As I’ve previously mentioned, Portugal is getting into netbooks big time. The country’s government is subsidizing the cost of about half a million computers based on the Intel Classmate PC design and making them available to students for just about 50 Euros or $70. It costs about 285 Euroes of nearly $400 to pick up a retail version of the same netbook.

The country is also exporting a million laptops to Venezuala.

Microsoft is sweetening the pot a bit by making a low cost version of Windows XP and Microsoft Office available. The Portuguese netbooks are known as “Magellan” laptops, and so Microsoft has labeled it software package the Magellan suite. It’s not clear how much Microsoft is charging for the netbooks, but it’s probably safe to say not very much.

There’s certainly some altruism in play here. But it’s also worth noting that Microsoft has a vested interest in getting Windows and Office software into the hands of as many students as possible. As the OLPC project and netbook makers like Asus and Acer have demonstrated, you don’t need Windows to run a computer and you don’t need MS Office to edit a text document. But it’s not hard to compete with free software when you’re the market leader and you’re willing to practically give your software away to some clients.

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2 replies on “Microsoft offers cheap software for cheap Portuguese netbooks”

  1. Micro-soft has been doing this for quite some time.
    3$ for a 8 year old OS sounded about right though last year:.

    Everywhere there have been big order of Linux based netbooks Vietnam, Spain, Lybia, Peru, Brazil, Africa and so on, Microsoft tries to get in at the last second even once deals are made (like in Munich, Kenya,etc) and dump software for free under the name of ‘giving the people an option’. AND they say that with a straight face.

    Microsoft made their empire not on legal copies but the fact that more poeple had illegal copies. They tried the same thing in Brazil but its a big country and our free software movement is strong. All which means in the long run that their efforts failed and 50 million brazilian students will be using Linux/KDE by the end of next year.
    5 years ago, there was no altruism because there was no competition.
    Now, they care.
    So this is the same old story.
    Give the first hit of crack for free. All the drug dealers work that way.

    Last year, they were charging 3$ for their Micro-soft for the poor.
    I guess, they have it in the 99 cents bin this year.
    Its not about the money and its not about the poor.

    Oh yeah, the Venezuelan order of 1 million will still be Linux based however. The way your sentence stood out there it seemed to indicate that this usual stance by Microsoft changes something (or even that its a new phenomenon)
    Venezuela has really made strides in free software in latin america and is a leader right along with Brazil, so there was no ‘sweetening of the pot’ or swill, depending how you see it, ncessary
    2nd to last paragraph says: “The machine’s operating system will run a version of Linux that has been specially developed in Venezuela.”

    Canaima Linux is the venezuelan distro that they will be using.
    “Canaima is a GNU / Linux distribution based on Debian which is emerging as a solution to meet the needs of end users office of the Venezuelan National Public Administration (APN) and to comply with the presidential decree no. 3.390 sobre el uso de TecnologÃas Libres en la APN. 3390 on the use of Open Technologies in APN.”

  2. Not only does one not need Windows or Office, but there are also better choices.
    I’m currently running on a D945GCLF2 dual core Atom running Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 6 and, though it is a little rough around the edges, it does everything I need. I can watch You Tube videos, download using Bittorrent, surf using Firefox watch Xvid videos and open M$ doc files.

    Then after “sudo apt-get install build-essential” I can compile and run C++ code.

    To do all that with Microsoft would cost an arm and a leg.

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