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MS pricing and ‘bounties’ nix Gates honorary degree

Opponents say Great Man makes software less accessible to the poor

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Canada's University of Victoria has decided not to award Bill Gates an honorary degree, with opponents arguing that Microsoft had often made computers less accessible to people with little money. Bill's failure to qualify is revealed in details of a closed University academic board meeting, details of which have fallen into the clutches of the Toronto Globe and Mail. In order to qualify for the award of a degree, says the paper, "a candidate must demonstrate an excellent record of distinction and achievement in either scholarship, research, teaching, the creative arts or public service." There must also be a two thirds majority of the board in favour of awarding the degree, and this is the hurdle Gates failed to pass. His opponents pointed out that Microsoft's (not to say dropout Bill's) performance in academia has been less than glorious. A change in licensing rules for education in 1997, for example, stopped students using University copies of Microsoft applications over the campus network, forcing them to buy their own copies if they wanted to use them. It was also claimed that a 1998 deal offered lecturers a $200 bounty if they used or mentioned Microsoft products in their presentations. This hilariously unsubtle initiative has been previously documented, although it is The Register's understanding that it was abandoned after adverse publicity. ®

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