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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

If Microsoft makes good on its self-destructive threat to pull Windows from the South Korean market rather than accede to local demands to un-bundle its proprietary media and IM apps, there's a safe harbour waiting in the form of blanket, country-wide licenses for the OS formerly known as Lindows.

Noting that South Korea blows $100m per year on Microsoft bugware, Linspire honcho Kevin Carmony has made a formal offer to South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun to license every computer in the realm for the bargain price of $5m.

"South Korea could save around a quarter of a billion dollars. More importantly, however, it would break South Korea loose from the monopolistic grasp of Microsoft, which the country currently finds itself under," Carmony explains.

We'll forget that one is more likely to be found in a grasp than under it. We'll forget as well that President Roh has, since assuming office, been chucked from the Blue House by an angry National Assembly, and later returned to it, politically crippled, by an even angrier Constitutional Court, and likely has little time to fret about the software loaded on Korean computers. Ministry of Information and Communication Director Hyung Tae-gun would have been a more realistic and productive target of the letter, but no matter. We're delighted to see former Lindows/Linspire CEO Michael Robertson's variety of strenuous Yankee hucksterism and publicity bird-dogging passing so smoothly to his successor.

But we've got to wonder, where will it end? South Korea's population, just shy of 50 million (48.4m to be more precise), gets Linspire for about $0.10 per head. So Australia gets it for $2m? Ireland for 40k? Liechtenstein for $3k? Support burdens would run Linspire into the ground in a heartbeat, if this were anything approaching a serious offer.

Admittedly, by reporting this blatant publicity stunt, we're fueling it to some extent, and that makes us a tad uncomfortable. But as one clear-thinking Reg hack noted, "Microsoft gets tons of media for doing very mediocre things. I don't see why Linspire can't."

So there it is. And at least Louisiana hasn't been mentioned. Yet. ®

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