updated 03:05 pm EST, Fri November 9, 2007
Linux v. Windows, Nigeria
Nigerian elementary schools should still receive mainly Linux machines instead of Windows models when a large batch of Intel Classmate notebooks arrives, writes InfoWorld. Linux vendor Mandriva had signed a deal to provide support and a custom operating system to 17,000 Classmates for Nigeria, but the company deploying the computers for the government, Technology Support Center, at one point decided it would reformat the notebooks and install Windows XP.
This plan has been overruled by the Nigerian government, which is funding 11,000 of the Classmates and now insists that Mandriva Linux should be installed on all of its PCs, if not the remaining 6,000. It is in fact unclear why TSC temporarily made the switch, since while it told Mandriva it would pay the company for its customization using public money, it then proceeded to order copies of XP and Office at its own expense. Microsoft's country manager for Nigeria claims only that TSC said there was "a preference for a tested platform."
Microsoft has a vested interest in deploying Windows as broadly as possible, since it charges considerably more for its licenses than companies such as Mandriva. Linux, being an open-source OS, has lower licensing fees which are more practical in impoverished third-world countries. Microsoft is in fact negotiating a $400,000 deal with TSC, one that would see marketing accompany the conversion of some Classmates to Windows; Mandriva has called this legally questionable, but Microsoft insists it is fully compliant with national and international laws.