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US News & World Report: Out the Windows

Jan 11, 2002, 13:15 (37 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by David Lagesse)

[ Thanks to certron for this link. ]

"You don't have to be a radical to rebel against a convicted monopoly. "I like Microsoft's productsâ€"I just got tired of some of their business practices," says Rodd Ahrenstorff of Maple Grove, Minn., the son of Midwestern farmers and a middle-income family man. "There's also something very appealing about free software." So about three months ago, Ahrenstorff cast his lot with a rabble of loosely allied computer hackers. He loaded a home computer with their free operating system, Linux, and proudly made himself Windows free.

As it nears a settlement in a U.S. antitrust suit, the software giant seems to have crushed all formal resistance to its dominance of desktop computing. But it has a guerrilla war on its hands, fought by the small but growing band of PC users who have forsaken Microsoft. They are opting for the only alternative other than switching to Apple's Macintosh: the decade-old Linux.

Taking a stand. For most of these rebels, like Ahrenstorff, the reasons are not all practical. Sure, Linux often costs nothing, compared with $99 or more to upgrade Windows, and it can run on less powerful PCs that would choke on Microsoft's "bloatware." But it has traditionally taken a touch of orneriness to break with Microsoft, whose programs look sleek compared with those that typically run on a Linux box and whose formats dictate the way documents are designed and spreadsheets computed. Linux has made major inroads on the computers that run company networks or serve up Web pages and in devices such as videorecorders. But PC users were slow to adopt it."

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