I read a very well-written and thought-provoking article the other day entitled “Windows is Free”. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek because “Free” here isn’t free in the sense that we in the open source world view things… neither free as in beer nor free as in speech. Free as in pirated, rather. And as I was reading it, I realized this fellow has nailed it on the head exactly right. Not only had I never thought of it that way before, but as I read it I realized that no only does he have it right, I don’t think anyone could have articulated society’s attitude on Windows vs Linux (even the Mac) better.
And to think that the possibility is quite distinct that one reason Linux adoption hasn’t taken off is because when you tell people it’s completely free, they just nod and say “that’s nice” instead of thinking they can save hundreds of dollars… no cost for Windows, no cost for Office (using OpenOffice.org instead), even no cost for Photoshop using something like the GIMP instead. No… they don’t think that way because to them Windows, Office, and Photoshop are often just as free… easily downloaded pirated copies, cracks, or buddies with copies and valid licenses they just pass over. So the bottom line is Windows doesn’t cost them money, so they don’t get excited about another OS that doesn’t cost them money. After all, chances are they’re not paying for it now and if they need to upgrade, well… there’s always bittorrent and friends with a copy, right?
I’d encourage anyone with a few minutes to read the article. It’s lengthy, but wow is it an eye opener.