The Endemic Problem with Free Products

Rob Enderle is an interesting character. He writes diatribes of various sorts, most of which appear to be works for hire. His latest example is The Endemic Problem with Free Products. In this diatribe he tries to show that “Free” products won’t be supported properly, and won’t deliver the value that “Expensive” products will.

The problem from his point of view, is that there is a damned lot of free products out there, and they are often better than the paid products. Linux, BSD, and Open Solaris are all superior to Windows in performance and capabilities. In fact Windows greatest “Expensive” rival Mac OS X is built on one of the BSD variants.

So why, when he is so demonstratively wrong, did he write this? I believe it’s because he was paid to write this, to try to make sure that those who don’t know any better, never learn about the free alternatives. Note that he didn’t attack OS X. OS X isn’t free. It’s not an alternative to Windows, because you have to buy a Mac to get it.

But it isn’t operating systems that Enderle is really trying to protect. What he’s trying to protect is Microsoft Office.

Microsoft Business Division, which includes the Office product line produces 32.33% of Microsoft Corporation’s revenues. But it produces 59.62% of Microsoft’s Operating Income. Go look for yourself if you don’t believe me.

So what happens if more people adopt Google Apps or Open Office? It attacks Microsoft’s most profitable products. Microsoft is attempting to cut unlicensed use of Office by extending Windows Genuine Disadvantage to Office. This has been covered by several reputable news organizations.

If you are one of those who is using an unlicensed copy of Microsoft Office, why not get legal? It won’t cost you anything. Open Office can legally downloaded and used by anyone. Or you can use Google Docs with their collaboration features.

Of course Microsoft won’t like this. But Microsoft liking things is not a major concern to most of us. What is a concern is getting things done, and getting things done legally.

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