CyberTech Rambler

January 3, 2007

Microsoft’s Tamil Nadu “Mission Impossible”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 8:21 pm

India’s Tamil Nadu province is deploying Linux on the big scale. This time, it is nearly retiring away all Windows computer. Another Linux success story? Yes. No punt intended but the province is comparatively cash strapped  when compared to Munich and I am sure cost plays a much bigger factor than in elsewhere, especially in the developed world.

This give Microsoft’s India division a “Mission Impossible” to persuade the administrators to stay on with Windows. The usual weapon, serious discount to keep them, just frankly will not work. It appears that they get Hardware + Linux for Rs 300 (with support) per computer and is only willing to pay Rs 500. Apparently, Microsoft is only willing to go down to Rs 7000. Personally I do not know how much a Rs is worth, but the difference is still starking. There is no way Microsoft, or any company for that matter, can capitulate to Rs500. In this case, it is rather clear that the main buck of the Rs 300 Linux computer is hardware cost as support cost, which is mainly labour cost, is much cheaper in India.

Tamil Nadu is a big customer to lose. For some reason, because it is a third world country, I do not think Microsoft is that heart broken over it. However, it does not mean that political and other pressure will not bring to bear by Microsoft and in third world, it is probably easier. We have not heard whether political and other pressure was brought to bear there, but since Mr Umashankar find it fit to mention he has support from “upper management”, I suppose this implies some pressure had indeed been applied.

It looks like they use OpenDocumentFormat (ODF) as a reason for switching away from Microsoft Office. And this is the first confirmation I see that Microsoft is indeed using the Office Open XML format (OOXML) as a counter argument. To tell the truth,  OOXML makes it much more difficult to argue for ODF. With Corel sitting on the fence by supporting both ODF and OOXML, it means we will have two different implementations of OOXML in theory in the not so distance future, making it more difficult to argue on vendor-lock in. This makes arguing the “openness” of ODF more of a question of extent of openness, which is very subjective. The battle is likely to be decided on the ground of vendor support. In this, I will like to see more ODF tools made available.

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