02 December 2007

The Joy of Ratchetlessness

Irrespective of the relative merits of free and proprietary software, there is one aspect where free software wins hands down. Proprietary software is based on the ratchet principle: once you start using it, you are eventually forced to move up through the upgrades; free software has no such compulsion. This ratchet is bad enough for people using legitimate copies of proprietary software, but for those using unlicensed versions, it's even worse:

"At first when Microsoft officers visited us, they convinced us on the importance of operating on genuine software which we didn't object to, but the manner they are doing it cannot let us sustain our businesses," he said.

His dilemma started when Microsoft sent him a letter stating that they would want him to legalise his operating system. However , he says that his business is operating on Windows 2000, but then Microsoft asked them to upgrade to Windows XP. "After testing the Windows XP, we found that it was not suitable for us but they insisted that we must go that way," he claimed.

He welcomed legalising software on Windows 2000, to which Microsoft says they did not want to license what they don't support.

So what did this chap do? Yup:

he embraced Open Source. "At first I was hesitant but with what am experiencing, I wish I had gone Open Source long time ago. It did not cost me anything. I closed for two days and installed all the machines with the Open Source software" he says.

In this respect, proprietary software is a victim of its own business model - it simply must get more money out of forced upgrades. Free software, of course, can offer upgrades for free or even - revolutionary thought - simply let people use old software, and find support from like-minded people online. (Via FSDaily.)

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