Doug Karr's original post... When I tried to respond to Doug's questions my answer just seemed to grow beyond a comment post... so I put it here...
What follows will appear to be off-topic initially but I assure you it will circle around to the issues that you have brought up...
I am a dyed-in-the-wool Slackware Linux advocate. I am particular about Slackware. I am particular about Linux. These two combined means that I am particular about Open Source Software. This in turn means that I am particular about “free” software.
I have had the luxury, the inclination, the opportunity and the technological resources to become a moderately fluent Linux 'Business' user. (I have 7 linux servers in production providing a number of "back office" services (e.g. firewalls, proxy, HTTP, router/gateway, alpha-numeric paging, and network management).) It has taken time and effort to capitalize on my situation. Time and effort that most likely is not available to Joe Average.
I have sampled many of the mainstream Linux distributions (distros). I have had the opportunity to try a myriad of avant-nerdy-custom distros.
[I am supposed to add here; not for the faint of heart.]
Linux is born on the back of Open Source Software (OSS).
The business model that has evolved out of
This business model extends to individual applications as well. PostgreSQL, the RDBMS with the difficult to pronounce name, is a very good example. PostgreSQL is readily available for download at no cost. It comes complete with _very_ comprehensive documentation. Additionally there are publicly accessible forums where usage discussions and even some problem solving is available, again for free. If however you want or need to please the PHB by being able to point to a service contract that stipulates the terms of support - PostgreSQL is more than happy to oblige, for a price. Do not mistake my levity in this matter for a slight against PostgreSQL.
After all that Slackware Linux OSS evangelizing I now put on my professional hat: I am the Manager of Information Systems for a mid-sized manufacturing concern here in the mid-west. We do business the old fashioned way - Microsoft Windows: 9 Servers and 70+ desktops. We use Windows as a business resource because that is what our most important business resources, people, are trained and proficient with. We use Windows because our second most valuable business resources, our customers, use Windows. We use Windows because the business applications we depend on are Windows based. So, regardless of my personal preference I am a staunch supporter of Microsoft Windows.
I have also 'enjoyed' the polite invitation from Microsoft to run an internal audit and verify that all of my PCs and servers running Windows were and are duly licensed. I assumed that if I had not complied with their polite request I would have ended up on a list to be visited by the BSA. I am not a lawyer and I do not suggest that I fully understand the dotted "i's" and crossed 't's" of the EULA but I am relatively sure Microsoft was and will continue to be within their rights to respectfully offer such 'Invitations'. My position, whether I personally like it or not, is that I do business using Microsoft products and I am honor bound to adhere to a contractual agreement regarding their use.
As to the cost verses the worth of Microsoft products I have one observation; contemporary OS and software customers expect the same functionality from their home PC that they do from their business PC. In many cases people have higher expectations from their personal computers than they do of the PCs that they use at work. I believe this disparity of expectation significantly colors the "supply and demand" market influences. To put a finer point of this I believe that Microsoft is on the right track offering 'Windows Lite' to burgeoning third world nations who have severely limited technological resources. (I know, this is a departure from my pervious rant regarding Microsoft pricing schedule. See Microsoft Redux ) On the other hand, if Joe Average expects his home PC to perform as well or better than his office PC then Joe should be expected to pay for that performance.
The problem is that Windows is not a qualifiable or even quantifiable product. It does not wear out nor is it [intentionally] designed to stop working after a specified period of time. It is not, in and of itself, a dependable income generator over time. That coupled with the fact that software (
So it would appear that Microsoft is in the unenviable position of having to establish and then protect its product in order to realize a monetary return.