Microsoft's Plan to Extend its Desktop Monopoly through Platform Addiction

On April 19th, Bill Gates announced a plan to enlist the help of developing nations in a barely-concealed attempt to get the next billion PC users hooked onto Microsoft software. Under the guise of trying to bridge the digital divide, Microsoft will instead aim to extend its desktop monopoly by using the same technique it's used for years through software piracy: platform addiction.

An addiction it will milk in future decades. An addiction that governments should reject in favor of free and open source software - the only way to truly bridge the digital divide. Bill Gates, citing China as an example, said that Microsoft would allow users in developing countries to use pirated software, which in turn would lock those users into Microsoft's proprietary data formats, proprietary protocols and proprietary Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Once so tithed to Microsoft, these users would find it almost impossible to move to alternatives, thus providing a captive future revenue stream. Instead of accepting the Microsoft deal, governments should push open source software, guaranteeing freedom from vendor lock-in and future price hikes.

And where Microsoft offers a handful of cut-down applications in its $3-meal-deal, open source supplies thousands of complete applications, for no cost at all. Highly functional applications such as Scribus (desktop publishing), Gimp (photo editing), Blender3D (animation), Inkscape (vector drawing), MySQL (database), Python (programming environment), will help students in their creative endevours. Other landmark applications such as Linux, (office suite) and Firefox (web browser) will help all users. By helping to make users aware of open source alternatives, by disseminating that software through CD give-aways and via subsidised, low-cost PCs, governments will be reducing their reliance on proprietary vendors and improve access to 21st century technology. It's the only way to ensure that their citizens will be free to use quality software, without constraints, in perpetuity.