Just Thinking...

january 12, 2003

I was just thinking about Microsoft and OpenSource. I was reading an article in the lastest Linux Journal about how a school had saved money by using Mandrake Linux across the board and skipping on Microsoft products. And something was right about the article and they didn't even mention it. Here's what I thought. Microsoft's model of software distribution and sales is a dying breed. You can mark my word on that. The OpenSource movement, which Microsoft thought was small and inconsequential is now going to kill Microsoft. Yes, it's not going to happen overnight, but I can see it happening. Not because home users are switching to Linux or other OpenSource alternatives (like OpenOffice.org), but because Microsoft is driving the schools from using their products. Yes, Microsoft probably gives kick backs to the schools for using their software, but is it enough? Are they giving it to the schools for free? No. The schools probably still have to live with that Softwarre Assurance stuff from Microsoft (it was apparent that this one school in the Linux Journal did). That's not going to help. So what, so schools won't buy Microsoft products, what's the big deal? We all are using Microsoft products at home, so Microsoft still gets our money. Yes, that's true, but think about the future. Those schools that are switching to Linux and OpenSource alternatives are now teaching children how to use Linux and they are growing the children on a free platform with other free software. Children will start to learn about Linux at school and use it on a daily basis. And when these children grow up, they will be savvy in Linux and other OpenSource alternatives. See where I'm going with this? You screw the school system, you screw yourself. I wonder if anyone in Redmond has thought about that. Not only is the pricing of their products too high for most families, but they are now forcing those families children to use a free alternative at school -- which will prompt parents to start using them at home because it's free and because their children are using it. For example: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition is $199 full, Microsoft Office XP for Students and Teachers is $149 full. On the other hand: Mandrake Linux 9.0 Standard is $30 full (that's complete OS plus OpenOffice.org). Or if you want StarOffice instead, you can get Mandrake Linux 9.0 PowerPack Edition for $69 full. Hmm...I wonder... Maybe it's time for Microsoft to change their software business model a little? Because I see it as something that is killing them slowly.