Sunday, July 26, 2009

From Russia with Linux

I came across two seemingly unrelated reports, one from the Register, stating that Microsoft will offer a choice of browsers in the EU version of Windows 7 and one from FAS Russia, which began proceedings in a case against several major hardware manufacturers. If this is the shape of things to come, it could mean the OS landscape is about to change.

First, if the EU started similar proceedings, that could mean the end of the Microsoft Tax, which is a good thing in itself. It can simply not be maintained that computer hardware is specifically designed for Windows. If it were, we wouldn't be able to run Linux and since we are, it isn't. If such a policy were adopted, we would get our money back for every piece of unused Microsoft software. No hassle!

But then again, Microsoft would still have an advantage, because it comes preinstalled, which is an unfair business practice. This is where the browser choice comes in. Isn't it much neater to let the customer choose which OS he wants to have by having two Operating Systems preinstalled? It can't be done? Of course it can! I once bought a laptop and could choose between Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. I ran a dual boot system for four years. Don't tell me it can't be done! It has been done.

Surely, hardware manufacturers don't like to do business with a bunch of hackers. From all the possible Linux contenders (Red Hat, Novell, Canonical, Google) I feel that Google has the best chances, simply because it obviously already has had contact with several OEMs following its Android adventure. And it is not afraid to attack Microsoft head on.

We're not there yet, though. The customer has to follow some procedure to get his money back, money for something he never bought. It's like you go to the supermarket, get a cart full of groceries and then have to fill in several forms in order to get back the stuff you never wanted. That's odd, don't you think so?

The easiest way is to let the customer decide when he buys the system. If he accepts Windows he gets a DVD, a license and he can activate it from the privacy of his own home. WGA should prevent any piracy - if it is any good. The licensing costs are added to the bill and that's it. If he takes Chrome - for example - it's free. It's as simple as that.

Be sure Microsoft will put up a fight, because it will:
  1. Make clear to the customer what he pays for and how much he pays for it;
  2. Make it virtually impossible to impose its terms to hardware manufacturers;
  3. Give customers a real alternative, backed by a major company;
  4. Expose the vulnerability of its business model in the 21st century to the shareholders in a way that cannot be misunderstood;
  5. Create a dangerous precedent - if here, why not in the US?
But is this scenario completely unrealistic? I don't think so...

If you are living in the EU, please forward this link ( to your EU representative in the EU parliament. It might help to give 'em a few ideas.

It might also help to get several translations online. You can be assured that this blog is at your disposal!


Anonymous said...

I don't see the Russia decision as being much of a benefit to the growth and competition of Linux. It will certainly benefit current users who don't have to pay a MS tax anymore, but all they want is for these OEMs (some of which already sell laptops with Linux...although that could be different in Russia) to provide bare drives. This plus the fact that Russians are one of the top piraters of Windows makes me think it's more likely that the people will more often than not install a pirated copy of Windows than Linux. I'd be more excited about this decision if it were focused on giving the consumer choice of OSes and bare drives. As it is, there is no mention in the press release of them trying to get OEMs to offer alternative competing operating systems. It's possible that it's there intention but based on that release I'm still skeptical this will help anyone but existing Linux users (which is good in and of itself but still doesn't promote competition in a sector that sorely needs more).

JohnMc said...

Anon, Hans,

Your picture is not complete. Anon, you don't think having 143m Russians using Linux in the next 5/10yrs significant?

* 2yrs ago the Russian Federation made a decision to push the entire 1-12 forms to Linux. They are now in year 1 of a 3 yr program of full conversion.

* Most of the major universities are now OS neutral. With their current budget problems entities like MSU are pushing new efforts in Linux to save money.

* State organizations have been told that IT budgets are being cut. Change of else.

The interesting trigger for this was Microsoft suing a Russian teacher (,1000000308,39285944,00.htm). The short of it is Putin (then Prez) stepped in abborgerated the suit in the courts and issued the directives I refer to. The Russian Federation may come closest of any country to being a Microsoft free zone.

Oh and Anon, the top pirating country in sheer numbers is Red China.

Anonymous said...

Google are as untrustworthy as Microsoft.
Neither should be allowed anywhere near private computers.
That's why I use Linux and will never use a Google OS.
Microsoft need to be made to stop bullying hardware manufacturers into only providing drivers for Windows.

The biggest problem this planet has is "corporations" - the sooner we dismantle them the sooner we can save humanity from a dark, nasty and expensive future.

Ol' Fowdie said...

The biggest problem this planet has is "corporations" - the sooner we dismantle them the sooner we can save humanity from a dark, nasty and expensive future.


Hey Anon, grow up will you? The corporation is the only reason that we can all live the way we do. Without large multinational corporations costs are too prohibitive. Can you afford a processor fabrication machine and the massive amounts of electricity required? Can you mass produce automobiles, air planes, fiber optic cables? I don't think so, and no little mom and pop shop can either. The corporation is one of the most important establishments of our time, and thank Microsoft too. Not only did they show the world how not to make an OS, they also pushed computing forward by constantly requiring more and more power for their OS. If everyone used Linux or Un*x, there would be no reason to advance the machine. One machine could potentially last you your entire life.

Marx said...

@JohnMc: I know China is the top, but Russia is up there too. I was basing what I said by the press release, I wasn't aware that the Russia government was making a big Linux push separately. So I stand corrected. I was just saying that bare drives alone, particularly in countries where MS IP rights aren't strongly enforced, isn't going to help Linux adoption by itself. The fact is MS has more money to spend on advertising and gaining mindshare so it needs more push than that. I commend Russia for doing that though.

@Ol'Fowdie: I agree with everything you said you said, except I'm not sure it was just Windows being a resource hog that has pushed computer advances. In fact I would say gaming and hobbyists are the driving force for the need for speed. Now Windows certainly has a tendency to make each new release need just a bit more power than is currently available to run efficiently and that doesn't hurt but as long as those gamers and hobbyists were around for a Unix/Linux OS there would still always have been the need for more CPU and graphics power.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add that BOTH political parties in the US are OWNED by corporations who send lobbyists to tell them what to do, and sufficient "campaign contributions", aka bribes, to pay for it. Rookie Congressmen enter congress with net worths usually under $250K, after years of working in the private sector, and leave Congress multi-millionaires, all while doing the business of "the people" for $174,000 per year. How is that possible except for bribes and insider information? It' not.

The Mad Hatter said...

If you are right, the results should be amusing.

martha said...

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creativesumant said...

Russia may have bowed out of the Cold War, but with the release of ALT Linux Personal Desktop 4.0, Russia has become a contender in the Linux arms race. Equipped with KDE 3.5.7,, Firefox, a modern infrastructure, and good multimedia support, ALT Linux is a potential weapon of mass adoption.

Recently I just came across a good article on "Linux"
Here is its link.