Mandriva's letter to Steve Ballmer

Dear Steve,

Hi, this is Francois, from Mandriva.

I'm sure we are way too small for you to have heard of us. You know, we are one of these Linux company who is working hard to make its place in the market. We publish a Linux Distro, called MandrivaLinux. Mandriva Linux 2008, our last edition, has a pretty good review and we're proud of it. You should try it, I'm sure you'd like it. We
also happen to be one of the Linux companies that did not sign an agreement with your company (nobody's perfect).

We recently closed a deal with the Nigerian Government. Maybe you heard about it, Steve. They were looking for an affordable hardware+software solution for their schools. The initial batch was 17,000 machines. We had a good deal to respond to their need: the Classmate PC from Intel, with a customized Mandriva Linux solution. We
presented the solution to the local government, they liked the machine, they liked our system, they liked what we offered them, especially the fact that it was open, and that we could customize it for their country and so on.

News source: Mandriva


Then, your people get in the game and the deal got more competitive. I
would not say it got dirty, but someone could have said that. Your
team fought and fought again the deal, but still the customer was
happy with the CMPC and Mandriva.


We actually closed the deal, we took the order, we qualified the
software, we got the machine shipped. To conclude, we did our
job. And, the machine are being delivered right now.


Now, we hear a different story from the customer : "we shall pay
for the Mandriva Software as agreed, but we shall replace it by
Windows afterward."


Wow! I'm impressed, Steve! What have you done to these guys to make
them change their mind like this? It's quite clear to me, and it will
be to everyone. How do you call what you just did Steve? There is
various names for it, I'm sure you know them.


Of course, I will keep fighting this one and the next one, and the
next one. You have the money, the power, and maybe we have a different
sense of ethics you and I, but I still believe that hard work, good
technology and ethics can win too.


cheers


Francois


PS: a message to our friends in Nigeria: it's still time to do the
right thing and make the right choice, you will get lots of support
for it and excellent services!

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54 Comments

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Excuse me people but your dealing with Nigerians here, I'm sure they're working on a deal to get someother deal from somebody else soon.

More computers is just what Nigeria needs, to have more Nigerian 419 Scammers out to rid dumb ass Westerners of their hard earn cash.

Personally the only computer I would send to Nigeria are those being sent to China for scrap.
I am a firm believer that 99.8% of the poulation of Nigeria are scammers after all it's the only way to make a living
over there.

I'm sure Stevie B is laughing now, but wait till Nigeria pulls the wool over his eyes too screw MS around on this deal.

Yet another reason that Linux will NEVER be ready for the average-joe desktop:

PUNK-A$$ Twits who have had their only experience in the REAL business & economy within a Milton-Bradley Monopoly box.

If Linux-o-philes and penguin-lovers would get the clue and act in a civil & civilized manner instead of pulling childish pranks like this, people wouldn't turn their noses at Linux.

--ScottKin

whocares, linux gets their money ms gets some too, in the end it's the nigerians that get scammed, what a turnaround that is

If I am a drug dealer I would do it the same way as Microsoft. First for free and after you have no choice you will have to pay. It is so easy to give Windows licenses for free for schools. But imagine what will happen later when you want to employ such graduates. No matter what do you think of Microsoft, you will have to pay for every single piece of MS software because they will only know Windows and don't understand what it is OS...

A very poorly written letter.

What, exactly, does he think this will accomplish? "Dear Steve... Microsoft won the customer, again, but I am asking you to please step back so I can win them over again with 'lots of support...and excellent services!'

It sucks when you lose to the software giant. But crying "victim" won't make anyone feel sympathetic to your cause.

yeah definately needs to be looked over by publications, and really when you see this sort of stuff, you wonder about the OS. I expect companies to put out proffesional documents, not letters that don't seem to have even been spell checked.

it was a waste of time writing it and waste of time reading it

ugh, linux fanboy in disguise of someone with business sense.

they liked ... especially the fact that it was open

right. i'm sure they were doing backflips. because it was open source.

or, perhaps they didn't give a **** about that and were just looking at the numbers.

I just looked at screenshots of Mandriva. I see a start menu ripoff, a quick launch bar ripoff, a taskbar ripoff, a system tray ripoff...wait, I guess the whole interface looks just exactly like Windows XP. If Windows is so inferior, then why emulate it so directly?

I don't blame Nigeria. If I wanted an iPhone, I'd wait until I had enough money to purchase the genuine article rather than buying a Chinese knockoff.

Lighten up, Francis. In the business world no contract or agreement is in cement until money changes hands - and even then it will be broken as soon as someone finds a better alternative. Guess Linux nerds forgot to do their business classes.

For future reference, no self respecting CEO will respond positively to an open letter. By and large, theyre written by people trying to garner free media support rather than deal mono e mono on an issue. Also shows a lack of funds for lawyers.

seamer said,
...
For future reference, no self respecting CEO will respond positively to an open letter. By and large, theyre written by people trying to garner free media support rather than deal mono e mono on an issue. Also shows a lack of funds for lawyers.
So, your position is that whomever has the most expensive legal team is right and should have their way?

markjensen said,
So, your position is that whomever has the most expensive legal team is right and should have their way?

You have it half right. Look at all the media reports around us. Who wins the vast bulk of legal cases? The teams with millions of dollars/yen/euros, or the teams funded by free beer? That doesnt make money to be equal to morality, that just means the almighty dollar is the deciding factor.

If Francis was genuine, he should have kept his mouth shut and just talked to 'the opposition' quietly...and THEN expose Balmer's position.

Maybe they just want their students to learn an industry standard software for their future or something. Even though the arguments seem valid, the letter is seriously written lousy. I doublechecked at some point to make sure he was the CEO of the company and not some angry linux user.

What if the Nigerian government realized that Mandriva won't suffice? Or the support won't. Support and Linux sounds, in my ear, as good as Microsoft and security does in *nix peoples ears.

Microsoft's support is pretty good actually, and I believe support is an important factor in a case like this.

Nigerian government: RTFM!!!

fobban said,
What if the Nigerian government realized that Mandriva won't suffice? Or the support won't. Support and Linux sounds, in my ear, as good as Microsoft and security does in *nix peoples ears.

well, support for the free versions, yes. But have you heard out of Red Hat, or Novell, or IBM? When some things get commercial ou governmental it isn't the same support as for the end home user.

fobban said,
Microsoft's support is pretty good actually, and I believe support is an important factor in a case like this.

yes, but when Nigeria had time to decide, both mandriva and MS where on the run. Then suddenly BEFORE they really see the computers AND AFTER the deal is closed, they state they will change them to windows. How weird is that? How could they find the support bad BEFORE they had the equipment?

isnt the goal of any computer to crush the competition
and im not a linux expert..but from my experience with mandriva
windows>linux period for the avg home user or gamer

Neoauld said,
isnt the goal of any computer to crush the competition

no that isn't the goal, there are laws out there you know? As someone said before, if this happened in Europe ou USA MS would be prosecuted.

Neoauld said,
and im not a linux expert..but from my experience with mandriva windows>linux period for the avg home user or gamer

EXCEPT these are educational pcs, they are not for home users nor gamers!
And the main reason people think windows>linux is because they started with windows. If someone starts with linux and, let's say, 5 years later takes a look into windows, he or she won't like it. That's why MS doesn't care much about piracy. Because when someone (average person, not computer enthusiast) know how to work with an OS, will almost for sure prefer that OS.

nuo said,

no that isn't the goal, there are laws out there you know? As someone said before, if this happened in Europe ou USA MS would be prosecuted.


EXCEPT these are educational pcs, they are not for home users nor gamers!
And the main reason people think windows>linux is because they started with windows. If someone starts with linux and, let's say, 5 years later takes a look into windows, he or she won't like it. That's why MS doesn't care much about piracy. Because when someone (average person, not computer enthusiast) know how to work with an OS, will almost for sure prefer that OS.

u have a point there
i started my mom off on linux and she loves it(i put ubuntu on her pc to avoid her getting viruses and stuff)

Obviously Francois of Mandriva has never heard of the Nigerian letter. Francois, why are you so shocked? Do your homework next time.

cant someone edit the pcs bios to only load a GRUB bootloader so that you can install windows as much as you like but it comes up with a message "SORRY, CRAPPY OPERATING SYSTEMS ARE PROHIBITED"
but then again its nigeria, with curses and voodoo dolls and people that sacrifice kids and stuff... maybe microsoft made a deal to donate 15 employees to be sacrificed ?

poor ethics probably on microsofts behalf but mandriva should turn away from their sadistic stance and just get on with it and the other opportunities with others

No wonder the USA is going down hill with all of those economic sociopaths running their major corporations. Profit by any means is good... Right?

and where are you from , Foub? North Korea? I think Neowin should have a rule that anyone who bashes another country should state their own country in their post.

dougggg said,
and where are you from , Foub? North Korea? I think Neowin should have a rule that anyone who bashes another country should state their own country in their post.

Bashing? Is being concern about a country bashing now? You economic sociopaths really don't realize what you're doing to your country. Do you?

Foub said,

Bashing? Is being concern about a country bashing now? You economic sociopaths really don't realize what you're doing to your country. Do you?

Yeah, cause what you are saying REALLY sounds like "concern." It is pretty hard to take someone seriously when they use words like "economic sociopaths." What does that even mean?!

Foub said,
No wonder the USA is going down hill with all of those economic sociopaths running their major corporations. Profit by any means is good... Right? :rolleyes:

I wouldn't bother Foub, most people are completely oblivious to what is happening in this country, malcontent with their own lives and the dream of fortunes and money symbols in their eyes. They don't understand that greed cannot sustain itself; instead they create reasons and justifications while ignoring the resulting decay of society.

ANova said,
I wouldn't bother Foub, most people are completely oblivious to what is happening in this country, malcontent with their own lives and the dream of fortunes and money symbols in their eyes. They don't understand that greed cannot sustain itself; instead they create reasons and justifications while ignoring the resulting decay of society.

Just like with religion.

SomeAzn said,
Yeah, cause what you are saying REALLY sounds like "concern." It is pretty hard to take someone seriously when they use words like "economic sociopaths." What does that even mean?!

An economic sociopath is someone who doesn't see anything wrong with making profit by any means including that which is completely immoral and unethical. i.e. Enron. They are what's wrong with America and the average American has to pay for their greed with substandard food because it is more profitable to import it from China than to grow it at home even if it endangers lives. America now imports far more food than it produces for itself. Another country doesn't have to invade the USA, they can just foreclose.

So..what? They're not loosing out on business, are they? So what's the problem?
Should Steve Ballmer write a note complaining about people who buy machines with windows preinstalled and format it to put *nix on it? I dare say more than 17,000 PC's a year go that way.

Excuse the pun, but thats an apples and oranges comparison. This was a contract that had already been made and singed and M$ came along and bribed the customer into breaking it. In the USA M$ would be guilty of unethical practices for doing this. I'm constantly amazed at the lengths that economic sociopaths will go to to justify, and defend, these practices.

I love when people that have no clue about the law drop phrases and expect to sound smart.

The letter clearly says that the Nigerian government agreed to buy the machines. I doubt their contract said that the Nigerian government cannot install whatever OS they want to.

Microsoft is a business and they are going to fight to gain and keep customers. You cant expect Microsoft to just stand by and lose market share.

SomeAzn said,
...
Microsoft is a business and they are going to fight to gain and keep customers. You cant expect Microsoft to just stand by and lose market share.
Exactly! Ethics be darned!

It's not like Microsoft has ever been found guilty of illegally leveraging their desktop marketshare to unfairly influence other markets!

markjensen said,
Exactly! Ethics be darned!

It's not like Microsoft has ever been found guilty of illegally leveraging their desktop marketshare to unfairly influence other markets! :ermm:

I don't see anything illegal here.

I see that MAndirva made a deal with the government, MS then made them a better deal, and Mandriva goes whining, it seems to be oe of the thigns the Linux/Open source community is best at.


Sure it may be questionable ethics, But I don't really apply ethics to bsuiness like thisanyway. ethics I'd apply if it was a comany sellings drugs that could help starving kids or something. but this is a competitivie market. even Mandriva and the linux ditstro's needs to accept this. and play the game as the others play it. not just expect everyone to play nice.

HawkMan said,

I don't see anything illegal here.

I see that MAndirva made a deal with the government, MS then made them a better deal, and Mandriva goes whining, it seems to be oe of the thigns the Linux/Open source community is best at.


Wait up, they didn't just make a deal, they won the contract, the competition was over Mandirva had won.

But MS was unable to except that so they had to go do something dodgy, which seems to be one of the things MS is best at.

evo_spook said,

Wait up, they didn't just make a deal, they won the contract, the competition was over Mandirva had won.

But MS was unable to except that so they had to go do something dodgy, which seems to be one of the things MS is best at.

This isn't a childrens competition.

There is no we eon, now you can't deal with them.

Mandriva won the contract to sell them computers wih MAndriva installed, and to support any Mandriva installs they use.


The government then chose to make another deal with MS to buy Widnows and a support deal for Windows from them. But hey Mandriva still has a deal to support their Mandriva installs... They chose not to have any Mandriva installs.. tough luck.

Mandriva and you both act like kid that's been told he has to shre the sandbox witht he other kids in the kindergaden.

No, we act like an illegal practice has just occured. Just wait till the next round of MS vs US/Eu govt comes round, suddenly you'll change your tune but also this proves is that the EU was right to do what they did and perhaps didn't actually go far enough.

This is one of those spats that seem to inspire many Linux users, but put so many of us would-be Linux users off taking that next step. It's really quite childish.

Well... I'm an avid Linux user and I wouldn't say it's inspirational. The letter itself is written quite unprofessionally. However, if Nigeria placed an order and *paid* for 17,000 machines with Mandriva, what on earth would possess them to change their mind, to install Windows on all of them? Let me reiterate who we're talking about here: Nigeria and Microsoft. It just reeks of Microsoft doing something to undercut the deal, and at the very *very* least, Microsoft not accepting their defeat in securing the deal. So, Francois does have a right to be angry about it. As some people like to point out, yes, Mandriva is getting paid, but it's the principle of it (or lack of, rather) which is the issue here.

Agree.

WARNING: Anyone else thinking of adding their comment to this thread must have read the article in full and be over 15 years or been told "you're so much older then your age". :)

Mandriva CEO is not complaining because of lost income. He's simply pointing out that MS would go to any extreme to wipe out its competition (including making unprofitable deal via extreme undercutting the competition). It's the reason MS been in court since 1997 in the US and EU.

Just like the whistle blower who alerted the public to the negative health affect of smoking that the tobaco industry was trying so hard to hide. Mandriva CEO has done a public service by posting this open letter so there would be evidence of MS acting anti-competitively.

David Scaife said,
Well... I'm an avid Linux user and I wouldn't say it's inspirational. The letter itself is written quite unprofessionally. However, if Nigeria placed an order and *paid* for 17,000 machines with Mandriva, what on earth would possess them to change their mind, to install Windows on all of them? Let me reiterate who we're talking about here: Nigeria and Microsoft. It just reeks of Microsoft doing something to undercut the deal, and at the very *very* least, Microsoft not accepting their defeat in securing the deal. So, Francois does have a right to be angry about it. As some people like to point out, yes, Mandriva is getting paid, but it's the principle of it (or lack of, rather) which is the issue here.

Why, because MS is a business and likes to make money by offering a cheaper product to a buyer? What a horrible company!

Oh, and Mandriva is still getting paid?

jimboh1 said,

Why, because MS is a business and likes to make money by offering a cheaper product to a buyer? What a horrible company!

Oh, and Mandriva is still getting paid?

sorry, you got it wrong, this story isn't about that. if it was just about that then MS would have won the original competition, but they didn't so they had to go the illegal means as MS does when they have being bested.

evo_spook said,

sorry, you got it wrong, this story isn't about that. if it was just about that then MS would have won the original competition, but they didn't so they had to go the illegal means as MS does when they have being bested.

I'm curious where you got "illegal means" out of this entire argument. It's simple business. The nigerian govt agreed to a deal with Mandriva. The order went through and Mandriva got paid. They then made a deal with Microsoft to replace their machines with windows based platforms (yes... businesses, and even governments, are allowed to change their minds). It's simple competition.

Ever watch the show The Office? Notice how their salesmen go after potential clients who already have deals with other vendors? Same concept and this is the way competition works. You honestly think MS should just roll over and say "OMG they went with Mandriva! I guess we're totally out of the picture and have no chance to do business with them anymore!".

Bottmline, if you believe this is "illegal" in any way or even a low blow, you're dillusional as to the way that business works. Contracts with your clients are always susceptible to competition.