution”.

Also see this article from July last year: The Problem with Crippleware

Imposition of development limits is something Microsoft is truly find of, not to mention EULAs that forbid benchmarking and Novell-like deals with an implicit non-compete clause.

Other recent posts you are strongly encouraged to read are about Intel's and Microsoft's sabotage of the GNU/Linux-based OLPC and the collusion fiasco which involves the Microsoft ‘holy trinity’, including companies like Intel and Hewlett-Packard. It’s about Windows Vista, so it’s recent. What we see here is by no means ethical, not as much as greedy. It’s a case of companies conspiring against customers by limiting choice, fixing prices, reducing feature sets, etc.

Twice very recently we wrote about the Eee PC incident from Australia [1, 2], so Microsoft’s tactics are already proving effective. Perhaps. A reliable source in the UK told us that Asustek receives considerable discounts from Microsoft for the Eee PC, so the leaked plan that’s unveiled above may have already taken effect, quietly.

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3 Comments

  1. Victor Soliz said,

    May 10, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Gravatar

    Wow, did the article read as “Microsoft decides Vista is more important to the IT world than actual progress, hopes PC makers agree to their non-sense”

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 10, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft looks at new ideas, they don’t evaluate whether the idea will move the industry forward, they ask, ‘how will it help us sell more copies of Windows?’

    — Bill Gates, The Seattle Weekly, (April 30, 1998)

    Regarding Vista as a DRM cage:

    Since when has the world of computer software design been about what people want? This is a simple question of evolution. The day is quickly coming when every knee will bow down to a silicon fist, and you will all beg your binary gods for mercy.

    — Bill Gates

    Welcome to Microsoft Windows — where innovation is economic alone.

  3. max stirner said,

    May 11, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Gravatar

    i thought this article was rather shocking and was actually waiting for you to pick it up ;)

    It shows how technological progress is effectively hindered by monopolistic arrangements rather than anything else. the big desktop machine is deader than vista, the cloud has arrived. the fact that MS is still managing to sell their 8-year old piece of rubbish is sad enough..

    one would want a 15” SSD-HD 1kg linux machine for 500 USD max., macair without the brand premium, and that is obv technically feasible! at the same time everybody would stand to lose a nice big margin (which has been shrinking since the 80s).

    cant we please have some taiwanese company cut the thieving lot out of the market here?!

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