PR: OSIA to Microsoft: If The Shoe Fits, Wear It
Jun 24, 2004, 02:30 (9 Talkback[s])
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"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."
-- Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corp, 1998.
OSIA, Australia's Open Source industry body, believes that
Microsoft's defamation lawsuit against Sergio Amadeu, the President
of the Brazilian National Institute for Information Technology, is
a reprehensible action, attempting to curb freedom of speech and
freedom of criticism.
OSIA believes that this frivolous lawsuit has more to do with
the recent move by the Brazilian government to shift 300,000 PCs
from Windows to Linux than any real harm to Microsoft.
Mr Amadeu's public comments compared Microsoft's habit of giving
software to governments for free (at least initially) with that of
drug dealers who give away their product until the victim is
addicted, and then demand payment for ongoing supply. His comments
simply mirror public statements made by none other than Microsoft
co-founder and chairman Bill Gates himself and well placed
commentators on Microsoft's business practices such as Judge
Penfold Jackson, the original Judge in the now famous Microsoft-DOJ
anti-trust case, in which Microsoft was indeed found guilty of
abuse of its monopoly position.
On Feb 27, 2001, at the end of the first stage of the anti-trust
trials, Judge Jackson was "quoted as saying Microsoft was like a
'drug dealer'" in a frank exchange with the media. Prior to
this, during an address to university students in 1998, the then
CEO of Microsoft Mr Gates said, "Although about 3 million computers
get sold every year in China, but people don't pay for the
software. 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
OSIA wants to know why legal action is being taken against Mr.
Amadeu for making statements which could have been taken straight
out of Bill Gates' own mouth. If Mr. Gates can make comments that
allude to Microsoft's practices getting users addicted to their
software, then Microsoft have no grounds to claim that Mr. Amadeu's
comments are defamatory.
We also want to know why Microsoft believes it has the right to
curb freedom of speech and responsible criticism, criticism which
itself reflects a generally accepted maxim by the IT industry: that
proprietary software vendors often 'seed' markets with zero-cost
software, locking-in users with proprietary data and document
formats and APIs, then milking those users for years to come with
enforced licence purchases, upgrades and software 'assurance'
programmes. This is why Microsoft is able to make profits of around
80% on products such as Windows and Office. Drug dealers would
indeed be envious.
"The European Competition Commission report on the Microsoft
case has been published in full and quotes Microsoft internal
emails attributing its customers' loyalty to the high cost of
switching from Windows."
This last point is key. Documents released by the European Union
anti-trust case against Microsoft reveal that their business
model relies on monopolistic lock-in strategies. To protect your
organisation against vendors who would lock you in to proprietary
software, OSIA recommends that users switch to free and open
software and standards. Because the technologies are open source,
no single vendor can lock users in to their product, leaning them
Microsoft, if the shoe fits, wear it. And according to your own
founder, the shoe fits perfectly because it's part of your core
business plan. If you really have concerns about how the world's
citizenry perceives you, then alter your current business conduct,
don't attack free speech as a decoy.