$US40 XP not shot in open source price war: MS manager

A Microsoft offer of a cut-down version of Windows XP in Thailand for $US40 should not be construed as evidence that the company is coming under pricing pressure from open source systems.

A $US40 version of Windows XP for Thai buyers is not a sign that Microsoft is coming under pricing pressure from Linux, the company says.

Peter Moore, Microsoft's regional public sector general manager, speaking yesterday in Auckland, said the special deal is a gesture aimed at helping the Thai population to participate in e-government; at helping close the proverbial "digital divide".

Moore acknowledges, though, that the Thai government was considering open source systems.

"We believe ... that that wouldn't have been good for the Thai people."

Moore was giving a presentation aimed at righting the widespread "misperception about Microsoft's view of open source software". He presented figures purporting to show that the commercial sofware business such as that operated by Microsoft generated $8 of revenue in the software "ecosystem" for each $1 of revenue that Microsoft collected.

Moore says the $US40 Thai XP buyers pay still represents a considerable cost in terms of the average income for a typical Thai user, so it could hardly be seen as an attempt to undercut the open source alternative.

Public sector bodies in particular are conscious of their responsibility to give good value to the taxpayer, says Moore, but like many organisations they may be too focused on up-front cost rather than long-term total cost of ownership.

Moore produced the results of a study Microsoft-commissioned from IDC which he says shows that for a mix of typical jobs from web access through file serving to secure applications, an integrated Microsoft solution is cheaper than open source alternatives over five years.

When the question of allegedly frequent security alerts on Windows inevitably came up, Moore had figures to indicate many times the error notification rate for Red Hat, Mandrake and Debian distributions of Linux than for recent Microsoft releases.

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