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RE: Consider this
On Mon, 10 Nov 1997, David E. Y. Sarna wrote:
>I think the comment on Microsoft donating technology to libraries is
>mean-spirited. Surely you don't think that Gates should donate someone
>else's technology! Remember, Gates believes that computing is the great
>equalizer, and it is a way to get disadvantaged kids an opportunity.
>Perhaps you don't, but he really believe it.
Ahh, my old friend, the false dichotomy. The choice isn't for MS to donate MS
tech or, say, Novell's. Surely the choice is between bundled software and
CASH. Are cash donations any less altruistic? No...they are more altruistic
because CASH creates real not illusory choice.
In addition, it is amazingly short-sighted of you to claim that I, an ardent
supporter of Linux, may not care about the egalitarian possibilities of
technology. Linux is a free OS; anyone, by virtue of (1) being human and (2)
having a computer, can use it, sell it, change it, do any damned thing they
want with it. It is insane to suggest that MS donating software to libraries
and schools is more egalitarian than a group of people around the world
creating an OS and then giving it away for FREE to anyone who wants it. After
all, is MS giving away free upgrades and unlimited licenses forever? Linux
There is NOTHING more egalitarian than FREE, by definition. Everybody can have
free. Not everbody can afford the kind of computer it takes to run MS's
donated, bloated, NT 4 or W95.
Simple exercise: which is more egalitarian, air or diamonds?
You tell me which technology is more empowering to inner city and poor rural
youths: Bill's one-time donation, for which very expensive hardware must still
be purchased, or something like Linux, which can run well on a discarded 386
with 4mb ram?
Unix and Linux are harder to understand and master than MS initially. But they
are much more powerful. And a moderately-capable user of Unix/Linux has
marketable skills; a moderately-capable user of W95 has a headache because
she's had to reinstall the whole damned thing twice already this month.
If I were an inner city parent of a child, and had no money, I'd dumpster-dive
until I found a discarded 386 or 486. I'd get Linux for free (it can be
purchased on CD for $5). I'd find someone at a college to help me install it.
I'd tell my kid: ``You like computers? Well, here's a system that you can do
anything with. It includes source code. It includes every major computer
language. If you want to be empowered by technology, tear this puppy apart.
When you know how to write shell scripts, compile software, write a little
Perl or C, then you'll have accomplished something. Then you'll have skills
and be empowered.''
Compare what a bright kid could do with this setup to a rich kid who has MS
Office and IE4 and all the latest games and the fastest hardware. Wow, the
rich kid can write a report in Word, and probably knows how to use Altavista.
That's really impressive.
>Therefore, I am optimistic that Microsoft will respond to thoughtful
>criticism of its business practices, and it will discard those that
>engender too much criticism, even when they offer economic advantage, in
>favor of others that better balance the economics with the appearance
>and reality of fair play.
I hope you are right, but I am very skeptical. After all, people have been
complaining bitterly for years about the strangehold MS has on PC vendors with
regard to pre-loading MS operating systems. Has MS given up the practice or
modified it in anyway? Not that I can see. I still can't get a computer from
Dell, Compaq, Gateway, or Micron w/ no MS OS or no OS at all.
I think you're selling Unicorns here, David.
There is no objective basis for your optimism.