Mandriva Accuses Microsoft of Dirty Tactics

Mandriva Linux cried foul Wednesday, saying in an open letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that his company spoiled a deal between Mandriva and the government of Nigeria over Intel's Classmate PC.

Mandriva had agreed to supply the central African nation with an initial order of 17,000 Classmate PCs -- of which it is a partner in with both Microsoft and Intel -- and had apparently signed an agreement with the country that would have meant additional orders in the future.

However, the company is accusing Microsoft of meddling and sabotaging its agreement. When Microsoft contacted the company about placing its own software on Nigeria's Classmate PCs, things seemed to change.

"I would not say it got dirty, but someone could have said that," Mandriva's François Bancilhon said. He said Microsoft fought the deal, but in the end Nigeria agreed to still take the shipments of Mandriva Linux.

Apparently on Thursday a representative from the Nigerian government contacted Mandriva informing it that once the initial order of 17,000 had been filled, the country will terminate the agreement and switch to Windows on the education PCs soon after.

Bancilhon seemed to equivocate the move to a stab in the back from the tone of his letter, which appeared on the official Mandriva blog.

"Of course, I will keep fighting this one and the next one, and the next one. You have the money, the power, and maybe we have a different sense of ethics you and I, but I believe that hard work, good technology and ethics can win too," he wrote.

While it may sound to some as tantamount to "sour grapes," some of those who commented in response to Bancilhon's post seemed to think it smelled of desperation on Microsoft's part.

"Wow, playing hardball for Nigeria. For Mandriva, a contract like that is great. For a company the size of Microsoft, it almost seems desperate," a poster named "Juln" wrote.

Others seemed to suggest that Mandriva needed to focus on the future. "Hey, that's business," EllsworthT wrote. "Quit whining about the competition, keep making great products, and win over some new customers."

Microsoft could not be reached for immediate comment on the letter.

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