Con Zymaris conz at cyber.com.au
Thu Jun 24 07:41:23 EST 2004

[feel free to disseminate this to other lists]


AUSTRALIA, JUNE 23th, 2004.

  "As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. 
  They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to 
  collect sometime in the next decade." 

  -- Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corp, 1998.

OSIA, Australia's Open Source industry body, believes that Microsoft's
defamation lawsuit against Sergio Amadeu, the President of the Brazilian
National Institute for Information Technology, is a reprehensible
action, attempting to curb freedom of speech and freedom of criticism.

OSIA believes that this frivolous lawsuit has more to do with the recent
move by the Brazilian government to shift 300,000 PCs from Windows to
Linux[0] than any real harm to Microsoft.

Mr Amadeu's public comments compared Microsoft's habit of giving
software to governments for free (at least initially) with that of drug
dealers who give away their product until the victim is addicted, and
then demand payment for ongoing supply. His comments simply mirror
public statements made by none other than Microsoft co-founder and
chairman Bill Gates himself and well placed commentators on Microsoft's
business practices such as Judge Penfold Jackson, the original Judge in
the now famous Microsoft-DOJ anti-trust case, in which Microsoft was
indeed found guilty of abuse of its monopoly position. 

On Feb 27, 2001, at the end of the first stage of the anti-trust trials,
Judge Jackson was "quoted as saying Microsoft was like a 'drug
dealer'"[1] in a frank exchange with the media. Prior to this, during an
address to university students in 1998, the then CEO of Microsoft Mr
Gates said, "Although about 3 million computers get sold every year
in China, but people don't pay for the software. Someday they will,
though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal
ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out
how to collect sometime in the next decade."[2]

OSIA wants to know why legal action is being taken against Mr. Amadeu
for making statements which could have been taken straight out of Bill
Gates' own mouth. If Mr. Gates can make comments that allude to
Microsoft's practices getting users addicted to their software, then
Microsoft have no grounds to claim that Mr. Amadeu's comments are

We also want to know why Microsoft believes it has the right to curb
freedom of speech and responsible criticism, criticism which itself
reflects a generally accepted maxim by the IT industry: that proprietary
software vendors often 'seed' markets with zero-cost software,
locking-in users with proprietary data and document formats and APIs,
then milking those users for years to come with enforced licence
purchases, upgrades and software 'assurance' programmes. This is why
Microsoft is able to make profits of around 80% on products such as
Windows and Office.[3] Drug dealers would indeed be envious.

"The European Competition Commission report on the Microsoft case has
been published in full and quotes Microsoft internal emails attributing
its customers' loyalty to the high cost of switching from Windows."[4]

This last point is key. Documents released by the European Union               
anti-trust case against Microsoft[5] reveal that their business model           
relies on monopolistic lock-in strategies. To protect your organisation         
against vendors who would lock you in to proprietary software, OSIA             
recommends that users switch to free and open software and standards.           
Because the technologies are open source, no single vendor can lock
users in to their product, leaning them towards addiction.

Microsoft, if the shoe fits, wear it. And according to your own founder,
the shoe fits perfectly because it's part of your core business plan. If
you really have concerns about how the world's citizenry perceives you,
then alter your current business conduct, don't attack free speech as a

[0] http://trends.newsforge.com/trends/04/06/20/1420245.shtml?tid=137&tid=147
[1] http://amo.net/NT/02-28-01MSFT.html
[2] http://news.com.com/2100-1023-212942.html?legacy=cnet
[3] http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=38517
[4] http://news.zdnet.co.uk/business/0,39020645,39152686,00.htm
[5] http://europa.eu.int/comm/competition/antitrust/cases/decisions/37792/en.pdf

- - -

About Open Source Industry Australia

OSIA is the industry body for Open Source within Australia. We exist to
further the cause of Free and Open Source software (FOSS) in Australia
and to help our members to improve their business success in this
growing sector of the global Information and Communication Technology
(ICT) market.


Spokesperson/Contact: Con Zymaris
Phone: 03 9621 2377
Fax: 03 9621 2477
Email: media at osia.net.au


Con Zymaris <conz at cyber.com.au> Level 4, 10 Queen St, Melbourne, Australia 
Cybersource: Australia's Leading Linux and Open Source Solutions Company 
Web: http://www.cyber.com.au/  Phone: 03 9621 2377   Fax: 03 9621 2477

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