Ten reasons to boycott Microsoft and Celebrate Software Freedom Day

This is the first time I’ve made an effort to translate one of my blog posts to English, but I have a good reason. The reason is that I am finished with Microsoft. My indignation has been growing over the years, but now I’ve really had it. I created this list mainly because of their (Microsoft’s) “raping” of the ISO standardization procedures, but as you can read below there are many more reasons to not use any products from this company.

Ten reasons for a Microsoft boycott:

1. The rape of the ISO standardization procedures

Microsoft developed a format (Open XML) that could serve as an open standard for documents and they tried to push this through a fast track ISO certification procedure . However, there is no need for this standard as there is already a certified open standard for documents that Microsoft refuses to work with. Microsoft’s standard consists of a document of over 6000 pages and it is defective by design.

Until now, only some countries participated in standardization. Most countries could not care less. Until Microsoft filed it’s standard… From the beginning it was clear that the standard would never be accepted, but suddenly lots of countries submitted themselves to ISO and almost all these new members voted in favor of Open XML. In the countries that were already participating, the local committees suddenly got flooded with new members, all Microsoft Gold Partners. In that countries, the expected “no” vote was often changed to a “yes”. In some countries the vote even got declared invalid, because of accusations of bribery.

Because of these events, Open XML failed to get enough votes this time around, but it is not over yet. In February there will be a second round of voting, and if Microsoft continues with their practices, it might well be that the standard will get the certification. That would put the standardization process and ISO to sham. XML is nowhere near an open standard and it does not communicate well with other open document standards. All details about this soap, you can read here.

So, this reason alone could be enough to not use any of this companies products anymore, but there are more..

2. Microsoft’s products are inferior when it comes to safety

Microsoft claims that Vista is the safest operating system available, but why then do users need all kind of spy ware and virus scanners? Lots of people say that Linux will prove to be just as unsafe when more people start using it, but that is just not true. Linux is far superior to Windows when it comes to safety and even if a virus succeeded in infecting a Linux system, then damage will be minimal compared to what can happen to a Windows computer.

3. Microsoft makes people pay and pay again..

The full costs of a Microsoft operating system are not generally recognized by the user, as they are usually calculated into the costs of the computer. The operating system however is the least expensive portion as most users will need, some type of productivity suite such as Office installed on their computer. In The Netherlands, the cost of MS Office varies between $300 and $600, depending on the version.

4. Microsoft is not into compatibility

Every few years, Microsoft releases a new version of Office. Many times, documents that are made in a new version are incompatible with the old, so you have to buy yourself the new MS Office.

5. Microsoft is not competing in quality but in threats

For years and years Microsoft has been threatening people to sue them if they choose to use or develop free software products. In the meantime, they abuse others patents all the time. According to this Wikipedia page this abuse cost the company about 4.3 billion dollars between 2004 and 2007.

6. Microsoft is lazy

Microsoft is lazy when it comes to developing software. It took them over 5 years to get from Windows XP to Windows Vista and still Vista is not much more then an upgraded version of Windows XP. A free operating system, like Ubuntu, releases a new version every six months! Also Microsoft developed very little of their software themselves. Many of their products are either “borrowed”, purchased from other companies or absorbed when they swallow up smaller competition.

7. Microsoft’s products phone home

Microsoft’s Genuine Advantage is built into the operating system, and it regularly “phones home” to Redmond so that Microsoft knows what users are up to at their computers. They say it only checks to make sure your copy of their sofware is legal but there are strong rumors that much more personal information is sent to MS. And should you replace or add on enough parts to your PC, you are expected to buy a new license.

8. The limits of the user agreement (Eula)

Microsoft software comes with an end user license agreement (Eula) that gives the user some rights but leaves more rights to Microsoft. For example, you are not allowed to install the operating system on all the computers in your house and the dutch FAQ on Microsoft’s Website says this:

“Can I install another operating system, after purchasing a pc with pre-installed software?

Only in case of a Windows XP Professional OEM it is possible to install another version of the operating system, such as Windows 200 Professional or Windows NT 4 Workstation or Windows 98 Second Edition. In all other cases, it is not allowed.”

So if you buy a computer with Windows preloaded, you are not allowed to install Linux onto it, not even through a dual-boot 😀

9. Microsoft is into aggressive marketing campaigns in developing countries:

In developing countries, Microsoft more or less gives it’s software away. At first glance, it seems a noble gesture, but the gift is temporary. When the “free” licenses expire, you are required to buy one in order to continue using your OS or software. Which leaves them dependent upon Microsoft software once they are trained and used to working with the software. The situation is so out of of control, that in some developing countries the national curriculum for education states that students have to learn to work with Microsoft Word and Excel, rather than learning to work with a simple text editor and free spreadsheet application, of which there are many. A dutch project (ViAfrica), started with free software at some schools in Tanzania, but had to switch to Microsoft’s products for this reason.

10. There are great free alternatives to Windows

For most people there is absolutely no need to run Windows. There are great and free alternatives available. The most popular and very user friendly alternative at this moment is Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu comes with extensive free software packages, like Open Office, different web browsers like Firefox, e-mail programs such as Thunderbird and thousands of other free software programs. Ubuntu is available in many languages.

Call for a boycott:

If you agree that enough is enough, join the Microsoft boycott. You can participate in different ways:

  • Don’t buy a computer with Windows already installed, but go for an empty one or a preloaded Linux system. There is a list of vendors here.
  • If you are forced by your work or school to use Windows, try to raise awareness at the companies or the school board
  • Replace your Windows system by Ubuntu Linux or another Gnu/Linux system of your choice. If you can’t live without Windows yet, go for a dual boot system. If you need help, turn to the Ubuntu Linux forum or another distro’s forum. People there are happy to support you and some might even come to your home to help out (all countries have their own Ubuntu forum).
  • I you are not ready to replace your Windows operating system just yet, then you can choose to use as little Windows software as possible. Replace Internet Explorer by Firefox, Outlook by Thunderbird and Microsoft Office by Open Office. Here you find a list of great free alternatives to Windows and other closed software. Or you can download this free CD with 18 free software programs for Windows.

Finally:

Migrating to Linux is much easier than most people think, and if you have any problems there is a great community just waiting to help you out. Please leave a reaction here if you join the boycott and post your experiences here. You can help too by spreading and promoting this call in any way you like.

And last, but not least; The 15th of September it is Software Freedom Day. Let’s help to make it a great day for the celebration of Free software!

7 september 2007     Vrije en open source software     Trackback-URL     reageer

18 reakties

  1. 1 SubSonica:

    Thanks for your great summary of reasons not to use microsoft products anymore.
    Here are other good summaries with good reason:
    http://www.getgnulinux.org/windows/
    With best regards:
    A fellow boycotter.
    SubSonica (Spain)

  2. 2 Boycott Novell » DoJ and Microsoft Sitting on a Tree:

    […] front is eerily quiet. It’s out of the ordinary. Maybe you should have a look at “10 Reasons to Boycott Microsoft” rather than wait around here for more accusations against […]

  3. 3 Unix Mouth » Ten reasons to boycott Microsoft and Celibrate Software Freedom Day | Klets:

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  5. 5 mj » Blog Archive » Latte Heroes:

    […] might rant with closed comments about how the AppStore does this, or how Google does that or how we should boycott Microsoft all while gripping a Café Latte from their favourite multinational coffee […]

  6. 6 Brandon:

    I like this article and Linux just as much. I like Ubuntu, the mentioned software a lot, but I can’t really switch to it full time since I’m an advanced computer user. Because of the lack of software developers, Linux hasn’t blossomed much. To tell the truth, I’d rather use Linux. What needs to happen is to get LOTS of people to use it so developers will make more applications for it and that donations will be made to the necessary coders. Otherwise, Windows will have to do for now. Don’t even talk to me about OS X. It is an annoying piece of crap Operating System.

  7. 7 Brian:

    There are a lot of criticisms you can accuse Microsoft of, but at least half the claims you make are not true.

    Vista’s User Access Control system is a very elegant way to introduce the concept of sudo to users. You can open and edit documents made in Office 2010 even if you are using Office XP. The only reason anyone should feel forced to use MS Office is if they want to be able to share documents effectively with other organizations who also use it.

    You’ve written a very opinionated article and I guarantee people will take you and the FOSS movement less seriously because of your tone. I look forward to reading another article of yours that doesn’t stoop to lies to make your point.

  8. 8 Catharina:

    Thanks Brandon; the amount of applications is massive and personaly I can’t see a lack of them, but maybe you need certain things that are not available yet, through lack of need. Development usually starts whith a developer in need of an application and when others are interested, they join.

    @Brian: You obviously did not notice that this article is from 2007. Glad to see things are improving technically, but I still think most of the objections are valid today. As for writing more; I usually write in dutch..

  9. 9 dan:

    I am both a Linux and Microsoft user. I’ve always predominately used Linux, but Windows 7 is a very nice OS. I still have no love for the company though. Even still, I really hate when people pass opinions and outdated information off as fact.

    – Every single version of Microsoft Office has been backwards compatible. In fact, Older versions of Office had an update to read newer version’s docs (docx, xlsx, pptx, etc…)

    – I would hate to be Dutch, because the US (where my computer resides), it is officially recognized under law that buying a computer with preloaded software does not constitue consent of the license agreement. The law allows you to decide to uninstall (or install a new OS) without accepting the agreement, and now you can even request reimbursement for the cost of the license.

    – I enjoyed reading your paragraph about standards, and then hearing you talk about how great Ubuntu is. Ubuntu is one of the biggest standards-violating distros on the Linux map. I completely defeats the intent of the Debian architecture design and everything it stands for. There is a reason Debian wanted to completely fork the baseline to prevent Ubuntu from tainting it.

    – The “Phone Home” concept is not unique to Windows. As far as OS’s go, Windows and OSX are the big culprits, but I try this: Run your free Ubuntu, load up your free Firefox, and type something into your free Google, and viola! You have just sent more personal information about yourself than Microsoft could every collect via WGA.

    Other than that, I totally agree with you. People should give Linux a shot. If you don’t play overly new games (like the gamer camping out to buy the game the night is comes out), or you don’t require certain Windows-only productivity software (sorry – I love openOffice but impress just can’t render ppt files all the time), then there is no reason to go free.

  10. 10 dan:

    whoops – no reason NOT to go free

  11. 11 Catharina:

    Hi Dan; as I pointed out: this is an article from 2007; some things changed for the better, some for worse.. Also this is an article on Microsoft, who controls about 90% of the market, so it is not relevant if others do the same.. I wrote other articles on Google and Mac, but they are in Dutch..

    Not agree on what you say about Ubuntu as a standards violating distro. What open standards do they violate? The architecture of Debian, is not a standard, it’s just the choice of Debian. The license permits other distro’s to do with it whatever they please, as long as they respect the license and I can’t se any reason why they would fork anyting..

  12. 12 Wyatt:

    I paid about $30 usd for Windows 7 and have open office, firefox, and many other open source programs. Windows is cheap, reliable (if you are using the right hardware) and completely open, especially when compared to the next closest alternative osx.

    Also, there may be great free software that is the alternative to some windows software, but there are certain things you cannot do on Linux without a vm. This includes newer videogames and some hardware as well as programs that are just vastly superior to anything made for linux regardless of the price (photoshop).

    Again you can run just about anything on any computer nowadays with vms but its just a whole lot simpler to use windows.

  13. 13 Spuffler:

    “Don’t buy a computer with Windows already installed, but go for an empty one or a preloaded Linux system. There is a list of vendors here.” Yes, the link you provided will load a page that hints at having broad potential use. Sadly, EVERY link on that page presents an error. The Linux Online website is not working properly and has had similar errors over the past 6 – 8 years.

  14. 14 Spuffler:

    In the USA, eCollegePC offers systems with Ubuntu installed and configured, and the cost is … zero.

    http://www.ecollegepc.com/

  15. 15 Jester:

    I’ve been using GNU/Linux for the past four years.

    Until now I’ve tolerated Microsoft’s greed, but the final straw for me was the recent lawsuit against Barnes & Noble for violating patents related to things like a “loading status icon” or “loading images in the background”.

  16. 16 Mark M:

    Honestly, and this is the thing that hurts other operating systems much more than people will even admit, is until Linux or Mac fully supports gaming as much as a PC does, windows will reign supreme. A VERY large portion of computer users play games. Hardly any games, aside from indie games, come out for other operating systems. Sure Linux has Wine, but that sucks. Sure you can get SOME games to work on it, but no until after you jump through hoops, and it only has a very limited selection of games. And Mac has an even smaller selection of games they can play. Sure, Steam is helping, but that can only go so far.

    Moral of the story: If you want the other operating systems to really take a foot hold, you need to convince AAA game devs to embrace OpenGL and non windows environments. You get game devs and gamers on your side and you will see a switch.

  17. 17 Thierry:

    @ Mark M:

    http://store.steampowered.com/sale/linux_release

    I’m no gamer, so I have no idea on the quality of the games, but at least it’s a start…

  18. 18 Vjeko:

    You cannot put Microsoft Office and Open Office in the same content. Open Office is a piece of crap, just like Thunderbird. And what tool can replace Visual Studio? Oh, Eclipse, right 🙂

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