Sunday, January 30, 2005

Brazilian Anti-Microsoft Folks

The Four Questions pointed out a pretty interesting article. The gist of it is, well, that Brazil (and other countries) pay too much for Windows software when they could get away with much less if they go open source. I few thoughts were sparked by this and one by Joshua's comment.

1. For Joshua, I don't think the article was really about the open source communities views the Bush administration. I got the impression it was more about leftist groups and poorer countries like Brazil. Now, granted, I have noticed that there is a preponderance of non-Bush fans among programmers, OS and otherwise. I haven't figured out why yet, though. But I don't think that is the phenomenon you're really seeing in the article. But, then again, it doesn't really say who the "Leftists" are in the article. I could be wrong.

2. I find the guilt by association very interesting. I'm not sure what connection there is between Bush and Gates. Do they just represent the man who is against the poor and downtrodden to them? Dunno. It is really unnecessary to do this. But it's smart. Just associate Gates with someone people hate, like Bush, and you've got an automatic argument against Gates and Windows. It's not that I agree (I like Bush and Microsoft a great deal, even though I don't agree with what either do all the time); it's that it is terrific rhetoric and manipulation.

3. One place that the open-source community, I think, does shy away from (and if they're smart, do shy away from) is capitalism bashing. The article mentions them being against "unbridled capitalism," as if Microsoft is truly unbridled (yes, I'm sure they may not be bridled enough...). But this is not really a smart way to go. Several thoughts here. There's way too much of open source that IS built upon capitalistic principles/practices. Also, American capitalists open-source dudes need to remember it is capitalism that pays them. And finally, I bet if the other companies that complain now were in Microsoft's position, they probably wouldn't be complaining so much. Sure, I don't like everything they do. But they are brilliant businessmen. And if Sun, Apple, etc. had the success Microsoft has had, because they probably have some smart businessmen on their side, they would behave in some ways similarly. Sure, this is about "unbridled capitalism", but you get my meaning. Capitalism is not evil.

4. I think that Linux vs Windows is a significant issue in American business, and it needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. Tell me that Microsoft should be done away with and only the Linux flavors should rule and I'll tell you that you underestimate how much Windows has Linux on useability, ease of maintenance and upgrade, backwards compatibility, etc. when it comes to the average dude out there. If you tell me Linux an open source should be done away with, I'll say that you don't see how vitally important it is for the American economy and technological progress that Windows has a competitor.

Now, that being said, I think it would be easier to make a case for making Linux the foundation of your enterprise in countries that aren't as developed, and here's my assumptions (though many would challenge some of them, I'm sure) which I will build my argument on in a moment:
a) I really think Windows is at least a little easier to use.
b) The main cost in America is the cost of employing people.
c) The main cost in developing countries in a business would more likely be software than it would be employment costs.

If these are true, as I think they are, a case can be made in American business because of a) and b) that Windows is a better solution a lot of the time. That is, actually, one of Microsoft's marketing strategies in this regard. But in the case of a developing country, it is probably c) that is true, not b). In such a case it will much more often be more beneficial in terms of cost-benefit analysis to go with Linux and other open-source solutions. If it takes longer to deploy, fine. You're labor is cheaper, and you can more likely afford it. Have the employees learn Linux, even if it takes longer, because the cost of the longer training may easily offset the costs of higher priced software.

My two cents.


At 8:19 PM, Blogger Kirk H. Sowell said...

In re to the relationship between Bill Gates and George W. Bush:
Gates voted for and supported Clinton, and they even played golf together. Gates has made a lot contributions to left-wing causes, so that is clearly where is beliefs lie. However, the Clinton Justice Department's attack on Microsoft dented his enthusiasm for govt regulation, so during the 2000 cycle he split his contributions between Republicans and Democrats.

Even prior to the 2000 election, Republican anti-trust experts were saying that the government had done enough, and that continued Microsoft bashing was hurting the economy. And then afterward (when they were in power)they reached a final settlement with Microsft after the election. I've heard that Gates voted for Bush this time too, but that may not be right (I can't remember the source).

That is all I know about this (the parts about Gates supporting Democrats only and then shifting Republican I know is true).

At 4:01 AM, Blogger Eric Sowell said...

You know, I didn't know that. But, really, I doubt they're putting that much thinking into their rhetoric. Just lump someone you hate in with someone else lots of people hate, and you've got a winner of a motivation.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Kirk H. Sowell said...

Its called "Guilt by Association," and it is a fairly common logical fallacy.

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Eric Sowell said...

Yep. I even said that in my post :)

At 10:34 PM, Blogger Joshua Tallent said...

You make some very good points about the article. I read it somewhat hastily and did not post much on it because I didn't have time, but I agree with your conclusions. I do think it is interesting that the open source community was present at the event and that they were bundled up in that "leftist" comment.


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