Subject: Re: HBS WK: Who will win Microsoft or Linux?
From: Taran Rampersad <>
Date: Sat, 11 Jun 2005 18:25:32 -0500

Anderson, Kelly wrote:

>Ok, that makes some sense... like teenagers growing up on pirated
>software buying it when they get old enough to spend other people's
>money :-)
>IF this is the case though, why has Microsoft turned up the heat on
>pirates and this silly crap about the software activation sludge?
>Apparently, Microsoft does NOT agree that piracy is good for Microsoft.
OK, well, speaking for the Caribbean/Latin America region - Microsoft
isn't 'turning up the heat'. It will go into the larger companies, and
will make demands - and some switch to Linux, some don't. There's at
least one entire government that was 'threatened' by Microsoft and
offered an 'amnesty' - and for that country, where the government is the
second largest employer, that is a big deal. But it's pushing things
away from them. Asia has had some big press about a software amnesty...
we'll see how THAT turns out. It's not like Longhorn is coming around
this year.

The SMBs (Small-Medium Businesses) aren't touched by *any* of this at
all, because there are just too many of them - and most of them, at
least in the Caribbean - aren't registered. Latin America, I'm finding,
is not too different though it tends to have more corporate type companies.

So to stay in business, the SMBs have to be compatible with the larger
companies. No hay problema. But Microsoft isn't tracking THEM down. It's
trying the broad strokes of update control which are a complete failure
in countries where there is more time and energy than money.

In all - if the focus is 'big business', sure, Microsoft is squeezing
the vice. But the SMBs are squeezing Microsoft in their vice, when you
consider it. One large company with 1000 machines doesn't mean as much
as 10,000 businesses with a machine each. It's out of control for them.

>By the way, Microsoft isn't competing with open source, but it is
>representative of proprietary software. Proprietary software IS in fact
>battling it out in the field of ideas against open source. May the best
>idea prevail!! 
Dunno. There are some instances where proprietary software models seem
to work better. I did an interview with Michael Simms (CEO of Linux Game
Publishing) last month ( ) , and
that's one of the things we talked about in the interview and offline.
People will buy games, and yes, they will pirate them as well... but in
the end, it costs money to write a good game.

And we're still waiting for an AutoCad equivalent, aren't we? Browsing
the GoogleAds on my personal site, I'm finding a lot more of proprietary
software written for Linux (which some might say is bad) - but it also
shows that there are some inherent weaknesses in 'Open Source Only'
business models. Once a serious Open Source 3D CAD shows up that can
rival Autocad, we're almost guaranteed that AutoCad will come back home
where it belongs. Of course, an Open Source subscription model could
work for 3D CAD, but first someone has to seriously sit down and write a
professional level package.

While I'll beat the drum for Open Source and Free Software, at the end
of the day developers have to get paid. And if they are only dealing
with a niche market of SMBs or departments of corporations, sometimes
the best way is to proprietarily license. TAANSTAFL. And before someone
says, "but you said a while back that..." - that was a case of rewriting
an existing license to make it more proprietary, and I don't believe in
a bazillion more Free Software/Open Source licenses.


Taran Rampersad
Presently in: Panama City, Panama

"Criticize by creating."  Michelangelo