[linux-elitists] Sneak Preview of Business Today Column on Gates' visit (fwd)

Eugen Leitl eugen@leitl.org
Mon Nov 11 22:53:59 PST 2002

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 12:15:47 +0530
From: Udhay Shankar N <udhay@pobox.com>
To: fork@xent.com
Subject: Sneak Preview of Business Today Column on Gates' visit

Column by Mahesh Murthy, forwarded with permission:

>Since we are on the topic, and at least some of us seem to be thinking
>alike, here is the column that should appear in Business Today next
>Don't Bill the Gates.
>Let's take the billionaire's healthcare handouts, and turn down the
>software handcuffs.
>By the time this article comes out, the world's richest man would have
>been here and gone. From what I hear around me, our state governments
>are in a tizzy, competing to outdo each other to dazzle the gent. All in
>a hope to get some of his cash into their state.
>Nothing wrong with any of this. But let's look a little closer at why
>the Chief Software Architect is taking 4 days out of that hyper-valuable
>time to hobnob with our CMs and CEOs. He's not really here because we
>need his money. He's here because he needs ours.
>Think about it - Microsoft has seen off legal challenges to its Windows
>monopoly. But never before has it seen such a strong marketplace
>challenge - in the form of the open source operating system called
>Linux is all the things a developing economy like India needs - open,
>well-documented, stable, secure, accepted worldwide - and, best of all,
>virtually free. Governments around the world, from Peru to the United
>Kingdom have begun insisting on open source to power their national
>India is not far behind - Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were
>among the first to direct atleast some of their IT buyers to first look
>at open source for solutions, and only later, at proprietary systems
>like Microsoft before placing orders.
>This worries the famously paranoid Redmonders. Small wonder that the CMs
>of these very states are on Bill's list of people to schmooze on this
>trip. "Hey buddy, I'll come and throw a few scraps your way from my
>private jet - but, pal, you gotta buy Microsoft."
>Governments and their directives are not Bill's only worries. India
>isn't that large a market for software - we barely account for 1% of
>Microsoft's sales. But the fact is that we are home to 10% of the
>world's software developers - and Billy boy just doesn't want Coder
>Coomaraswamy to go over to the Linux side of the development fence.
>Corporations around the world want lower cost, more supportable and
>stable solutions. And the nightmare of India becoming one of the world's
>strong Linux-based development centers has ensured that our Ambanis,
>Tatas and Narayanamurthy's get treatment on par with our Chief
>Ministers. The message again: "Stay with Microsoft and we can beat off
>those Open-source Outlaws and bring the world back to a place where a
>monopolist can still make a decent living."
>The trip is done and over with now - and hopefully some of the glamour
>and space-cadet glow would have faded from those who wanted to be
>photographed with His Billness. Time for a reality check.
>For buyers, it's time to consider how the very nature of software is
>changing. From a point where the internet offered the ultimate open,
>extensible infrastructure we now have offerings like Microsoft's
>Palladium which, in the supposed name of security, takes the free, open
>nature of TCP/IP: the platform under the internet, and adds proprietary
>bits that will ensure that Microsoft controls and gets paid virtually
>every time you go out of the gate onto the net.
>You will also see new Microsoft licensing models that force you to pay
>subscriptions from now till forever for whatever you use. You don't have
>to accept it if you don't want to. There are alternatives.
>Further, you will hear standard Microsoft FUD, as they call it
>themselves (rumours that add to Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that Linux
>is more expensive than Windows to implement. This is Redmond's new
>global anti-Linux positioning - once they realized their earlier "Linux
>is un-American and un-capitalistic" line actually ended up making it
>more popular. Don't take anybody's word for it. Do your own study,
>arrive at your own conclusions. More FUD is expected that Linux is
>insecure - but this coming from notoriously bug-infested Microsoft is
>like Saddam suddenly evangelizing humane democracy.
>If you're a developer, keep an equally open mind. There are advantages
>to being part of the Microsoft camp, especially if you want framed
>photographs you can show your grandchildren - or your customers live
>under a rock and will buy MS, no questions asked. For others, there is a
>global market for Linux-based solutions that is rapidly developing. You
>will have to re-adjust your thinking.
>And as far as the Bill and Melinda Foundation to eradicate AIDS? A
>wonderful effort by all means. The NGOs among you should strive to seek
>connections and funding. And having to write up your reports in Word or
>Excel is a small price to pay.

((Udhay Shankar N)) ((udhay @ pobox.com)) ((www.digeratus.com))

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