Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 13th Sep 2010 20:57 UTC
Microsoft Who said a public outcry - even if it's just on the internet - never helped anyone? Yesterday, we reported on The New York Times' findings that Microsoft lawyers were taking part in raids on opposition groups in Russia. Today, Microsoft has announced a number of steps to fix the situation - the most significant of which is a unilateral software license extended to all NGOs in Russia and several other countries.
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Well done.
by tux68 on Mon 13th Sep 2010 21:46 UTC
tux68
Member since:
2006-10-24

Very nice to see this timely and helpful action by Microsoft. Kudos.

Reply Score: 6

I could bitch about anything...
by Moredhas on Mon 13th Sep 2010 21:47 UTC
Moredhas
Member since:
2008-04-10

I could bitch about anyhing, so I will. While it's awfully nice of Microsoft to offer this "unilateral license", there are two real reasons they've done it. Firstly, there's their usual vendor-lock-in practise. Members of NGOs will use Windows at home because they use it at work. Second should be obvious, giving them all free copies of Windows with no legal ambiguity means they won't all run off to the penguin flock to avoid suspicion of piracy. Microsoft could have sat bakc and done nothing, but I'm sure it woould have cost them a fair portion of the Russian private sector.

Reply Score: 1

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I think it says a lot about the 'alternatives' when people would en-masse rather pirate the pay version than even CONSIDER running the alleged 'free ones'.

While I very, very rarely agree with our very own troll deathshadow this I do kinda agree with. With Linux every time I use it there is either this or that wrong and needs workarounds, and it's getting annoying.

I just installed Linux on my new desktop yesterday and instantly ran to a problem: I couldn't set my resolution to the native one used by my display. I had to go tussle around in xorg.conf and add a 'Virtual' line in there for it to start working. Such a really god damn stupid issue that I don't understand why is there even need for such.

I know who were pirating XP tried 7, shrugged their shoulders and said "You know, I'd be willing to pay money for this"

I used to use Linux daily for all kinds of things. Nowadays I find myself using 7 and rarely even booting to Linux anymore. Knowing Microsoft's track record it kind of tickles me in the wrong way but I have to admit: 7 feels more stable than Linux :S

Reply Score: 2

Moredhas Member since:
2008-04-10

While your rant quite clearly indicates your literacy, perhaps your comprehension skills are what's lacking. I didn't ask "what about Linux", I didn't suggest they use Linux, I didn't even comment on the viability of Linux as an alternative. I just snidely insinuated that Microsoft aren't being as altogether altruistic as they would have us believe, and that their motivation was fear of a large migration away from Windows.

As an aside, I have been a Linux user for several years now, and I have had only ONE problem in that whole time: pulse audio used to make my laptop speakers make a small popping noise. So very minor and so easy to fix. None of my friends have nearly such a smooth experience with Windows, but I'm not so insecure as to go trolling about it.

Reply Score: 2

deathshadow Member since:
2005-07-12

I didn't ask "what about Linux", I didn't suggest they use Linux, I didn't even comment on the viability of Linux as an alternative.


means they won't all run off to the penguin flock to avoid suspicion of piracy


RIGHT.

Reply Score: 3

Moredhas Member since:
2008-04-10

I'd type slower, but of course that wouldn't help anything, so read very very carefully, and perhaps, instead of your selfrighteous presuppositions, my meaning may just penetrate the cloud of idiocy you insist on bringing to this discussion, and establish itself in that vaccuum of knowledge you call a brain.

Rightly or wrongly, validity and viability of Linux, or any other Windows alternative aside, Microsoft weren't being altruistic. They provided the unilateral license out of fear of losing the Russian private sector - no matter how ill-founded you consider that fear to be, this appears to be the case.

Reply Score: 3

and for paying customers....
by bnolsen on Mon 13th Sep 2010 21:48 UTC
bnolsen
Member since:
2006-01-06

...joke is on you.

This is a pretty sad state actually. It makes it seem now like MS is using their profits from other regions to subsidize others. They should have found some other way.

Reply Score: 2

RE: and for paying customers....
by sukru on Tue 14th Sep 2010 00:24 UTC in reply to "and for paying customers...."
sukru Member since:
2006-11-19

It's not cost per copy, it's the total cost and profit that matters for MS.

Say they program Windows for $1B in total (salaries, utilities, etc). They'll aim to gather say something like $2B all around the world to make a profit. Thus if they can get $300/copy in US and $30/copy in Russia, and the total adds up, it's OK for them.

The actual cost of plastic is of course a small $1 drop in the pond.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: and for paying customers....
by lemur2 on Tue 14th Sep 2010 01:36 UTC in reply to "RE: and for paying customers...."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

It's not cost per copy, it's the total cost and profit that matters for MS. Say they program Windows for $1B in total (salaries, utilities, etc). They'll aim to gather say something like $2B all around the world to make a profit. Thus if they can get $300/copy in US and $30/copy in Russia, and the total adds up, it's OK for them. The actual cost of plastic is of course a small $1 drop in the pond.


For "donations" like this, the marginal cost to Microsoft is not $300/copy in US or even $30/copy in Russia, it is more like the $1/copy everywhere.

Not a bad investment by Microsoft in order to buy $390 million worth of PR cred.

Edited 2010-09-14 01:37 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

I think you are overestimating the marginal cost at $1. If the affected parties are not aware of the license, then you have to assume they have either bought or pirated the software. So there is no additional cost to Microsoft. They are just renouncing the right the later sue the parties. Being NGOs that probably wouldn't bring in any money to Microsoft, and would probably affect Microsoft negatively if PR-value is considered. All in all, this is a free move. Only the office to advocate the new deal has any real cost associated to it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: and for paying customers....
by WereCatf on Tue 14th Sep 2010 09:22 UTC in reply to "and for paying customers...."
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

This is a pretty sad state actually. It makes it seem now like MS is using their profits from other regions to subsidize others. They should have found some other way.

This has been bothering me the whole last night. It just sounds so... selfish. There are actual people who are trying to make things better in Russia and they are in the risk of facing jailtime in the god damn horrible Russian prisons, and here you are complaining that they shouldn't have gotten Windows for free even when it's one of the major attack vectors for the government.

Besides, I don't think there really is any other way Microsoft could have helped. Unlicensed Windows installation being the primary excuse for arresting people there really is no other way than to make those installations licensed.

Reply Score: 3

Double Edged Sword...
by mrhasbean on Mon 13th Sep 2010 22:23 UTC
mrhasbean
Member since:
2006-04-03

...from whatever angle you look at this. In saying that, if a company can use helping someone as a marketing exercise it's also a win-win. So I suppose we say "Congratulations Microsoft you nasty thing you"?

Reply Score: 2

lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

FTA:

Over 2009, the company donated over $390 million in software

Actually, since Microsoft donated it, it is in reality a case of: "Over 2009, the company donated over a million round discs of plastic".

It is only "over $390 million in software" if anyone but Microsoft donated it.

Reply Score: 1

google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

I've seen you make that argument before lemur. You really don't understand the economics of software, or at least selling software in a productized model.

The average developer in the states makes about 75k/yr. MS tends to pay above average, you are probably talking 95-100k/yr. According to this blog, http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2008/08/18/windows_5f00_7_5f00_t..., there are about 23 main product teams for windows. An average software team is about 8-10 people (more then that gets fairly unwieldy). 10x23 = 230 devs at 100k is 23 000 000 big ones. MS also has a policy of hiring developers as testers, and at least tries to have 1.5 tester for each dev on a team. Testers are more like 80k, but we are still talking 345 people, which is 27 600 000. So just in developers and testers, we are talking 50.6m per year in manpower. Win7 was about 3.5 years in development, so we are talking 177.1m, as a rough estimate, in devs + testers.

Now thats a big number, but nothing compared to all the people we aren't counting. Managers (of which MS has _many_), designers, accountants, marketing folks, marketing campaigns, sales people, HR, IT people, and everything else you would expect from a big company. We are still just talking about people,we haven't even talked about the 8 billion per year they spend in R&D. MS has sold 160m copies of windows 7 so far, the vast majority of them being OEM home premium, which they probably get about 50-80$ for at the end of everything. That means that windows 7 could cover about 1 year of R&D for the company. And windows 7 was one of their most successful ones so far. R&D isn't the only division that costs a lot but will never directly make money either, you have stuff like DevDiv that deliberately loses money on their software to bring in more developers, which in turn drives windows (and by extension, office) sales.

A windows release costs an absolutely stupid amount of money. I wouldn't be surprised if it took 100m sales just to break even. Saying that a copy of windows costs as much as the distribution costs shows a profound lack of understanding about how this industry works. You put down a huge amount up front, the only reason you would ever do it is because of the massive margins you can make up in distribution. When you factor in the real costs, you start to realize why the only software retail companies still around are extraordinarily large, or very very small. You need to be an MS or an Adobe or an AutoDesk for this stuff to even make sense. They all make loads of money, but they only do it by spending loads of money on the right things in the right ways.

Reply Score: 5

orfanum Member since:
2006-06-02

Erm,if you subscribe to this capitalistic view of the world, and you assert it works, why are you so unhappy?

Just a thought.

Reply Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

A windows release costs an absolutely stupid amount of money.


Correct. Nevertheless, the marignal cost to Microsoft of providing these license to Russian NGOs who either already have licenses, or who weren't going to buy a license anyway, is still effectively zero.

Microsoft are not forgoing any income here. Regardless of how much Windows costs to develop (and how much of Microsoft's labour bill is spent on people fluffing about) the point remains that the marginal cost to Microsoft of providing the licenses that are the topic of this thread is close to zero.

What they are getting, however, is a lot of free PR cred fromm poeple who are apparently too dense to work out that it IS effectively zero cost to Microsoft to provide these kinds of licenses.

Belay that last. Those people who contest this point know all about the true marginal cost of a Windows license to Microsoft, and they are not dense at all ... they just don't want it pointed out to other people. Pointing it out reduces the PR value.

Edited 2010-09-14 04:54 UTC

Reply Score: 4

deathshadow Member since:
2005-07-12

the point remains that the marginal cost to Microsoft of providing the licenses that are the topic of this thread is close to zero.

.. and that's the logic disconnect a lot of people will fail to grasp as well... they're giving it away to people who weren't going to pay for it in the first place, and likely had no plans to ever pay for it. Net Loss ZERO, apart from the PR of "Hey look what we're doing"

they just don't want it pointed out to other people. Pointing it out reduces the PR value.

On both sides of the arguement... since if you do point it out, the question becomes "So just exactly why weren't these NGO's using the legitimately 'free' alternatives?"

Must be strong arm monopolistic tactics and the evil corporations -- couldn't possibly have anything to do with quality of the alleged "alternatives"...

Edited 2010-09-14 05:02 UTC

Reply Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

since if you do point it out, the question becomes "So just exactly why weren't these NGO's using the legitimately 'free' alternatives?"


Some of them are. However, the majority are not, and largely this is because the vast majority of people are not IT experts, and vested interests such as yourself keep trying to loudly insist (aka as 'the big lie') that there is no choice but Microsoft, and that legitimately 'free' alternatives either aren't free or won't work.

If you were indeed an IT guru, and you were genuinely interested in trying to help people with their IT needs, then your position would be the opposite of what it apprently is.

Shame on you, not shame on them.

Reply Score: 2

BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

It doesn't matter how much it cost MS, 1 buck or 300 million, the reason MS did it was because they looked like a bunch of saps, a patsy, they looked like like they were either involved with the raid, or manipulated by the Russian government. It's bad PR.

This is MS saying "We won't let that happen again", it has nothing to do with money

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

You really don't understand the economics of software, or at least selling software in a productized model.

The average developer in the states makes about 75k/yr. MS tends to pay above average, you are probably talking 95-100k/yr. According to this blog, http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2008/08/18/windows_5f00_7_5f00_t....., there are about 23 main product teams for windows. An average software team is about 8-10 people (more then that gets fairly unwieldy). 10x23 = 230 devs at 100k is 23 000 000 big ones. MS also has a policy of hiring developers as testers, and at least tries to have 1.5 tester for each dev on a team. Testers are more like 80k, but we are still talking 345 people, which is 27 600 000. So just in developers and testers, we are talking 50.6m per year in manpower. Win7 was about 3.5 years in development, so we are talking 177.1m, as a rough estimate, in devs + testers.

Now thats a big number, but nothing compared to all the people we aren't counting. Managers (of which MS has _many_), designers, accountants, marketing folks, marketing campaigns, sales people, HR, IT people, and everything else you would expect from a big company. We are still just talking about people,we haven't even talked about the 8 billion per year they spend in R&D.


It does indeed cost a huge amount to develop large software infrastructure.

Not millions, but rather hundreds of billions:
http://www.blackducksoftware.com/development-cost-of-open-source

$387B (387 billion dollars, or 2.1 million people-years of development) is one estimate for such an undertaking.

The thing is, the people are quite prepared to undertake that cost and effort for themselves on their own behalf, and hence enjoy for themselves the freedom and contol over their own computing that that gives them, rather than siphon all that money through Microsoft, and then still have to wear leagal threats and persecution from BSA/Microsoft for all that.

Edited 2010-09-14 05:38 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Stratoukos Member since:
2009-02-11

A windows release costs an absolutely stupid amount of money. I wouldn't be surprised if it took 100m sales just to break even.

Given that Starcraft II's development cost $100m (development only, not marketing distribution etc), I'd say that the figure for windows would be much higher.

http://www.gamepron.com/news/2010/07/17/starcraft-ii-cost-100-milli...

Reply Score: 2

miker Member since:
2009-07-08

You completely misunderstand the point everyone is making. They are referring to the cost of donation not the cost of development. No where on Microsoft balance sheet will you see a $390 million dollar expense for software donations. The cost of donating those copies has nothing to do with the cost of developing the software or the retail pricing.

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

You completely misunderstand the point everyone is making. They are referring to the cost of donation not the cost of development. No where on Microsoft balance sheet will you see a $390 million dollar expense for software donations. The cost of donating those copies has nothing to do with the cost of developing the software or the retail pricing.


Exactly.

This is the first time that I can recall where Microsoft has got PR cred from even the EFF:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/09/jack-booted-thugs-and-copyrigh...
Fortunately, at this juncture, Microsoft has recognized this as an important human rights issue, and has responded responsibly and innovatively. The company plans to offer protection to advocacy groups and others who might be targeted for political reasons by issuing a blanket software license to advocacy groups and opposition newspapers in Russia and at least some other places in the world. The software license — which would allegedly be made easily and widely available — should help groups insulate themselves from political attacks and human rights violations clothed as accusations that Microsoft software has been stolen.


Not bad for a zero-cost-to-Microsoft "donation" from Microsoft.

No where on Microsoft balance sheet will you see a $390 million dollar expense for software donations.


Hmmm, I'd wonder about that. You might see it written down as a tax loss.

Edited 2010-09-16 03:36 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Spies like them
by bolomkxxviii on Tue 14th Sep 2010 14:49 UTC
bolomkxxviii
Member since:
2006-05-19

Well, if the NGOs are using Microsoft products it makes it easier for the Russian government to spy on the NGOs (with Microsoft's help???).

Reply Score: 2

damned if you do... damned if you don't
by siraf72 on Tue 14th Sep 2010 17:57 UTC
siraf72
Member since:
2006-02-22

Lord knows I have no love for Micro$oft, but I think they did the right thing here. And yes it has PR value.

MS are seen to be doing the right thing

NGO's are protected from licensing being used to shut them down.

I believe this is called a win win situation.

Reply Score: 2