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Desktop Linux proves its mettle in emerging markets

The Philippines has rolled out 23,000 Linux desktops in schools, suggesting one market where Linux may well prove its mettle.

While I'm not much of a desktop Linux cheerleader, I found this news that the Philippines has rolled out 23,000 Linux desktops to schools very interesting, particularly when read in conjunction with commentary from Malaysia.

The net? Microsoft is heavily subsidizing Windows and Office to keep Linux out, but Linux is proving cheaper ("Microsoft matched the price by offering Windows XP for $US20 a copy and throwing in Office for $US30, but we still came out cheaper") and at least as easy as Windows to use.

In fact, the cost savings from Linux have been so substantial that the Philippines is rolling out its Linux desktop program beyond the 30,000 existing seats, and was even able to purchase an additional 3,000 seats for government use. The rationale is clear:

In a brand new computer 50 percent goes to the operating system and office suite, so how many people can afford that?

Or, rather, why should they be asked to try to afford it? In emerging markets that have not yet been saturated with Windows, Microsoft's lock-in value proposition ("Everyone is already using it, so why don't you?") lacks cogency. No one needs to be retrained on Linux in such markets. It's a green fields opportunity.

Do the "green fields" promise to go with Linux? Based on Microsoft's aggressive discounting response, I suspect the people in Redmond believe the answer is an unequivocal "Yes."

Many thanks to Glyn Moody for the original link.