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It’s Not a Donation, It’s Addictionware

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 8:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Telling apart good deeds from dumping

An issue that we alluded to about a week ago is Microsoft's endowment to schools, which is intended to just make more children dependent on Windows and Office. In turn, when entering employment, Microsoft’s products will be favoured by these students as a direct result of this… and also be paid for, so it’s really an investment, not a donation. Moreover, it is government-based promotion of software that denies people’s freedom.

This is not education, it’s subjugation.

This cycle of drugware (or “addictionware”) carries on, but Microsoft characterises the addiction of children as a “donation” while trying — or daring rather — to claim credit for it.

In today’s economy, as more people are finding themselves on the other side of the workforce, or unemployed, Microsoft is reconfirming its commitment to ensuring that people have the tools and the skills to be a more productive citizen and a better employee.

Microsoft understands the importance of technology job skills in today’s downsizing economy. In the last five years, Microsoft has given and matched employee gifts totaling more than $85.9 million in cash, curriculum and software to nonprofits throughout Illinois that help people in underserved neighborhoods gain workplace skills.

“It’s our goal at Microsoft to make sure that everyone has access to develop the technology skills needed to compete in today’s work environment,” said Shelley Stern, Microsoft’s citizenship director for the Central Region.

By “workplace skills” they refer to memorisation of menu layouts in Microsoft’s overpriced products that limit interoperability and mobility, by design.

“By “workplace skills” they refer to memorisation of menu layouts in Microsoft’s overpriced products that limit interoperability and mobility, by design.”Microsoft’s treatment of education is a farce. It mistreats/harms those who are supposedly educated and spins it as a positiver thing. As stated among these comments, “The marginal cost of the additional copies of each piece of donated software is mere pennies, but they claim hundreds of dollars. This is akin to stealing from taxpayers, as these are deductible as charitable donations and decrease their tax liability.”

Here is a new example of Microsoft ‘helping’ a foundation in Malta, using the notorious anti-GNU/Linux programme, better known as “Unlimited Potential.” The people of the foundation could happily use Free software and be in control of their destiny, but Microsoft stepped in.

Microsoft Malta, under the Unlimited Potential Scheme, supported Richmond Foundation by donating software which will enhance the operations of this non-governmental and non-profit making organisation.

It’s almost amusing that the author calls Unlimited Potential a “Scheme”, because that’s just what it is. We wrote about this scheme before [1, 2, 3, 4] and explained how it suffocates both users and competition.

School boy

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  1. aeshna23 said,

    January 3, 2009 at 12:08 am


    Roy gets quite a bit of feedback claiming that he is going too far on some minor issue or another. The funny thing is that when Roy comments on the big issue or the things that really matter, no response is given. This makes sense as it is far easier to criticize than to praise. Yet, this shouldn’t make us lose sight of the overall points such as what is addressed in this post.

    And before we criticize Roy for perhaps a bit of paranoia on the trivial issues, we should ask who is wise enough to make the big picture critiques and still not mess up the details? Look at the prophets in the Tanach or “Old Testament” in Christian parlance. They made important critiques of Jewish society at the time, but often were complete loons.

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 3, 2009 at 4:43 am


    In this case even Roy understates the seriousness of the threat here.

    On additional aspect of the problem is that the kids will build up portfolios (for lack of a better word) of data in formats that can only be accessed via MS products and even then at the whim of MS.

    One case in point is the damage to the file formats the “demo” versions of MSO 2007 caused. For average users and even lower-end power users, that was irreversible damage.

    Another is the assault MS Windows is making on video and audio. Try playing Quicktime or MPEG now on a legacy system. Can’t can you?

  3. Brian Assaf said,

    January 4, 2009 at 2:51 pm


    Great article.
    I’m glad I started with commodore 64′s in elementary school. The machines were already out of date at the time… But the concepts were more important than using some specific applications. Once you grasp them, you can use or learn to use just about anything.

    GNU/Linux is my choice now of course.

    As for memorization of menu layouts, I thought the next Windows will use a “ribbon”, so people would have to relearn? No?

    These schools should just say thanks for the cash and computers. And say, thanks anyway, to the software, which MS names the price tag on, then donates…

    Simply by installing a Linux distribution on these gifted wares. Thus, they can completely avoid the Microsoft upgrade treadmill and hopefully the students will learn that there is software out there that can accomplish a lot, without holding the user hostage.

    I think for some, forced upon Windows… When I used it, I recall it being “crappy” more often than not. If the software quality is at that level, some students may just hate it. Keeping in mind Apple also ensured they gave schools deals, they didn’t create legions of Apple users.

  4. Charles Oliver said,

    January 5, 2009 at 4:57 am


    This seems very much like the puppy dog close. What later sells the product is the amount of data stored whilst using it for free and ignorance of alternatives, rather than that it’s super cute.

  5. zaine_ridling said,

    January 5, 2009 at 7:40 pm


    Anyone not using open source office software this far into the 21st century is setting themselves — and their businesses — in for a painful, expensive day of reckoning. Microsoft’s proprietary formats are not even compatible among themselves over the past dozen years, meaning, if you did not upgrade that copy of MS Office over the years, the latest one won’t open that document from the 90s, or at the least won’t display it properly. MS-OOXML code alone is as bad as anything Apple has ever written.

    Where I work, there was a college kid who thought we needed MS Office 2007 and lobbied hard for it. I explained to our budget committee in front of him and all the department chairs how much that POS would cost the company every year, including the costs of maintaining data in proprietary formats, and then I said that OpenOffice and other apps, including Google Docs, use ODF, all for free. The money saved from buying Microsoft products could be reinvested in new monitors, chairs, or hardware for everyone.

    We use OpenOffice, and the college kid is seen as a tool, who because he had no other skills, was going to cost us a fortune in licensing fees for something we didn’t need.

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