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Mandriva, Microsoft and Nigeria, Oh my!

Posted on | November 2, 2007 | 3 Comments

There is yet another squabble in the world of operating systems, Mandriva has suggested that Microsoft sank a 17,000 PC deal made between Mandriva and the Nigerian government to deliver low cost PC’s with a customized version of Mandriva GNU/Linux tailored for education. The computers are to be deployed in many schools.

The Nigerian government, at the last minute informed Mandriva that the computers would be accepted and paid for, but re-loaded with Microsoft Windows upon delivery, prior to deployment. The Nigerian government will honor the existing contract and pay for the computers, what is obviously not going to happen are long term support and development agreements with Mandriva.

In an open letter to Steve Ballmer (CEO, Microsoft Corp.), Francois Bancilhon (CEO of Mandriva) blasts the Microsoft CEO implying unethical conduct on behalf of Microsoft Corp by somehow subverting the contract by influencing the Nigerian government.

Microsoft lashed back denying any wrong doing, stating:

“Microsoft has a strong relationship with the government in Nigeria and will continue to partner with government and industry to help meet their needs. Microsoft operates its business in accordance both with the laws of the countries in which it operates and with international law.”

I researched Microsoft’s relationship with Nigeria, some statistics and studies indicate that Microsoft might have contributed up to 47% of Nigeria’s IT and economic growth. While there are no ‘hard’ studies backing up the claim, it does appear that a solid relationship does exist.

Microsoft’s stance appears to be rather dismissive and unconcerned regarding the (almost) allegations made by Bancilhon, suggesting that everyone should be free to use what they want. Microsoft stressed its usual anti-GNU/Linux stance by reiterating that clients should fear long term support contracts with any OS.

The “open letter” written by Bancilhon has drawn heavy fire, mostly due to broken English and “poor wordsmanship”.

Antagonizing someone is almost never the correct course of action, I think that you’ll see this particular incident as clear cut proof of that. I (personally) don’t trust Microsoft because of their love of patents. But, I would not weaponize a position of notability with an open letter to their CEO without clear cut proof of wrong doing.

I use GNU/Linux (nearly) exclusively. There are some programs that I MUST have (they feed me) that only come in Windows flavor. In short, there are many circumstances that might have influenced Nigeria’s decision. Why antagonize Microsoft (who delights in coming after free operating systems for no good reason), giving them a good reason to come after yet another? The original contract is still being honored, the only thing hurt is (pride) and future support deals.

Did Microsoft do something subversive or shady? I don’t know, and that’s the point. Until you can prove it, you don’t (legally) know it.

Moral of the story: Never. Publish. When. Angry.


3 Responses to “Mandriva, Microsoft and Nigeria, Oh my!”

  1. Windows Vista News
    November 2nd, 2007 @ 10:44 pm

    Mandriva, Microsoft and Nigeria, Oh my!…

    Did you see the post at…

  2. Orikinla Osinachi
    November 5th, 2007 @ 6:58 am

    Microsoft has more stake in the Nigerian ICT project than Mandriva. Microsoft has established an office in Nigeria since 2000 and does not need to bribe anybody to offer it’s services to Nigeria.

    As I have already reported that the so called “Open Letter to Steve Ballmer” was a publicity stunt to attract public attention to a relatively unknown Mandriva Linux.

    Now that Mandriva’s CEO Francois Bancilhon has got his 15 minutes, can we move on to more relevant issues?

    Cheers and God bless.

  3. tinkertim
    November 5th, 2007 @ 8:48 am

    I’m not one to miss a genuine opportunity to put Microsoft in a Darth Vader costume. There just was no real indication that MS did anything wrong in this case.

    Francois Bancilhon seemed to be more upset in general than anything because a deal went south, it happens. He, like any other blogger in the world has a right to vent through writing. I just blasted the BBC yesterday.

    What remains is your chosen venue and degree of thought that you put into your rant. His open letter was so poorly written that I had to suffer it four times before finally figuring out what had him so upset. I’ve written e-mails like that, but never open letters as the CEO of a software company supported by the floss ecosystem.

    Publishing such a thing on Mandriva’s site was the icing on the cake. I’ve been in a position of leading smaller, ethical startups that were clobbered by much bigger fish, and I lashed out just like he did, but through more appropriate and productive venues.

    I do agree, nothing more to see there .. move along.. move along

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