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The Pirated Software Problem in the 3rd World

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the that's-a-whole-world-more-than-world-two dept.

Software 252

RockDoctor writes "Dark Reading carries an article by one Nathan Spande who works in Cambodia. Locally he finds that OpenOffice.Org and MS Office are the same price ($2), or $7-20 by downloading. He discusses why the economics of OpenSource don't work in this environment, and how it contributes to global computer security issues through the "little extras" (trojans, spambots and other malware) that typically accompany such "local editions" of software. The economics of software outside the west are very different to what most people are used to."

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252 comments

Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17972600)

Most of the big group releases do NOT have Trojans and other crap inserted. the big release groups pride themselves in having a clean release.

I love how the article has BSA FUD stuck in to add that little flair of "security problems".

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (3, Informative)

reynaert (264437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972860)

Most of the big group releases do NOT have Trojans and other crap inserted. the big release groups pride themselves in having a clean release. Right, but he's not talking about big release groups. He's talking about cd's sold on Cambodian markets. I can quite imagine one of those vendors wanting to operate a spam network on the side.

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17973244)

I can quite imagine one of those vendors wanting to operate a spam network on the side.

I'm in Thailand, and I assume the situation is pretty similar. Copies of new release software go for about the same price here anyhow. What you're saying is possible, sure, but I think pretty rare. The guys who sell this stuff are just not that sophisticated - they download it all from the net and burn the CDs on a handful of PCs. Some places burn the CDs on demand - you have to wait 10 minutes for an unlabeled disk with a poor quality photocopy for a cover. Of course, you still have to worry about the hackers who created the image.

By contrast the DVD rackets are clearly organized crime of the highest calibre. The product there is in general very good quality, packaging would pass for original, pricing is around $2/dvd. I've heard it said that stuff comes from southern China, but it's hard to tell.

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (2, Informative)

kingduct (144865) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973496)

The street vendor is just a poor person trying to make a buck. He or she almost surely doesn't even own a computer. Now, the person pressing the CDs is another matter altogether -- there I could imagine trojans. Certainly in Ecuador computer viruses are out of control, but I've always attributed that to the fact that since fewer individuals own computers, many people are sharing each machine.

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973602)

Nah, the CDs sold in the streets are warranted to be 100% virus free, they are generally the same you could get in torrents, there is no a big conspiracy to turn comps into zombies that way, it is easier to just exploit the windows vulnerabilities so you don't even have to depend on piracy

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973754)

The parent is imagining something that just isn't true, and shouldn't be modified +5 informative.

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974072)

So people imagining it makes it true? Does that excuse the opinion presented as fact? Nope. That's FUD.

Parent is wrong (5, Insightful)

Ernesto Alvarez (750678) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974258)

And I'm talking from experience here.
10 years ago Buenos Aires was in the same situation as described in TFA, and the pirated software sold in stores was mostly clean. I know there was no market for zombie machines, but there were lots of (very good) viruses around. Selling infected software would hurt sales REALLY BAD. Especially since it would only take a seasoned pirate, hacker or technician to notice (and the latest antivirus was also available from most local pirates).

Most pirated software salesmen are interested in selling software, so they won't do anything to threaten their own income. The only thing some pirate shops would do is to add some intro/advertisement (and they were treated like scum for that). Most viruses came from diskettes from unknown sources.

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17974298)

having mmm... acquired much software from sources such as Hong Kong, and Malaysia, I have had 1 ... count that 1 CD out of hundreds that had a virus on it, most of what is out over there is clean, just like anywhere, including MS, or IBM or any of the big company's, virii do happen, honestly, I trust the software I can get over there more than what the big companies put out due to the complacency of the big companies!

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (2, Insightful)

brouski (827510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972940)

That's great for the people that get them first-hand from the group's FTP server.

What about the schmoes who have to wait until the release has changed hands dozens of times before it hits a public site or the newsgroups?

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (1)

repvik (96666) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972946)

So what if the big groups do "proper" releases? It's not harder than getting their release, adding a trojan and putting it back online with the same name. There is no way to verify the name.

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974020)

You really dont know what you are talking about. It is way hard for someone without a good strong CS or IT background to open up the Microsoft installer packages, add in your own crap and then wrap it all back together so the person installing does not know it is happening.

I could do it and someone else with 1/2 a brain can but the people selling the crap on the side most certainly are not that smart.

I agree with the grandparent post. the FUD in the article about the viruses and spyware is merely that FUD to make the BSA and software companies happy. Nobody has bought a bunch of this stuff and then taken it apart to look and see all of these viruses and trojans in there.

Typically pirated software is better than the legit stuff, the pirated apps are patched to remove all the crap that causes you to enter validation keys, have the CD in, etc...

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (1)

repvik (96666) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974196)

You really dont know what you are talking about. It is way hard for someone without a good strong CS or IT background to open up the Microsoft installer packages, add in your own crap and then wrap it all back together so the person installing does not know it is happening.

I could do it and someone else with 1/2 a brain can but the people selling the crap on the side most certainly are not that smart.

You're falling in the exact same trap as I pointed out to the grandparent. You don't know if it has already been added.

I agree with the grandparent post. the FUD in the article about the viruses and spyware is merely that FUD to make the BSA and software companies happy. Nobody has bought a bunch of this stuff and then taken it apart to look and see all of these viruses and trojans in there.

Typically pirated software is better than the legit stuff, the pirated apps are patched to remove all the crap that causes you to enter validation keys, have the CD in, etc...

I've seen several apparently "valid" "scene" releases of eg. Windows XP. With trojans installed before you boot.

Re:illeritate write for free help I-800-USA-GOVT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17973002)

This sign is actually in a local library.

Illeritate write for free help
            I-800-USA-GOVT

IfUCnSpelGudUAreUnnek.

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (0, Troll)

numbski (515011) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973162)

Heh. You seem to overlook the obvious crap that's inserted:

Windows Media Player
Internet Explorer
Windows

That's reason enough to avoid it, IMHO. :)

I am not particularly thrilled with how it glosses over OSS. I've learned over the years there are benefits to not being 100% compatible with everyone else, and not having a computing environment that's not identical to everyone else too.

I'll give you a tiny example: my wife and I combined have 6 computers in this house - we each have a desktop, I currently have two laptops (will change shortly) and a server. We're both IT people, I'm a network engineer and unix admin, she's a part-time unix geek and a Windows Network admin by day. It's not uncommon for her to sit down at my machine for one reason or another, usually because she manages her music library logged into her account on my box. Occassionally, she'll be lazy and ssh into the server from my machine on my account, and want to look something up on the web. She *hates* using Firefox on my account. I have JavaScript pared all the way down, I have NoScript, Flashblock, and Adblock all enabled. She'll go onto Amazon and want to check on something, and nothing works. Now, she could of course figure out how to "temporarily allow" amazon.com in noscript, and to check the adblock sidebar if a key graphic is missing, but instead she logs into her account, launches a second instance of Firefox view amazon in it's ad-encrusted glory.

What's my point? The point is I don't have anyone else, my wife included, screwing with my Firefox profile because it's unique to my tastes and preferences. My home directory doesn't get filled with crap, and this is a mac we're talking about, so virus and malware are nearly non-existent. This could be Linux just as easily, or FreeBSD for that matter.

Once upon a time I would have suggested they use Knoppix, and although that may work, I think everyone here can agree that Kubuntu or Ubuntu (I still prefer the former to the latter) would fit the need nicely. None of this BS of "it's not what everyone else uses" fits. Win32 binaries can and do run. You just don't want to do it more often than necessary. :)

The FUD has to stop, seriously. I hate the term, I really do "Linux is/isn't ready for the desktop." I don't care when it's ready. It works, it works at very least "well enough". If I had to give it a par rating on usability in the form of Kubuntu, it quite easily is up there with Windows 98 or Windows 2000. I take Windows XP as a step backwards in many cases, so that's not really fair. OSX still beats Linux in Desktop usability, but we're not talking the widest of gaps here though. There are huge benefits to be had when you determine precisely what hardware your OS runs on, and it shows.

So now that I've wasted my breath preaching to a choir that left already....ugh. Let me toss up my company's website-that-isn't-quite-ready-yet:

http://www.oss-solutions.com.nyud.net:8080/ [nyud.net]

Yes, it's coralized. I really am that afraid of Slashdot. :)

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (1)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974188)

I'd like to comment that yes, Win32 binaries work well on Linux. The only problem I have is that I can't play EVE Online or anything else with a directX dependancy. That's the only thing stopping me from nuking my Windows install. When all the games go to Vista-exclusivity, that's going away forever.

I really love Ubuntu. I like being able to have something immediately functional right out of the box. With Windows I have to install a bunch of drivers and software since it ships with nothing. I can also actually do stuff in the command line in Ubuntu. I have the freedom to choose how my system is set up, and the freedom to take whatever control I want. I also like how easy it is to get new software compared to Windows.

Yes, I just switched about a week ago but for the Windows install on hda1.

Re:Nice Suttle FUD in the article. (2, Insightful)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973570)

They forgot to mention that most Microsoft products come with their own security problems built in!

Of course, it is entirely possible that the pirate sellers add some extra nasty stuff to their warez, I wouldn't know, I've never bought software from pirates.

Way I look at it (4, Insightful)

goldcd (587052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972624)

is that it creates a level playing field.
Both MS office and OpenOffice are available at the same price and with the same level of support (precisely none apart from what google'll provide you with).

I'm not quite sure why there's any kind of surprise about this information. In the western world where you have to pay for MSOffice and Open Office is free, MS Office is still winning - why you'd expect a different result in an environment MS Office is free, is beyond me.

In my humble opinion the best thing to increase the penetration of Open Office around the planet (along with linux and every other OSS product that competes with MS) would be if MS introduced a completely secure DRM system to ensure that not a single un-licensed copy of their software was unable to function anywhere on the planet - forcing those that couldn't afford it to switch to OSS.
Always amuses me when people here bitch about WGA, as it has the potential to be the greatest force in switching people to OSS.

WGA and other drm does not work with slow links (3, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972712)

WGA and other drm does not work with slow links. How can you sell apps that need to be online for checking if they are legal and licensed with forced big updates / patch downloads when you need to pay $0.10 or more a mb.

Re:WGA and other drm does not work with slow links (2, Insightful)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973012)

Point is that WGA was made not to disable the software. If you disable it, people will go somewhere else. Main point is to remind users they're running pirated software. Switch off features that aren't necessary, and hook them up on windows not Linux (MacOS is out of scope, if you don't have cash to buy Win do you have cash to buy Mac?).

MS knows that piracy exists, but at the same time piracy creates a lot of well skilled users.

yup (1)

goldcd (587052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973524)

First office suite I pirated was MSO. When I got a job and they used licensed MSO, I knew how to use it.
My mum wants a word processor, I'd give her a pirate MSO as I know how to use it - and if she has any problems, I can help. If I can't help, she can buy a book to help (much easier for MSO than OO).
You've really got to applaud MS, they've simultaneously managed to make MSO ubiquitous whatever the depth of your pocket, whilst managing to derive a stonking great income from legit software.
Look at the other 'pirate' stories that come through /. "RIAA prosecutes single mother", "MPAA demands arrest of 12 year old" etc etc. MS never gets their hands dirty with this kind of stuff - all MS piracy busts are against guys selling thousands of fake licenses into enterprise (despite these large scale operations supplying far less instances than the millions of individual copies installed on home PCs).
To emphasise the level MS wants to go after for piracy, look at what they've done with WGA. Your installation fails WGA, you nark out your supplier, and you get a free legit copy. MS doesn't prosecute people using pirate software, they just gun for those selling it.

Re:yup (1)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973564)

My point, exactly.

Plus MS can consider pirating of their software as a marketing tool - an easy way to get to millions of people without investing anything.

Re:Way I look at it (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972738)

In the western world where you have to pay for MSOffice and Open Office is free, MS Office is still winning - why you'd expect a different result in an environment MS Office is free, is beyond me.

I also bet you believe we are winning the Iraq war, GW saved us from WMD's and the easter bunny is real as well.

Here are some major facts. Microsoft products have a earth sized avalanche more marketing than Open office does. If you go and ask 100 random people chances are that less than 3% will know what open office is. Hell they even get high schools and colleges to market it for them by offering "office suite classes" that are nothing more than a 10 week marketing class they get people to pay to go to( in college).

Do the same in businesses, survey 100 CEO's and CTO's less than 10% will know what Open office is. Business leasers also feed the marketing themselves.. Where is that powerpoint(tm) your excel(tm) or word(tm) file?

So by your logic, people are choosing Microsoft office because it is better while in reality most people do not even know a choice even exists.

Re:Way I look at it (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972944)

Where is that powerpoint(tm) your excel(tm) or word(tm) file?

OpenOffice.org can produce files that are compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint brand software. I had a contract job where my boss used Excel, and she had no problem reading and printing .xls time sheets that I created with OOo Calc. If preserving formatting is more important than editable text, then OOo can print to PDF. But yes, you're right that OOo needs more promotion.

Oh that is bollocks (2, Insightful)

goldcd (587052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973396)

and quite frankly pathetic to say that the reason MSO succeeds where OO hasn't is merely down to MS's marketing budget.
CTOs know what OO is. If an enterprise CTO deployed OO and saved their company millions, they'd get a big gold star. The reason OO isn't deployed so widely is because if it were, stuff would 'stop working' and cost the company more.
Now you could argue (rightly) that there's nothing wrong with OO, but if you deploy it in an MS ecosystem (both your own systems and the stuff that'll come in from outside), stuff will stop working. OO's pitch is pretty much "We'll get 95% of your Office documents opened and working" - problem is that last 5% will cost more than you'll save by not coughing up for the MS license. It's not right, it's not fair, but it's a fact - and something the OO plugging CTO will be made to answer for.
Just to come back to your point on marketing, there are many countries that MS don't even bother with now, due to the levels of piracy. Surely if OO were the better product, then it would flourish without the evil MS marketing dollar - but they just don't...
If I pirate MSO, I know I'll have less problems than I do legitimately downloading OO. OO currently offers 95% of MSO for free - if you consider MSO to be 'free' then why on earth would you take that over something that offers 100% of MSO for free?

Re:Way I look at it (2, Interesting)

FallLine (12211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973566)

I also bet you believe we are winning the Iraq war, GW saved us from WMD's and the easter bunny is real as well.
This is basically a lame implied ad hominem argument. Don't listen to him! He believes in the easter bunny!

Here are some major facts. Microsoft products have a earth sized avalanche more marketing than Open office does. If you go and ask 100 random people chances are that less than 3% will know what open office is. Hell they even get high schools and colleges to market it for them by offering "office suite classes" that are nothing more than a 10 week marketing class they get people to pay to go to( in college).
Besides the fact that you only present one "vague" fact to support your argument (not even a specific relevant number) this is a total non sequitur. The mere fact that MSFT spends X million dollars of marketing does not mean their their success owes entirely or even substantially to it (particularly true when we know of several other majors factors here).

Marketing does not always win the day--superior products and better prices usually do. The US car industry has vastly outspent their Japanese rivals year in and year out and they've lost market share to the Japanese year after year. Microsoft has spent a ton of money promoting products at various points in their historic with little if any pickup (e.g., TabletPC, Windows CE, MSN vs Google, Internet Explorer vs Mozilla, etc).

Meanwhile you ignore:

1) That Microsoft Office has been the standard for many years. Customers know the product very well because they've actually used it for thousands and thousands of hours. Open Ofice has only very recently approached some level of equality (features, UI, stability, compatibility, etc).

2) Customers would have to deal with less than perfect file compatiblity (my actual experience) or at least the chance that it won't be (no proof that it is). Even if you believe that it's 100% compatible with Office 2003 and all earlier versions, how are potential customers supposed to assess if and how quickly OO will handle the new Office 2007 format, say, when their business associations start sending them documents in such a format?

3) Customers have to learn a new UI. This takes time and money.

4) Customers have to contend with lack of VBA and lack of automation compatibility. You'd be surprised how many applications and corporations are wedded to Office because of this. Try exporting from Crystal Reports into a spreadsheet, many corporate DBs, etc.

5) Customers face business risk with potential uncertainty with Open Office due to their lack of business model (Sun is still driving most of the development... there's no obvious organic driver for continued growth and support).

6) Lack of features and stability for advanced users.

7) Just plain unknowable risk. Open Office is still an unknown quantity in the most corporate environments. If you spend many man hours assuring yourself that it's kosher you might sleep well, but it's far from plug and slug change.

These are just a few of the real concerns with respect to customer adoption. Yes, Microsoft Office is completely over-priced given its widespread adoption and I'd be glad to see OO take marketshare from MS, but to completely dismiss Microsoft's continued success here as simply owing "marketing" is nonsense.

Do the same in businesses, survey 100 CEO's and CTO's less than 10% will know what Open office is. Business leasers also feed the marketing themselves.. Where is that powerpoint(tm) your excel(tm) or word(tm) file?
I was a CIO fairly recently for a mid-size corporation (and later for a division for a major corporation). I knew about Open Office and considered deploying it internally (instead of renewing SA - $$$), but I ruled it out due to some of the reasons I mentioned (e.g., cost of modifying internal applications, lack of compatibility with many shrinkwrapped packages, increased memory, having to deal with decentralized VBA scripts, potential issues with Citrix, etc). I wouldn't expect a CEO to know about this sort of thing if can't even make it past most IT managers.

Re:Way I look at it (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973894)

Hell they even get high schools and colleges to market it for them by offering "office suite classes" that are nothing more than a 10 week marketing class they get people to pay to go to( in college)

Look at the want adds in your local newspaper. The posts on the library bulletin board. Visit your state employment office. Talk with those who work with the disabled. MS Office skills are marketable.

Give It A Real Name, FFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17973120)

The best thing to increase the penetration of OpenOffice is to drop the fscking ".org" from its name!

Spelling it out and explaining it is a constant embarrassment (and yes, they ask every time). Let it have a proper name and I'll instantly move back to endorsing it and not StarOffice. As it is, it's just too embarrassing to have to explain every time that no it's not a website, it's a professional office suite rivaling and compatible with MS Office. Last time, the person asked whether it's actually that online thing from Google. I gave up and sold StarOffice (I'm retailing that too) and my support package. (I'd rather hand out OpenOffice and mark up my support, but it's just too vexing. And I'd be willing to donate to OpenOffice if I "retailed" it, but I *hate* that people-confusing, convention-breaking &"&%"#& ".org" thing they have for no reason whatsoever. The OpenOffice website is perfectly easily locatable from the About menu item and the splash screens, thank you.)

Shakespeare asked "what's in a name?"; clearly he understood diddly squat about marketing.

easy solution? (1)

free space (13714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973506)

I kinda understand your frustration, but why not call it by the 'informal' name,i.e just "OpenOffice", when introducting it to your customers?

If you worry about technical accuracy, you can always introduce the full name later (or wait till they see it in the about box anyway).

Re:Give It A Real Name, FFS (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973854)

It is my understanding that "Open Office" is a registered trademark, and it doesn't belong to the OpenOffice.org folks. Therefore, they have to be OpenOffice.org and not OpenOffice without-the-org in order to avoid infringement.
 
This is indirectly alluded to here [openoffice.org].
 
Doing anything else would require changing the name to something completely different and losing all of the "goodwill" that has built up around the OpenOffice with-or-without-org name to date.

Re:Way I look at it (0)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973238)

...if MS introduced a completely secure DRM system to ensure that not a single un-licensed copy of their software was unable to function anywhere on the planet - forcing those that couldn't afford it to switch to OSS.

That statement alone should show you why they won't attempt such a thing. You just have to look at Apple's market share to see the results of "perfect" DRM. DRM would not be a shot in the arm for Microsoft's business. It would be shooting themselves in the foot. It would cripple them.

Re:Way I look at it (1)

Katchina'404 (85738) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973620)

What Apple DRM are you talking about ? Technically, you can install Mac OS X from an Apple CD on an unlimited number of systems. There is no control whatsoever. As a software vendor, Apple uses no DRM preventing you from installing its software on Apple hardware, as far as I know.

Oh, you were talking about not installing OS X on non-Apple hardware. As a hardware vendor, yes, Apple prevents you from using other hardware. But then, look at their marketshare as a hardware vendor, compared against others (Lenovo, Dell, Fujitsu, etc), they're not doing that bad.

Re:Way I look at it (1)

morleron (574428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973974)

It seems to me that the real problem here is that people continue to be confused by the use of the word free. Somehow we need to make clear that, when we speak of "Free Software", we are not talking about an item which costs little or nothing. Instead we are talking about the ideas of freedom of use, freedom to make changes we want to the software, and the freedom to give the software to others. It's this dual meaning of the word free that continues to hobble the spread of FOSS, not only the use of the software, but the adoption of the philosphy of freedom for all that accompanies it. It's this dichotomy of meaning, and the difficulty of explaining it, that has caused me to almost entirely drop the use of the term "free software" and, instead, to use the term "Open Source". I realize that this is not an optimal solution, but until we can come up with the equivalent of a 30-second sound bite that will capture not only our deeper interpretation of the word free, but will also stick in the minds of the public, I can't think of a better way to get people into the discussion without distracting them with the "free as in beer" vs. "free as in speech" issue.

Maybe we need something along the lines of "Free of viruses, free of malware, free of restrictions, free to give away, free to use" as a slogan for our movement.

Just my $.02,
Ron

Yayyyy! (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972634)

Open-source trojans.

Can somebody point me to the repository so I can include them in my projects?

Re:Yayyyy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17974186)

http://127.0.0.1/downloads/trojans/src/ [127.0.0.1]

Alternately if that site is down, just type "sudo rm -rf /" and enter your root password. That starts the obfuscated "do smurf" program (which should be obvious from the letters in that command) that installs the trojan repository on your machine.

"the economics of open source don't work..." (5, Insightful)

John_Sauter (595980) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972638)

From the information in the article, it appears that the economics of open source work much better than the economics of closed-source, proprietary software. The business model of OpenOffice.org is perfectly happy when local vendors sell their software at $2 per disk. The business model that Microsoft Office is based upon is violated when that happens.

Re:"the economics of open source don't work..." (4, Insightful)

richg74 (650636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973020)

What we are seeing here, actually, is that Economics 101 works. In a free, competitive market, the theory says that the equilibrium market-clearing price of X is equal to the marginal cost of supplying X. It seems likely that the (small) marginal cost of producing an OpenOffice CD is about the same as that of producing an MS Office CD. So it's really not at all surprising that they sell for the same price.

The "business model" of MS Office (as well as that of DRM'd music, for example) is based on attempting to engineer a way around this reality -- trying to create an economic perpetual motion machine.

Re:"the economics of open source don't work..." (1)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973744)

Exactly.Copyrighted and patented stuff has no intrinsic physical value whatsoever.
The real cost of a production/transmission/storage is what it worth.A copy is fine too.

Re:"the economics of open source don't work..." (1, Troll)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973130)

From the information in the article, it appears that the economics of open source work much better than the economics of closed-source, proprietary software. The business model of OpenOffice.org is perfectly happy when local vendors sell their software at $2 per disk. The business model that Microsoft Office is based upon is violated when that happens.
Well said. But there is another perspective on this: the economics of FOSS and the real economics of Microsoft share some things in common. Both are based on the simple fact that software can be copied at virtually no cost; this lets FOSS exist (and explains why you don't see FOSS automobiles), and this allows Microsoft to (1) benefit from their product being pirated, as it creates market share that may pay later, (2) bundle whatever they want into the OS (it doesn't cost them any more), and kill competitors.

Piracy in the third world is really just part of MS's business plan. Bill Gates has even admitted as much (I can find the link if anyone wants it).

How Microsoft Kills Competitors (4, Insightful)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972678)

This is exactly how Microsoft kills off the competition.

They tolerate piracy because it has benefits for them. If people are pirating MS software, they are learning how MS software works, and they aren't using competing software. They can catch up later and demand their money; by which time, they're betting, most people will already be so used to Microsoft that they will pay up rather than go for a cheaper / free alternative.

If MS clamped down on piracy right now, then people would switch to cheaper / free products in a heartbeat.

Re:How Microsoft Kills Competitors (2, Informative)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972720)

In addition to this, of course, is the fact that legal users of MS software pay a premium high price that finances those that use pirate copies.

Re:How Microsoft Kills Competitors (2, Informative)

Mr. Shiny And New (525071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973180)

I'm not sure this reasoning makes sense; There is no material difference to Microsoft between one pirate user and one non-user. This isn't like a retail store that sells goods, where stores raise prices to cover a certain percentage of shoplifting. If someone pirates a Microsoft product, Microsoft is harmed in the "lost sale" but they still make money on their other sales. And in a region where basically ALL software is "pirate", Microsoft can essentially forecast zero sales and be done with it.

Anyway, the so-called "economics of open source" obviously won't apply in a region where none of the "economics" of software apply; as someone else mentioned it's really Microsoft's business model that falls apart here. Microsoft's supposed high prices aside, Microsoft isn't making any sales in regions with very high piracy; but one day they will convince the powers that be to crack down on it, and the users will suddenly realize the trap of Microsoft software; just look at what happened recently in Russia: Schools are switching away from all non-Free software because they can't afford the costs, and their governments are making them stop pirating software. Then it will be abundantly clear what the difference is between the two "economies" of software.

Re:How Microsoft Kills Competitors (1, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972858)

If MS clamped down on piracy right now, then people would switch to cheaper / free products in a heartbeat.

They are here in the developed world by turning off automatic updates and further locking down their products while going after small businesses that aren't using officially licensed products.

Yet, no matter what, people are not going to switch en mass to the free alternatives because they aren't ready for the desktop, people aren't comfortable with them, and the interoperability (while better) still isn't good enough to allow for people to "switch in a heartbeat".

Sadly, the day will never come when we will be able to do as you claim.

Re:How Microsoft Kills Competitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17973514)

Install Apple laserWriter drivers. Print all documents to a file. Resulting ".prn" files are actually PostScript. Can be reprinted exactly as under Windows with any unix-ish system (best compress them with gzip, which is pretty much transparent), or viewed on-screen with gv or similar. Make an ideal "reference rendering" for retouching / recreating from scratch documents mangled by OOo import filter.

Re:How Microsoft Kills Competitors (3, Interesting)

indraneil (1011639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972874)

I kinda support this poster.
I stay in India and out here a Microsoft employee would be looked up to, a Google employee would be recognized and a RedHat employee would be given condescending looks for not having been "talented enough to get a job with MS" :-) I pretty much do not know a single person who runs no non-pirated software in their home PCs. Heck my 1st computer came with Win2k preloaded for free. On the other hand, getting opensource stuff is harder. Infact I bought Fedora 4 CDs on EBay. So I got Win2k free but, FC4, I had to buy!
Out here, people adore Microsoft for doing the world a favour by bringing out tools like office and giving them an OS they can use. It is only the top universities where students get to use Unix. Every one else (barring software companies), pretty much runs on pirated Windows.
I suspect it actually helps Microsoft- more familiarity with their products, greater evangelism for their software, and may be some day, MS can get these people to pay for the same as well. Not sure if this was an intended fallout though

how to spot a RedHat employee .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973400)

"I stay in India and out here a Microsoft employee would be looked up to, a Google employee would be recognized and a RedHat employee would be given condescending looks"

How does one go about spotting RedHat employees in the street. What are the significent telltale markings ?

"was Re:How Microsoft Kills Competitors (Score:5, Interesting)

Re:How Microsoft Kills Competitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17972938)

If MS clamped down on piracy right now, then people would switch to cheaper / free products in a heartbeat.
russian schools [theinquirer.net] abandon ms after piracy case, it's allready happening.

The same applies to South America... (5, Interesting)

TavoX (962277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972682)

I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I can say that although it is somewhat easy to find a shop that sells legal copies of software, most people just buy a pirated copy... why? because it's 1 dollar per disk, and the worst thing is that people do not see this as a bad thing... Personally, I don't agree to pay loads of money for legal software, I just use Linux and OSS, as most people would do if pirated software didn't exist here, but it does, so OSS has not much sense here anyways.

What about Soviet Russia? (1)

Stoutlimb (143245) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974074)

In Russia, they are starting to throw pirates (even teachers) into Siberian prison camps. If they started doing something like that in Argentina, do you think everyone would buy Windows, or switch to Linux? Or would most people just take the risk?

I'm curious to know what the opinions on this matter are from Slashdotters who happen to live in these developing countries where piracy is rampant. Anyone from such a country, please respond.

Re:What about Soviet Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17974240)

to be honest, the only reason you know about people throwing pirates in russia in jail is cos RIAA jams it over the front page of places. if you look at www.505.ru you will find actually that chain stores of definitl non legitate software dvds and music exist on the main shop front of st petersburg.

Re:What about Soviet Russia? (1)

TavoX (962277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974340)

It depends... Argentina's law is a joke in this aspect. They were supposed to sue people who has been pirating music, but nothing happened. the government does much less than they talk, and they don't talk a lot... so most people would take the risk, because they know nothing will happen. But, if something like you say is really done (which I seriously doubt), I think most people would buy Windows (this is not Cambodia, proprietary software IS expensive but affordable). Nonetheless I would encourage everybody I know to change, and I'd have much more success than now

Re:The same applies to South America... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17974218)

Argentina is a proprietary country where they use the proprietary spic language and that is at least 200 years behind the USA. Who cares about you?

Glass

As an aside... (1)

smartfart (215944) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972686)

I've run into third-world stealware before. A friend of a friend recently managed to get one of her kids out of a muslim country, green card and all. One of the guy's teenage sons found a PC in the house running WinME and decided to upgrade it to Win2k with a CD he brought from home. The end result was spyware city, plus nothing worked right (probably due to drivers being misloaded or something). I reformatted the box afterward and promptly destroyed the kid's CD collection, before he mucked up anything else.

Re:As an aside... (1)

MooUK (905450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973364)

ME, or malware-filled 2k? I'm not sure there's a lot to decide between them, really...

Some years down the line... (1)

romland (192158) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972690)

1. Slashdot zealots are still using open source products...
2. Third World countries get better at using commercial software (for free)...
3. Big Western Corporations get better at protecting their software from piracy...
4. Third World countries get better at cracking said software...
5. Third World countries find themselves providing tech-support for western corporations...

6. ...? profit?

Re:Some years down the line... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974250)

Probably true, but it's in the interest of a third world government to support Free Software. Why? Because you start off with something that's almost the finished product so it's easy to jump start a software industry. At the very least, it is easy to localise Free Software, so you can take the code, translate the UI into the local language, and sell it (or, more realistically, get a large local company to pay you up-front for the translation).

for the love of ... (5, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972694)

god and all that is holy and sacred on the planet ...

Free Software is not, repeat NOT, about cost. It's about liberties that accompany the software. For instance, in these poorer countries they're free to choose the hardware/software combos that suit their budget and economy, and not what Redmond wants them to use.

It also gives them access to the formats and internal workings. Meaning local jobs supporting the tools [ports, language packs, addons] are possible organically without having to first sign your soul over to msft [or whomever].

Tom

Re:for the love of ... (4, Insightful)

ardor (673957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972740)

You didn't read the article, did you.

The poor DO NOT CARE about free-as-in-freedom. OpenOffice does not give them the chance for getting a job, MS Office does. So MS Office wins.

You can start thinking about free-as-in-freedom once your belly is full.

Re:for the love of ... (2, Informative)

WS Tu (1045270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972906)

And we can think it in another angle...
The software in Combodia is not scarce, therefore it is almost like water or somthing very cheap there.

And now the only scarce thing for them is the job. I would never suprise people want to use MS office since the employers (may be they never heard about OpenOffice) would like to give offer to who know to use MS Office.

Re:for the love of ... (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973062)

And that's the largest failing of the FSF and FLOSS as a whole.

If the message was more about "hey you can really do what you want with this" and not "hey it's cheaper than Windows lol!" they'd be better off.

Tom

Not Redmond, but vendors (2, Interesting)

charlieman (972526) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973634)

At least here in South America, when you buy a pc, it comes loaded with software, from windows and office to games, photoshop, autocad, etc (you name it they install it, of course they don't know anything about OSS).

People barely can decide by themselves, mostly because if it's their first pc, they don't know anything about software so just try to get everything they could possibly need from start. If it's not their first pc, then all they know about software is what came with the first one, and ask for the same. Some people not even want the newer versions of the software they use, just the same they've been using so far.

The same applies for companies, here people don't choose the software. It just happens to be in the computer and they use it.

good luck trying to stop that (5, Informative)

fbhua (782392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972706)

This means fundamentally changing the way people live.

Let's take the case of Bangladesh. We have about 150 million people here, although a large chunk of that figure aren't your potential customers.

Facts:

- All foreign-produced movie DVDs and audio CDs are pirated. Yes. All. You can't legally buy legit copies of this stuff there.
- All home / office use software is pirated, unless you're working for a top multinational company. Purchasing a computer implies that it would come loaded with whatever software you prefer.
- All games are pirated

The prices are astonishing. It costs about 1 USD for CDs, 2 USD for DVDs. It doesn't matter what's the content.

How do you promote any software when Adobe Photoshop is the default image editor? When a software developer can choose any tool he wants with zero licensing and distribution costs, guess which platform wins out.

People want the best software and want access to the latest music and movies. It's been very low priced since forever. I can't imagine how would anyone go about asking them to change their consumption habits.

No "piracy is theft" argument doesn't work here. People feel that they have the right to rip-off any foreign-produced stuff because those companies are profitable anyway.

Re:good luck trying to stop that (2, Interesting)

owlman17 (871857) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973170)

This means fundamentally changing the way people live.

That's right. It all boils down to mentality. I live in a 3rd world country as well. I make enough to get by (it's downright pathetic by 1st world standards though). However, I always make it a point to pay for non-FOSS software I buy, even though, yes, I can get the disks for $1-2 or just download them off warez sites. Those I can't afford, I make an effort to look for a FOSS equivalent/alternative.

I also buy legit CDs and DVDs. If I can't afford something I like very much, I save up for it.

I'm probably more of an exception than the norm where I come from, but it doesn't mean its impossible. And I have a feeling a number of people in 1st world countries have a "third-world mentality" when it comes to this.

Re:good luck trying to stop that (1)

WhoBeDaPlaya (984958) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973722)

Same thing Malaysia, where peddling discs in night markets / out of car trunks qualifies as being in the IT industry.

Re:good luck trying to stop that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17974216)

I'm an English speaking person in a Foreign-language speaking country (Korea). Even I wanted to buy legit software, it would be impossible because it's all in Korean. What good is that to me? How am I supposed to learn how to use Windows Vista if I can't navigate it? How can I build a web page if I can't read the instructions or find the menu commands? How am I supposed to keep up with the latest developments if I can't even buy the latest software? Korea is known for being a wired country, but it's a country of users, not developers. I can't even find Photoshop in Korean, let alone in English. I have no choice but to download a pirated copy if I want to keep up to date.

I'm trained as a graphic designer, and although I don't do that professionally anymore, I still like to keep abreast of the latest developments, I still like to learn more and increase my skills and I would never be able to do that if I had to buy everything I use. I would be bankrupt tenfold as a result. Although I have my sources for finding the latest stuff online (thank god (or maybe bram) for bittorrent), even I had to pay $2-5 for anything, that is worth a whole lot more to me than paying upwards of $500 or more for each piece of software just to survive.

If the developers sold all their software for the same price as the "pirates" they would still make a shit load of money. For a standard like Photoshop or even Windows, $1 per copy from 6 billion potential customers on the planet is still more money than they have ever made so far.

third world malware (1)

mick4recycle (1039340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972758)

IMHO Malware is still going to be considered as much a nuisance in china, say, as it is anywhere else..... tons of spam clogging up your email account is the same for everyone. Not sure i agree freeware isnt attractive...its cheaper to buy a pirate disc than download freeware -except the pirate disc might contain added malware whereas the freeware wont. More likely problem (i'd guess)... the third world (as always) will provide cheap labour for human user-based scams... like call centres -but for the bad guys

i disagree (1)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972764)

i disagree, the west is very used to this problem. i for one have inboxes full of junk mail from trojan'd windows boxes. it doesnt get much clearer than this. particularly with the advent of a new popular os, there's probably hundreds of thousands of people getting keygens around the world right now.

Broadcasting??? (4, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972766)

One of the interesting things about Open Source is the completely unlimited distribution rights.

Besides putting it on the net, and distributing CDs, and USB driver, there's also the possibility of broadcasting it... A few minutes on a TV channel, either terrestrial or direct broadcast satellite, and you can transfer an entire CD. Just mux in some open source software into your DVB broadcast, perhaps only during times when the video can do with a lower bitrate, and some quite inexpensive equipment, that takes just one-time investment, can pick it up.

Also, in most of the underdeveloped parts of the world, I have to wonder if 802.11 isn't the perfect answer to all of this... Even if only a few people in all of the country can afford to download something, it may be able to be pushed to everyone else with 802.11 cards, through P2P apps such as Gnutella, (bittorrent is woefully inadequate here... and on unreliable networks in general).

And for the first open source program to be widely distributed through Asia with one of these methods... I nominate ClamWin.

Might even increase ad rates (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973082)

Besides putting it on the net, and distributing CDs, and USB driver, there's also the possibility of broadcasting it... A few minutes on a TV channel, either terrestrial or direct broadcast satellite, and you can transfer an entire CD. Just mux in some open source software into your DVB broadcast, perhaps only during times when the video can do with a lower bitrate
In fact, that might be a way to increase what advertisers pay. If you mux in the ISOs only during commercial breaks, then people are more likely to leave their tuners on the station rather than surf away from a commercial. At ten minutes of ads per hour and 2 Mbps of the stream dedicated to the zipfile and 20% forward error correction [wikipedia.org], this can fit a 120 MB chunk of applications in one hour of TV commercials.

Re:Might even increase ad rates (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973220)

In fact, that might be a way to increase what advertisers pay.

I wouldn't think so. It's just as likely no humans are watching the program to begin with.

At ten minutes of ads per hour and 2 Mbps of the stream dedicated to the zipfile

2Mbps is probably 2/3rds of the entire channel bitrate, leaving very crappy looking commercials (they typically need a higher bitrate than regular programming, not the other way around).

Re:Might even increase ad rates (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973356)

2Mbps is probably 2/3rds of the entire channel bitrate, leaving very crappy looking commercials
I've read reports of shows that have HDTV content and SDTV commercials.

Re:Might even increase ad rates (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973508)

I've read reports of shows that have HDTV content and SDTV commercials.

Yes, but not in the 3rd world... Don't expect them to have HD anything to begin with.

Well, he's partly right (5, Informative)

cathyy (120691) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972788)

He's right about the difficulty in getting legitimate copies of software. He's right about there being a virus, trojan, and spyware problem, too. He's wrong about the reason. It's not infected pirate copies of software. As the previous poster said, those copies are clean.

It's the people who buy the latest best copy of Norton anti-virus...pirate...and never get a virus definitions update because they can't register their program. They think they are safe and protected, because they are running an antivirus program.

It's the people running pirate Windows and IE and Office with no updates or patches, because even if they can register them (and typically they can't), they don't have the bandwidth to download security updates.

And I'm not talking about mere individuals. I have observed the counterfeit Windows version message on the computers in hotels, and not a cheap ones, either. What else are the corporations supposed to do when legitimate software can't be had, and your English isn't good enough to make calling Microsoft to buy a license to legitimize your pirate copy a viable option?

How do I know all this? I, too, live in a third world country, specifically Thailand. I have looked for legitimate software. I have seen pirate software in major foreign-owned stores like Tesco and Carrefour, as well as in the well-known locales for pirate software like Chatuchak and Pantip.

Re:Well, he's partly right (2, Interesting)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974398)

My family are slowly travelling the world (5+ years so far) and I'm currently visiting them, in Malaysia and Thailand. We don't do hotels (for staying at), but hotels, resorts, and Internet cafes provide our connectivity (usually via WiFi). Despite all the nice services installed (Skype is very popular), I would never use one of the computers here for anything serious... forget online banking; I probably wouldn't even check my email on one.

Even if one assumes that the owner of the establishment doesn't have their own spyware and keyloggers (software or hardware) installed, and some earlier visitor didn't install any (neither of these are great assumptions to make, but most people seem to anyway) I still assume somebody is, in effect, looking over my shoulder recording my keyboard and screen in video. These machines just don't get updated. Even the ones running SP2 will be using IE6 (forget Firefox). They might have Avast! or AVG, and it might even be up to date, but that's the best you can hope for. I'm sure somebody, somewhere uses Spybot S&D or AdAware SE Personal, but I haven't seen it... Of course there's no chance of Defender.

A friend of mine loaded a copy of AdAware and scanned one computer in an Internet cafe, and found eight different spyware or keylogger applications running. The owner of the shop sounded concerned (they're very polite in Thailand) but he did... nothing. Either he didn't care, he put them there himself, or there's nothing he could do.

It takes effort to make money (1)

WS Tu (1045270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972802)

As people live in South East Asia, I can see some people steal cable-TV, steal water, steal electricity, steal gas. And just like the article, some of us still used unlicensed softwares.

Do those things mean there is imposibble to make money there? Not at all, but they need to take some efforts. Like cable-TV companys may send out cable guys to check out the cable. The water and electricity company here(since they are the government monopoly in Taiwan), they rely on the police force to check out. The BSA (the organization almost equivalence to MS here...) also co-operate with the police to check the un-licensed software.

But there are some exception on software company, the local business agent of Billizzard send out worker to every NetCafes and check the number of copies, and charge them. I think they know the cops would not be happy to help them check out un-licensed WarCraft at NetCafe.

Absurd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17972806)

So now spyware-laden pirated software is considered same-as or better-than open-source software because the local vendors sell them at the same price?

I'd reckon that at some point there will be a grassroots movement against the spyware-laden pirates when Microsoft starts tightening the WGA-screws, or when the people get tired of having their banking data stolen again and again.

Their local Linux User Groups could probably assist by distributing Ubuntu CDs at media cost ($1).

Microsoft benefits from piracy (1)

true_hacker (969330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972848)

I speak as a student from India, and my analysis of the piracy situation tells me that it gives a huge boost to microsoft's monopoly. 99% of my classmates use pirated version of windows, the situation is the same everywhere in India, all students use pirated software. In an informal survey i had conducted, almost 8 in 10 people said they would shift to linux if they were not able to obtain windows absolutely free. And these very students are going to use "genuine" windows in their work environments, someday becoming PHBs and pushing for Windows Vista Ultimate Chair Throwing Edition. (Just my 2*10^-2 $ )

Re:Microsoft benefits from piracy (3, Funny)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973054)

Windows Vista Ultimate Chair Throwing Edition

Now that is a gread idea. I am along time Slackware user and have never looked back. I do remember windows 95 reatail version comeing with a great game called "Hover" It was lots of fun, and was probably one of the better things about win95.

If there was a version of Vista that came with a game called "Balmer" it would be exactly the sort of thing that would get me back on the windows platform. Just think you could play a Steve and run from floor to floor and building to build on the M$ campus thowing chairs at precived enemies. Just like in good old Duke Nukem 3d when you scored points he would chant something like "Hail to the king baby" only Steve could start saying something like "Developers Developers Developers..". It would be the greatest FPS game concept ever.

Not the first problem (1, Flamebait)

denoir (960304) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972872)

The feasibility of open source and the problem of pirated software does not really qualify as a relevant issue in the third world.

For instance the wide spread lack of fresh water seems like a more relevant problem.

Breaking News: Most People Are In West (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17972962)

(From the summary:)

The economics of software outside the west are very different to what most people are used to.

So... the north, east, and south are quite small and unpopulated in comparison?

Magical illusion, costly one saves more... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17972968)

I bet the average user's logic for selecting between Linux and Windows probably in a following way.
1) user sees 2 discs costing 2 $
2) User knows that the normal price for Linux is supposed to be something about 0-2$, as it is this free software
3) User knows that the normal price for Windows is supposed to be something about 100-1000$ (I really do not know the real prices)
--> So by buying an Legal Linux dvd for 2 $, the amount of money saved would be 0 $ and for the Windows it would be this 98-498 $.
--> So by selecting the more costly one he saves more :-(

Linux will be only selected by the more advanced users who will get tired and fucked up to the endless restrictions and update cycles that the windows
requires once installed from the cd... So just like in the western countries, it will take some time before people found more pleasant alternativities.

No Incentive To Change (1)

BonTrager (1062760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973004)

Great article. Hits it right on the nose. It's especially important to underscore the point that ordinary Joe is disadvantaged by using Open Office in a world where even rudimentary computer office skills are highly prized. It does little good from him to know how to use Open Office when Microsoft Office is by and far the norm. Sure, they're not that much different, but bridging the two is just one more obstacle for a beginner or one who doesn't have frequent opportunity to build skills. Perhaps Open Office could work on a skin that would make bridging the gap less of an issue? As for distribution, I like the Freedom Toaster concept (freedomtoaster.org). It gets at the reality of poor internet connectivity. However, it does require some organizational/governmental support to grow the interest and demand . Not only is pirated MS software preinstalled with "extras". It's also prone to grow it's "extras" bundle by not being able to stay patched and updated. Ever tried to upgrade to XP SP2 or download virus software upgrades on dialup? Don't. You won't be able to afford the connection time or electricity if either of those can actually stay stable for that long (speaking from experience in an East African capital city).

Re:No Incentive To Change (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973544)

ordinary Joe is disadvantaged by using Open Office in a world where even rudimentary computer office skills are highly prized.

'At its worst, OOo Writer is an adequate alternative for Microsoft Word. Most of the time, it is a superior one [newsforge.com]', June 2005

Microsoft will have to win, eventually (5, Interesting)

exit3219 (946049) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973234)

Because everybody's using Windows around here (Moldova). And when things will become more "civilized" and software will actually be paid for, people will have nowhere to go and will buy their products. So in the long term, Microsoft would have nothing to win if they fight piracy here. That's why they don't.
I use Linux because it's a better environment for programming. They use Windows for free, because they play games (for free). The "because it's free" argument won't convince anyone to try Linux around here. It costs more to download a distro via dial-up, then to buy Windows for $2.

OpenOffice keeps developing world poor .. (0, Flamebait)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973330)

"I can go down the block to my local market and find almost any software program, .. for somewhere around $2 per disc .. let alone spending hundreds of dollars on software, or even $4 on pirated software"

Which is it, $2 per disc or $4 per disc ?

"Before you can get consumers to use licensed software, it has to be affordable"

What's not affordable about OpenOffice at $2 per disc ?

"For one thing, knowing OpenOffice doesn't give one much of a leg up in the job market, where knowing Microsoft Office certainly does, and computer skills are one of the few things that show promise at getting people out of poverty around here."

I can't for the life of me figure out how basic proficiency in OpenOffice doesn't equate to the same in Microsoft Office. OpenOffice provides WYSIWYG word processing same as msOffice and the menu icons are virtually the same. I have personally seen msOffice users using OpenOffice, and they don't know the difference.

And presumably since these local employers are using msOffice at $2 per disc thay can't be offering much in the way of salary.

"The other thing is a distribution problem. OpenOffice at the local market costs the same as Microsoft Office"

Since they can buy a fully licensed OpenOffice at the local market at $2.00 a go, how is it in any way not affordable. Also it must be the only local market on the planet that offers OpenOffice on CD. Can we see some pictures please.

Wrong (4, Insightful)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973428)

The Pirated Software Problem in the 3rd World

No, it is not a problem there at all. Pirated software is problem only in 1st World.

Re:Wrong (1)

kneeslasher (878676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974322)

The above should be modded up to the maximum.

I've said it before, but the people moralising about the "piracy problem" of the developing world and how "immoral" it all is over there need to look at the big picture. If I were supreme ruler of Elbonia, and I had a budget of a million dollars, I can either spend it on license fees for "legitimate" drugs, textbooks and software, or spend it all on food and other basic development costs whilst pirating all the stuff requiring licenses, I know which I'd consider the most "moral" option.

Revolution (4, Insightful)

kingduct (144865) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973442)

Essentially, pirating commercial software is a display of resistance against the concept and economics of intellectual property. The concept of "owning" ideas or things that can be "stolen" without taking property away from the "owner" is simply not inherent to humanity (compare that to stealing a car, where the person stolen from actually loses the car).

However, the resistance that piracy implies isn't sufficient. Free software (and other free knowledge) is a revolutionary concept that turns the base structure of the new information economy upside down. It allows everybody to share knowledge and self determine what they can and will do (as compared to accepting the limits imposed by "owned" knowledge...like accepting that powerpoint is the way a presentation should be made). This is much more important for the poor, especially in the third world, who do not have the capital to access source code and thus see how software (and the world) work.

When using closed source software, one is essentially giving up the possibility of determining how you communicate and think in relation to machines -- and other humans. Having spent the last several years in the third world studying this specific issue (in Ecuador), it is clear that the availability of commercial software for a dollar or two is very dangerous for those countries. Any country that doesn't have a policy of supporting Free software is essentially allowing Microsoft, etc. to determine how it thinks and produces. Big software companies have no problem with this, they know that they wouldn't be selling large quantities of their software in poor countries anyway. While they may care about the big markets (China), I think most of their complaints about software piracy in the third world aren't because they care about those areas, but because they want to make sure that Americans know that piracy is an evil thing that foreigners do.

Unfortunately, most third world governments are so pathetically corrupt/incompetent that they don't take the freedom of Free software seriously. Some recommendations would be making all government sponsored software open sourced, requiring all government documents to use open standards, making public universities use free software, etc. There are several governments working on this, but they are few and far between. It is too bad, because the third world can benefit even more from Free software than the first world can.

$2.00/day for 12 hours of work ?!? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17973832)


The great majority of the planet is no where near the US economy, or even better countries like Japan, South Korea, or Germany.

How is a business that pays its workers $2.00 US a day for 12 hours work supposed to buy Microsoft Vista in a $2000 computer?

A 486 with xubuntu [xubuntu.org] Linux running
enough power to keep records and communicate with the world by dial-up modem,
and that business might be the most wired business in town!

Not everybody can run out and buy a $500 iPhone with a $100 month phone plan (even if they could get cell coverage in their area...)

Erm, most people? (1)

Ankh (19084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973986)

The economics of software outside the west are very different to what most people are used to

Actually it's not clear to me that most people live in the West. Nor is it clear to me that one can characterise the "rest of the world" so simply. There are whole Linux distributions aimed at (and developed in) India and China. And for that matter there are places in the West where pirated software is common. There have even been slashdot stories about it as I recall, e.g. in parts Europe.

Correction to title (1)

towsonu2003 (928663) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974122)

I think the title "The Pirated Software Problem in the 3rd World" should be corrected:


The problem isn't that of what you call "3rd World". Why would they have a problem? They are not producing that technology. Hell, their resources are robbed of them so fast, they don't have money to produce much of anything.

why this isn't really a problem (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974154)

When people in the US say "I wouldn't have bought that movie/software if I couldn't download it so the sellers aren't losing any money." That's probably not 100% true most of the time, but in third world countries they aren't kidding when they say that. Paying $100 or more USD for XP per computer is not gonna happen so Microsoft isn't losing any market at all. If they want to make money there, they should sell super cheap versions with the language locked in so it can't be resold back to US people for low prices and they'd have the best possible solution.

MS's lawyers and the highest perch on Mount Jerk (1)

Tarnum (1020273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974184)

Most 3rd world citizens are happy if they make $30/week.
Do you really expect them to shell $296 for Vista and $345 for Office?
Get real.

Re:MS's lawyers and the highest perch on Mount Jer (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974408)

True. For example, here in Argentina, Windows and Office cost that (plus 21% tax). But, a movie ticket cost $ 5 (5 pesos, which is about USD 1,60). A Big Mac too, $5 or something (you can't really expect people to pay what a Big Mac costs in the US, because nobody, and I mean nobody will ever buy that).

That means, movie studios and McDonald's figured that they can adjust the price to what people can pay, and still make profit. Why can't Microsoft do the same thing? They want to charge you the same price as in the US or Europe, where people make 10 times more money. That's just stupid. So what do they do? They make a "Starter Edition", the most discriminative piece of software I've ever seen in my whole life: you are poor? then YOU DON'T DESERVE to have a computer with more than 512MB ram and run more than 3 apps at a time.

Why can't Microsoft make a local version, something like "Windows Vista latin" or something. The same windows vista you get in the US, only that it's in Spanish (windows comes in spanish, of course), and it costs something like what people can afford down here. No, people from other parts of the world won't buy it (because it's in Spanish), and as most south american countries are more or less the same (we are all "poor"), the price could be the same for this whole market. Norton did that, and you could get a year subscription of Norton antivirus for $15 or so here in Argentina. Don't know if they still do that, but I'm glad that they want to fight piracy with something that people can afford.

Get real, is either "make less money" than "make no money". I can assure you, NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND will spend their month (or 3 month in some cases) salary just to give Bill (the richest man alive) a drop in his ocean of money.

Hidden costs (1)

deimios666 (1040904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974348)

As a citizen of such a country I'd like to add a few things: 1. As stated above why should someone pay a month's wage (around here ~150$ on something he can get for 2$? 2. Most computer hardware purchases in the area are of second hand machines of the P2-P3 category. Now I know that you cannot compare the speed of Openoffice with that of MS Office on such hardware. For most people around here it's about owning a computer, any computer, that can perform the basic tasks required. We're talking about hardware that costs 60$!!! Compare that to a windows license+office license and you get that the hardware is only 1/5-th of the cost of a machine. If purchased it legally that is.
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