Free, with strings

What is with the media? The New York Times printed an article titled “Microsoft Pledges Cash for IT in Developing World.” This is not nearly the whole story, however. Orlando Ayala, of Microsoft’s education division, lets us in on the important part: “Of course, that includes the fact they use Windows.” So if the potential recipients of this ‘cash’ don’t use Windows, they get nothing.

This seems like a drug dealer offering free samples. Once the user is addicted, there’s money to be made. Windows is not compelling enough to be addictive, but switching operating systems is a major undertaking, even if no hardware requires replacement. Rather than aid, this is simply an investment to grow their market. Is smart business charity?

The article does get into this issue, but only in its last half. The title gives a very different impression of Microsoft’s actions than you get after reading the whole story.

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