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MS Gives Free Licenses To Oppressed Nonprofits 151

victorl19 writes "Microsoft is vastly expanding its efforts to prevent governments from using software piracy inquiries as a pretext to suppress dissent. It plans to provide free software licenses to more than 500,000 advocacy groups, independent media outlets and other nonprofit organizations in 12 countries with tightly controlled governments, including Russia and China."
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MS Gives Free Licenses To Oppressed Nonprofits

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  • Re:Repost (Score:3, Informative)

    by cappp ( 1822388 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:26PM (#33928434)
    Nope. It's an update. Look at the date of the story on NYTimes, it's 2 days ago. More importantly, it adds new info' - specifically

    But it is now extending the program to other countries: eight former Soviet republics — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — as well as China, Malaysia and Vietnam. Microsoft executives said they would consider adding more.

    If anything we now know that Microsoft was a little deceptive when they previously said they were creating a blanket license, clearly it's based on territory and limited in scope. That's not to say its a bad thing, but certainly not what was originally sold.

  • by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:40PM (#33928524) Homepage Journal

    Just because it doesn't cost them anything doesn't mean it isn't still worth something.

    True. But it's probably worth more to Microsoft than it is to the recipients of these donations.

    They'll be able to get software updates and security patches, which will cut down on the amount of out-of-date, exploitable software out there to become part of spam bots, which is good for everyone.

    I have never quite understood this "can't get security patches on pirated software" statement.
    I've seen dozens of pirated Windows installations, and almost every one of them was capable of running the Windows Update website and installing patches.
    Every single one was running automatic updates, which installs all critical security patches.

    Pirated Windows can always get security updates, with one single exception that I know of:
    XP Pro Corporate with FCKGW-RHQQ2-blahblah, because SP1 won't install on that key. But changing the key to something that works is trivial.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:45PM (#33928546) Journal

    But the dissenters in oppressed countries might better served by specific hardened distros from Linux camp than by the free offerings from Microsoft. You never know if it has shown the source code to these governments or allowed them to install back doors.

    You assume that dissenters (specifically, opposition NGOs, since that's what this story is about) engage in some kind of activity which they need to keep hidden from their governments.

    This is not the case. I don't know, there may well be some real underground in both Russia and China, but NGOs are usually officially registered organizations that, while working towards some goals counter to the "party line", do so openly rather than undercover. They're not revolutionaries - their goal is not an armed uprising, but, usually, spreading the word (preferably via legal means), providing legal assistance to specific victims of state oppression, campaigning for law reforms, and so on.

    I don't know how it is in China, but in Russia most opposition NGOs are already accused of being directly funded by CIA/Mossad/whatnot, and of acting solely in the interests of those powers to "dismantle the country and sell it to the West". For all the load of bullshit that it is, enough people believe it - and if those guys actually start to use hard crypto, or otherwise actively show that they have "something to hide", this will give all the proof the government needs to officially classify them as espionage fronts and crack down hard, under the cheers of the majority of the populace.

    Another aspect of this is social... most folk in those places are not particularly knowledgeable in IT. I've helped a few with minor things in the past (basically just consulting), and I haven't seen any who could e.g. set up a Linux server on their own. Nor do they have the inclination - and, more importantly, the time and resources - to learn, since they have their hands full of more pressing stuff (like, well, documenting human rights violations, electoral fraud etc).

  • by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:00PM (#33928618) Homepage Journal []

    First paragraph:

    In Russia alone, with an estimated 94% software piracy rate... I was off by one percentage point. []

    So China is down to 80%, according to the BSA. Not that I trust their figures, but anyway...according to the same article,

    there are seven countries where the software piracy rate is still over 90%, including Georgia, Bangladesh, Armenia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, and Moldova.

    Now we look at the list of countries MS is providing free software to, according to the article:

    Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — as well as China, Malaysia and Vietnam.

    At least a couple of countries appear in both lists. So a good portion of these countries are over 90% piracy. Maybe not all of them, but a significant amount.

  • Re:Repost (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) * on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:51PM (#33928882)

    I hate to tell you this, but is not an official Microsoft outlet. What Microsoft actually said [] was:

    One challenge, however, is that some NGOs in a number of countries, including Russia, are unaware of our program or do not know how to navigate its logistical processes, which involves ordering the donated software through a Microsoft partner. We'll solve this problem by providing a unilateral NGO Software License that runs automatically from Microsoft to NGOs and covers the software already installed on their PCs. We'll make this new, non-transferable license applicable to NGOs in a number of countries, including in Russia.

    So they started in a few (mostly unnamed) countries and now they have expanded it.

  • Link (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2010 @12:08AM (#33928976)

    For anyone who wants to see the link without being prompted to register to

  • Re:Repost (Score:3, Informative)

    by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @01:38AM (#33929408)
    I agree that the principle is bad. Apart from the lack of information in the link name, it doubles the number of servers involved and will break the way back machine. However, in the particular case of tinyurl it's worth knowing that if you go to their homepage you can set things so that you see the URL before visiting it.

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