Strange this came up

Story: When Free Software Isn't FreeTotal Replies: 4
Author Content

Jan 11, 2013
3:56 AM EDT
A day ago, I was talking to someone about Windows and FOSS. I haven't used Windows since Win98SE, which I must confess, I loved.......but looking back and at the same time talking to this "someone", this is more or less what I said:

"Okay......I purchased Win98SE......but what could I do with it ? I needed a word processor......oh deary me, shell out more dollars and purchase one; I needed a dvd player......oh deary me, shell out more dollars and purchase one; I needed an antivirus program and registry maintainer........oh deary me, shell out more dollars and purchase one.......and last but not least, a CD burner.........and it's naturally: oh deary me, shell out more dollars and purchase one. And that, of course, was how it worked......if you wanted ANY ability on your Microsoft OS platform, it was gonna cost you big...........and that is exactly how Apple is working as well.

And now, look at my installation of openSUSE 11.4, no longer maintained by SUSE but still maintained for another two years on the Evergreen project.......and, not only do I get the OS, but free of charge I also get the word processor, the disk burner, the dvd player......and I don't need the registry maintainer or the antivirus software anyway. Anything I need in the realm of software is now available - for free."

This is the utterly dramatic paradigm shift that has occurred over the past 10-15 years and it is wonderful. It breaks the proprietary monopolies and allows the common person to access all the abilities that previously Microsoft and its allies controlled by scarcity and dollars....I'm not a religious person, but I do give thanks for the work of Linus Torvalds and the foresight of Richard Stallman.....and all the others, who have gifted me this remarkable software complex......Thankyou.

PS......I know this isn't wholly on the line of topic of the article, but what the heck; it gave me the opportunity of saying something I seriously believe.

Jan 11, 2013
11:15 AM EDT
Quoting:"Okay......I purchased Win98SE......but what could I do with it ? I needed a word processor......oh deary me, shell out more dollars and purchase one;.........


You said it so simply and eloquently, unfortunately, many people still don't get it.

By the way, you didn't tell us what someone had to say. Oh, never mind, he must have been completely speechless with jaw hitting the floor.


Jan 11, 2013
12:32 PM EDT
What was so bad about all this shelling out of pounds and pence is that Microsoft had a monopoly. There were people complaining about their monopoly but they had no real obligation to change. Everyone needed Windows at the time and for a while it was a case of "if I use Linux can I still use my Microsoft Office or my other Windows apps".

Now it is a case of I don't really need your Windows apps. What can Windows give me that Linux can't?

For me there were a few events that changed the game. As much as I hate Apple and their ethos the Ipod and Ipad were game changers. Google with Chrome was a game changer (Firefox never really made enough of an impression), Android was a game changer. Mobile computing was a game changer.

The only way to compete with Microsoft was to provide something cooler than anything that Microsoft had to offer but on another platform. Apple did that with the iPod and latterly the iPad.

Google became huge because their search engine was indiscriminate with regards to the pages it listed (unlike Yahoo and others who charged for listings) making it easy to find anything and everything within seconds. If you can't find what you are looking for on Google you are asking the wrong question. The success of adwords produced huge profits and has enabled Google to spend on innovative tools such as GMail, Google Docs and of course Google Maps.

People are no longer locked in to Microsoft, Hotmail, Microsoft Office and Windows. With the emergence of LibreOffice as a real office suite and more and more great Linux tools popping up the need for Windows has reduced more and more.

The tablet generation of users like the fact they can watch Youtube and talk on Facebook without having to worry about Windows updates, anti-virus, firewalls, etc. Android and iOS serve that purpose very well. Microsoft will struggle to win those people back no matter how good Windows 8 may or may not be.

The question is often raised about Linux and the desktop and whether it will survive, the same question could be asked of Microsoft and the desktop because unless they start giving good software away for free their model is seriously flawed.

Jan 11, 2013
12:36 PM EDT
> There were people complaining about their monopoly but they had no real obligation to change.

Yep. This is most clearly seen in the fact that during Microsoft's "monopoly" prosecution, the US Federal Govt remained one of Microsoft's biggest customers.

Jan 11, 2013
5:01 PM EDT
@Fettoosh.....actually, it was my wonderful better half. It was one of those occasions where she was doing "things" in the kitchen area while I was sitting on a chair on the other side of a central work bench with my cup of tea. And we were "just talking", so heavens only knows why the topic came up - husband and wife discussions like that can delightfully go from high technology to the next trip to the grocers in the blink of an eye. But it did happen and she recalls the conversation perfectly. Oh yes, and since you ask: she agreed with me completely. Her antique (Rolls-Royce in its day) Dell laptop still functions perfectly and runs......yep, SUSE Linux.

and for Gary_newell: The number of articles that I am beginning to see that indicate that the Surface tablet is simply non-viable and that Win8 is not an option for serious professional work would, if I was a Microsoft administrator, leave me extremely worried as to the viability of Microsoft's continued profitability. Won't happen all at once, but I remain convinced that Redmond crossed the line in the sand with respect to the long collapse to disappearance about two years ago. I am even seeing articles that suggest that the only way ahead is for Microsoft to port its cash cow suite to Linux......but who wants it ? Linux now has software that can do everything that Win-based software can do, and in general, can do it better, faster, more securely, and very much more cheaply. The London and New York Stock Exchanges testify to that.....and the French police....the list goes on.

PS....As a codicil to the above, I have long believed that a (failing?) company that can no longer rely on quality and innovation to sell its products in the market place will automatically look to litigation and patent enforcement either to force its products on the public as the only consumer option or generate an alternative income stream. Strange, but both Microsoft and Apple come instantly to mind.

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