Strategies for Lovers of Freedom and Justice
~ by David Cartwright
There have been some who
have expressed dismay that after Microsoft was found guilty in the U.S. antitrust trial,
not enough happened to make it change its ways. However there are choices that consumers
can make, if they wish to have an antitrust impact.
There are, actually, a variety of reasons why
you may wish to decrease or avoid the use of Microsoft products. Perhaps it's the
snowballing license fees, or the constant feeling of insecurity amidst a sea of viruses
and worms, or disenchantment with Microsoft's constant attempts to create proprietary
lock-ins, or even a desire not to support a monopoly. Whatever your reasons, when it's a
corporation that Judge Jackson noted has ďprodigious market power and immense
profits,Ē one individual's actions may seem inconsequential.
However, that would be to
underestimate the power of one, and the power of a million ones. A single snowflake is a
delicate thing, but a million snowflakes together can stop traffic.
So for those who wish to take
steps to reduce their dependency on one vendor, here are some practical steps. The steps
outlined apply, first, to anyone (particularly if you fall into the 90%+ segment of PC
users who use a PC running Microsoft Windows) and then are particularized for specific
roles or organizations, such as hardware companies, software developers, Microsoft
employees, universities, schools, and Microsoft competitors. The list is not exhaustive,
so feel free to use it as a starting point.
Easy Steps for
- Donít use Hotmail email
(currently the major free [as in beer] alternative is Yahoo). Just create a new email account and
gradually migrate all your friends to use your new account.
- There are lots of quality
alternatives to a Microsoft mouse and keyboard including Logitech and Belkin.
- Search using non-Microsoft sites
such as Google and Yahoo.
- Need Instant Messaging? There are
plenty of alternatives to MSN Messenger for you and your friends including Yahoo
Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, Gaim or a Jabber client.
- If youíre getting a
smartphone, choose a model from a manufacturer such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson, or Palm.
- Download and use an alternative
Internet browser such as Mozilla or Opera. They also have lots of great features that
Microsoft Internet Explorer does not have.
- When you need a second PC, get a
Mac, or a low-cost Linux system.
- If you're purchasing music
tracks, choose an Apple iPod. HPís digital music player based on the Apple iPod will
also be available within the next few months.
- Looking for a games machine? The
Sony PlayStation and Nintendo GameCube are excellent alternatives to the Microsoft Xbox.
- There are plenty of other great
stocks to choose.
Steps for the
- Download and install OpenOffice
(itís free), or migrate to Sun StarOffice. Begin the transition from Microsoft Office
to true cross-platform solutions.
- Partition your hard drive and
begin experimenting with Linux.
Small and Medium
- Seek out system integrators in
your area that can provide open source/non-Microsoft solutions. In addition to Linux for
servers and desktops, you may be surprised at the cost savings you can also realize in
other technologies such as databases and groupware.
- Try out OpenOffice or StarOffice
for your word processing, spreadsheet and presentation requirements. Youíll be
surprised at the level of compatibility with Microsoft Office, and be delighted at the
money you can save.
- Cross-platform alternatives to
Microsoft Exchange include Samsung Contact, IBM Lotus Notes or OpenGroupware.org
- Seek genuine solutions to migrate
from Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. High quality desktop Linux offerings are
already available from Red Hat, Novell's SUSE LINUX, Mandrake, and Sun.
- Trials of non-Microsoft solutions
for the desktop environment should not just be about forcing down the price of Microsoft
software. Although that is good for competition, it is only a first step. A genuine market
reform will require a long-term change in the status-quo.
- If you are currently using
Microsoft Exchange, examine the cross-platform alternatives that can also handle Outlook
clients during any desktop transition. Alternative enterprise solutions to Exchange
include Samsung Contact and IBM Lotus Notes.
- If you havenít already
examined opportunities to migrate Windows servers to Linux, arrange to meet with at least
one out of IBM, Sun, Novell or Red Hat to discuss how Linux can assist your business.
- Insist on open document standards
that are fully supported across all the major platforms: Unix, Linux, and Windows.
other Teaching Institutions
- Insist on cross-platform document
standards within the institution. For example, all teaching and assignment materials
should be able to run on Linux, Apple and Windows machines.
- For Information Technology
courses, keep the teaching focus on Java and non-Microsoft solutions. You are training the
technology decision makers of tomorrow.
- Make Linux and other Free Open
Source Software (FOSS) readily available to all students and staff.
- Offer some PCs with Linux
pre-installed. On all other PCs supply dual-boot systems with both Microsoft Windows and
- Bundle OpenOffice on ALL systems.
If supplying dual-boot systems, include both the Windows and Linux versions of OpenOffice.
- Supply PCs with peripherals from
- Arrange to pre-install the latest
Sun Java Runtime Environment (JRE) on all PCs.
- Choose Java solutions (e.g. J2ME,
J2SE, or J2EE) in lieu of .NET. There are lots of vendors that can help you including IBM,
BEA, Sun, JBoss and Oracle. Java will also facilitate cross-platform solutions.
- Join vendor programs from
organizations such as IBM, Novell, Sun, BEA, Red Hat, Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft, Siebel.
- Begin migrating your development
environment to Linux. Require Linux versions of all development tools.
- If you are developing web
applications, make sure they fully support non-Microsoft browsers such Mozilla and Opera.
- Consider ways in which you can
use Eclipse or Mozilla as the core building blocks for your custom applications.
- Relentlessly pursue open or
community standards. Open and community standards help everyone, not just a few.
- Give away (or loan) live CDs such
as Knoppix to contacts who use Microsoft Windows. It will allow them to test Linux without
having to install it on their hard disk.
- Give away (or loan) OpenOffice
CDs, or even better the OpenCD, to contacts who use Microsoft Windows. In addition to
OpenOffice and Mozilla, the OpenCD will introduce them to the benefits of FOSS for other
tasks including an off-line browser, audio editing tools, image manipulation, privacy
tools, screen savers, games, and more.
- If you find an Internet site that
doesnít fully support non-Microsoft browsers such as Mozilla, Opera or Konqueror,
follow-up with the webmaster to request he/she fix the problem.
- Letís eliminate proprietary
terminology for what should be open standards. For example: Excel spreadsheets and
PowerPoint presentations. Letís search for an appropriate vendor neutral terminology
- Tell (and show) your friends the
benefits of Linux and FOSS.
- Use embedded Linux, Palm OS or
Symbian OS instead of Windows CE or Windows Mobile.
- Move your development environment
- Bottom-up marketing is almost
always a better strategy than top-down marketing.
- Pursue open and community
- Read Judge Jacksonís Findings of Fact. Ask
yourself, ďHas my company made a genuine change from its anti-competitive ways?Ē
Reflect, and act accordingly.
Revision: 25 March 2004
US DoJ Findings of Fact (1999): http://www.usdoj.gov/...
Embedded Linux News: http://www.linuxdevices.com/
IBM Lotus: http://lotus.com/
Jabber clients: http://www.jabber.org/software/clients.php/
Novell Partner Locator: http://www.novell.com/partnerlocator/
Opera Software: http://www.opera.com/
Palm OS: http://www.palmsource.com/
Red Hat: http://www.redhat.com/
Samsung Contact: http://www.samsungcontact.com/en/
Sun StarOffice 7: http://wwws.sun.com/software/star/staroffice/index.html
Symbian OS: http://www.symbian.com/