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01.03.10

Microsoft Bribes to Make Education Microsoft-based

Posted in Asia, Bill Gates, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 8:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dead-end company

Summary: Microsoft stoops very low to derail GNU/Linux and Free software in education around the world

YESTERDAY we wrote about EDGI in the context of Munich. Microsoft tried to derail Munich’s migration to GNU/Linux by making ‘special’ offers. Steve Ballmer even canceled or shortened his ski trip due to this “emergency” which is the emergence of competition in Germany. Microsoft cannot afford having competition because it means that customers suddenly have this thing called “choice”.

Bribes from Microsoft are not an unusual thing; they are a matter of strategy in fact, as the Comes vs Microsoft case clearly reveals.

Some days ago it was Scott Fulton who remarked on these documents that embody admissions of bribery, but he does not take it seriously enough. Perhaps he is not sufficiently familiar with the 9,000 or so individual exhibits and therefore assumes — based on extrapolation — that there is nothing exceptional there. In Beta News he wrote along the usual lines:

In February 2008, Groklaw reporter Pamela Jones uncovered a piece of public evidence from the Comes v. Microsoft antitrust trial in Iowa, that spelled out the symbolism that characterized Microsoft’s public stance throughout the 1990s and for the first part of the following decade. Early in 2000, a company technical evangelist named James Plamondon produced an internal company presentation entitled “Effective Evangelism” (PDF available here, from Groklaw), but which came to be known by its initial heading, “Evangelism Is War.”

There is also this new article from IDG which contains:

Microsoft is busted

In April 2000, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued the first big ruling in a series of antitrust decisions to hit the software giant during the decade. Jackson found that Microsoft maintained its monopoly power by anticompetitive means and illegally attempted to monopolize the Web browser market. The final judgment in the U.S. federal case established restrictions related to licensing agreements and ordered that Microsoft release some of its intellectual property. Microsoft also faced private and government antitrust cases involving individual U.S. states, Sun Microsystems, and the European Union, which fined Microsoft US$794 million in 2004. Ramifications persist. Microsoft still meets with U.S. officials who monitor its behavior, and the European Commission just this month accepted the company’s promise to allow Windows users to choose which Internet browser they use, ending a browser-market investigation. The cases were a huge distraction for Microsoft but ultimately made its software work better with competing technology. They also provided a template of sorts for antitrust cases brought against Intel this year in the U.S. and Europe.

Microsoft was found guilty. It broke the law and then resorted to political escape routes. History, however, is not the main subject of this post. Today we present new evidence that Microsoft is paying Sri Lanka to make its children “addicted” (Gates’ word) to Microsoft. Yes, paying, not charging. That’s dumping from a monopoly, which is against competition rules (law). From the Sunday Times:

Microsoft recently announced that it would be funding the Education for Knowledge Society Project (EKSP) of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Education for 12 to 15 months via a Rs. 100 million grant.

Sri Lanka is not a surprising target for this. English F/OSS articles from/about Sri Lanka (2006-2009) are added at the bottom for context [1-11].

This whole strategy sounds familiar because it’s so widespread. See the case of Spain for example:

Also see what Microsoft does to Portuguese education:

In the cases above, Microsoft sent its #1 lobbyist [1, 2, 3, 4], Bill Gates, whose role as education subvertor we wrote about in:

It seems as though more corrupt deals are being signed by Microsoft in Italy amidst abuse, even at the time when the country is abandoning Microsoft. This new article is an eye opener:

Risks for Italian Public Education in Government/Microsoft deal

What would you do if a teacher tried to teach your children to write only with one brand and model of pens or pencils, “because that’s what everybody uses”? Would you laugh in his face and immediately ask he’s suspended from teaching or would you let him continue?

If you answered “I’d laugh and then make sure he’s suspended” and you’d like that school taught as to solve problems rather than blindly push buttons like monkeys, here is an interesting story.

Microsoft has been under examination for several years before the European Union, with charges of abuse of dominant position, that is because it makes unnecessarily difficult to get rid of its software even for users who would like to run other programs in order to save money or for any other reason. This is why, starting in 2004, the European Union fined Microsoft for more than one and a half billion Euros.

With such a background, why did Italian Ministers Brunetta and Gelmini signed a three years deal for multimedia educational tools and services with Microsoft in a moment (September 2009) in September 2009, when the EU antitrust regulators hadn’t yet verified if the answers from Microsoft to the charges against them were acceptable?

Microsoft is even trying to stifle adoption of Free software in the Philippines. Microsoft Philippines, whose head left some months ago, has been behind many blunders in 2008, e.g.:

Melvin Calimag, who tends to write FOSS-hostile articles [1, 2] after his trip to Microsoft, is writing about the Microsoft proxy/satellite known as "Grameen Foundation" doing its service for the monopoly:

The Redmond, Washington-based software giant made the announcement during a recent seminar for NGOs it co-sponsored with microfinance organization Grameen Foundation in Makati City.

[...]

It is the first in a series of education and mentorship forums for microfinance that Microsoft and Grameen Foundation plan to conduct in other countries in the coming year.

The Philippines was chosen as the launch market because of its leadership in the microfinance industry and advanced technology infrastructure, as well as the availability of resources on the ground to assist MFIs in adopting technology.

Based on evidence from December, Grameen Foundation could be one of those Gates- and Microsoft-serving NGOs. It’s headed by Microsoft veterans. Microsoft is gaining more of them, based on the following article:

In 2006, John Wood wrote Leaving Microsoft To Change The World, a memoir of his journey from fast track corporate life to opening libraries across the world. He talks to DNA about the different kinds of challenges and rewards that come his way, and how to run an NGO like a business

More colours of "American EDGI" thanks to a donation (by IBM)

The new training stations will allow JVS to offer more classes on basics like how to use Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and the networking site LinkedIn.

“America’s Largest Microsoft IT Academy” is said to have just gone bankrupt.

ComputerTraining.edu closes without refunding students, creates bad press for Microsoft

[...]

Students trying to attend their ComputerTraining.edu classes this week were welcomed by an awful surprise in that ComputerTraining.edu was closing its doors. With 22 locations around the country, the school calls itself “America’s Largest Microsoft IT Academy. This is according to their web site that is still up as of this morning. They are still accepting applications as well, but hopefully they aren’t still trying to take money from their applicants as the rumor has it they are applying for bankruptcy.

If these students were learning Microsoft, then they were studying for the wrong skills anyway. This comes to show that the Microsoft ecosystem is collapsing and running out of money, too. Microsoft is now extending its “shills” ecosystems with incentives and more awards:

Today is not only the first day of 2010, but it’s also the day that several individuals around the world, wake up to see an email from Microsoft. That email states that they have been awarded (or re-awarded), the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award. This award is to recognize their community contributions over the past year; specifically in helping others get the most out of Microsoft technologies (like Office, Zune, XBOX 360, Sharepoint, Home Server, etc).

Microsoft is paying these people to bash GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3]. It happens on several fronts at the moment, even with full-time employees [1, 2].
_____
[1] 400 OLPC XO laptops to primary school children

The first Sri Lankan project of the internationally lauded One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation was officially launched on Thursday with “over 400″ primary school children being presented OLPC XO laptops “personally” by the country’s President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, according to a statement by the local arm of OLPC.

[2] Suntel bids adieu to Microsoft, embraces IBM

IT major IBM announced today that Suntel, a Sri Lankan based telecommunications provider, has selected IBM Lotus software to create a collaborative environment to improve the way employees work together in any mode at any time, raising employee performance and cost-efficiency.

[...]

He added that they are also pleased with the contribution IBM has made to the open community through Lotus Suite of products. With Lotus Symphony, which is based on the Open Document Format (ODF), an open industry standard, Suntel no longer relies on a proprietary technology.

[3] Sri Lankan MIT award recipient proof of power of volunteerism

Meanwhile, his pride in Sahana is plain for all to see. Crediting the success of this project to its Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) platform, he notes that it has helped to improve disaster management systems in the aftermath of a large scale disaster, offering functions like tracking missing people, ‘who is doing what where’, aid management, volunteer management, shelter tracking, etc. As the software is Open Source, it has the added benefit of being a global public utility that anyone can download and use without the need for express permission.

[4] Sri Lanka to introduce one laptop per child

Two-million primary school children are to be provided with US$ 100-worth laptops under a farsighted initiative.

This is being launched by One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a US based organisation in collaboration with the Education Department and several local and foreign financial, technological and academic institutions.  

[5] Sri Lankan school children soon may own “$100 laptop”

Some of the two million primary school students in Sri Lanka soon may get to own the “$100 laptop” if an ambitious plan to introduce the product into Sri Lanka gets adequate support, officials said.  

[...]

Users also have access to a Linux-based text editing programme, an e-book reader, drawing, painting and music composition tools, and an in-built video camera.  

[...]

The laptop is pre-loaded with e-books, and the open source operating system will allow Sri Lankan Linux groups to adapt the machine to meet local learning requirements.  

[6] Sri Lanka based WSO2 makes splash at SOA World

The open source middleware technology company WSO2 says its products generated wide interest at the SOA World software conference in the United States.

[7] Sri Lanka’s open source community touts free software without piracy

While there is a trend in the industry moving towards GNU/Linux and Free and Open Source Software Microsoft Windows is still a dominating force.

[8] EnterpriseDB Partners, Fossmart to offer open source-based database solutions

“Sri Lankan businesses are well aware of the benefits of products built on open source, but require commercial-grade service and support to protect their investments. We will now be able to meet their database needs with EnterpriseDB.”

[...]

EnterpriseDB has enhanced PostgreSQL, the world?s most advanced open source database, to create the award-winning EnterpriseDB Advanced Server.

[9] Google funds Sri Lanka’s open source development

Popular Internet search engine Google has given the Lanka Software Foundation 25,000 dollars to drive open source software projects locally.

[10] Free software to keep you away from stealing

“In Sri Lanka 80 per cent of the software used among the computer users are pirated. The time has come for Sri Lankans to think about how and why they use information communication tools. Pirated computer software is taken for granted. But if you have free software this will never happen,” thero said.
 
According to FOSS local groups Free and Open Source Software is now a part of everyone’s life. These software come into effect when browsing the Web where 70 per cent all Web servers in the world use the open source Apache Web server, many of them running on the free Linux operating system and often using the free MySQL or PostgreSQL database. Free and open source software permeates every aspect of the software industry and is no longer a niche: it is here to stay and to change the software landscape.

[11] Sri Lanka Builds Software and Organizations at ApacheCon Asia

The Apache Software Foundation works on the principle that a good community will make good software. Open source organizations are taking root in Sri Lanka, a hotbed of Apache coding.
 
[...]
 
This conference was locally organized by the Lanka Software Foundation, the Lanka Linux Users’ Group and The Linux Center, all of which are non-profit organizations promoting the Sri Lankan FOSS community.
 
Sri Lanka, overcoming its smallness and leveraging its expat community and global focus, has been working on some innovative projects. These include FOSS-School, a unique event catering to students, which paves the way for the introduction and use of FOSS at the grassroots level.

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