Tuesday, July 04, 2006


According to http://www.helpwithwindows.com/wga.html,
"22% of PCs in the US use a copy of Windows that is not genuine." I've seen numbers as high as 40% or greater outside the U.S. Let's ballpark it worldwide at about a third.

OK, that's bad. People should be using legally obtained software. Presumably they don't do so because they can't afford it. Of course, even though Microsoft doesn't want these people pirating software, they clearly don't want them using Windows either (otherwise, Windows would be more affordable). Therefore, Microsoft, by their actions, clearly want pirates to use something else. Nevertheless,
it's Microsoft's contention (cribbed from an IDC study) that "if the piracy rate was lowered by 10 percentage points over the next four years, this would contribute 2.4 million new jobs and US$400 billion in economic growth to the global economy."

So, suppose for an moment that Microsoft succeed in driving these people away from those illegal copies of Windows and onto something legal that they can afford... like Linux or BSD. And suppose everyone switched to free or low-cost application software? Suppose this happened in record time... today (what an appropriate way to celebrate our Independence Day here in the USA!). Suppose that as a direct result there were no pirated software anywhere in the world. That's right... rather than the measly 10 percent target of the IDC, let's magically erase one hundred percent of pirated software by switching to free alterternatives! After all, this is what Microsoft wants! And since these users haven't paid anything to Microsoft and have no intention of doing so, this move to legality has exactly zero impact on Microsoft's bottom line.

Do you think they'd be happy to watch as much as a third of the market adopt Linux overnight? Really? Gee, why not?

You have options
Now, I could point out what pure and utter hogwash the IDC estimate is. Obviously, you don't add to the economy in any significant way simply by reducing piracy, since you could completely eliminate piracy today with no monetary flow in any direction. What the IDC and Microsoft mean is that Microsoft could could make a lot of money if the people who have pirated commercial software paid full price for it instead. This assumes that the pirates would still choose to use Microsoft software if it weren't free as "warez". In other words, Microsoft would have you believe that the pirates' only alternative is to pay for Windows, and all the numbers they quote are based on that naïve assumption. The fact is, these pirates have no intention of paying for the software they can't afford. There are alternatives.

I could also point out the obvious fact that Microsoft doesn't want wholesale Linux adoption because it most assuredly would have a long-term negative effect on Microsoft's bottom line. Heck, in an honest moment Bill Gates would tell you the same thing personally. But that's really the same thing as saying that Piracy is better for Microsoft than No Piracy, so Microsoft should shut their yaps and let the pirates be. But since I don't condone copyright infringement anymore than Gates does, I won't go there.

Declare Independence
No, the message here is that this is Independence Day, so make it count. And don't worry if you read this a week or a month or a year after July 4th, 2006... whatever the date let this be your Independence Day, and declare your independence from tyrannical software barons. (And no, I'm not going to post a parody of the Declaration of Independence.) The fact is, there's no law that says you have to use expensive software. There are plenty of affordable packages out there for free. This includes application software and operating systems!

TRY a Linux distribution. If you don't have the broadband connection, get one for the cost of reproduction from CheapBytes.com. If you're in South Carolina and want to stop by, I'll burn one for you myself, at no charge.

Download my SoftwareList.pdf. Try some of the high-quality alternative applications like OpenOffice. org. If you'd rather not track them down yourself, you can download and burn my collection to CD. Don't wait. Declare your independence today!

Extending Older Software
Plenty of you run older versions of Windows because your machines won't support XP (and you can just forget about the forthcoming Vista!). Of course, support for these from Microsoft is long gone, and even when it was "supported" Microsoft never officially released a service pack for Windows 98 Second Edition.

Never fear! You can still update that old copy of Windows with Exhuberant Software's Unofficial Win98 SE Service Pack! Go ahead and get the most recent patches in one go. Keep in mind that this contains only the OS patches... it does not contain Internet Explorer 6, DirectX 9, Media Player 9 and their updates.


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