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Steve Ballmer's Thoughts On Free Software

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the there's-a-slow-change-coming dept.

263

An anonymous reader writes, "Steve Ballmer during a 3-day visit to India was asked about whether Free software is the future of India. And he effectively circumvented the question and answered that in the future, software businesses can look at a number of revenue streams such as subscription fees, lower cost hardware, advertising and of course traditional transaction. What is amusing is that in answering the question, he refuses to use the word 'free' or anything close to it."

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263 comments

India and free don't go well together (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824186)


I was just in India this year (Spring 2006) for almost a month on a tour of Eastern Europe and Western India. The primary focus of the trip was to see how gold bullion affected areas with poverty and reduced labor. I was shocked at the competitive and relatively free market of India -- I also saw why so many people were gaining wealth and blowing open the tech community -- they were driven versus what I am familiar with in the States.

That being said, I don't think Ballmer was wrong to dance around the question. I think his answer hit the nail, head on!

Background on information and "free": When I ran my first multinode BBS starting in 1987, I saw that the future was something similar to client-server (the Internet never dawned on me at this point). My BBS was a pay-for-play gaming system, and people paid in order to connect and use the software that I 'rented' them via their ANSI terminal application. I saw how huge the future would be if the bandwidth could get beyond 2400 bps. I'm seeing that future today with things as simple as Wordpress and Google Spreadsheet. It blows my mind, and I do see how Microsoft wouldn't care about free software because it isn't on their radar screen. I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support. I'd rather see ad-bloated "free" software like Google Mail than bug-ridden memory-leaking software like Thunderbird. I use Firefox, but it is still a memory leaker that competes well with IE in terms of falling apart over a few hours of work.

The Indians will want nothing to do with it. India has a history of thousands of years of being capitalists -- only recently did we really see socialism take over, and it is starting to be pushed out by the millions who want to better their own lives and try to ignore what is best for "society" when they all know that the rest of society is made of individuals who also want to be better than them. The fact that India is growing in leaps and bounds comes because of the hard-driven individualistic atmosphere that exists in that country and seems to be in their blood (note: I have East Indian blood in me, but I am a mutt).

The Indians are already grasping the idea of advertising-funded online media, so maybe the next step is some sort of "use it for free" software -- but we all have to see that paid software seems to be better supported that truly free software. I love Google Mail, but it isn't free -- the ads displayed on the screen are paying for supporting the application developers. Americans tend to be anti-advertising, but the West Asian part of the world is definitely not -- when I was in India, I saw entire houses painted by a corporation to be their logo and color (the owner of the home was paid nicely for allowing it). I saw taxis driving around with vinyl-cut ads from every sort of retailer, small and large. I saw how heavily the "Bollywood-style" advertisements cluttered the mainstream media there. The Indians aren't afraid of finding a way to make money on everything they can -- in order to better their own lives without a big expense to anyone else.

The entire Indian economy is run in a balanced Statist-Anarchist way. If you buy anything large (car, house, land, business) you pay a small portion of "white" money (that is heavily taxed) and a big portion of "black" money (that is under the table, and often comes in the form of bullion). That's awesome -- people realize what a burden the State is, and they work around it. The same will be true of the "free" software drive there -- people will realize that they can gain without causing other people to lose -- by finding a way to subsidize whatever the future is of the software market.

Some Americans care about Open Source because they're anti-corporation, but that isn't the reason for Open Source, not really. Open Source and free software both come out of supply and demand: there is always a demand for some item's supply if the price is right. Since there are so many people willing to volunteer their time to create (they create for a profit -- that profit might just be the happiness of making something that works and is used), and there are so many people who want to use that software at no charge, open source/free software works here and in much of Europe. But if you go to countries where people don't like to work for free -- they want SOMETHING for their time and to make their lives better -- you won't see a social drive to giving away their labor.

Re:India and free don't go well together (4, Interesting)

eggsurplus (631231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824356)

How was this all formulated and typed within one minute of the news posting?

Re:India and free don't go well together (0, Troll)

abaddononion (1004472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824412)

Agreed. Some of these extremely sudden and verbose posts coming to the immediate defense of the mega-corporations wax suspicious. Did someone say plant? I didnt. Who's talking? I already did!

Re:India and free don't go well together (3, Interesting)

ccarson (562931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824556)

Seriously. Even with a slashdot subscription where you get a heads up on articles that are about to be posted, this is a long and thought out first post. I'm not a tin foil hat brigade card holder but this smells funny.

Re:India and free don't go well together (3, Informative)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824882)

A. I type very, very fast (learned to type in 1978 at the age of 4) on a Commodore PET.
B. I write for a living -- thousands of words a day, generally.
C. I take notice of Slashdot articles that are pertinent to my future, such as this one.
D. I can write long-winded and fairly accurate articles in minutes, a little longer if I need to add sources.

Not so difficult, really. I have a long history of +5 first posts only because of how I browse slashdot (RSS link to my subscriber account). Love this site because of the interesting replies, so why not get in early to get the best replies, right? Karma means nothing -- I've honestly thought of just posting anonymously (which I have done often enough when I am accused of karma whoring).

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

ack154 (591432) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824432)

He's a sponsor... he got to see it before you did and was able to prepare something ahead of time and post it.

Re:India and free don't go well together (2, Informative)

LeninZhiv (464864) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824458)

Subscribers can see the stories before the riff-raff (but posting is only possible after the official publication). This actually works out well for everyone, since it increases the chances that some of the early comments might be actually be on-topic and thought through rather than endless 'first post' mispellings. And subscribers can visit sites before they're slashdotted.

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824510)

Exactly. I "read" slashdot through my RSS newsreader, so I don't really pay attention to whether or not something is publicly visible or not. When I see something that is interesting, and if I have a few minutes to throw some notes up, I'll create my reply and send it -- usually by the time I finish my reply it is already live so it works well.

I'm sort of surprised how often I'll get a first post, though, even though I'm not looking for it. Where are the other subscribers? Maybe they don't read via RSS and get the article instantly when it is posted for subscribers to see.

I thought slashdot was letting non-subscribers see posts early if they looked at ads or something, did that remove that?

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825242)

Every once in a while there will be a link on top of the front page that you can click and watch some ads and earn a small subscription (a days worth basically) but its not permanent.

Re:India and free don't go well together (1, Funny)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824836)

Easy,

He is a schill. dada21 often claims how he is some millionaire with these new concepts and ideas. I don't buy it. I think you should question it too. He sounds like a hired snake oil salesman.

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825028)

It is possible that I am a shill, but I have ALWAYS said why I come to slashdot: for personal gain in information and to promote the foundations of anarcho-capitalism to an audience that seems to be listening (looking at the growth of pro-free market techies here).

I'm NOT a millionaire -- I live in a mobile home, I drive a 96 Toyota Corolla, and I reinvest almost all my profits into new risky ventures or into ventures for others. But I may LIVE like a millionaire because my cost of living is about 80% lower than people who do the same work I do, so I am theoretically 400% richer in time value. If you and I make US$100,000 a year (let's just throw that number out) and it costs you $50,000 a year to live, plus US$40,000 in taxes at all levels, and it costs me US$10,000 a year to live plus $40,000 in taxes at all levels, you have US$10,000 a year to grow on, whereas I have US$50,000. That is an apples-to-apples comparison. If you all-of-a-sudden make US$1 million a year, after taxes and similar "now I'm wealthy I can buy more" costs, you probably won't have much more than I do making 10% of your new income. Thrift and time preference is key to being stable, not wealth. I still get that US$40,000 per year robbed from me in taxes, otherwise I could work less and do more.

Even if I am a shill, who cares? The ideas that we're all debating and discussing have value, so who cares if Microsoft or CmdrTaco give me early access than anyone else and pay me to promote my ideas? Some people here gain from the shared knowledge of the debates.

Re:India and free don't go well together (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16825162)

So, that's a yes then. And there's no such thing as anarcho-capitalism. That would properly be called libertarianism.

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825386)

So, that's a yes then. And there's no such thing as anarcho-capitalism. That would properly be called libertarianism.

Libertarians are Statists who want smaller government or more local government. Anarcho-capitalists are either Voluntaryists who believe in a voluntary society or Unanimocrats who believe in unanimocracy -- they both believe in 100% voluntary affiliations. Both are anarcho-capitalists: they believe in no use of force (the State) and the ability to use your hands, mind and property to better yourself as long as you directly harm no one else's hands, mind or property.

Re:India and free don't go well together (3, Insightful)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824402)

The entire Indian economy is run in a balanced Statist-Anarchist way. If you buy anything large (car, house, land, business) you pay a small portion of "white" money (that is heavily taxed) and a big portion of "black" money (that is under the table, and often comes in the form of bullion). That's awesome -- people realize what a burden the State is, and they work around it.


And how are they working around the extreme poverty? And social services?

Yes, I thought so.

Re:India and free don't go well together (4, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824484)

Social services in India are a joke -- the black market provides much more for the poor at a cheaper price. I got a terrible high fever in Europe (over 104) and was treated perfectly by an Indian doctor in a black market-type clinic. I paid cash (Rupees) and I couldn't believe how little they asked for the help. Would I get surgery in that clinic? I doubt it. But the fever was treated professionally, in a clean atmosphere, with no wait time. I saw enough poor people in that same clinic and in talking to them realized that there were numerous doctors who ran inexpensive clinics for everyone. The biggest dilemma was the social services officials who jailed (and possibly killed, alledgely) the black market clinics that competed with the terrible free ones.

As for extreme poverty, I saw a lot of poor people doing what they needed to do to get out of that situation -- caused by the high taxes and tyranny that existed within the socialist schemes. Some poor people recycled what they found in the trash (one lady we met with in a poor area actually bought her house by recycling water bottles over 10 years). Some poor people sold coconuts to tourists (very lucrative at 25 cents per coconut). Some poor people did horrific things -- but I've seen indebted Americans do horrific things, too. Overall, I saw people with their eyes glistening for opportunity rather than what I see in my own country -- poor people who submit to the State to take care of everything.

Re:India and free don't go well together (2, Insightful)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825308)

Let me get this straight. You were in Europe, land of free health care, and you went to a black market doctor ANYWAY?

Are you nuts?

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825358)

I first went to a private clinic in Warsaw. The wait for free health care for my fever was about 3 weeks. The private clinic cost me about US$25, and the doctor said I should just stay in bed for a week and take some pills. I had a flight to India that was not cancelable, which I had to cancel (cost me about US$3000) but I traveled a few days later because I felt better. Then the REAL fever hit, heh.

Re:India and free don't go well together (2, Informative)

LostMyPassword (1026642) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824658)

I work for one of the main players of the Indian IT world, and I'm currently in my 4th month of living here out of 6. I can definitely say confirm two thins about the parent: people are very driven by the entrepreneurial spirit, and they could care less about ads. Ever since the socialist veil was lifted it's been incredibly easy for anyone to get a business up and running. It's actually creating problems of it's own. The tailor I go to says that they have a high turnover rate after they train their tailors because many will go out immediately to start their own shop. A few will steal his business, but he says most fail, fall into alcoholism, play the lottery, and become beggars. Land of Karma. Additionally, you can go down the street and the exact same type and style of shops and stands will just litter a block or two all right next to each other and all seem to do business fine. As far as ads go, a large portion of the cellphone plans here just text you ads all the time. Many times text messaging won't work, but you can sure receive the telco's ads! Rickshaws, and cabs have stickers of movies, clothing brands, telcos, nike swooshes, etc... Even in Western Europe it's hard to tell sometimes who's cricket or soccer team is playing because the jersey's are just living ads. The English cricket team just has Vodafone written largely all over it. The soccer teams never have their name on them. It's a land of consumers here. The rising middle class seems to be buying whatever big companies are trying to sell them. Ever notice those stupid cellphone commercials where people are actually listening to their mp3's on their phones. It's the cool thing to do over here: walk with your group of friends playing music from your cellphone. With all this advertising power that some of the big players are able to push through here, I wouldn't be surprised at seeing any kind of product rolled through here subsidized by advertising.

How much support do you need, honestly? (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824710)

I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support.

For most people it's email, office applications, web browser, solitaire. I keep seeing this support argument tossed around and every time I ask myself - honestly, how much support does someone actually need?

I used to do end-user support for a living (think Geek Squad-like work). And 99% of the time, it was getting rid of spyware/viruses. Most people really don't need more than that, in my experience.

Re:India and free don't go well together (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824764)

I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support. I'd rather see ad-bloated "free" software like Google Mail than bug-ridden memory-leaking software like Thunderbird. I use Firefox, but it is still a memory leaker that competes well with IE in terms of falling apart over a few hours of work.

The problem with web services is that they are just that - services. You are not in control of your data. Granted, you can use gmail as a pop account and utilize encryption securely that way, but that's not what you mean and it's not what I mean, either. For many people this is all right, but for those of us who care about privacy, it is mandatory. Now, with that said, I use gmail for any communications that I don't care about keeping secure, because it is quite good. However, I also use thunderbird for other mail, and I have a work account and a personal account which I use with it.

Incidentally, if you find thunderbird frustrating, I'm interested in what you think of Outlook. Outlook is very unreliable itself. I was using it for a while so I could try out a Franklin-Covey planning application (which turned out to be pretty lame anyway) and I just sort of kept using it for a while because I was already using it - until one day, without any help from me beyond possibly allowing some security updates at some point, it stopped retrieving my mail and I went back to Thunderbird.

Firefox, by the way, may be a memory leaker, but IE7 is the least responsive IE yet (in terms of the UI) and its memory use has come down to practically nothing relative to how it has been. In fact IE often uses more memory than Firefox on my system now. But just as importantly, Firefox is standards-based, it receives security updates dramatically more rapidly than IE, it has a much richer architecture that allows much more powerful plugins to be donated by the community... No, there are many compelling reasons to use it over IE that have nothing to do with ideology.

The Indians will want nothing to do with it. India has a history of thousands of years of being capitalists -- only recently did we really see socialism take over

Socialism is a red herring. (Couple decades ago, it was communism... ah, how the rhetoric changes, and how it stays the same.) Free software doesn't mean you can't make money. It means that you sell services. This only makes sense - over time there is less and less difference between software packages, not more and more; they all tend to pick the low-hanging fruit first with only limited exceptions which are driven by monetarily directed development, which is to say that some company commits to buying a zillion seats if it does x. Thus they all tend to converge on the same point, or at least wander more or less towards it. At that point the only differentiating feature is service. The Open Source community is in a better position to provide service simply because of its size.

In actuality, this model moves us closer to the ideal of the free market, because those who are best able to provide the service are the ones who are in the best position to profit from it. The person who is best suited to develop the new feature is the one who (ostensibly) gets the job. The people who need it the most pay for it.

The Indians are already grasping the idea of advertising-funded online media, so maybe the next step is some sort of "use it for free" software -- but we all have to see that paid software seems to be better supported that truly free software.

I'd like to believe that, but my experience tells me different. In fact most commercial software gets worse and worse as time goes by, not better and better, until it is a big pile of crap that collapses under its own weight and is replaced by the new hotness. On the other hand, Free software tends to go in waves; a bunch of new functionality is added and the product becomes somewhat unstable. Then, the people who need it to be stable put a bunch of effort into making it so. Because they are motivated by the desire to not have it blow up on them, and not just by the desire to make it blow up little enough for people to pay for it, it often becomes more stable.

It doesn't always work this way, of course, but in general the most critical applications do. Also, the population of the FOSS community is only growing. The Open Source mentality is also spreading to many other disciplines - for example Open Source textbooks are taking off. Just in case you didn't know, the textbook industry's story is basically one big tale of collusion and kickbacks. It's about the furthest thing from a free and open market that you'll ever see, and good riddance to it when it's gone.

Some Americans care about Open Source because they're anti-corporation, but that isn't the reason for Open Source, not really.

Right, the reason for Open Source is freedom, which benefits all users. I believe in freedom, so I utilize Open Source - when I develop software (such as it is) I release under Open Source licenses. I know that the keys to actually making money are providing service and targeted development. These are the things that are actually paid for in the real world. Granted, if I give it away and I'm not best-suited to maintain it, then someone else will end up being paid to do that, not me. That's the risk I run. Luckily I'm not a programmer for a living :)

But if you go to countries where people don't like to work for free -- they want SOMETHING for their time and to make their lives better -- you won't see a social drive to giving away their labor.

Cooperation benefits everyone. The Open Source movement is about cooperation. Those who learn to cooperate will benefit. Of course, there is an exception - there are those who do not cooperate, but simply benefit from those who do. These parasites are eventually routed around by the system, although it can take disturbingly long periods of time. Still, they are eventually made irrelevant by their own inefficiency, and one of the best things we can do as a planet to see that happen is to cooperate with one another and just ignore them. Let them go by. As a concrete example, one way to do that is through a barter economy. Another way is to develop Open Source software, and ignore the closed stuff. Let those who want to be closed off be closed off - and make them irrelevant.

This is what is happening today. One day, closed software will be relegated to secure systems and everything else will be open source. Oh sure, appliance devices with single-purpose code in them will still probably be mostly closed; there's no major benefit to releasing the code. You bash them out, sell a bunch of widgets, and move on to the next project. But while open source software continually gets better (until it is abandoned, usually because it has been superseded) the closed stuff usually just gets twistier. There's no peer review of the source code, so as long as it works today, there's no compelling argument for cleaning up the dark and nasty parts.

There's bugs in Macromedia Dreamweaver that have been there since version 2. Adobe InDesign (nee Pagemaker) has a bug where copying and pasting text results in bogus oversets. It will be interesting to see how IE7 turns out, but IE6 was producing a critical hole every month or more. Meanwhile, the two most secure operating systems on the planet are both Open Source (OpenBSD and Linux with selinux) and the most standards-compliant software in basically every space is open source, which means that years down the road, you will still be in control of your data.

It's okay if you don't understand all of this, or even if you're just shilling - because either way, the world will route around you.

Re:India and free don't go well together (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824774)

"I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support."

Um...I've been using Microsoft Windows and Office for the past 10 years. The only TIMES I've had to call for support was when their anti-piracy key code schemes broke my installers and I had to practically beg to convince them that I had legitimate copies. I'm sure I won't have to call someone to unlock my FREE software.

"I'd rather see ad-bloated "free" software like Google Mail than bug-ridden memory-leaking software like Thunderbird. I use Firefox, but it is still a memory leaker that competes well with IE in terms of falling apart over a few hours of work."

Err...I use both Thunderbird and Firefox daily. I have yet to see tangible and real world examples of how these alleged leaks affect my workflow (which I might point out is NIGHT AND DAY more trouble free since dropping Outlook and IE).

"Some Americans care about Open Source because they're anti-corporation, but that isn't the reason for Open Source, not really."

HAHAHAHAHA...sorry. I believe that Microsoft's anti-competitive business practices were a major catalyst in the open source movement.

"But if you go to countries where people don't like to work for free -- they want SOMETHING for their time and to make their lives better -- you won't see a social drive to giving away their labor."

Your inability to realize that the WORLD, and all of the countries that make it up, is now ONE global market makes the above statement true in your eyes, but completely irrelevant to the rest of us that know better. As a result of the internet, NO ONE with a connection to it can ever again be enslaved to the money grubbing, greed worshipping, monopolists that create closed source software with one goal in mind- profit.

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

m0rra (924007) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824842)

You wrote all that in 1 minute? I guess I need to practice more typing...

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824846)

...and I do see how Microsoft wouldn't care about free software because it isn't on their radar screen. I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support. I'd rather see ad-bloated "free" software like Google Mail than bug-ridden memory-leaking software like Thunderbird. I use Firefox, but it is still a memory leaker that competes well with IE in terms of falling apart over a few hours of work.

Funny, I didn't have much problems with Firefox or the Mozilla Suite over the last years. While I had some crashes (rare enough to be considered a minor issue), IE and Outlook frequently made the IT news by offering gaping security holes. I'd rather restart Firefox once in a few days than risk surfing the web with IE ;-)

Considering the attitudes of Indians about working for free:
I won't contradict you there, but even if you are right, they might still take advantage of the Westerners working for free. Which would translate into Indians contributing not much to Open Source but still using it.

Re:India and free don't go well together (4, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824880)

Interesting first post; I have been to India twice and have seen many of the remarkable changes brought by Narasimha Rao's and Dr. Manmohan Singh's economic liberalization. It is another example of what improvements can be made when a nation decides to discard the failed ideology of Communism.

However, India has a very serious problem that you appear to view as a virtue.

The entire Indian economy is run in a balanced Statist-Anarchist way. If you buy anything large (car, house, land, business) you pay a small portion of "white" money (that is heavily taxed) and a big portion of "black" money (that is under the table, and often comes in the form of bullion). That's awesome -- people realize what a burden the State is, and they work around it. The same will be true of the "free" software drive there -- people will realize that they can gain without causing other people to lose -- by finding a way to subsidize whatever the future is of the software market.

What you are referring to when you say "black" money is tax evasion, and it is a means of corruption. I don't see how it can be compared to open source software. Can you (or someone else) explain this analogy? I don't see it.

Also, the State can be a burden, but the degree that it is a burden is ultimately under the control of the populace. The State is a necessity; order will always be imposed, contrary to what anarchists fantasize, since order is necessary.

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824970)

The black market is a great function for society in India versus society in the U.S. In India, the bureacracy is so corrupt already that people are rarely afraid of the law. If you pay a significant sum in black market dollars, you'll likely also pay some money to the law to keep them out of the process.

All forms of taxes come from a cost-benefit analysis, even if you don't realize you're doing it. In India, people KNOW their government is worthless, so they only give just enough in white market money to keep the law off their backs. It adds a stamp of State-officialness to pay SOME taxes, but the black market provides much more benefit for the costs involved. Is there risk? Sure. Is there corruption in the black market? Only because the law says it is corrupt -- most Indians gain much more out of the black market of competition than the white market of Statism and monopoly.

I'm going back to India in December (and then to Uganda and possibly Bulgaria) to see the changes made for a few businesses I invested in back in March. I gave a few poor entrepreneurs the equivalent of a few thousands US dollars total, and I already know they've grown way beyond what they'd do if they were in the States or in Western Europe. I didn't "invest" in them, I just gave them money to learn from where they'll go. Maybe some threw it away, maybe some invested it in their own businesses, maybe some gambled it on the lottery. As far as I know, though, all of them have turned it around into something remarkable.

My corporation has one of its locations in Mumbai, India (17 Napean Sea Road, in the Motilal Mansion, for those Indians who are reading this), where I stay when I am visiting. That area is amazing to me -- mansions, shacks, stores everywhere, new Mercedes riding alongside cattle in the roads. Anarchy, but no chaos. Amazing.

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825102)

Did you see this article about tax collection in India [timesonline.co.uk] this weekend off of LRC? I was astounded to read this paragraph:

About 4 per cent of India's population pay tax, an improvement on 2 per cent last year, but still a pitiful statistic for one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

I hate that it's assumed to be pitiful that most people don't pay tax. That's like the insanity here in America of assuming it's pitiful that so many people don't get healthcare insurance.

Re:India and free don't go well together (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16825018)

"It is another example of what improvements can be made when a nation decides to discard the failed ideology of Communism."

India is and always has been a democracy you moron. Go mow Bush's lawn. You seem to take into their propaganda quite easily. Might as well go into it all the way.

Re:India and free don't go well together (3, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825200)

Interesting first post; I have been to India twice and have seen many of the remarkable changes brought by Narasimha Rao's and Dr. Manmohan Singh's economic liberalization. It is another example of what improvements can be made when a nation decides to discard the failed ideology of Communism.

India was never communist -- they had a quasi Socialist economy post independence, for a short while. During this time, the state owned most most things, but the private sector was also allowed ownership of a lot of things.

Perhaps you meant Socialism, not Communism?

But Linux is more pro free market than MS (4, Interesting)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825184)

The Indians will want nothing to do with it. India has a history of thousands of years of being capitalists...

Then India will love Linux, because Linux is more pro- free market than Microsoft is. You need to stop thinking of copyrights like a property right, and start thinking of them like a communist regulation that controlls how people use information in the information age.

Let me give an example, at one large data center I worked for they had these NT servers that ran a database application for 1000's of locations. Sure enough the things would crash every day, and sure enough it would cost them over a million dollars per hour of down time. They bought the best x86's that money could buy, they custom re-wrote the tcp/ip stack, but still the computers would crash every single day and still it would cost them over a million dollars per hour. Finally, they flew in experts from all over the planet. The experts came back and said that there was a bug in the OS that was causing it. So my company then went to Microsoft and demanded that they fix it. Microsoft in "business speak" basically said "screw off and FU".

So please tell me that if they had the source, and ownership of that source couldn't be controled. Would they have refused to pay for a fully backed support contract? Would they have said "no were not going pay developers to fix it, because someone else could copy our fixes?" Hell no, that code would have gotten fixed, and every body would have benefited.

In things like software, free riders are not a burden because their copy deosn't deprive me of my copy. But rather, spreads exposure and therefore the chances soneone elses fix will be my fix. So the forces driving Linux forward and pushing Microsoft back are pure unadulterated free market forces and that is that.

Re:But Linux is more pro free market than MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16825350)

You need to stop thinking of copyrights like a property right, and start thinking of them like a communist regulation that controlls how people use information in the information age


You need to stop thinking of property rights as rights and start thinking of them as a communist regulation that controls how people use property in the material age.

typical bullshit arguments (1)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825304)

But if you go to countries where people don't like to work for free -- they want SOMETHING for their time and to make their lives better -- you won't see a social drive to giving away their labor.

Where the hell do you get the idea that open source developers don't get paid, and paid handsomely? I suspect the average FOSS developer salary is significantly higher than industry average, because it takes dedication and skill to produce software that stands up to public scrutiny. And companies are willing to pay because it benefits them financially to do so.

The Indians will want nothing to do with it.

What the Indians want makes no difference; if the customers demand FOSS, they will have to deliver it, at the price that customers are willing to pay.

India has a history of thousands of years of being capitalists -- only recently did we really see socialism take over,

FOSS has nothing to do with socialism. FOSS is the natural endpoint in a free market in which the marginal cost is zero. FOSS is a free market response to the kind of abuses companies like Microsoft have been engaging in.

a total distortion .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825384)

hi there steveo .. "I think his answer hit the nail, head on!"

"I do see how Microsoft wouldn't care about free software because it isn't on their radar screen. I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support"

How do you explain the existance of the Firebird Database project. It isn't 'free' but free to use and extend as you see fit as long as you contribute changes back to the community.

"I'd rather see ad-bloated "free" software like Google Mail than bug-ridden memory-leaking software like Thunderbird. I use Firefox, but it is still a memory leaker that competes well with IE in terms of falling apart over a few hours of work"

I would never know about the 'memory leaker' if it wasn't mentioned so ofter on slashdot. Firefox using 48,572kb on this XP box. How about KMail or Evolution.

"The Indians will want nothing to do with it. India has a history of thousands of years of being capitalists -- only recently did we really see socialism take over"

You can be a capitalist and still make money out of Open Source [informationweek.com]. Why do you erronously equate Open Source with socialism. In fact it is the exact opposite of socialism as there is no central authority [goingon.com] unlike MS that by your logic could be compared to corporate faschism.

"The Indians aren't afraid of finding a way to make money on everything they can -- in order to better their own lives without a big expense to anyone else"

translation: Indians who use Open Source are diverting revenue from Redmond.

"if you go to countries where people don't like to work for free .. you won't see a social drive to giving away their labor"

A total distortion of Open Source. Developers use Open Source and sell solutions to clients. They contribute any changes back to the community. They both derive and get benefit from the arrangment.

was India and free don't go well together (Score:2, Distortion)

Re:India and free don't go well together (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825390)

Some Americans care about Open Source because they're anti-corporation

You know, this simple phrase made you lost all credibility. There are some very big South American corporations, like Vale do Rio Doce, Odebrech, Petrobas, just to name 3, and only from Brasil.

Sorry, but I have to ask. If you failed so badly doing your research for something as simple as this, how can we credit anything you say on a much more complex topic, like free software ?

Ballmer's Free Software (0, Flamebait)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824190)

What is amusing is that in answering the question, he refuses to use the word 'free' or anything close to it.
Quite amusing. Yes, I hate Microsoft just as much as you do. Utterly loath and detest those despicable bastards.

Although, there is one minor thing I would like to point out. Back in September of 2006, they started to offer the Express Editions [microsoft.com] of a lot of their development tools for free. So I've actually been tempted to use them and I've also noticed that my Windows XP Professional CD allows me to install I2S on my machine and start hosting ASPs.

Oh, ugh, disgusting! I'm wasting my time! I should be learning Spring & Hibernate or Ruby on Rails. But, you know, there are a lot of people out there that use the .NET framework. I'm well versed with the J2EE framework already.

I know it's not open source and the license I got from them was super flaky. But in the interests of being able to use every technology available to me, I'll learn .NET. I'm more marketable to employers and, hell let's face it, even coding Microsoft libraries can be fun.

So you'll find some of their free (yes, free) software on my machine. Now, I had to pay for XP to be able to install that ... but I still feel like I paid for XP & not the Express tools.

Granted, you'll find OO.o instead of MS Office and I'll be using The Gimp 2.0 instead of ... well whatever MS's "Photoshop Killer" is ... but you must admit they're coming around as far as the term 'free' is concerned and they have to otherwise the community will simply leave them behind. Utility software should be free, in my opinion. And if it's not, we'll simply develop it ourselves. Why are there no amazingly fun open source or free games? Because necessity breeds innovation and there's no real need for games. From now until I die I'll probably have to pay a monthly subscription fee for my games.

I believe there exists for every software company a good middle ground between free open source software & proprietary cost you money software. If you develop software, draw a line where you want everyone (even competitors) using your framework or underpinnings but the real premium price mark comes in on the serious development effort or application specific software. Maybe it's just libraries but Adobe & Sun have shown us that making things free is a great way to cement yourself in the community no matter what happens to your stocks. Ballmer can't deny this even though his (lack of) heart & soul probably loath the apparent loss of green in the beginning.

You can now accomplish a lot with their standards and languages--a hell of a lot more than before when Visual Studio costed a kidney.

Re:Ballmer's Free Software (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824224)

whatever MS's "Photoshop Killer" is
Wait wait, lemme guess. Is it Paint?

Re:Ballmer's Free Software (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824262)

whatever MS's "Photoshop Killer" is
Wait wait, lemme guess. Is it Paint?
No, it's Expression [microsoft.com].

Re:Ballmer's Free Software (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824514)

Uh, what are mods smoking? I had never heard about "expression", the AC might be offtopic but Troll?? God, this isn't even a pro-microsoft comment!

Re:Ballmer's Free Software (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824474)

Quite amusing. Yes, I hate Microsoft just as much as you do. Utterly loath and detest those despicable bastards.
For someone who hates them so much, you sure do sound like a propoganda spreading spam bot.

To paraphrase, "I hate Microsoft but they sure are keen and smart and I wish I was just like them."

Re:Ballmer's Free Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824500)

well whatever MS's "Photoshop Killer" is

...Paint?

Re:Ballmer's Free Software (2, Insightful)

arun_s (877518) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824534)

So you'll find some of their free (yes, free) software on my machine.
Ballmer was not asked about free software (i.e. freeware), which he would hardly care about as opposition. He was asked about Free software, as in freedom. What you have of theirs in your machine is the former, which is not what the perceived threat to microsoft is.
You might want to brush up on the free beer/freedom thingies again.

Re:Ballmer's Free Software (4, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824770)

I'll learn .NET. I'm more marketable to employers
Today you will. But tomorrow, economic principals strongly suggest it will be used by fewer and fewer consumers. In a few years, your .net skills will not be marketable.

Take a look at this graph: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly#Price_settin g_for_unregulated_monopolies [wikipedia.org] (or not)

A monopoly strongly tends to produce at a lower quantity (Qm) versus a competitive market. (Qc)

For you, and all other developers that translates into:
1. fewer organizations using .Net
2. More .net developers chasing fewer .net jobs driving the wages for .net developers down.

For you and all consumers, that translages into:
1. More expensive hardware. Microsoft is a price maker. They alone set the price for their OS and get to drive the cost of the computer package up accordingly. They will probably provide at Quantity Qm instead of Qc to OEM's like Dell who have no choice but to pass on that cost to you.
2. Fewer employers using Microsoft products. They will only provide their OS at successively higher prices and lower quantity. There is no reason to believe the price they demand will ever go down because the thirst for profit is unquenchable.
3. Lack of innovation on Microsoft's part. Since Microsoft has no competition, there is no reason to innovate. Like most big businesses they borrow or steal from the innovaters. This will drive many customers away as well.

I still feel like I paid for XP & not the Express tools.
1. As my previous comments point out, you already paid too much.
2. You are limiting your future revenue by adopting microsoft tools. There is no path where Microsoft becomes enlightened and lowers their prices to provide the quantity the market demands. History has proven this repeatedly.
3. You would do well to add GPL'd languages that -today- do not command a premium, but will indeed tomorrow because of Microsoft's monopoly position creating demand between points Qm and Qc.

To silence the quickie-mart economists and Microsofties who claim I just "proved" that the developer world is competitive, please note that economic theory also strongly suggests "consumer surplus" is -still- destroyed despite alternatives.

Today's lesson: There is no good that can come from Microsoft any more.

Mod parent back up, guys (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824784)

I don't know how this got modded as "redundant". It's a good point, and I'm sure someone else didn't say ALL of that before he did on this story. (Although I think you meant September 2005 for the express versions -- I know I was using Visual C# Express in February of this year. And people don't generally say "back in" for something that happened just a few months ago.)

I was very pleased with the interface in VC#, and it was easier to find what I needed that in other open source IDE's. There definitely is a place for proprietary software, mainly where the work is the kind no one wants to do.

And about the Photoshop killer, re: the other comments, I think people underestimate the value of simplicity. For my personal needs, Paint can cover 80% of it, and with a very easy-to-use interface. Yes, easier than GIMP for what it can do.

No, MS is Horrible, Kill All Pro-MS Posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16825006)

I don't know how this got modded as "redundant".
Didn't you read my post? I said something nice about Microsoft and admitted to working with their software and we can't allow that. Not even if it makes sense! Mod him down and cover up this evidence of someone actually benefiting from Microsoft!

Although I think you meant September 2005 for the express versions -- I know I was using Visual C# Express in February of this year.
You were most likely using a one year license that was only good for one year. It wasn't until April (sorry I got the wrong month) of 2006 that they made it permanent. From the Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] article:
They were released on November 7, 2005, and were supposed to be free just for one year (SQL Server 2005 Express Edition being the only exception). However, Microsoft announced on April 19, 2006 that these editions will always remain free.

--
I was very pleased with the interface in VC#, and it was easier to find what I needed that in other open source IDE's. There definitely is a place for proprietary software, mainly where the work is the kind no one wants to do.
I concur. Although your post, my original post & especially this post are all out of the question on Slashdot. Because we're talking about a viable solution through Microsoft and it happens to be for coding. How dare we!

So far I've been called a trollbot, been chastised for not knowing the difference between gratis & libre and I'm sure there's a whole host of other things I'll get.

But if you read my current sig, you'll understand that I must have some sick pleasure from being inundated with insults and criticism by my peers. And now not only is it redundant but it's fucking flamebait.

Re:Ballmer's Free Software (2, Insightful)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824974)

Quite amusing. Yes, I hate Microsoft just as much as you do. Utterly loath and detest those despicable bastards.

As hard as I try not to, I'm starting to hate the FSF just as much, if not more. The self-righteousness, the arrogance, and the brutal insistence on lock-step conformity with their "our way or the highway," thinking...not to mention the juvenile name-calling and vilification (and worse, in the case of Laura Didio) which anyone who opposes them is subjected to. The one way I've heard it described which really resonated with me was, "Free as in do as I say."

The response I'll no doubt get to this is a catalogue of all the terrible things Microsoft either has done in the past or wants to do in the future.

The thing is, I really feel that Stallman/Kuhn with the DRM fearmongering is a lot like how I saw George Bush on the one hand, and Sadaam Hussein and the threat of WMD on the other.

What Microsoft *might* end up doing with DRM is causing me a lot less emotional pain than how Stallman, Kuhn, and their followers *are* treating people because of their fear of it.

The other reason why I've realised that I'm no longer interested in being refuted by advocates of the FSF is because I honestly don't believe they think at all. They're a cult...and as such, me arguing with them is pointless...because nothing I say can argue with mind control, their degree of fear, or their equally irrational degree of worship for Stallman. The degree of fear is the most difficult thing to get through.

Ask yourselves this though, guys...If Stallman is as powerful as you think he is...What are you so afraid of?

As part of the collective... (2, Insightful)

Codename46 (889058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824198)

The word "free" was not assimilated, as the Borg collective concluded that it was irrelevant.

Steve Ballmer's Thoughts On Free Software (0, Offtopic)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824216)

What - more chair throwing?
(ba-dump-buh!)

Re:Steve Ballmer's Thoughts On Free Software (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824400)

The fact that he did NOT throw chair and also did not respond angrily, but instead chose to diplomatically react to the idea shows his maturity.

Seems MSFT has a businessman as head instead of a Head Honcho John Wayne shooting from the Hip...

Re:Steve Ballmer's Thoughts On Free Software (-1, Troll)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824546)

What - more chair throwing?

Maybe if somebody in the OSS camp got excited about their software enough to throw a chair, we'd see some decent OSS other than Apache.

Re:Steve Ballmer's Thoughts On Free Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824594)

Too much karma?

Re:Steve Ballmer's Thoughts On Free Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824798)

Too much karma?
no, just a shill [slashdot.org]

free software is good, but so is making money (1, Insightful)

boxlight (928484) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824218)

Free software is good, I use it all the time. It enables me to be more productive as a programmer, and it's great to learn from too.

However, I one day dream of owning and operating a successful software company so I understand the value of a closed source proprietary application. I'm no defender of Microsoft, but they're in the business of *selling* proprietary software -- I totally understand why they are not open sourcing their stuff.

boxlight

Re:free software is good, but so is making money (3, Insightful)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824398)

If we're talking about Free Software as in the FSF's definition, the free refers to freedom, not price. I used to make quite a nice living writing and selling Free Software.

Re:free software is good, but so is making money (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824858)

We're talking about a guy whose job is to ensure that his companies products sell well. I would likely believe Ballmer is thinking "free as in beer", even if the question was actually "free as in speech". If his mind first went to the latter, and I was carrying MS stock, I'd be a little worried.

Nash Equilibrium (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824838)

Years ago (when I was taking a game theory in University) I was introduced to the Nash Equilibrium which, at the time, seemed like a pretty obvious thought when you consider what it is really saying. Essentially, what the Nash Equilibrium states (in plain English) is that in a competitive system (like a capitalistic economy) all competitors are better off if they give up personal gains and co-operate to produce mutual gains.

As an example (related to free software) consider Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Opera. For years it has been reasonably difficult to produce an advanced webpage (or web-application) that was cross browser compatible because of how different each of these browsers are; most websites avoid any advanced features because they know that they will be incompatible in one of these browsers. As these browsers become closer and closer to the W3C specifications web-developers having an easier time producing web-applications so a user doesn't have to use a particular web-browser to see a page anymore.

This hurts Microsoft right?

No, the fact is that if everyone was compliant with the specifications then Microsoft could take it's massive resources and focus on making IE produce web-pages that are more attractive, useable, secure and readable and dominate the market through having a better product rather than having the most web-pages compliant with its version of the HTML specification.

The same principle can be extended to all OS companies co-operating to produce the most stable (and best) OS kernal (or standard), and then each of them trying to develop the most useable user-interface.

Yeah... What an Asshole He Is... (0, Flamebait)

InVinoVeritas (781151) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825306)

Who the Hell does this guy think he is anyway? In related news, I stopped by Barnes and Noble to ask for some free books... the cashier just looked blankly at me. I figured I just had an idiot working, so I decided to waste time until a shift change. I headed to the back of the store for some free Starbucks. Yep, another idiot working apparently. It was crazy, all day - the same result. People kept asking me for money in exchange for goods and/or services. It was like I was in some kind of Bizzaro world. We've got some real nuts out there.

I have a dream (-1, Flamebait)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824254)

That one day unshaven hippies hacking linux in moms basement will realize that business revolves around money, not charity.

Defense (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824266)

No too defend him (too much), but from a businesses point of view, there must be a revenue stream somewhere, be it for development, or just support. At some point, people want to get paid. Free works commercially, as long as someone, generally large companies, is willing to pay for guaranteed support.

Re:Defense (1)

gigne (990887) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824544)

Agreed.

Software should be free to those who cannot afford to buy it. Let the big fish at the top of the stock ladder pay for it. They collectively make enough money to pay for development of all Open Source software indefinitely.

Lets face it, if you can't afford to buy software in the first place, you are only going to:-
1) Pirate it
2) Not use it
3) Use Open Source clone of application

I defend the right of Microsoft to sell their software, even if they have a policy of bend-over-and-take-it pricing. I also defend the right for Ballmer to not say the "dreaded" Free word, we are all entitled to our views, and MS's view is one of "make money - fast". If People want to keep paying MS for their software, then MS are going to keep selling it.

Re:Defense (2)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824582)

Microsoft uses "free" as a method to differ payment for the product while denying somebody else the revenue from their hard work. The problem with Microsoft is that they believe ONLY MICROSOFT SHOULD BE PAID.. they don't share the wealth with others very well. Example... where's DVD playback in windows... that's right, Microsoft is too cheap to pay the royalties, so they expect somebody else to do that.. and so it is with many technologies they "adopt"... If M$ can't buy into the company or get a one time payoff, they take their ball and go home... but they make their ENTIRE business off selling software per seat, per server, per instance, per unit, etc... They don't believe in PAYING recurring royalties for software either... they just have more cash to flash around so they don't have to.

Ballmer is a businessman. (2, Insightful)

grrowl (953625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824288)

Ballmer is a businessman, and 'free' isn't a word in a businessman's dictionary. Add that to the fact that Microsoft is fairly entrenched in a business market, i'm not sure what else you'd expect. Even Canonical (Ubuntu's parent) has bills to pay, and these bills have to be paid somehow.

lower cost hardware? (3, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824294)

...software businesses can look at a number of revenue streams such as...lower cost hardware...

I'm assuming by this he means that as hardware costs drop, the overall product cost can remain the same or even increase, thereby increasing the percentage of revenue that's attributable to the software.

Re:lower cost hardware? (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824486)

"...software businesses can look at a number of revenue streams such as...lower cost hardware..."

I'm assuming by this he means that as hardware costs drop, the overall product cost can remain the same or even increase, thereby increasing the percentage of revenue that's attributable to the software.

Or he was misquoted, or he rambled. I will bet on the "rambled".

Re:lower cost hardware? (0, Troll)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824702)

I like that line too.. funny how Microsoft alawys expects somebody else's margins to take the hit to bring the cost of computing down... notice how the price of Vista went UP for the version with Aero? You'd think after 5 years of pure (85-90%) profit from windows already they wouldn't have made up costs to recover. Hasn't Microsoft already been rewarded quite handsomely for their version of Windows XP? After 5 years why would anybody expect to PAY for those features... everybody has them already! For example a $1000 cpu from 3 years ago would be work $10 bucks today, why is software somehow different, why must we pay for the same thing over and over? Let alone MORE! Microsoft is still believing that businesses "owe" them for such a wonderful system... in a capitalist system NOBODY is owed after the work is done... they like to tell other companies that, but don't seem to get the idea them selves.

Make sense, dammit! (3, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824298)

Is Free Software the future of India? Steve Ballmer CEO of Microsoft answers...
This must be some new definition of "answers" I wasn't previously aware of.
"As rich and good be bridging the digital divide
Steve Ballmer is Ali G!
"It is not not about money but also not about short term profits".
This comment is not about chicken and is also not about chicken picatta.
"You can do three things ... you can stay in and do nothing, stay in and have a point of view or stay out".
In many cases you only actually have the first and third of those options.

Wrong Subject (2, Interesting)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824314)

He didn't mention F/LOSS anywhere. He just used this as a way to push his own plans on how we (the sheeple) will pay for his software. Nothing to see here. Move along... ...and duck. Incoming chair, with fucking killing power, made by Developers, Developers, Developers.

He answered no... (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824340)

He just used a few more words than that. It'd be nice if this blog entry actually had a video of the interview instead of the author only giving bits and pieces and interjecting his own interpretation everywhere.

let's give equal airtime to... (2, Funny)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824366)

"Free Software's thoughts on Steve Ballmer."

Who is Steve Ballmer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824370)

What is his expertise (except chair throwing)?

Does he have that much money that his words make any sence?

Ballmers Idea (4, Insightful)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824374)

I think Ballmers, and M$'s ideas on free software can be sumed up by the following statement:

" Free software is fine, as long as it isn't really free, and we control it "

Anything more is simply a waste of words.

Cheers

There is no free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824448)

Seriously, There is no such thing as free. Take your small business no IT...they are not going to setup LAMP..use GNUcash or anything like that. They need a phone number to call...and unless your going to work for free on support lines to support the non-IT user of your supposed "free" software...and help install it... then well.

There is no Free...not even free as in free beer free.

Riiight (3, Insightful)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824450)

Balmer is one of the top level executives at a company whose profits are made by selling proprietary software (Making it neither free-as-in-beer, except for all the pirating, nor Free-as-in-speech). If any major market decides to extensively embrace Free Software, his company stands to lose large amounts of future profits.

Asking him what *he* thinks of free software is not a fair question, neither to him (how can he possibly be honest) nor to anyone else that doesnt already understand that (they are likely to not understand that his answer is evasive at best)

Try asking a buggy whip exectuve what they think of the automobile, and internal combustion engines in general.

The commodity software business is dead (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824476)

But since MS has nothing else to offer, they need to keep the upgrade cycles running as long as possible.

However today you can get a reliable, secure set of all the comodity software you need for free, by getting one of the numerous Linux distros, according to your level of competence (I hear Ubuntu has prettu low competence requirements, I use Debian etch, more of an expert's distro). Unless you do gaming, there is no need at all to buy OS, browser, mailer, office application, backup software, ....

In addition, you get community support with these. Can MS ''support'' compete with that?

And even more problematic for MS is all the activation and DRM stuff, they feel they hace to include with their offering. For anybody that wants to work with their computer, that is a major anoyance.

What is left, is gaming. Personally I have used XP as game launcher exclusively for years. However, the more people realise that they do not really need windows, the more games will become available on OpenGL, which basically means a port to any Unix (also OS X) is not much effort. Then Nobody will be willing to pay for Windows at all.

So the commodity software market is dead, and MS will die with it. Or get cut down to the size their technological competence merits. Which is not very large.

Re:The commodity software business is dead (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824618)

If you think that all computing consists of web browsing, email, word processors, and games, then perhaps you need to get your head out of the sand.

Re:The commodity software business is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824946)

Yeah.

The areas where software that doesn't have to be paid for has any penetration at all are pretty insignificant. Desktop operating systems? No. Office productivity suites? No. Web browsers? Yes. Server OS? Yes. Graphics? No. Web site development? No. POS applications? No. Enterprise databases? No. Desktop databases? Maybe. And on and on.

You are living in a fantasy world right next door to the people who pronounce the recording industry dead. Face facts: At present people pour billions of dollars into both industries every year. While you may envision some future where that is no longer true there is not a single stitch of data to support that and way back here in reality we expect there to be at least some. Software sales are not declining. FOSS is not gaining market share. Selling software as a business is not going away.

If it softens the impact of your delusions to think that one day your kids might not have to suffer the indignity of being offered the option to voluntarily purchase software then maybe posting this kind of drivel is therapy for you, I don't know, but we normals are just laughing at you.

there was a time when doing math was elite (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824518)

When teh roman numeral system was being used for accounting it was an elite position to be an accountant, having social status, higher pay, etc..

Then in time we began using the hindu-arabic decimal system that allowed the common man to do math beyond with the former elite accounts could do. Today we use calculators in common everyday use.

And so it shall be with programming. The common man will do it as they find need to.

Free Software is just a step in that direction.

For programming is the act of simplifying an interface to complexity for the purpose of easier and faster use and reuse.
Ultimately programming will become common place, as math is today.

Re:there was a time when doing math was elite (0, Offtopic)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824732)

allowed the common man to do math beyond with the former elite accounts could do

You've obviously never tried to get correct change at a fast food place.

rodent (5, Insightful)

AntEater (16627) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824548)

This is a classic tactic. Answer the question you want to answer rather than the one which really was asked of you. Basically Balmer didn't want to discuss free software so he discussed revenue streams (which is all software is about in his mind anyways). Anytime someone does this you can be sure that they're not interested in your interests, just their own.

Re:rodent (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824932)

Why should Ballmer be interested in free software?

Re:rodent (1)

AntEater (16627) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825228)

"Why should Ballmer be interested in free software?"

I'm not suggesting that he is. He was asked a question regarding free software relative to the long term interests of the Indian people. He didn't answer the question. Even though he likely feels that free software would be a bad thing, he should at least have the courtesy to answer the question and explain his views on why it would be a mistake or dangerous to their country, society, culture, economy, etc.

Microsoft's Mission Statement (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824606)

Ballmer: "Our primary aim is to have a generally more helpful participation in world economy. You can do three things ... you can stay in and do nothing, stay in and have a point of view or stay out."

Now THAT is conviction!

Meh. (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824686)

I really don't know why you are amused by the fact that Ballmer doesn't openly embrace free software. As a CEO of a major software company, would you openly encourage the use of free alternatives to the things that you market?

I'm an avid member of the open source community; but come on people, we can't really blame the guy.

ATHF assemble! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824708)

He said 'no' Earl, with his foot.

Asking Steve Balmer about free software is like... (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824746)

asking the president of Saudi Arabia or the president of ExxonMobil if they think that the electric car is the way of the future.

FOSS is a bad reaction to a serious problem (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824776)

I can't help but think that if copyrights were normalized to property rights conventions that FOSS would never have taken off. The problem with IP is that two people cannot equally own it. It's not possible for Microsoft to sell Windows the way that Dell can sell the hardware because if the user had a true property right in it, all hell would break loose for the copyright. This is why I think that the law needs to frame copyright holders' rights in terms of natural and common law rights. I think it's perfectly fair to legislate scarcity to protect copyright holders, but outlaw a presumption of implied contracts, EULAs, etc. with the exception of signed agreements between parties. Sometimes a little coercion is needed to restore balance, and though I vote libertarian, I am open to a little coercion in copyright law to give it the social legitimacy of physical property rights.

In fact, I think that is what will be needed if copyright is to truly mature. Just imagine if a software vendor had to relinquish control over its product the way any other retailer has to in the absence of a written agreement signed by two parties. It would actually present a bold new legitimacy for software copyrights, allowing them to attain the same legal standing as all other parts sold on the market.

hints of MSFT tactics (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824804)

a number of revenue streams such as subscription fees, lower cost hardware, advertising and of course traditional transaction.


Obviously, when ever a Microsoft exec speaks, the only thing you can count on is hot air escaping their lips. But really, this does give some insight into how they will continue to fight FOSS. They've been trying the SUBSCRIPTION FEE approach for a few years already. The LOWER COST HARDWARE is an interesting one since it means subsidies for OEMs( like marketing dollars, etc? ) or maybe even more MS hardware. DOJ round 3 anyone? The Xbox is an example of this approach. Then there's the ADVERTISING model and this one should be quite interesting. Will your kids highschool class presentation have a banner ad for Target or Cialis running? Or better yet, will Microsoft subsidise THAT sector by initially advertising only Microsoft products/services with moving monopoly profits around inside the company? Hey, they've put millions of dollars in a fund to 'support' Windows vs Linux migration attempts and with billions in cash, they'll hardly feel the hit. IMO.


They've got a number of tricks up their sleeves and it seems Steve is somewhat willing to give hints as to what some of those tricks are. Too bad making reliable and secure software isn't mentioned...


LoB

"Refuses"?? (1)

Jeff Molby (906283) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824928)

What is amusing is that in answering the question, he refuses to use the word 'free' or anything close to it.
Really? Did the interviewer attempt to compel him to use the word or did he merely omit it? Let's try not to be too obvious about our biases.

Shareholders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16825026)

Duh.. If he says "free", the MSFT stock price drops.

He's not that stupid.

I was under the impression (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825038)

that Ballmer's hair would catch on fire or something if he used the word "Free" in public?

(or that Bill would beat the stuffing out of him all the way back to Redmond)

Seriously though, I'm sure there is a list of words that he has trained himself to avoid using in public at all costs, and I'm certain that "free software" is really high on that list.

First they ignore you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16825106)

... ... then you win.

just another example of MS bashing (1)

singingjim (957822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825204)

Hey! Moron! Maybe giving away stuff for free isn't exactly the best way to MAKE MONEY! MS is a FOR PROFIT business. They are a public company that answers to shareholders. What a douche. I can't stand the mamby pamby do-gooders on this site. Go hug a friggin' tree or something ya pussies.

Microsoft is _too_ competitive (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825374)

Microsoft always has a stance against something. For example, Microsoft considers free and open software to be their enemy. Not their competition, not just an alternative. However, suppose I called some of the other top software companies [wikipedia.org] in the world. Do you think that Intuit considers GNUCash to be the enemy or that Symantec thinks that free virus scanners, firewalls, and disk partitioning tools should be unconstitutional because they are viral and will destroy the industry? Does Adobe send secret emails [aaxnet.com] chiding the makers of the GIMP? Do they embrace and extend standards like PNG the way Microsoft did with HTML? Does Autodesk make PR statements about Blender in an attempt to spead FUD about it?

When Microsoft talks about open-source they sound like George Bush talking about terrorism. They have a lot of bright people, and can make some damn good software. But the company would do better if they stopped declaring competitors to be an axis-of-evil, and just made software.
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