Microsoft has denied paying a Nigerian contractor US$400,000 in a bid to battle Linux's movement into the government sector.
Media reports alleged that Microsoft had proposed paying the sum to a government contractor under a joint marketing agreement last year in order to persuade the contractor to replace Linux OS with Windows OS on thousands of school laptops.
Although a joint marketing agreement was drafted to document the best practices for using technology in education, it was never executed, said Thomas Hansen, regional manager for Microsoft West, East and Central Africa. It became clear, he added, that one customer wanted a Linux OS.
"As such, the joint marketing agreement became irrelevant; no such marketing agreement was ever agreed to, and no money was ever spent," he said.
Apart from the fact that Linux is freely distributed, its functionality, adaptability and robustness has made it the main alternative for proprietary Unix and Microsoft operating systems. Governments in Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa have deployed Linux in departments and schools, but Hansen said that Microsoft has strong relationships with the governments in these countries.
"From our standpoint, those governments, and indeed every customer, should always decide which software solutions meet their needs most appropriately. We strongly believe that governments must carefully consider all costs of acquiring and using a PC, along with the benefits of widespread application availability, maintenance, and training," he said.
Hansen emphasized that studies have shown that the Windows platform often costs the same as or less than Linux when the total cost of ownership is considered.
"Further, when the full range of user benefits are taken into account, such as the wide range of applications available, familiarity, and ease-of-use, Windows is often a much better overall value," he said.