Reject Windows addiction, says advocate

By   |  April 30, 2007

Outspoken Australian free software advocate Con Zymaris has labelled Microsoft’s plan to offer Windows for $3 dollars to developing nations as an attempt to “addict” users to Microsoft software.

Zymaris, the CEO of Australian Linux firm Cybersource, said in a press release issued today: “On April 19th, Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, unveiled a plan which seeks to enlist the help of developing nations in a barely-concealed attempt to get the next billion PC users hooked onto Microsoft software. Under the guise of trying to bridge the digital divide, Microsoft will instead aim to extend its desktop monopoly by using the same technique it’s used for years through software piracy: platform addiction. An addiction it will milk in future decades.”

“[This is] an addiction that governments should reject in favour of free and open source software – the only way to truly bridge the digital divide.”

“Microsoft’s strategy of getting developing nations hooked on its software was clearly outlined by Bill Gates almost a decade ago,” said Zymaris.

Zymaris then quotes a 1998 CNet article in which Bill Gates is quoted as saying:

“Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don’t pay for the software,” he said. “Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

“Microsoft would allow users in developing countries to use pirated software, which in turn would lock those users into Microsoft’s proprietary data formats, proprietary protocols and proprietary Application Programming Interfaces (APIs),” said Zymaris.

“What is apparent is that Microsoft would prefer to lose money initially, to prevent competitors from capturing mindshare. Today, Linux and open source software are Microsoft’s biggest competitor. And Linux and open source software are capturing huge mindshare in developing nations, thus Microsoft’s knee-jerk reaction in offering its $3-meal-deal,” Zymaris said.

“Instead of accepting the Microsoft deal, governments should push open source software, guaranteeing freedom from vendor lock-in and future price hikes.”

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