fighting the good fight

August 17, 2007

Ghana Geek explains why African governments must not be tricked by Microsoft’s tactics.

Developing countries are still building the vast majority of their IT infrastructure. This means that they do not have a massive base of old documents in a restricted format. Those documents are on paper. Their offices are still being computerized. Their people are still learning how to use those computers. If you are going to teach someone to use an office suite anyway, what difference does it make if that suite is MS Office, Openoffice.org or Google Writer? What difference does it make if those legacy paper documents go to ODF or OOXML? Either way the work has to be done and the money has to be spent.

The problem is, what happens when you lock yourself into a company’s proprietary format because they are giving you free stuff and claim the format is open, then they start charging you for it and you realize all those alternatives they assured you existed can’t fully open your documents and you are stuck with them and their licence fees?

MS is spending a lot of money in Africa and giving a lot of stuff away for free. That altruism won’t last. It can’t, its too expensive. If OOXML is truly open(and what I’m seeing has me doubtful of that) then it doesn’t matter. When they start charging we can just evaluate our options and go in the direction that makes the most sense for us. If it doesn’t, we’ve spent a lot of money to build a foundation that renders us slaves to one company’s whims, and unlike richer parts of the world, we can’t come up with the money to change directions.

and he will post more about the whole process during the next week or two.

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One Response to “fighting the good fight”

  1. manikkam Says:

    A number of Latin American countries are going the Open Source route, Brazil, Peru, Argentina and maybe more. M$ has been giving handouts there as well to create some path dependence. Path dependence and price are issues but security as well, US military branches have publicly complained about the quality of M$ software.


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