Brazil to go Open Source (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
Dec 31, 2000
Brazil Leans Away From Microsoft

Nov 16, 2:04 PM (ET)

(AP) Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, right, laughs with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da...
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BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) - If he is to make good on his promise to improve life for the tens of millions of Brazilians who live in dire poverty, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva knows that one key challenge is to bridge a massive technology gap. And if that means shunning Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) software in South America's largest country, then so be it.

Silva's top technology officer wants to transform the land of samba and Carnival into a tech-savvy nation where everyone from schoolchildren to government bureaucrats uses open-source software instead of costly Windows products.

Such a policy makes eminent sense for a developing country where a mere 10 percent of the 170 million people have computers at home and where the debt-laden government is the nation's biggest computer buyer, says Sergio Amadeu, the open-source enthusiast appointed to head Brazil's National Information Techonology Institute by Silva after the president took office this year.

Paying software licensing fees to companies like Microsoft is simply "unsustainable economically" when applications that run on the open-source Linux operating system are much cheaper, Amadeu said. Under his guidance, Silva's administration is encouraging all sectors of government to move toward open-source programs, whose basic code is public and freely available.

"We have some islands in the federal government using open-source, but we want to create a continent," said Amadeu, a former economics professor who gained fame before joining Silva's team by launching a network of free computer centers in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo.

Amadeu, who uses a Linux laptop in his office in an annex of Silva's presidential palace, authored the book "Digital Exclusion: Misery in the Information Era," which argues that the gap between the needy and the wealthy will only deepen unless the poor have easy access to the technology that the rich have at their fingertips, especially in developing countries like Brazil.

Only two small government agencies in Brasilia - Amadeu's department and the government-run news agency - have so far shifted from Microsoft operating systems to open-source. But Brazil recently signed a letter of intent with IBM Corp. to help boost government use of such platforms as Linux.

Amadeu says he's even talking to election officials about using open-source software in the country's more than 400,000 electronic voting machines, about 20 percent of which run on a Windows variant.

Although Amadeu insists the government has no plans to mandate open-source software use, Microsoft is worried and is lobbying to prevent the policy from becoming law.

"We still think free choice is best for companies, the individuals and the government," said Luiz Moncau, Microsoft's marketing director in Brazil. "There is the risk of creating a technology island in Brazil supported by law."

Any move away from Windows use by Brazil's government would clearly hurt Microsoft in its biggest South American market. The company got between 6 percent and 10 percent of its $318 million in Brazilian revenues from the government for the fiscal year that ended in June, Moncau said.

Slashing Microsoft's bottom line would likely not disturb Silva, a former union leader whose most prominent initiative seeks to end hunger by providing poor families with $18 per month to buy food.

Open-source represents a small share of the global software market, but governments around the world have begun turning to it for various reasons, not least of them a sense of not wanting to be beholden to Microsoft.

Federal agencies in major powers including France, Germany, China and the United States have adopted Linux for servers. Cost is a factor, although many network administrators consider Linux more stable and less susceptible to viruses and hacker attacks.

And while other developing countries such as India are farther along than Brazil in promoting use of open-source systems, Brazil is poised to become a role model for other Latin American countries aiming to cut their computer costs, said Vania Curiati, IBM's software director in Brazil.

As it does in other developing countries including Peru, where the company has faced an open-source challenge, Microsoft donates software to Brazilian non-profit organizations and schools.

In the private sector, many Brazilian businesses are already either using or testing Linux in some capacity, Curiati said. IBM last year helped one of Brazil's largest fast food chains, Habib's, install a Linux system that lets customers order by phone for home delivery within 28 minutes.

Microsoft's Moncau plays down predictions by Brazilian open-source supporters that government efforts to increase Linux use could create jobs and turn the country into a technology exporter. Open-source software could actually be more expensive than Windows programs when service costs are factored in, he said.

But try telling that to the tens of thousands of Brazilians who regularly visit the 86 free "Telecentro" free computer centers in Sao Paulo, a sprawling city of 18 million. All the centers' computers use open-source software, and the Telecentros cater to working class Brazilians without the means to buy computers. They learn how to send e-mail, write resumes and cruise the Web.

Waiting his turn for a terminal while bouncing his toddler on his lap, Francisco de Assis said his monthly salary of $200 makes owning a computer impossible. The 31-year-old security guard considers the government's plight to be similar.

"If this was a rich country, it wouldn't matter and we could buy Microsoft products, but we're a developing country and Linux is just a lot more accessible, so we're heading toward a Linux generation."

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Senior Member
Dec 31, 2000
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  • Thread Starter #7
    If you read the article, you would know what arguments were presented for it, it's not like I know anything about software use in Brazil :D


    Senior Member
    Dec 31, 2000
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread Starter #8
    Microsoft Loses to Linux in Thailand Struggle

    By Jan Krikke
    November 12, 2003

    In the second quarter of 2003, just 40 percent of all desktop PCs shipped in Thailand had a licensed copy of Windows installed, an all-time low that likely will dip even further. Moreover, PC manufacturer Laser Computer has replaced HP as Thailand's top PC seller. Laser Computer sells only Linux PCs.

    To prevent Linux from running away with Thailand's subsidized "people's PC project," Microsoft has dropped the price of its Windows and Office packages from nearly US$600 to $37. Other Asian countries are lining up to duplicate the Thai program. As a result of the events in Thailand, analysts have begun to predict the end of Microsoft's long-standing "one-price-fits-all-markets policy."

    Significantly, first-time PC users in Thailand are finding the Linux Thai Language Edition easier to master than Windows.
    In a computer shop on the outskirts of Bangkok, Nalong Sripronsa is teaching his assistant how to install Linux Thai Language Edition OS on a secondhand Pentium PC. Nalong, manager of DCO Computer, has seen growing interest in Linux since the Thai government launched its people's PC project in May of this year.

    The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is offering a million PCs preloaded with Linux StarOffice at rock-bottom prices to increase computer literacy in Thailand.
    "Many people in Thailand have never used a PC before," Nalong told LinuxInsider. "They don't know the difference between Windows and Linux. If you go from Windows to Linux, it seems difficult, but for first-time PC users, the Thai edition of Linux is easier to learn than Windows." Nalong added that Microsoft has neglected the Thai market. The company only recently made Thai-language documentation available for beginners.

    The people's PC project, formally known as the ICT PC Project, revolutionized the Thai PC market, and its effect is being felt around the region. The Ministry of ICT aims to sell 700,000 PCs and 300,000 notebooks in the first year of the project. To make the PCs affordable, the government has insisted that computer makers offer the machines at fire-sale prices -- $250 for PCs and $400 for notebooks, including the software.

    The government did invite Microsoft to participate in the project, but the company initially refused to lower its prices. Microsoft has a long-standing policy of charging the same prices throughout the world, which could help explain the widespread piracy in developing markets like Thailand, where the average annual income is about $7,000. Charging Thai consumers nearly $600 for Windows/Office is the equivalent of charging U.S. consumers $3,000.
    Pirates in Bangkok sell copies of Windows XP for $4 and Office XP for $8. With Microsoft refusing to lower its prices, the Ministry of ICT turned to Linux and StarOffice.

    The rock-bottom prices -- and easy financing terms -- generated enormous interest in the ICT PCs. An estimated 35,000 people showed up at a Bangkok convention center where the machines were launched. Some people even camped overnight to sign up for the program. By August of this year, Thai consumers had snapped up 300,000 ICT PCs. Three regional computer clubs joined forces to produce alternatives for those who were not qualified for the ICT PC, offering similar PCs for a slightly higher price.

    Microsoft Has Second Thoughts
    Microsoft, faced with the prospect of a million Linux PCs, began to have second thoughts about its pricing structure. With many students buying an ICT PC, the company risked losing both market share and mind share to Linux. Microsoft's newly appointed regional general manager, Andrew McBean, no doubt having consulted Redmond, offered to supply the ICT PC Program with the Windows/Office package for a mere $37 -- a price cut of 85 percent.
    Gartner research director Martin Galliland, coauthor of the report "Thai PC Market May Change Global Windows Landscape," told LinuxInsider that Microsoft's concerns about Linux and piracy explain the company's change of heart. "The price drop was clearly motivated by a feared loss of market share for legal copies of Microsoft software," said Galliland.

    While some buyers still will install pirated copies of Microsoft's software, Gartner estimates that 70 percent of Thai consumers will stick with Linux, citing freely available software, lower prices and lack of knowledge among first-time PC owners.
    Microsoft's Andrew McBean in Bangkok was not available for comment on the company's decision to participate in the ICT PC project.

    Gilliland said Gartner has been contacted by several other Asian countries wanting to duplicate the Thai initiative. "The apparent success of the Thai ICT project has spawned some interest in other emerging markets, and they have approached Gartner with very early statements of interest," Galliland told LinuxInsider. He refused to identify the countries involved. In what could signal an ominous sea change for Microsoft, nearly all countries in the region are developing localized versions of Linux.

    Gartner had more bad news for Microsoft. In the second quarter of 2003, just 40 percent of all desktop PCs shipped in Thailand had a licensed copy of Windows installed, an all-time low that Gartner expects will dip even further. Moreover, PC manufacturer Laser Computer has replaced HP (NYSE: HPQ) as Thailand's top PC seller. Laser Computer sells only Linux PCs and has been growing at an annual rate of 300 percent.
    Nalong Sripronsa at DCO Computer believes Linux will take market share from Microsoft. "Even people who do not qualify for the ICT PC program think Microsoft is just too expensive. Schoolteachers make only about $300 per month. How can they afford to pay $600 for Microsoft software? That's more than the cost of a basic PC. For a few dollars you can buy a Linux CD with all the applications you need."

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