An open letter to Steve Ballmer from Mandriva
November 1, 2007 1 Comment
The CEO of Mandriva just posted an open letter to Steve Ballmer:
I’m sure we’re way too small for you to know me. You know, we’re one of these tiny Linux company working hard for our place on the market. We produce a Linux Distro, Mandriva Linux. The last edition, Mandriva 2008 was seen as a pretty good version and we’re proud of it. You should give it a spin, 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 answer 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, the fact that it was open, that we could customize it for their country and so on.
Then your people entered the game and the deal got more competitive. I would not say it got dirty, but someone could have said that. They fought and fought the deal, but still the customer was happy to get CMPC and Mandriva.
So we closed the deal, we got the order, we qualified the software, we got the machine shipped. In other word, we did our job. I understand the machine are being delivered right now.
And then, today, we hear from the customer a totally different story: “we shall pay for the Mandriva Software as agreed, but we shall replace it by Windows afterward.”
How is it, you wonder, that a country like Nigeria has the money to not only buy the Mandriva+Classmate solution but also then throw Mandriva away and pay for all those Windows licenses? The answer, I’m sure, is that they don’t. Microsoft is probably marking the license cost to near $0 and may even be tossing in some kicker money (speculation on my part). The thing is, Microsoft has the money to do these kinds of things… and will for some time. Is that really fair competition though? I’d say no, but I’d say it’s also an admission that they can’t win with their old way of doing things. That has to be scary realization for a company that is so used to winning. Kudos to Mandriva for keeping up the fight and for winning deals like this one. I’d guess we won’t be seeing them sign one of the patent covenant deals any time soon.