$2.5USD for a legitimate copy of MS WIndows and Office

Sep 2, 2008

I was taken aback to learn from Chris, my teammate + roommate during PV08, that Microsoft is giving away its Windows and Office licenses at a dirt cheap price: $2.5USD to people in developing countries. It looked like Microsoft is doing something good.

The team was very happy with the news because we intended to use as much legitimate software as possible in the lab that we were preparing for the next school year the 15 May School. A fairy tale has become reality I guess.

So I started to contact people at Microsoft Vietnam and fortunately they had launched this program in our country. Great! And guess what, the Microsoft people were really nice to me.

However, Microsoft itself said this was not intended as a philanthropic crusade. It is still a business model. And the reason behind this scheme is that people are stuck to MS Windows forever without really realizing that they've beome technology slaves. From an economic perspective, people respond to incentives. Who on earth would not pay $2.5usd to get a legitimate license of Windows and Office, everyone? This is not Africa. And this is a smart move from Microsoft to combat privacy and push Linux away in emerging markets. You deserve my admiration.

The response got from Ms Ngoc Anh, Education Account Manager delivered the following messages:

- We work with the Department of Education only, not you :)

- You have to buy at least 100 licenses. We don't deal in pennies.

What? 100 licenses? We only have 20 computers. And we don't want to make life complicated by asking the Department of Education. Bureaucracy, remember? This is Vietnam!

I then nicely asked if we could buy 100 licenses and give the rest 80 to others. Unfortunately, the request was rejected because it was not a part of their policy.

Even though I am aware that working through the Department of Education is the right way to promote such program, I still have a feeling that this is politically intentional. I think both the Dept of Edu and Microsoft benefits from such a deal. But why don't they make it more flexible. This seems so much to me a deterrent, not an incentive at all.

Windows XP Pro 110$ / 1 PC

Office 2008 65$/ 1 PC

Are you seriously kidding? I'm not going to spend that much for 20 computers.

Microsoft has simply got me frustrated and I'm not gonna tolerate this monopolistic and unethical business model any longer.

Here are two solutions:

- For the 15 May School, I've left everything as is because it was not us who installed pirated versions of Windows onto those machines.

- For our upcoming program, goodbye Microsoft. I highly appreciate your clever trick, but Ubuntu is way better an alternative.

For those of you who still think you can get something decent from Microsoft, forget about it. Take a look at Ubuntu instead.

Tip: If you are working for a school, and find you cannot live without Microsoft, do contact them and pay a small amount of money to get what you want. But I can guarantee you this is not a smart move on your part.

On another side note,for any business model that wishes to be successful, principles are of utmost importance. Look at how Google is moving forward and Microsoft is falling behind. No matter how smart you and how great your techniques are, principles matter.