...now if only they'd make it easy for NGO's to buy and license the same things overseas (more on that in a minute).
In a bid to win back the developing world into the arms of Redmond, Microsoft announced today a special discount bundle of its core software:
According to Computerworld:
The initiative, an expansion of Microsoft's "Unlimited Potential" strategy, involves offering governments a $3 software package called the Student Innovation Suite. It includes Windows XP Starter Edition, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, Microsoft Math 3.0, Learning Essentials 2.0 for Microsoft Office, and Windows Live Mail desktop.
The suite will be available by the end of this year to qualifying governments that are working to supply PCs to students in order to promote technology skills. In 2008, Microsoft will extend its availability to all countries with economies defined as low- or middle-income by the The World Bank.
I hope that Kosovo will be a "qualifying governing" for this program given that it is not an official country. Microsoft is seeing the developing world move more and more to Linux, which is free of charge.
In a world awash in boot-leg software, this is a smart move for Microsoft. At the same time it has to work harder to make Microsoft products available through legitimate channels.
Last year I spent quite a while trying to buy legal copies of Windows XP and Office for our community center. My parent organization refused to help through their volume licensing program. So I spent a lot of time on the phone with Redmond, WA, Germany and Croatia. No one believed that it was impossible buy legal software in Kosovo.
I'll always remember the German MS representative who snottily asked, "you've been in every store??" when I told him legal software didn't exist.
Despite my gripes, this seems like a good move for Microsoft and a for developing countries. I'll be fascinated to know how they'll keep all those pesky license keys straight though.