I’ve just been listening to the radio while doing some work on a project with my bro, and they’re just had a feature on Radio 4 (not that square I tell ya!) about how Brasil is starting to push open source stuff more and more because the license fees to Microsoft every year are just too high. In the brief they profiled a community centre where they have set up an internet facility that operates at much lower costs, using equipment donated by companies and people. The guy running the projects says that it works better as they have more control over what they can do, and it doesn’t cost them as much to set up and run (each machine, if I heard right).
I know that in Africa, some governments are also pushing open source for much the same reasons, and I think that it’s something to take note of, whether you’re a fan of the giant from Redmond or not.
Bottom line is that the industry is maturing, a lot of people don’t like the forced monopoly that Microsoft enjoys, and they’re looking for alternatives. Microsoft has to either adapt to survive, or recognise that the dream of their founders (A PC on every desk in every home, running Windows) is not going to happen. Simple facts are that there are a helluva lot more people in the undeveloped world than the developed, and simple economics says that the poor man in the slum trying to email his sister in Buenos Aires is going to choose open source right now, ‘cos it’s free right now and it’s available right now.
How will Microsoft deal with this?
It’s an interesting point, as this weekend I installed Red Hat Linux 9 on an old 486 machine at home, so that I could play around with it, and perhaps even run a local server to do stuff on. The machine cost me about Â£50 almost two years ago, and the files for the operating system I downloaded off the internet for free, and then wrote to disc. The installation was about 30 minutes, painless, and after about an hour I was surfing on the web and starting to play with Red Hat. Now, I don’t want to be a cynic, but it WAS a lot easier than many Windows installs that I’ve done in my time, and it just worked. Granted, I probably know more about computers and networking than your average Joe, but then so does your sysadmin in Buenos Aires running an internet project for his community.
And that’s what it’s about – community and a sense of belonging.
Microsoft doesn’t engender those feelings, so when someone makes a decision on what OS they’re going to use to send an email from their Yahoo.br account, it’s just about simple economics -> It’s cheaper, it works, so I’ll use it.
I’m going to look around and see what else there is, but I think you’re going to see more and more of this happening – it’s going to take a lot more than nice TV adverts to get poeple to make a buy decision for Microsoft.
What do you think?