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Question about the AM conference
My question about the AM conference is simple: why does the registration fee
have to be so bloody expensive? I am involved in an international effort to
create a free operating system for PCs, known as Linux, which has about 10
million users worldwide in all aspects of government, business, education,
personal use (Linux has more users than Windows NT).
The Linux Movement (see http://www.linux.org/) has created a very stable and
professional system that completely replaces Microsoft. It is free: everyone
by virtue of being human and owning a computer can run Linux without support
costs, hidden licensing fees, or other burdensome MS tactics. In other words,
the Linux Movement, by the very nature of the case, is about as anti-MS as you
Of course most of you probably have never heard of MS because the computer
journalism industry is so MS-biased it's hard for any other company to get any
kind of fair shake on a consistent basis.
My point is that I am very interested in the kinds of critical appraisals of
MS that Ralph Nader has called for. I'm particularly interested in the ethical
and moral aspects of that appraisal since that's my primary field of
expertise. I think the computer industry is just too important and too
revolutionary to be left in the hands of any single entity, much less one as
rapacious and domineering as MS.
Anyway, to get back to the point of this message, I would have liked to attend
the AM conference in Washington, and I think my local (Dallas-Fort Worth)
Linux Users Group, which boasts about 600 members, and has been around only
about 12 months, would have sprung for my airfare.
When I saw how much it cost to register for the conference, I put the whole
idea out of my mind immediately. I know that a lot of the people interested in
the MS issue are people, like lawyers, who don't have any more than a
financial stake in getting a piece of the litigation pie. But some of us have
a different stake in this issue; I think that the case against Microsoft ought
to be a cumulative case: i.e., not just legal but political and moral and even
It's a shame that the organizers of this conference structured it in such a
way as to exclude people who don't have corporate-sized resources to throw
around. In other words, there is a healthy dose of anti-MS feeling and
activism going on, and not just from companies like Netscape or Compaq who
feel like they've been illegally treated by MS.
It doesn't appear though that any other part of the story is going to be
heard: I agree with the legal movement to regulate MS, but I just think that's
only part of the whole story. I'm interested in reducing MS's power in the
industry, and in other industries too, but I'm less interested if this is just
a fight between a really huge companies and some other not so huge but still
really big companies.
A view from the ground.
Kendall G. Clark, President
North Texas Linux Users Group