I have posted about an open letter François Bancilhon, CEO of Mandriva, wrote to Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.
Here I intend to give proper answer to some comments in the Mandriva blog page, mostly covering ethical and legal issues.
For a complete immersion on the subject, please read the whole letter. For a summary: the government of Nigeria decided to buy 17k computers. Mandriva and Microsoft made offers, and Mandriva won. After the computers being sent to Nigeria, the government of Nigeria contacted Mandriva and informed them that they'd pay the bill, but that they had changed their mind and would install Windows instead.
Now some comments in the Mandriva blog page, and my responses:
November 1, 2007 at 3:03 pm
Would you entrust your country’s educational computer future to a company whose CEO writes whiny unprofessional conspiracy theories on his blog? I sure as hell wouldn’t.
Even if bribes were made (and I’m just saying hypothetically ‘if’), the reality is that for this to have happened somebody must have seen value in a Microsoft solution over your ware. It’s your fault for not being able to convince the customer otherwise, not Microsoft’s for behaving like a business.
1) The whole point is that with Mandriva the Nigerian government wouldn't be "entrusting their country's educational computer future" to anyone. It's the other way around! No matter how stupid/lame/immoral/illegal Mandriva and its CEO are, once you make the Linux bet, you are free. You don't depend on any single vendor for anything. I know it's a complex concept for a slave-minded Windows user, but Linux is about Freedom. On the other hand, going for Windows implies entrusting yourself to a single company: Microsoft. Would you pledge obedience to an unethical, monopolistic, soulless, predatory and often illegal company? You are doing so by surrendering to MS. Besides, the CEO of Mandriva is not "whining". He is caring. After all, they got the money, so, if money was his only concern, he'd be happy. But he is concerned about more things, which you seem to be impervious to: the fairness of the deal, the fulfillment of closed agreements, the access of Nigerian youth to Free Software, the respect of MS to anti-monopoly and fair market rules... The wise is pointing the sky, and you look at the finger instead.
2) It is not Mandriva's "fault", and MS did not "behave like a business". If MS somehow bribed the Nigerian government, they'd be seriously breaking international law, violating the rules you rely on to believe you live in a democracy. Not "everything" is permitted in business. A monopolistic holding can not sell products below price (dumping) to eliminate the competitors. It is against law, and, if permitted, it totally damages the consumer in the long run. In the short run, the lower prices are a plus for the consumer, but once the competition is hampered, the company in the monopolistic position can continue abusing the market (raising the prices, lowering the quality, applying arbitrary limitations...).
November 5, 2007 at 3:46 pm
What are you whining about. You have sold your PC you already have your money. If the Nigerians would say, we don’t want to pay for the software because we install Microsoft Windows i could understand your complaining. But you have deliverd your goods, and got payed. What is your problem, if the Nigerians want to convert the machines to a Sony Playstation, that is not you problem, it is their right because they have bought and payed for the goods. I can’t understand all those whining of Linux community against Microsoft, I use Linux myself and the company uses Windows. Linux is not heaven and Microsoft is not Hell. If you look at companies as Suse/Novell and Red Hat, it is no open source anymore (they are copieing the Microsoft marketing strategie).
François, stop whining and use a better sales team
3) Again, François is not complaining for money! He is speaking of fairness, justice, and even the good of the Nigerians themselves. Don't you get it? Mandriva won the contract, because their offer was better. Any act whatsoever afterwards is a dirty trick (possibly illegal) to impose a worse product that had lost in fair competition. François is worried about Nigerians getting the worse product.
4) About Mandriva getting a better sales team... why should they? They freakin' won the contract!! Their product is better, and their sales team did convince the Nigerian government. Where did Mandriva fail? They should have bribed the Nigerian government, I infer?
November 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm
Come on guys! Seriously, you wonder why the mass market isn’t taking on Linux in numbers? There’s a number of reasons, but comments like:
“I am proud to be a linux user and i’ll die as a linux user.”
“MS is like a drug dealer”
And then moaning about ethics. Come on - this is business.
5) No. François is not talking only about ethics. Bribing someone to dump the option that won in a public competition and choose the loser option is illegal and unfair. Besides, it is also unethic, and your lame ad hominem attack on Linux users doesn't "prove" otherwise. What you accuse Linux users of is not unethic, and even if it were, it doesn't disprove our arguments (read what an ad hominem is, please).
Maybe, just maybe Microsoft presented a really good business case, stating the TCO on a volume licence agreement compared to the Mandrivia option. The cost would be reduced due to the volume licence agreement anyway, and that also includes free technical support to MS.
6) This line of argumentation is irrelevant. Obviously MS might have a better offer than Mandriva. But the public competition was made just for that! Both Mandriva and MS made the offers they considered fit, and Mandriva won. How many times does this need to be said? Mandriva won the competition and MS lost it. If the Nigerian government changed their mind afterwards, it has nothing to do with MS's merits, because such merits were judged in the public competition that Mandriva won.
Whilst Linux is a great platform, it’s still nowhere near Vista or XP level yet. Whilst Linux is free or very cheap this is OK - but if you compare Vista against Linux and remove the cost out of the equasion then the worlds most popular OS is probably going to win it.
7) You have obviously not used Linux much. The technical competition was lost for Windows long time ago. The only advantage of Windows is that it is more widely used and that more commercial software is made for it, and this generates a vendor lock-in effect. Both effects are external to Windows. Intrinsically, and leaving the price aside, Linux is miles ahead of MS Windows.
That’s just business, we’ve had the same thing happen to us (our company is a web development company. Got Phase 1 done, but support went as they got their system redone by a competitor before we even finished development) Get over it, stop whining like children and start working as a commerical entity rather than hobbyists.
8 ) This is not "business", this is breaking the law (see point 2 above).
November 4, 2007 at 8:28 pm
I don’t understand what all this fuss is about,Someone buys a laptop or PC that comes pre-installed with windows (also paying for the software) then remove windows and install mandriva no one complains.
Then he do the opposite and everyone takes up arms.
9) You are wrong. If I buy a laptop privately, I can do with it whatever I see fit. But the Nigerian government bought 17k computers with public money. Whenever you do something like that, you have to make (if you live in a democracy) a public competition, to see which provider makes the best offer (to guarantee that public money is spent correctly). This competition was made, and Mandriva won. If, afterwards, and with no further public competition, the government decides otherwise, they are misusing the public funds.
Lets face it the Nigerian government wanted a good cheap hardware deal and they got it and they probably also got a good deal on OS from Microsft as well. So they went for it. What is this Francois complaining about? Wasnt he paid or did they violate a contract that he can sue them for? If they did he can go ahead ad sue and stop whinning.
10) See point 9 above.
Did he ever go to Nigeria to protect his investment? Or did he just read up all the drivel and nonsense about Nigeria being a corrupt country full of spammers like the rest of you and decide to stay away as far as possible.
11) No. What François did was to win the public competition with his better offer. Period. Mandriva's offer was better, it won, and any other use of the Nigerian money is a misuse on the government's side, and illegal actions from MS's side depending on what they did to get the deal.
On spam: I recieve more spam on people trying to sell me viagra or sell me a home ownership loan or even winning a lottery than Nigerians trying to get me to move millions out of the country and I treat them all the same way: I trash them.
Lets concentrate on the real issue being poor marketing and follow up and leave Nigeria’s ethics or lack of it out of the issue
12) The "real issue" is not poor marketing. It is improper assignation of public funds. Read points 9 and 11 above.
November 3, 2007 at 5:46 pm
Your letter show ignorance on your part about black people in general and Nigerians in partucular. Nigerians may be poor now- but they are certainly not stupid!
Your assuption- even though you have dealt with nigerians is that they are ignorant about both business issue and they do not have they technical savvy to make their own decisions- it’s nothing but pure racism. Not racisim out of malice- you seem to demonstarte a sincere ignorance about the abilities of africans.
Incidentlly, only French young people spend more time in education than Nigerians in the whole world- you can check that out
Do you seriously Think Nigerians- some of the best educated people in in African , if not in the world are not clever enough to change from your OS to microsoft’s.
13) You are using a laughable straw man argument. François is not implying that Nigerians are stupid. He (if I understand correctly) is implying that a) MS behaved illegally, bribing the Nigerian government to make it choose an option that had lost in a fair and public competition, over the one that had won, and b) it might be a case of corruption in the Nigerian government side, by knowingly choosing the loser in the aforementioned competition, and hence misusing the public money assigned to buy computers. To "change their mind", the Nigerian government would have had to repeat the public competition, so that MS could win in a second round.
As a person of Nigerian parentage, when i first read about your deal I was alamed about you supplying your OS to nigerian schools. From what I know about Nigerians everybody used microsoft anyway- Every Nigerian I know- including the teachers who would be using this machnines use microsoft.
The delivery of machine s that are rugged by your company is just the perfect thing for nigeria and her schools.
To me it sounds like the best business outcome- from the point of view of the customer.
They get rugged machines good for their situation, and an os they are used to
I think for once Nigerians have let common sence rather than money to prevail.
Maybe you should press our advantage that they loved your machines to keep your relationship with the Nigerian govermenmt going, so that you get more contracts from the country- Nigerian is a huge country with millions of young people eager to learn. A well considered stategy and long term view by your country in a frican may in the end popularise your OS there as well- believe me there are ways to beat microsoft in a country like nigeria- I mean software design wise
14) Getting computers with Windows is about the worst possible outcome for Nigeria. You say that Nigerians are eager to learn, but on the other hand you say that getting Windows is better, because they are used to it! Staying with the known "bad" thing, not to have to learn the new "good" thing is very bad politics for a developing country.
November 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm
Maybe because Mandriva is just one of 10.000 linux distro’s, and Windows is the defacto industry standard.
15) Windows being the de facto standard is really really bad for the computer users. What this means is that instead of software makers following the standards agreed upon by all agents (makers, users, governments...), it's the other way around: users, governments and other companies have to follow the decisions of MS. Decisions that are taken to benefit only MS, regardless of how negative they might be for the users. Do you really think this situation is good for you?
If you are running a government, and you have to choose between:
a. A linux distro that my students have a 1% (a very very high estimate) of using in real life (that is working for a company)
b. A M$ solution, they will use in at least 50% (a very very low estimate) of the companies they will ever work for.
Now what do you choose to best prepare your students?
16) Your argument is that people shouldn't use Linux because people don't use Linux. Reread it, an realize what a nonsense it is! The correct reasoning is the following:
a) Windows binds you to a vendor (MS) / Linux doesn't
b) Windows restricts your rights to use, modify and redistribute it / Linux doesn't
c) Windows artificially restricts (DRM) what kind of media you can play on it / Linux doesn't
d) Windows encourages you not to learn how the computer works / Linux does the opposite
e) Windows makes you dependent on proprietary formats / Linux doesn't
f) Windows is bug ridden, unstable and subject to malware / The incidence of these is infinitely smaller in Linux
g) Windows encourages following the beaten path / Linux encourages finding your own way
h) Windows makes you fall in a dependency loop that is hard to get out of / Linux gives you freedom
i) Windows means more money to the already rich / Linux means more power to the user
Now, as a teacher in a developing country, eager to break the chains with the First World domination, to give the most freedom and power to your students, to educate them to learn, and not just repeat what others do without real knowledge... what would you choose to provide your students?
November 1, 2007 at 4:02 am
Why are you assuming that Microsoft did something underhanded? It could very well be the case that a deal with Microsoft is more viable for the Nigerian goverment in the longer run -
- Their products are tried and trusted. Yours is still an unknown quantity.
- Their customer support is supposedly very good. How about yours?
- Maybe the TCO for Microsoft’s solution is lower than your solution.
I’m in no way taking sides. But you must be willing to accept the possibility that Microsoft could have presented a better long term deal for them.
17) Did you actually read François's post? MS lost the public competition. Mandriva won it. MS's offer could have been better, but it actually wasn't. Read point 6 above.
November 2, 2007 at 11:37 am
Wow, more bitching from a Linux distro because Microsoft won a deal? Unheard-of!
18) Again the same nonsense! Microsoft LOST the deal. There was a public competition, and Mandriva won. Mandriva and MS had the opportunity to make their best offers, both did, and the government chose Madriva. MS didn't win the deal: they bribed their way into it. Read points 2, 6 and 9 above, please.
Sorry, but Microsoft makes a better product. You know why? It doesn’t abuse my time.
I’ve tried to use Linux. I’ve tried Ubuntu, and Debian, and Fedora, and countless other distros (yours included) throughout the years. And every time, I’ve run into problems which are so simple to fix in Windows, but take HOURS of my time to attempt to fix in Linux. And I say “attempt”, because 90% of the time, the “solutions” don’t work, and I’ve wasted another hour of my life trying to make something simple (like, a Flash plug-in for Firefox in x64?, to name one of MANY!) work.
A friend of mine said, “Linux is only free if your time is worthless”. Microsoft products work easily, the first time, and don’t waste my life with trivial issues and setup. I can get a Windows Vista box up and surfing the internet, playing games, watching movies, doing ANYTHING you want, in under 2 hours. I’ll take a little “insecurity” (and Windows is only insecure if you’re an idiot) for that!
19) This rant is more tech-related than about the Mandriva vs. MS issue at hand. Anyway, I will comment something: your experience is anecdotal. Windows is easier than Linux if you are an expert in the former, and an ignorant in the latter. I have a long experience in both, and for me Linux is easier. When I an forced to use that pile of crap called Windows I keep finding that I don't know how to do the simplest things. Maybe it's because I am more used to Linux... so this proves my point. And there are a lot of things that are really simple in Linux, and are really annoying, or impossible to do in Windows.
You say that "Linux is only free if your time is worthless". It's a good point, but rather false. You are assuming that you already know how to use Windows, and that you have to learn how to use Linux. But if you know neither, learning Linux does not necessarily require more of your valuable time. Moreover, all the time I have spent figuring out how to do things in Linux was not wasted time for me. I learned a lot, not about Linux, but about how to do stuff, and how computers work, and how the Internet works, and about security, and about programming, and about an awful lot of things. Linux gave me the marvelous opportunity to learn a lot!
Update: Nigerian government moves back to Mandriva