---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Mahesh Murthy" <mahesh@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 09:44:49 +0530
Subject: [india-gii] Sneak Preview of Business Today Column on Gates' visit
Since we are on the topic, and at least some of us seem to be thinking
alike, here is the column that should appear in Business Today next
Don't Bill the Gates.
Let's take the billionaire's healthcare handouts, and turn down the
By the time this article comes out, the world's richest man would have
been here and gone. From what I hear around me, our state governments
are in a tizzy, competing to outdo each other to dazzle the gent. All in
a hope to get some of his cash into their state.
Nothing wrong with any of this. But let's look a little closer at why
the Chief Software Architect is taking 4 days out of that hyper-valuable
time to hobnob with our CMs and CEOs. He's not really here because we
need his money. He's here because he needs ours.
Think about it - Microsoft has seen off legal challenges to its Windows
monopoly. But never before has it seen such a strong marketplace
challenge - in the form of the open source operating system called
Linux is all the things a developing economy like India needs - open,
well-documented, stable, secure, accepted worldwide - and, best of all,
virtually free. Governments around the world, from Peru to the United
Kingdom have begun insisting on open source to power their national
India is not far behind - Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were
among the first to direct atleast some of their IT buyers to first look
at open source for solutions, and only later, at proprietary systems
like Microsoft before placing orders.
This worries the famously paranoid Redmonders. Small wonder that the CMs
of these very states are on Bill's list of people to schmooze on this
trip. "Hey buddy, I'll come and throw a few scraps your way from my
private jet - but, pal, you gotta buy Microsoft."
Governments and their directives are not Bill's only worries. India
isn't that large a market for software - we barely account for 1% of
Microsoft's sales. But the fact is that we are home to 10% of the
world's software developers - and Billy boy just doesn't want Coder
Coomaraswamy to go over to the Linux side of the development fence.
Corporations around the world want lower cost, more supportable and
stable solutions. And the nightmare of India becoming one of the world's
strong Linux-based development centers has ensured that our Ambanis,
Tatas and Narayanamurthy's get treatment on par with our Chief
Ministers. The message again: "Stay with Microsoft and we can beat off
those Open-source Outlaws and bring the world back to a place where a
monopolist can still make a decent living."
The trip is done and over with now - and hopefully some of the glamour
and space-cadet glow would have faded from those who wanted to be
photographed with His Billness. Time for a reality check.
For buyers, it's time to consider how the very nature of software is
changing. From a point where the internet offered the ultimate open,
extensible infrastructure we now have offerings like Microsoft's
Palladium which, in the supposed name of security, takes the free, open
nature of TCP/IP: the platform under the internet, and adds proprietary
bits that will ensure that Microsoft controls and gets paid virtually
every time you go out of the gate onto the net.
You will also see new Microsoft licensing models that force you to pay
subscriptions from now till forever for whatever you use. You don't have
to accept it if you don't want to. There are alternatives.
Further, you will hear standard Microsoft FUD, as they call it
themselves (rumours that add to Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that Linux
is more expensive than Windows to implement. This is Redmond's new
global anti-Linux positioning - once they realized their earlier "Linux
is un-American and un-capitalistic" line actually ended up making it
more popular. Don't take anybody's word for it. Do your own study,
arrive at your own conclusions. More FUD is expected that Linux is
insecure - but this coming from notoriously bug-infested Microsoft is
like Saddam suddenly evangelizing humane democracy.
If you're a developer, keep an equally open mind. There are advantages
to being part of the Microsoft camp, especially if you want framed
photographs you can show your grandchildren - or your customers live
under a rock and will buy MS, no questions asked. For others, there is a
global market for Linux-based solutions that is rapidly developing. You
will have to re-adjust your thinking.
And as far as the Bill and Melinda Foundation to eradicate AIDS? A
wonderful effort by all means. The NGOs among you should strive to seek
connections and funding. And having to write up your reports in Word or
Excel is a small price to pay.
From: "Mahesh Murthy" <mahesh@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 23:59:55 +0530
Subject: [india-gii] Reposting column on BillG's visit
A few of you have asked for permission to repost this column.
Please feel free to do so at will, <with attributions to Business Today
and hopefully, me;)>
Also there's a rabid discussion on /. about the general topic: