Microsoft has its own set of problems to deal with as a result of the survey findings. They don’t want their software to be used by those who have not paid for it. Can they in good conscience withhold security updates from unlicensed users? Do they increase the price thus making licensed users be unfairly taxed to cover the lost revenue? There is no end of ramifications that the Redmond giant will be considering.
On the other side of the fence, those of us who work to advocate the use of free and open source software, such as the alternate operating system Linux, find that one argument in our arsenal is greatly weakened.
After all, how can you say to someone, “Look, you can have an operating system and office productivity suite and photo editing package and games for free” when they just come back and say, “Well, Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop and all these other packages are free to me anyway.”
It really is a major compelling feature of Linux that it comes with an enormously rich suite of software that does everything from powering the computer in the first instance through to personal productivity, software development, music and photo editing, file distribution, Internet applications and much more. All of these items are at no cost.
It’s possible to achieve all the tasks you wish to use your computer for using open source apps. You can do everything without having to spend a cent on software and without ever breaching the legal licensing agreements that apply to these packages.
Yet, this argument means nothing if the people you are pitching it to don’t consider that an expensive package like Microsoft Office, or a much more expensive – and niche – package like Adobe Photoshop actually cost money in the first place.
However, price isn’t the end of the matter. In fact, even if Microsoft and Adobe chose to give away those packages for free from now on it still wouldn’t detract from something fundamental about free software, and which is still a major argument for the adoption of FOSS.
Please read on!