So perhaps a question that might be worth asking is if Windows and Office only costs $3 in China, how sustainable are it’s prices in other markets?
I remember reading about multinational companies consternating about selling online in the early days of the Interweb. Most companies sell at different prices in different markets. But until the dawn of widespread e-commerce, purchasers in different geographies couldn’t easily compare prices across geographies. Today, I can easily find the price of an iPod for American customers vs. here in Canada, but I’ve never checked. I know that the US price won’t change my decision or acquisition strategy.
Is a $3 Windows & Office package for students going to have a marked impact on comparable prices in other parts of the world? Sure, to some degree. But I’d argue very little. The growing concern about open document standards may likely have a larger impact.
Now to the larger question of Microsoft’s strategy in India (& China):
This is based on a sample size of 2 cousins in India. One completed a business & IT degree and the other completed a degree in computer engineering. As they tell it, having a MCSE designation is critical to getting many IT jobs in India.
My cousins have grown up with Microsoft Windows & Office in their homes and in the local internet cafes. Most kids learned to use Office & Windows in university. Because of their educational backgrounds, my cousins also learned Visual Studio, VB, SQL Server and fun stuff like administering W2K.
Playing Microsoft Strategist, I’m happy to sell Office & Windows to students for $3 if it means I have them hooked on an end-to-end Microsoft technology stack. Training the next generation of workers on Windows & Office makes it more likely that employers will purchase Windows & Office. Don’t underestimate training & support costs that can be minimized.
No here’s the kicker…the kids love Microsoft. We may want to believe that OSS would be best aligned with emerging countries especially because of the code freedom and lower costs. When I questioned my cousin why they weren’t using Linux at his company (Large bank), he asked: “Is Linux as secure than Windows?”
Again, remember this post is based on a sample size of 2.