a “gift” from Bill Gates?

Microsoft is giving away free software to nonprofits, and critics

charge that this is a deliberate plot to undermine open-source alternatives

that were gaining ground in the nonprofit sector. I’ll have to leave it

to economists to decide whether Microsoft’s strategy is good or bad for

nonprofit organizations in strictly economic terms. (Economists might

also ask whether it is a good deal for taxpayers to let Microsoft take

a tax deduction for donating Windows, each copy of which actually costs

the company nothing). Likewise, I’ll have to defer to antitrust lawyers

about whether this strategy violates laws against anti-competitive pricing.

My concern is different from either of these. It may be that open-source

software is good for civil society because it promotes cooperation

in the writing and improving of the code; diversity (since

open-source products can be tailored for various purposes and produced

by many actors); and creativity by a wide range of individuals

and groups. Whether open-source products such as Linux actually have these

effects is an empirical matter than needs to be assessed. I suspect, however,

that nonprofits like to use open-source products for these reasons and

not merely to save money. If that is true, then Microsoft’s donation is

insidious.

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1 Response to a “gift” from Bill Gates?

  1. Peder Andreas EIde says:

    Hey

    I don`t know if this e-meil I just got will make me earn som cash, but I`ll find out as soon as i get a Microsoft Program… I guess it will only work if I have bought a packet

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