Colin Charles Agenda

Microsoft blackouts… Software Freedom

Are you a user of Microsoft Windows? Are you a user of a non-licensed copy of Microsoft Windows? Does it happen to be Windows XP Professional? Have you seen “blackouts“?

Apparently, from about the end of last month (August 27 2008, to be precise), users of pirated copies of Microsoft Windows XP Professional that also happen to be connected to the Internet will see their screens go black, and have no icons visible.

The esteemed folk at Microsoft Malaysia seem to think that there are 8.6 million users of Windows XP Professional in Malaysia (seems like a huge number, considering the population), and about three million will suffer from these “blackouts”. Only 35% of Windows XP Professional users are pirates?

Its a most interesting tactic. Annoy the user by allowing them to change their background, and 60 minutes later, give them grief again. After all, an original copy of Windows XP Professional only costs RM580. That’s about 227 litres of unleaded petrol, at the current rate of RM2.55/L. Or nearly 6 tanks of petrol, in a more fuel efficient car. No wonder, people prefer paying RM5 for pirated media.

I don’t see why anyone in their right minds will be paying for last generation software, that already reached its end-of-life. Even industry pundits seem to think its a tactic to get people to upgrade to Windows Vista, which amongst corporations seems to have a slow uptake (read: massive failure for Microsoft’s coffers).

Software Freedom Day is this weekend (September 20 2008). Why not tell Microsoft to keep their software (and their “Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA)”), and go the open source route? There’s an alternative to almost everything they provide. I think the open source world might only be deficient for hardcore gamers (but even that’s being looked into, thanks to CodeWeavers).

Microsoft Open Source
Windows (operating system) Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSolaris
Outlook Thunderbird
Internet Explorer Firefox
MSN Messenger Pidgin (supports Yahoo!, AIM, GTalk, etc.)

Tiny table of equivalents

That pretty much covers desktop productivity, I think. There are alternatives to IIS (Apache), MS SQL Server (MySQL), Visual Studio .NET (NetBeans, Eclipse), and the list just goes longer and longer. There is really no excuse in today’s world to be bogged down by Microsoft’s “Genuine Advantage”. Don’t even let me get started on open standards (which Microsoft flouts or doesn’t practice, period).

Don’t worry about piracy. Don’t bow down to another corporations silly moves. Think open standards. Think freedom. Just go open source.