[linux-elitists] post-Gates fallout in India

Eugen Leitl eugen@leitl.org
Mon Nov 18 02:53:19 PST 2002


Gates' freebies build support for MS in Indian governments
By John Lettice
Posted: 15/11/2002 at 11:31 GMT

Bill Gates' schmooze-cruise of India is working, reports an Associated 
Press eye-witness. Gates has been "handing out so many freebies to India's 
federal and state governments in the last three days that talk of 
open-source software [has] started annoying government officials." 

Step forward annoyed Karnataka state information secretary Vivek Kulkarni, 
who says: "You should not make accusations against a company because it is 
successful." Richard Stallman was in India earlier in the month arguing 
that India should treat free Windows like free cigarettes, but he does not 
seem to have been entirely successful. Karnataka's state government in 
Bangalore has just been given free .NET software to be used for 
e-government systems, and according to AP promptly asked for more money in 
order to computerise the state. 

Gates also announced a project to provide broadband for state schools, and 
provided a possible justification for Microsoft's largesse. Microsoft's 
prices could be "dramatically lower" for socially relevant projects. 

This perhaps is intended to provide some moral underpinning for 
Microsoft's recent and growing use of 'donateware' to build its presence 
in government. Not, of course, that the donateware programme is confined 
to the developing world - au contraire, and if people are willing to take 
the freebies, the only thing rivals can do is try to out-freebie Bill. 

The Indian tour has not been without its surreal moments. When we saw 
"Gates honored with big condom" on CNN last night, we assumed they'd been 
hacked. But no, it's there in all its splendour at Reuters, which 
originated the story, and Bill apparently smiled when he saw the giant 
air-filled condom in India's rising technology hub of Hyderabad. 

Words don't entirely fail us, but frankly, who needs them? ®

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