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Microsoft and the OLPC Strategy, as Interpreted by a Reader

Nick Negroponte
Picture from Wikipedia



Summary: Another look at what antitrust exhibits reveal about Microsoft's abuse of OLPC

OVER the years we have written extensively about OLPC because Microsoft was involved in sabotaging this project. The project committed the 'sin' of choosing GNU/Linux (the AMD component is another story), so Microsoft 'pulled a Best Buy' on it [1, 2, 3, 4] (or 'pulled a Wal-Mart' [1, 2]).



The invaluable repository which is Comes vs Microsoft has provided us with copies of confidential E-mails from Microsoft -- ones that show how it schemed to strangle OLPC. We have the entire shebang as plain text. A regular reader of ours has taken a second, closer look at the exhibits and the facts as they are known today. He shared the following thoughts with us.

"Take note of the times the emails were sent," he writes, "it produces an interesting narrative."

Highlighted in red are Microsoft's own words. Quoting Microsoft, the reader shows the following: "We should see how we can "target" the funds for the specific research"

His translation of this is: "We should bend the research away from Open Source."

More from Microsoft: "I think we should name our new open source license and romance its creation. "Education Open Source""

"No comment necessary," says our reader. Interestingly, Microsoft is still using the same tactics against OSI and the FSF.

Microsoft then says: "we need to manage the billg messaging carefully"

“Join 'whatever', then tie it up in processes until it's a shadow of its former self. Then withdraw and implement your own version.”
      --Anonymous
There we can see the involvement of the 'charitable' Mr. Gates as well.

Microsoft views the truly charitable project as follows: "Clearly we don't want a world where we're flat footed as Google figures out how to give states or countries $x in hardware subsidy based on the devices being somehow locked to google search"

"Yet more Microsoft projection and paranoia," calls it our reader. "This is *precisely* what Microsoft would do/is doing. How many times have they been caught leaning on the OEMs to give their stuff pre-eminence on the desktop, to keep the other fellas stuff off the desktop, including Dell and Intel - on their own hardware."

Here is an example from Dell and several from Intel:



The E-mails from Microsoft were sent (at least in one case) "from Windows Vista Beta-2 CTP"

"If they hadn't expended so much effort in sabotaging the OLPC," says our reader, "then Vista might have worked."

"This is the mother lode," claims out reader, further calling it "the money shot."

"Presenting a clear and unambiguous depiction of the Microsoft Strategy," he argues, would be valuable for future reference.

Our reader described the strategy as follows: "Join 'whatever', then tie it up in processes until it's a shadow of its former self. Then withdraw and implement your own version. Oh, and they do get a look-see at the OLPC from the inside."

Further quoting from Microsoft's own mouth (Craig Mundie[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]): "Remember that a key part of our strategy is to create a situation where even if Nick [Negroponte] rejects us for philosophical reasons there is a long and visible history of our attempts to work with them and then we have to ask to get a license for the "open source hardware" and we will make our own offering on the commercial side."

Our reader's translation of this is as follows: "Remember that a key part of our strategy is to create the illusion that we are attempting to work with them and it was they who rejected our strategy and therefore we ask *them* for an "open source hardware" license."

"This is interesting as in how recent it is," concludes our reader (it is from October 2005). "It's same-ole-same-ole Microsoft shuffle."

"Fat operating systems spend most of their energy supporting their own fat."

--Nicholas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab, rediff.com, Apr 2006

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