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May 27, 2003

a "gift" from Bill Gates?

Microsoft is giving away free software to nonprofits, and critics charge that this is a deliberate plot to undermine open-source alternatives that were gaining ground in the nonprofit sector. I'll have to leave it to economists to decide whether Microsoft's strategy is good or bad for nonprofit organizations in strictly economic terms. (Economists might also ask whether it is a good deal for taxpayers to let Microsoft take a tax deduction for donating Windows, each copy of which actually costs the company nothing). Likewise, I'll have to defer to antitrust lawyers about whether this strategy violates laws against anti-competitive pricing. My concern is different from either of these. It may be that open-source software is good for civil society because it promotes cooperation in the writing and improving of the code; diversity (since open-source products can be tailored for various purposes and produced by many actors); and creativity by a wide range of individuals and groups. Whether open-source products such as Linux actually have these effects is an empirical matter than needs to be assessed. I suspect, however, that nonprofits like to use open-source products for these reasons and not merely to save money. If that is true, then Microsoft's donation is insidious.

Posted by peterlevine at May 27, 2003 10:55 AM


I don`t know if this e-meil I just got will make me earn som cash, but I`ll find out as soon as i get a Microsoft Program... I guess it will only work if I have bought a packet

Posted by: Peder Andreas EIde at June 16, 2004 02:54 AM