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Laurie Langham [opinions]

Ballmer’s Gold [microsoft] [steve-ballmer] [royalties]

Here, we have a mug-shot of Steven Anthony Ballmer—the same Ballmer who has been ranting and raving that the Free Software Movement has “stolen” code from his precious Microsoft Windows OS, and incorporated it into software which we... uh... “give away” for free.

Question please, Mr Ballmer;

If we “stole” our operating systems from Microsoft, then how come our operating systems never “crash” in the monotonously regular fashion that every Windows OS has done since Windows 3.11?

If we “stole” our operating systems from Microsoft, then how come our security isn’t so bad that any bored school-kid can hack into it between homework assignments?

If we “stole” our operating systems from Microsoft, then how come we don’t need to spend more than the GDP of many smaller countries, on advertising, that tries to brainwash the public into only “using” our operating systems?

If we “stole” our operating systems from Microsoft, then how come we don’t need to twist the arms off hardware manufacturers, to ensure that they only ship computers with “our” operating systems installed?

Therein, lies the rub, Mr Ballmer.

You claim we owe you money, for Microsoft “patents” you claim we are using.

But we have been paying you for years, Mr Ballmer, whether we’ve liked it, or not.

Microsoft? Really? They owe us money?

I went to buy a new Thinkpad last year, Mr Ballmer.

I asked Lenovo Australia which models were configured to run with GNU/Linux. They got very mysterious on me. They told me they had “heard” of such a model, that “might” be getting produced overseas sometime in the “near” future, but then inferred that actually getting hold of such a model, in Australia, might be a somewhat difficult undertaking.

When I asked further about this, “model”, they quoted the most exotic-level Thinkpad imaginable, with an even more exotic price-tag attached to it. No, indeed, they couldn’t sell me any unit without a Microsoft operating system installed; for reasons they couldn’t adequately explain.

Don’t come talking to us about “royalties”, Mr Ballmer; you owe us!

Seeing I had to cop Microsoft, anyway, I got my Thinkpad cheaper from someone else.

Guess how long that XP lasted, after I first got it booted up?

That’s right: exactly as long as it takes to get a Kubuntu-install disk into the slot.

Now, I had to pay you an undisclosed amount of money, Mr Ballmer, for the sheer joy of not having an operating system I don’t use infesting my computer.

Worse still, a couple of months later, I had to pay you the same amount, again, when I got a new desktop setup.

Microsoft has been ripping all of us off for years, Mr Ballmer, in a big way.

All of the millions upon millions of free software users around the world, have had to fork out undisclosed amounts of money to your company, for a product on every new computer they purchase, that they don’t want, didn’t request, and will never use.

Maybe it’s high time all the GNU/Linux users around the world commenced a class-action against Microsoft, attempting to recover the millions of dollars they’ve been unwillingly forced to pay to your corporation when purchasing new computer hardware.

We call it the “Microsoft Tax”, but none of us are laughing at our little joke, especially when you then take it upon yourself to threaten us and demand even more money from us, for giving us absolutely nothing.

You’ve got a colossal hide, Mr Ballmer, coming ’round to us with your palm outstretched, seeking gold, for any reason whatsoever.


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