"Microsoft loves piracy"
Governments of developing countries promote open source software – why?
I will talk more about Latin America because that is where I come from. There are two bigger initiatives: One of them is in Brazil, the other in Venezuela. The Brazilian government decided to adopt free software as a way to break the dependency that proprietary software creates with the vendors of this technology. They started to ask themselves: I as a government have data, have files which are not mine. Why should I store all this data in a format which I will not be able to read in the future if I don't keep paying licences? How can I develop a local technology industry? And most importantly: How can I give my people access to technologies?
When I talk about free software, I always emphasize that it's about freedom, that freedom is the most important thing about it. But there are other things that come together with that. Developing countries like Brazil, Venezuela or others do not have the money to give their people access to technology in the way that the market imposes up until now. It's just not possible.
Another thing that they started to realize is: Even if a company comes into their country and gives them the software for free – what will happen in the future? They always give it away for free today so that you will pay for it tomorrow. Microsoft loves piracy. They are the greatest fans of it, because the more their products are copied, the more people will get used to them and demand to use them in the future. Microsoft will not go to your house, see if you're using pirated software and make you pay a fine, but Microsoft will go to your company – and the software you know and use at home is the software you want to use in your working environment.
To break this chain of dependency was the first reason why the Brazilian government decided to adopt free software. The second was that they implement most of the free software with open standards, so that if they want to change to other technology or free software in the future, they will be able to do that. Depending on which kind of solution you buy from a proprietary software company, you have no options: You cannot choose your vendor, you cannot choose who delivers support. You are always dependent. The whole business model is based on keeping you dependent.
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