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NewsForge: Microsoft, Open Source and the Third World: A Fair Contest?

May 23, 2002, 11:09 (32 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jack Bryar)

"It has been said that if Linux and Open Source were going to triumph anywhere, the first big successes would happen in the Third World. Cash-strapped countries looking for ways to declare their technical independence would be deeply tempted by the price point and technical promise of Open Source software.

"In recent weeks, NewsForge reporters have mentioned the growing interest in Linux by government agencies in places such as Peru and Argentina. This week, the Indian state of Karnataka announced it was looking at mandating Open Source in its public sector.

"Microsoft has been fighting back. In a number of countries, it has rapidly expanded giveaway programs, especially to schools in the poorest parts of Africa and Asia. This week, Microsoft announced it had signed an agreement with the South African government to give all the schools in that country free access to a selection of the company's software. It was a controversial decision in that country, but not necessarily because of any technical considerations. Increasingly, as cash-strapped public agencies in other Third World countries struggle to determine the best choice, they may find their decision process has become complicated by a variety of political and ideological issues..."

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