Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bill Gates, Socially Clueless again...

Ok, can't resist pointing out just how stupid this quote is: Love it. Comparing Microsoft software to the pharmaceutical industry.

Hmm, how do I love this quote? Let me count the ways.

  1. Microsoft software truly is in many ways like a drug. An addictive drug. You buy it once, and find yourself needing to shell out extra money every so often to buy the exact same thing again (albeit with a new label and very few additional features, but of course, for more cash).
  2. Microsoft, as much as it's like the drug industry (see above), it's not innovative. As a matter of fact, the whole idea that Microsoft is an inventive company is truly a misdirected concept. Rarely does Microsoft make something innovative -- they bundle a lot of innovative concepts -- ones that other companies and individuals have created. The sad fact is that they haven't really delivered a truly innovative new product in a long time on the operating system front.
  3. .
  4. Software isn't like a drug in a very fundamental sense -- the distribution model is completely different (or it can be, rather) and unlike drugs, it is composed of tons of interlocking parts that as a whole expand upon the other interlocking parts.

    If you could step into your local wal-mart, purchase a few thousand "bundled" drugs to create a completely new drug that fixed just your symptoms, this analogy might hold. Sadly, if it were a Microsoft model, this drug would promise to cure the common cold on the box as a feature. When taken, the patient (let's label them "the victim" here) would find themselves with dozens of new viruses instead.

  5. The GPL-licensed products that come bundled with Linux are constantly getting new features that come from all over the planet. There are tons of people making money from their use (just not people holding others at gun-point at the point of "sale" of the Linux "product"). Lot's of people are employed as systems administrators, for example. Those people haven't lost their jobs and there's very little danger of this as the infusion of new technology from the implementation side of the fence just doesn't seem to be slowing down.
  6. If you follow the argument above, you can see that the real "loss" is just Microsoft's -- companies like RedHat, IBM and Novell and others are making cash just fine from Linux. Apple has also seen benefit using Free Software (non-GPL, but it's a point that they're making out just fine and adding features like crazy). What Gates is bemoaning is the fact that GPL software forces a down-stream effect of not being able to charge monopolistic prices for software. Gee, we're all feeling sorry for you there Bill.
I am resisting the urge to counter that Microsoft is like Big Oil or some other industry. The truth is that Software is a different industry and that the GPL is here to stay. Get used to it Bill -- think about this for a while -- why don't you turn the Windows API into something usable that bolts on top of any operating system? -- Linux or Apple, and leave the OS-driving to the professionals. Please don't jokingly suggest that Vista is an OS -- it seems more like a badly written memory-tester with the ability to launch a few programs. Give up on the whole world-domination thing and just go with the flow.

You're doing some cool things on the charity front -- give the public a break on the monopoly front (they can use it -- fuel is getting expensive). Gas is not cheap, in other words, but the hot air you generate sure makes it seem that way.


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