Call for Microsoft Boycott provokes strong reactions

The day I posted my first English blog post with a call to boycott Microsoft and celebrate Software Freedom Day, this weblog attracted over 4000 visitors, which is about 10 times more than on an average day.  Many visitors came in through StumbleUpon and Digg. On Digg it even made the front page but later it got buried, even though 72 people digged it..

Many people support the call but, as to be expected with a controversial subject like this, it also arose a lot of criticism. At first most comments were directed against spelling and grammar, but fortunately a US Windows System Administrator who – in his own words- is also sick of Microsoft’s horrible practices – proofread the article voluntary. Many thanks!

Part of the critics say I am a Microsoft hater..  Well, it may be clear that I am absolutely no member of the Microsoft fan club, but that was not the reason why I called for the boycott. Until now, my strategy was mainly to show people the benefits of Linux, but Microsoft called this over itself with it’s outrageous behavior at the ISO certification process of Open XML. I think it is time that people know what kind of company they are doing business with. If they nevertheless choose to keep using the products of this company, fine with me, but they can’t say: "Ich habe es nicht gewusst..".

What I notice time and time again is that Windows fans in general tend not to blame Microsoft for problems, but blame others. When it comes to Linux however,  their reasoning is mostly the other way around.

Some examples:

If someone’s computer gets infected by malware or viruses, they blame it on the stupid user that does not know what he is doing. But children of 4 years of age nowadays sit behind a computer and what to think of older people, that were never raised with computers. On the other hand, if Linux is not attacked by viruses or malware, then that is because so few people use it, but it can never be that Linux is just better..

After the Dutch Consumer Organization did an inventory of complaints for Vista and received over 4200, Windows fans blame the consumer organization because people that were happy with Vista, were not invited to give a reaction. But is it the task of the Consumer Organization to perform a satisfaction research to Vista?

Well Microsoft seems to think so, because this is their official reaction: (according to Webwereld)
"Microsoft is not impressed by the number of complaints and got few relevant information out of it. Microsoft said it had hoped that the research would provide more information about the user experience with Vista, but the complaints are mainly about incompatibility of hardware" (not true: 59% complained about software that did not work anymore). Speaking of contempt for customers!

When Microsoft releases Vista and many of the hardware does not work because there are no drivers, then the Windows fans blame it on the producers of hardware. But if there are no drivers for Linux and the community has to develop these themselves, they never blame the hardware producers, but they blame it on Linux. If their printer does not work, then Linux is simply a bad operating system..

When you can’t open files with an older version of Microsoft Office that are made with a newer version, then that is "normal". That this does not happen with Open Office, would that be abnormal, then?

When Microsoft tries to push Open XML trough the ISO certification process,  they blame the procedures of ISO. Everything Microsoft does is ok because that just is the way of businesses that is needed to survive in the hard business world, when it comes to big money. Well, that is just a matter of opinion and it is not mine.

I won’t deny that all my arguments were well enough documented. Some of the criticism to that is justified but I wanted to keep the post  readable and not too long. So  I will go into some of the arguments in the coming time. But one thing puzzles me.. How on earth is it possible that a big company like Microsoft gets defended by so many of their customers? Psychological research would be very welcome!

To be continued…


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

5 reakties

  1. 1 Barbara:

    In your call I could replace “Microsoft” with “Apple” and it becomes the same sort of allegation.
    When I use a Windows system (any Windows system, doesn’t matter when it was released), why shouldn’t I use other software of the same maker?! That way I’m sure it all works well together and the user interface is the same, so I do not have to learn different kinds of codes or commands to do my thing!
    A computer (system) is a tool, no more, no less. Treat it that way and you do not have to call on people to boycot a manufacturer.
    I haven’t heard yet of any hammer factory to be boycotted because the hammer head came loose after two years of intense use… Instead the carpenter buys a new one when the old one is broken, or he fixes the head in his own way to the handle.
    That is the law of cosumentism and hasn’t got anything to do with freedom of choice for a tool to my liking!

  2. 2 Catharina:

    No you could not.. Apple did not try to abuse the ISO certification procedures. Their system is much more safe than Windows. They make their own hardware and software, so it is a total different company. Personally I am just not interested in them, because their software is not free software.

    Microsoft only makes software and they try to control the hardware market, so at most shops you still can not by a system without Windows and it and has been almost impossible for decades.

    A computer system is much more than a tool. It relates to the right to free information, privacy and freedom. Can’t compare that to a hammer.. And even then; if you could choose for a free hammer that would work fine after two years of intens use, but you still could get a new free one, where would you go for your new hammer?

    But with software it is not mainly about costs, but much more about freedom and openness.

    And you say: “when I use a Windows system..” but the question is, why you use a Windows system?

  3. 3 Peter:

    I would *love* not to care what people decide to use. If they want their system to get riddled with viruses and spyware, want their system to phone home privacy data to Redmond and want to keep paying for shallow eye-candy CPU-hogging updates, LET THEM! I’ll be laughing and pointing my finger while my machines are still running.

    There is one problem with this.. What other people use restricts me as a free software user as well. I can’t use free software to communicate with proprietary software. Only one-way communication from free software to proprietary software works just peachy. This leads people to view free software as “bad”. “See, you can’t do anything useful with Linux! You can’t even load a simple Word document, while I can read everything you can give me!”

    Try to explain to the average Joe why this is utterly stupid on the long term. That’s the difficulty. They often don’t want to understand. They want to switch off their brains and “just use” the system. Even some of the people I talk to who understand the issues simply continue using their proprietary software with its closed formats because it’s what they’re used to and it works for them.

  4. 4 Catharina:

    Open Office has no problem with loading a simple Word document, so not sure what the problem is here. Fact is that it is the other way round: Windows users can not read the open document formats..

  5. 5 Peter:

    1) I can’t run OpenOffice for technical reasons (it doesn’t run on my OS/architecture combination), but you’re right, stuff like Abiword can read Word documents to some degree (they often fumble more complex parts of these documents, though!)

    2) If you were to give them a document in a format MS Office cannot read, suddenly your format is “obscure” and “weird” and “why can’t you just use the formats everyone uses?” There’s no arguing with these people, IMHO!

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