Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pirated software

Friends of mine are often intrigued (in an admiring sense, I think) by my fundamental opposition to pirated software, for profound political, moral and religious reasons. They know that Saint William—if I can be allowed to speak of myself in the third person—makes a point of paying for every bit he uses (that last phrase sounds better in French than in English) and will only stoop to using unauthorized software products if they happen to drop off the rear end of a truck winding its way up along the Gamone track. Which is perfectly legitimate. As the saying goes, we shouldn't look at gift horses in the mouth while trying to lead them to drink.

For years, I've advanced the theory that the greatest element of Bill Gates's business sense—which enabled him to become the richest man on the planet—was the fact that, in the beginning, hordes of i-peasants like me were frankly invited to rip off Microsoft products. I used Word and Excel for years, but I don't recollect having ever sent off a check to their manufacturer. For the time being, all this great stuff was free. We became addicted. And the name of our dealer was Microsoft.

Today, it's quaintly funny to hear the top Microsoft executive Jeff Raikes saying explicitly that, if people are going to pirate software, then it's best that they pirate Microsoft software. Personally, I would agree entirely if only there were any Microsoft software that's worth pirating. Today, on my Macintosh, I've got a copy of Word, to be used on the rare occasions that antipodean friends might send me stuff created with this ugly antiquated software gargantua. As for the rest, I sincerely admire Bill Gates for his great philanthropic initiatives, but I wish he'd stop thinking of himself as a computer guy. To my humble mind, today, Microsoft is definitively out, while Linux and the Macintosh are in.

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