[ubuntu-za] Microsoft free software ad campaign

Lee Sharp leesharp at hal-pc.org
Thu Oct 8 21:21:45 BST 2009

Andre Rossouw wrote:
> Hi list. 
> This is the first time I'm mailing the list so apologies if the format is wrong, I'm sending this from my mobile phone.
> Right, I don't want to alienate people or start a discussion on Ubuntu vs Windows. But I'm sitting in a Microsoft partner meeting (please don't hate me). The presenter is currently talking on piracy, and they are presenting a new marketing campaign aimed at us consumers. One of the ads is a web banner advertising free software, click on the link and it brings up fake errors and warnings... And the message that free software is dangerous. "There is no such thing as free software". Ouch. 
> My problem is that it implies that things like FOSS is bad. 

I love it when this come up.  It means I can have a real discussion with 
someone. :)

First "There is no such thing as free software" is absolutely true.  The 
computer you run it on isn't free.  Nor is the time to install it. 
Training, electricity, staffing...  All costs.  Actuallu, only two costs 
are eliminated by FOSS.  The licensing cost (which is a very small part 
of the total costs) and the license management. (Which is actually 
significantly larger than the actual software cost in most cases)

So now that "free" is out of the way, lets compare the real costs left.

Hardware ->  FOSS will almost always win here as it generally can run 
with less resources than proprietary software.

Training ->  This is generally a wash.  Even if you staff knows windows, 
do they know Windows 7?  Office 7?  Outlook 32?  If you are trained on 
Office 2003, Open Office is closer to what you know than Ofice XP. 
Staying with Microsoft will require constant training.  FOSS will too, 
but perhaps less often.

Support ->  You may have to pay more for each help desk person with 
FOSS, as there are less trained Linux support people.  However, you will 
not have to clean malware infected PCs constantly.  Also, the users 
can't bring the card game softeware from home, install it on every PC in 
the office and open you up to a audit. (Or virus)

On that note, no McAfee, Norton, or other recurring software costs, or 
maintaining licenses for the same.

Opportunity Costs ->  Can it do what you want?  If not, can you pay to 
have it do what you want, or will you have to pay on the wetware side to 
work around the shortcommings?

For example, when the iPhone first came out (in the US) it would not 
work with Exchange.  Both were closed platforms, and both were having a 
pissing match.  With FOSS, you can hire a developer on a bounty system 
to fix your mail server to look like whatever, in no time.

So all of this comes down to what job are you using a computer to do? 
Just thinking Windows and Office by default is like buying fleet 
vehicles and thinking BMW by default.  Not so helpful for the currier 
division. :) (Unless you are a currier driving a Citi)


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