03.22.10

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Report: Microsoft May be Fined 300,000,000 Pesos (~€55 Million) for Illegally Removing GNU/Linux as Option

Posted in America, Antitrust, Courtroom, Fraud, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Argentina and ballmer

Summary: Trouble for Microsoft in Argentina; our source suggests that unless Microsoft pulls a legal stunt (or corruption), the major fine will soon be announced

LAST year’s repulsive incident in Argentina showed a Richard Stallman talk getting cancelled, allegedly after Microsoft had played a role. That old post also contains many references about the state of Free software in Argentina. The following new article from the Miami Herald indicates that Argentina has just acquired a quarter of a million small laptops, but it does not say which operating system these come with.

On March 17, Peru signed a deal for an additional 260,000 laptops from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, a nonprofit venture that is selling laptops for $188 each. The new order will bring to 590,000 the number of laptops delivered to Peru’s elementary school children under a program that provides most of the machines to one-teacher schools in poverty-stricken rural areas.

On March 18, Argentina’s government delivered the first of 250,000 Intel “Classmate” laptops for students of technical high schools, only hours after the mayor of Buenos Aires, an opposition leader, announced that his city will order 190,000 laptops for elementary school children.

Last month, Brazil announced a bid to buy 1.5 million laptops for elementary school children.

Neighboring Uruguay recently became the first country in the world to give all elementary school children in public schools one Internet-connected laptop each, which is their own property and they can take home.

We have covered many success stories of GNU/Linux in south America, including several that show how Microsoft brutally strikes back and attempts to derail any attempts of digital independence in the region.

“It’s most odd. I went into a computer store recently and saw nothing but “Windows 7″, this in stark contrast to 4-6 months ago where they had low-end ASUS running a variant of Linux.”
      –Anonymous reader
In our Wiki we have a list of posts that reveal how Microsoft sabotaged GNU/Linux in sub-notebooks (it didn’t quite work out for Microsoft, but the company did try and it fell under antitrust investigations for it). “It’s most odd,” told us a reader today, “I went into a computer store recently and saw nothing but “Windows 7″, this in stark contrast to 4-6 months ago where they had low-end ASUS running a variant of Linux. What gives?”

Our reader then informed us of the following new post from Argentina. It says that “Microsoft [is] under fire in Argentina: it faces a fine of more than 50 million euros for anticompetitive activities”

But starting from 2 years ago, I have seen that it has become impossible to find any longer a single machine with GNU / Linux in retail: worse, we saw some very dubious agreements negotiated under the high patronage of the founder of the multinational software company that monopolises the operating systems market.

One may well ask why: this is not without reminding us of the situation here in France, where after SFR placed on the market more thatn 250000 Netbooks all equipped with GNU / Linux about two years ago, we can not find now a single netbook without Windows (yes, I write the name in full letters now, because I am particularly upset: I wanted to buy one for personal use this Christmas, but despite my efforts, I have not found a single model with a GNU / Linux preinstalled in France).

The few remaining fans of software monopolies like to say that this sudden vanishement proves that the other operating system is superior to GNU / Linux.

Well, I happen to have in my hands right now a copy of the appeal filed against Microsoft by the little Argentine SMEs Pixart, and it is very helpful in understanding what really happened there … and very likely what is happening here too.

[...]

But this time there is a difference: if Microsoft was convicted in Argentina, my legal contacts there tell me it would risk a fine of approximately 300,000,000 pesos, which, at the current exchange rate, would amount to more than 55 million euros.

Corruption is rife there: an official, a lawyer or a witness might be tempted to pocket a tidy little sum for losing a piece of evidence, let a legal deadline slip trhough, change the judge, or any other action that contributes to bury the trial before the interesting pieces of evidence are exposed to the light.

But I hope that this time, no civil servant, no politician in Argentina will accept to earn a few pennies to help the software juggernaut deprive his country of 55 million euros, crush a small Argentinian company struggling to maintain local industrial capacity in Free Software, and imprison again the country behind the bars of a Windows prison.

This isn’t the first time and there is similar action up north in Canada [1, 2]. Microsoft is still an abusive monopolist that stifles choice in the market. Let’s wait until a fine is made official. Microsoft’s legal team is said to be resorting to criminal activities, so maybe they can pervert justice in this case. The system is south America is probably more susceptible to it.

Update: the scale of the projected fines has been amended to half of the original, i.e. 150,000,000 pesos.

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