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January 16, 2006

More Microsoft Overseas Woes

Posted by David Hunter at 10:16 AM ET.

More or less in order of decreasing importance.

You may recall that the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) has launched two studies on the impact of software licensing on schools, one explicitly concerning Microsoft. Tom Espiner interviews some British educators for ZDNet UK and it isn’t good news for Redmond:

Schools do not get good value for money from current Microsoft licensing agreements, IT professionals in the education sector claimed this week.

In a series of interviews with education professionals at the BETT educational technology show in London, ZDNet UK found broad consensus that Microsoft educational licensing agreements are too expensive.

“A lot of schools are looking at open source — budgets come into play here. Microsoft licensing takes a big chunk out of schools budgets. The biggest issue is cost, basically,” said Michael Allen, ICT technician of Swanmore College of Technology.

That sounds bad, but the resellers interviewed by James Sherwood at vnu.net don’t seem worried – their view is that the result will merely be negotiated price reductions.

Speaking of price reductions, that seems to be what Microsoft is proposing to the Indonesian government in return for them doing something unspecified about rampant software piracy:

The world’s largest copyrighted software producer Microsoft Corporation is considering giving a discount to the Indonesian government to promote the application of legal software.

“We have filed a proposal for the discount to our headquarters (in Seattle, the United States) and it is now being finalized,” PT Microsoft Indonesia president director Tony Chen said on Friday after signing a memorandum of understanding on boosting the implementation of intellectual property rights (IPR) policies, with Minister of Information Sofyan Djalil.

The government, through the signing of the memorandum, has shown its commitment to eradicating the widespread use of illegal software in the country.

That’s one way of describing it, I guess.

Also in Asia, the Taiwan legislature takes on Microsoft:

Taiwan’s legislature has passed a resolution asking the government to reduce its purchases of Microsoft products by 25 percent this year, a further sign the world’s largest software company is running into resistance in Asia.

The resolution, passed on Friday, is an attempt by the island’s law making body to reduce Taiwan’s dependence on Microsoft, which holds a near monopoly on supplying software to local government offices, a legislative aide said.

It’s not clear if and when this will have any effect.

Finally, there’s now another entrant in the government sponsored Internet search engine sweepstakes – the Franco-German alliance to build “Quaero”. Actually, Microsoft wasn’t even mentioned at the kickoff festivities, but considering the hopes for MSN Search, Quaero is another player to watch out for.

How bad is Microsoft’s standing in the world of Internet search engines?

Bad enough that MSN Search wasn’t even mentioned by the French president when he listed the “American giants” competing with France’s tech industry.

“We must meet the global challenge of the American giants Google and Yahoo!,” Jacques Chirac said, according to The Associated Press. “Today the new geography of knowledge and cultures is being drawn. Tomorrow, that which is not available online runs the risk of being invisible to the world,” the French president said.

Chirac then discussed a European response to Google — — a multimedia search engine called Quaero being developed by a European consortium including French electronics company Thomson, France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom.

The details on Quaero are rather fuzzier than M. Chirac would have us believe, and it has led to a certain amount of comedy:

“There is already a good French search engine – it’s called Google.fr,” jokes one blogger. The French satirical newspaper Le Canard enchaîné has also poured scorn on Quaero: “Compared with Microsoft’s €30bn [£20.4bn] profits or Google’s €100bn capitalisation, Chirac’s announcement is really going to spread panic in Silicon Valley.”

You may recall that previously the Japanese government announced that they were developing an Internet search engine with a national consortium.



Filed under General Business, Governmental Relations, Legal, Licensing, MSN, MSN Search, Piracy

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