Microsoft Office for $3? Third World Perks

By Andrea Karim on 24 April 2007 (Updated 9 June 2007) 4 comments

Microsoft is going to be giving away selling their software bundles for $3. Three freaking dollars!

From the Seattle PI (via Seattlest):

In Beijing this morning, Bill Gates announced plans for Microsoft to offer a package of Windows, Office and other software for $3 to government programs that distribute subsidized PCs to students around the world. The "Student Innovation Suite," to be released later this year, is part of a new push by the company to increase access to computers around the world, and in developing nations in particular.

The company says it will sell a software suite containing those programs and others for $3 to government initiatives that distribute subsidized PCs to students in India, China and elsewhere. The suite will also be available to government programs that supply computers to low-income students in developed nations, including the U.S.

What's the going rate for bootleg software in most Third World countries, I wonder - is this competitive pricing?

Essentially, Microsoft is trying to get their claws into spread their technology across the computing world, partly to be nice and partly to keep anyone in poor countries from using Linux.

If the company doesn't take action, the risk is that there "may be billions of these computers that will not have Microsoft software," he said. Although Microsoft wants to "make good for the world" by increasing access to computers, it also wants to position its business to be part of the market expansion.

There are cynical things to be said about this, but as Seattlest points out, can you see Apple doing something even close to offering affordable software? To anyone?

Steve Jobs? Offering cheap software to poor students in Third World countries? No.

Yelling at poor students in Third World countries? Most definitely.

(Picture by Jeff Wilcox)

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Alright while this may look like its generous look at the dirty side of it. While this is just a ploy to have MS increase its revenues down the road. Once these individuals are locked into a MS scheme and they are no longer students who will have more money to spend MS will charge them the higher rates and thus increasing their revenues.

Now Apple won't sell their OS for 3 dollars a pop mostly because its tied to their hardware. Can you see any company giving away a $3 computer? Not to mention this is in 3rd world countries where the standard of living is poor and the need for apple based products such as final cut pro, Aperture, logic, shake, etc. So the justification that apple is bad just because they don't provide students in 3rd world countries with cheap software is a poor example. And don't forget to mention that Steve Jobs did offer to have OS X placed on all the $150 laptops for developing nations that the UN and MIT are sponsoring for free.

In the long run this is a ploy by MS to increase their marketshare while trying to lock in consumers to their dying formats. MS has tried to control formats just so they can lock users in examples are Windows Media, Office, Silverlight (a new competitor to flash) they are trying to lock people into their version of a PDF and a new "higher res" image format. And while competition is good, don't mistake short generosity with a long term development for a new revenue stream.

Andrea Karim's picture

See the part where I say:

Essentially, Microsoft is trying to get their claws into spread their technology across the computing world, partly to be nice and partly to keep anyone in poor countries from using Linux.

See, that would be where I point out that Microsoft, like other businesses, has their market share in mind. There's really no such thing as pure altruism, though, if you really think about it.

I don't actually think that Steve Jobs would berate poor Third World students. Yes, I do. That's not the point. The point is that Microsoft made a shrewd move. Time will only tell if it really helps the beneficiaries of the software.

Will Chen's picture

"Steve Jobs would berate poor Third World students."

I don't know about berating, but I think Greenpeace is pretty unhappy with Steve Jobs for other reasons.  

Andrea Karim's picture

I meant "drink the blood of".

It's kind of interesting that Green Peace is going after Apple in particular. Seeing as how ALL computers have the same kind of internal poisons.