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US News & World Report: Attack of the Freebie Software

Oct 08, 2002, 16:00 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Andrews)

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"By rights, GiftCertificates.com should be a Microsoft loyalist. Its CEO, Michael Ahern, is a former Microsoft executive. Its business, selling digital gift certificates, was built on Windows database and server technology. Still, the Seattle-based firm is considering switching to free Linux and open-source software. New license fees from Microsoft have put the bite on GiftCertificates' budget. Ahern won't supply an exact figure but says the difference 'is hundreds of dollars on the Linux side versus tens of thousands of dollars for Windows.'

"Ahern is hardly alone in his dilemma. Chafing under what they call the 'Microsoft tax'–license fees collected each time they upgrade personal computers and server networks–customers from the government of China to Europe's Ford Motor Co. division are switching to free software systems. Linux's penguin logo is cropping up all over. 'Developing countries, software developers, [and] schools are embracing Linux more,' says Phil Mogavero, president of Data Systems Worldwide, technology consultants. 'Linux has the capability of creating a paradigm shift...'"

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