Last Friday Inquirer ran a story on how Microsoft Phils. in a magnanimous mood ever so graciously decided that they will “allow Internet cafes to purchase the cheaper, original commercial equipment manufacturer (COEM) license for Windows, but for a limited time only,”.
It goes on:
Microsoft said that this move was in response to the clamor from Internet shop owners who recently had difficulty purchasing the original Microsoft Windows operating system due to an alleged shortage of supply in the local market after a government crackdown on unlicensed software.
Microsoft Philippines licensing specialist Jasmin So said that the COEM for the Windows operating system will be available to Internet cafes and other consumers until November 30, 2005.
“The COEM licenses can now be bought by the public without the need to purchase the bundled hardware. This is in response to the clamor for Windows software by the public. This is one way we can help them,” added Mae Rivera-Moreno, Microsoft Philippines PR and community affairs manager.
Ok so here comes the part where I break that down.
- Firstly, the Microsoft Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) rule of selling software at a discounted price only if bought with a brand new PC is an internal company directive towards their distributors and retailers. This means if an OEM product is sold to you even if you didn’t buy a new PC, then the one at fault is the retailer (and/or distributor), and NOT the end-user. It should not be construed therefore that an end-user who does this is breaking any law (other than Microsoft’s internal one). It’s important I think to inform those who don’t know this, and suspect that being allowed buy OEM by Microsoft, is being granted a reprieve from some law. No sirree.
- Second, everyone knows OEM software’s been available for years – even without buying a new PC. The fact that OEM is sold so openly only means that MS has been turning a blind eye on its own directive for years. This pretty much takes the teeth away from the ‘generosity’ announcement above. How can you say it’s ok to sell OEM until November 30 when it’s been done for years, and will probably still be done years later? Which brings us to..
- If selling software at an OEM price has been an accepted option for years as it has been, then why not sell the darn things at that price to begin with? In effect, you are cheating those who buy the complete boxed versions, since they’re paying more when they could’ve gotten it far cheaper via OEM. And don’t tell me all those manuals are important – they can all be downloaded easily. Don’t tell me either that the license is any different from the OEM one. As long as it allows Windows Update, and it keeps the NBI from confiscating your machines, it’s completely the same. Again it’s important to let people know this, so that they can save.
Truth is, the past few months has seen a veritable windfall of profit for MS. They’ve effectively made a ton of money off of instilling fear into the hearts of internet cafe owners whose livelihood was threatened by this.
However I have to ask, is that a good way of doing business? Is bullying people to buy your software the best way for sales? Is offering boxed software (the complete set with manuals and everything, OEM is only the CD and the sticker license) while turning a blind eye towards your own OEM policy, in the end, smart policy?
In the end I truly believe that this will taint them in the long run, giving their name and the name of proprietary software as a whole a bad taste in the mouth. In the interview the MS PR said “This is in response to the clamor for Windows software by the public. This is one way we can help them,”.
If you really want to help, then sell the damn things at a fair price. I mean, their market advantage is so good, it’s almost ridiculous how they can do all the above and still get away with it, people are still lining up for their software.
How about open-source sofware you say? The fact that it’s not been widely accepted by the cafes just means, to me, that it’s failed to provide a suitable alternative. I think the last paragraph in the article (it’s since been edited) where, a cafe owner threatened, that the BSA’s clampdown was “forcing them to think about open source software”, only makes me wonder one thing: Why don’t you go ahead then?
quick footnote: Why does inquirer use the same urls for different articles? I’d had to use a google archive for the link above. What about permalinks or archives? The url used to be http://news.inq7.net/breaking/index.php?index=7 which of course now leads to a totally different topic. Seems basic.