I clicked 'click here to enlarge' but I'm still the same size!

Happy Software Freedom Day - and I got a present!

Date/Time Permalink: 09/16/06 05:15:32 pm
Category: General

Today is Software Freedom Day, a time to celebrate... well, the idea that we will some day free the technology that rules our world from the clutches of tyranny. I was going to say celebrate free software per se, but we've far from won that war. But we edge closer every year.

On this day of all days, I got mailed a present: A legal notice to Iowa Consumers and Businesses notifying us that we may participate in the class-action lawsuit against Microsoft. The case is Joe Comes, et al v. Microsoft Corporation, No. CL82311. I can assume that everybody who lives in the state of Iowa is now looking at one of these notices. If you're wondering if this is for real, check out the page at the Iowa State Bar Association.

To quote in part from the Legal Notice to Microsoft Software Purchasers:

The Plaintiffs claim Microsoft violated Iowa's antitrust laws by monopolizing and unreasonable restraining trade in the markets for Intel-compatible personal computer operating system software, and applications software. The Plaintiffs claim that Microsoft harmed Class Members by illegally overcharging for its software, by denying Class Members free choice in software products and the benefits of software innovation, and by making computers increasingly susceptible to security breaches.

Full text here.

It's about damn time somebody noticed, isn't it? I have never typed in a paragraph more lovingly than the above. I relish the words. This, my fellow citizens of the net, may be the beginning of our liberation at long last. Although the US government and the EU have already gone after the Redmond Tyrant, seeing it on a state level is a next step forward.

For a change, citizens have it in front of themselves in black and white; it's not just a bunch of guys on Cspan talking about computers. Citizens of my state, most of them for the first time, are being made aware that they really are victims. The people will at last discover that their nightmare with technology has been caused by just one company, and that in fact technology can be our friend, if someone isn't directing it against us all the time.

I will of course be following this, but even if it goes through, don't get your hopes up. The settlement will be tiny sums distributed to the masses; nothing near repaying the true costs of productivity lost to security issues, technology users enduring a decade of vicious bullying, mom and pop startups driven out of business, discouraged computer science students, and the decades of advancement we could have had all of this time, instead of one monopoly trying to freeze computers and customers for all eternity since 1994.

Consider: computers are necessary parts of business, industry, and government. Hospitals, airports, government offices use computers. Were it not for Microsoft gumming up the works, how many more new things could have been invented? Could we have caught more terrorists? Treated more patients? Educated more people? It stands to reason that we most certainly could, and the reason we could not is because we, as a human race, have been too busy fighting with our own computers instead of using those computers as the tools they were meant to be.

As Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle put it, "That's the thing about people who think they hate computers. What they really hate is lousy programmers."

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