[Linux-aus] [Fwd: Linux is easier to learn than Windows]

Arjen Lentz arjen at mysql.com
Tue Nov 18 10:28:01 UTC 2003

"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

full story:

Microsoft Loses to Linux in Thailand Struggle


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."

Arjen Lentz, Technical Writer, Trainer
Brisbane, QLD Australia
MySQL AB, www.mysql.com

MySQL Training courses in Australia: Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney
Training,Support,Licenses,T-shirts @ https://order.mysql.com/?marl

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