Summary: A detailed explanation of what Microsoft is doing at the moment to indoctrinate the young and make this seem commendable
IN OUR page about counterfeiting we help show that Microsoft spreads lock-in while whining about “privacy” or calling it “charity”. This is purely propaganda. Over at the Philippines it seems like Microsoft may have bribed against GNU/Linux again, painting it with the ‘donation’ brush, as usual. The whole approach is known internally (at Microsoft) as “EDGI” and we have a wiki page about that too.
TechDirt takes apart some of the latest Microsoft PR and explains why Microsoft’s so-called ‘giveaways’ are just cheap marketing. To quote parts of it:
This means that of the $949 million dollars “contributed” to nonprofits, $844 million — 88% – was actually software, presumably Microsoft’s, since it’s unlikely it went out and bought it from competitors.
Now, I’m not suggesting that the people who put up the web page about Microsoft’s contributions to nonprofits were following that definition exactly. But equally, it seems likely that the gist is the same: it’s a kind of rough price that you’d usually find in normal markets selling the products in question. And those prices are almost certainly well above the cost of manufacturing, especially if the software was delivered online, or if multiple installations were permitted.
So the actual cost to Microsoft of that donated software is likely to be only a small fraction of the $844 million “fair market value” cited. This inevitably tempers our admiration for Microsoft’s ten-figure generosity somewhat.
But there’s something else. Microsoft wasn’t just handing out a bunch of any old products: it was giving away mostly Windows and Office, judging by a table showing a breakdown by region. Both of these are well-known for the lock-in effects they produce: once you start installing applications and creating documents with them, it’s quite hard to move to a completely different platform like Apple or GNU/Linux. Most people don’t even try.
So these free copies not only cost Microsoft considerably less than the $844 million figure it used to calculate that near-billion dollar total for its corporate brochure, but it wasn’t really altruistic at all. With hundreds of thousands of copies of Windows being distributed (417,030 were supplied for refurbished computers alone), there is a very high probability that Microsoft will be benefiting financially – and not just in terms of goodwill — from upgrades and follow-on sales for many years to come.
We no longer cover this subject as much as we used to because it has been covered to death. The challenge is explaining to the broad public (which primarily relies on television for information) that a lot of “charity” is in fact the very opposite of it. █