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1.12.2006 | Von:
Fernanda Weiden

"Microsoft loves piracy"

And what are the limits?

We have to be aware that only giving people the tools, the technology, without telling them how to use them, is not enough. But there is also some research that says if people have access to technology as a natural part of their live, they tend to learn more about it. If they don't have access, it's on another planet, so they don't build interest in it. So we still have to invest in a lot of other things. Brazil has huge problems in education, for instance.

What are those other things, those prerequisites necessary to make open source software work for developing countries?

One thing is that the universities are not prepared for it yet, not only in developing countries, but also in developed ones. Most universities became a kind of – I will use a strong word – dog training centres. You spend four years of your live studying, and if the products you learned to work with are not at the market anymore when you leave university, you are completely screwed, because you didn't learn the technical fundamentals behind those products you used. They train you to be a consumer of technology.

Free software gives you this possibility to look at the fundamentals. And the universities have to realize that free software is not about new products, but that it puts you into contact with the essence of the technology. It's not "We only have the old version, so lets not study that program." You have access to high-level technology as much as you want. So it's important to build awareness of this in universities.

You already talked about Microsoft, and you are currently working for Google. What is the position of such large proprietary software companies of open source software movements in developing countries?

In Brazil, the two companies that are most visible to the IT community are Microsoft and IBM. Microsoft doesn't care about open source software. They want to learn how to destroy it. What they didn't notice is that they won't be able to destroy it, fortunately. Microsoft deals with free software as if it was dealing with car mechanics: We don't know about car mechanics, so we don't care.

IBM has a part that contributes to the community, and that's really nice. But their contribution to the community doesn't make them "good people". They think about their profit. They are seeing that free software is a way to more profit, so they contribute to the community. IBM has now huge development centres for free software around the world. I have worked for IBM, and when I left, there were 700 people in IBM that worked on free software. So they give a lot of help. But that doesn't make them less guilty for keeping other software proprietary. IBM is a lot of companies inside one company, and some are still making proprietary software.

Interview: Sebastian Deterding

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