Microsoft Massively Expands Program To Freely License Software To Nonprofits In Countries With Authoritarian Regimes

from the about-time dept

We recently wrote about reports that Microsoft was often seen as being complicit in helping the Russian government crack down on dissenting nonprofit groups by charging them with copyright infringement for software (even when some of the organizations claimed to be fully licensed). While we had reported on similar accusations in the past, it seems that this time, Microsoft finally realized it needed to do something. In backing down, the company put forth a surprisingly heartfelt and honest apology, and insisted it would move to stop such activities from happening in Russia.

It appears the company is now going even further, announcing that nonprofit groups in 12 countries known for having governments that lean towards authoritarian, are automatically covered for free licenses should they want them. While it is a bit late, kudos to Microsoft for at least stepping up now that the company is more aware of how "copyright infringement" is being used to suppress free speech and government criticism.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Alatar, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 2:56am

    Link, paywall, boom

    And here comes the NYTimes paywall. I couldn't read the article you linked to (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/world/17russia.html?_r=4&ref=business), not even once.
    Don't link to that crap please.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Cynix, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 3:25am

    Re: Link, paywall, boom

    +1 Alatar

    Every time someone clicks on that link, they're a potential new customer and we want to hold back the spread of this cancer as much as possible.

    You'd think that Techdirt of all places, would boycott linking to paywall sites. I certainly do.

     

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  3.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Oct 18th, 2010 @ 3:53am

    Re: Link, paywall, boom

    "Not an NYTimes.com member yet?

    Enjoy Free Access

    Just answer a few simple questions, select an ID and password and you'll be all set"

    If a few simple questions to answer is too expensive, don't pay.

    http://lifehacker.com/5516305/top-10-ways-to-access-blocked-stuff-on-the-web

     

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  4.  
    icon
    cc (profile), Oct 18th, 2010 @ 3:56am

    Re: Re: Link, paywall, boom

    +1 Cynix

    Mike usually says he'll link to a non-paywalled source, if he can find one.

    Such as this one:
    http://www.tech24.org/241microsoft-to-give-free-licensed-software-for-nonprofit-organizations. html

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Zidane Tribal, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 4:37am

    Yay

    As much as i hate to admit a love for microsoft, they actually give immense amounts of stuff to charity, this is certainly a welcome addition. in the UK they allready supply non-profits with immense discounts through CTX, we just ordered 20 copies of office 2010, a couple of XP licenses and MS Project 2010 for ~£400.

    I know microsoft has a big bad reputation for being mean and nasty, but credit where it's due, this free licensing programme is a welcome addition to their range of non-profit charitable giving.

    (i'm a linux user choking as i write this, but hey, credit where it's due).

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Alatar, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 5:30am

    Re: Re: Link, paywall, boom

    "Just answer a few simple questions, select an ID and password and you'll be all set"

    You forgot "and open an account with them and register and give them your email adress, even if you don't want".

    When free physical newspapers hand you their free paper, do they ask you for your name, ID card, adress and phone number or do they hand it directly to you?

     

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  7.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Oct 18th, 2010 @ 5:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Link, paywall, boom

    That is some of the questions.

    "When free physical newspapers hand you their free paper, do they ask you for your name, ID card, adress and phone number or do they hand it directly to you?"

    They are usually left somewhere for you to grab of your will.

    Although I do have one for free delivered weekly. They ask for donations, there is preferential treatment for donors(there is a second free weekly for one), so I guess they are tracking you some way, and being in my mailbox twice a week, I am sure they can figure out my name over time. So they have my name and address(with which I can obtain a phone #), as well as some times that I am home or not.

    I gave up comparing digital to physical.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 6:07am

    Re: Yay

    they dont give "stuff", they give licenses. as in, its free for them. there is no out of pocket expense.

    thats not charitable. they are only doing that cause nonprofits would have to use free alternatives if they didnt get free msft software.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: Yay

    did I mention they take a tax write off for full retail value whenever they "donate" a license?

     

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  10.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Oct 18th, 2010 @ 6:16am

    Re: Re: Yay

    You got it, Pontiac!

    Even MS knows a pirated copy is a potential sale.

    But to use a competitor, Linux/OSS in particular, is potentially lost sales forever.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 6:21am

    Actually...

    Actually, offering 'free licenses' might allow MS to return later down the road and demand or enforce that by giving the countries free licenses, the countries would be required to enforce any rule or mandate put in place by MS to combat piracy, etc. etc. I wonder if it's also possible for MS to restrict any updates or patches to those countries in the event one or all countries decide not to combat piracy.

    If I were in charge of those countries, I would be more concerned about outside governments getting into my networks, and any MS product would be the last thing I'd install. There are just too many weaknesses in the OS'es and applications for them to be trustworthy IMO. Heck, the US Government might even have a stake in getting MS to push that sort of agenda simply to make other countries more easily hackable remotely.

     

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  12.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Oct 18th, 2010 @ 6:24am

    "the company put forth a surprisingly heartfelt and honest apology,"

    LOL, right.

    +1 Alatar too - don't link to that paywall, I won't follow the link anyway. WSJ and NYTimes; among others, it does no good to link to them anyway.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 6:25am

    Hedging their bets for when Windows gets replaced with something that makes more sense and works.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Zidane Tribal, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 6:40am

    Re: Re: Yay

    'stuff' counts. they send out physical media, the actual cd's too.

    and yes, you can claim they are the devil for giving away license keys which are free to create, but they don't actually *have* to give them away, they could just stamp their feet and demand everyone pay.

    if they didn't give them for free/discount, there's no way in hell the non-profit would use free alternatives, microsoft is a dominant player in the marketplace and we need compatability, we'd just sack workers, use more volunteers, and use the cash we save to pay retail prices.

    and please, before anyone starts ranting about linux being fully compatible... i'm a linux user by choice at home and on my personal desktop at work, but when i see linux on 90% of desktops in business, i'll then, and only then, consider it for the user desktops here. part of our income is offering basic IT skills training to long term unemployed, we wouldn't even be considered if we were using anything other than standard microsoft business apps (xp, office, outlook, etc).

    as for the tax writeoffs... well, why shouldn't they get a bonus for giving us stuff for free/discounts? everyone else does.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Yay

    your statement contradicts itself several times.

    giving away free software is part of a strategy to prevent competition from getting a foothold.

    There is nothing nice about the practice. yes, the non-profits *could* use alternatives if they had a compelling reason to. that is all that matters. they do not have a compelling reason to do so. why? because they are given "the good stuff" for free.

    did this cost microsoft anything? no. not a damn thing.

    and you clearly dont know what you are talking about if you think microsoft is giving away physical media. they charge the nonprofits for the media and for shipping.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 7:46am

    too late, MS already teach those regime to search product based on COA only. so if you don't have COA for mozilla firefox and Open Office, prepare for jail time.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    TDR, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 8:25am

    Everything Microsoft does is specifically designed to keep users and companies locked into Microsoft products forever. Never forget that.

    Zidane, the only reason Microsoft has the market share that it does is due to vendor lock-in, regulatory capture, and virtually every other shady business tactic you can imagine. Read this link to get an idea of what Microsoft is really like and what it really wants:

    http://www.vanwensveen.nl/rants/microsoft/IhateMS_3.html

     

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  18.  
    icon
    Haywood (profile), Oct 18th, 2010 @ 8:30am

    When can we get that in the USA?

    This is getting to be an oppressive regime.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 9:27am

    The first one is always free...

     

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  20.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Oct 18th, 2010 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Yay

    part of our income is offering basic IT skills training to long term unemployed, we wouldn't even be considered if we were using anything other than standard microsoft business apps (xp, office, outlook, etc).

    Most non-profits have no such dependence on Microsoft.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 11:44am

    Right, after justice is done and Gates and Balmer are tried for crimes against humanity. This would be a nice gesture to the families that lost loved ones at the hands of crooked capitalism.

    You can't forget the murders just because they're sorry. China has a long list of those, I'm sure Russia does as well.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    Nick Dynice (profile), Oct 18th, 2010 @ 1:08pm

    It is too band someone like the Ubuntu Foundation did not take this opportunity to push out open source OS as the "oppression-free alternative."

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 18th, 2010 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Yay

    did I mention they take a tax write off for full retail value whenever they "donate" a license?

    How does that work? They never actually lost any money.

     

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