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How Does One Put a Price Tag on GNU/Linux and Free Software?

As you may already know, Microsoft's goal is to make Linux more expensive. The deals with Linux distributors have other effects (including document formats, interoperability costs, and so forth), but one key goal is to make Linux an operating system that is no longer free. Alternatively, the goal is to at least 'cripple' all versions (distributions) of Linux that are not paid for. Microsoft wishes to receive money no matter whose product you buy, even where rival software developed by volunteers is concerned.

A few hours ago, the following exhibit from the Comes vs Microsoft case came to my attention. It illustrates yet another method devised by Microsoft for making Linux more expensive than Windows [PDF].

OEMs are forced to forfeit all discounts otherwise earned if they ship any "naked machines" to consumers. This heightened restriction, which (on information and belief) continues to the present, prohibits PC users and PC retailers from buying and installing lower priced or better quality operating systems of their choice.


This is a very large document. It's a petition which is definitely worth reading if you wish to know more about Microsoft's history of anticompetitive practices. Remember that Microsoft settled this case very quickly and had these exhibits virtually removed from the Web (later to realise that Groklokian had already grabbed complete mirrors).

Let us carry on and see what Microsoft is doing at present. There are shades of SCO. A few weeks back, a deposition of Darl McBride was analysed to find that he had dreams about making billions out of Linux, based on unsubstantiated claims and FUD. If you take a look at this new short article, then surely you'll see the similarity between SCO's tactics and Microsoft's latest tactics.

SCO's tactics in this fiasco have been to try to scare corporate Linux users into buying SCO's protection licenses to avoid possible future litigation and creating a smoke screen of doubt in the Linux market.


So there you have it. Microsoft and SCO are not only financially connected. They are mentally connected, as well. If you buy Xandros, Linspire, or SUSE Linux, then you simply help Microsoft get its way.

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