Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Windows vs Linux Reason 4

Español | Deutsche | Français | Italiano | Português

You're probably saying to yourself: "Oh, I didn't pay for Windows". Are you absolutely sure? If your computer came with a copy of Windows, then you paid for it, even if the store didn't tell you about it. The price for a Windows license amounts to an average of one fourth of each new computer's price. So unless you obtained Windows illegally, you probably paid for it. Where do you think Microsoft gets its money from?

Another thing, you don’t own it! It’s like the road system and your driver’s license. You bought and paid for your license, but do you own the highway? Some of us drive like we do, but no, we don’t own the road. We have purchased the right to use it. It’s the same with Microsoft Windows and most purchased software. You bought the right to use it. The ugly thing about that is that Microsoft has been talking about changing their licensing procedures to force you to re-purchase the license on an annual basis. Microsoft owns the software on your system! If they wanted to, they could come to your door and demand its return. Don’t believe me? Get out the EULA (End User Licensing Agreement), that nobody really reads, and take a look for yourself. Nowhere in that document does Microsoft transfer ownership of your copy of Windows to you, the user.

On the other hand, you can get Linux completely free of charge. That's right, all those people all around the world worked very hard to make a neat, secure, efficient, good-looking system, and they are giving their work away for everybody to use freely. If you wonder why these guys do such things, drop me an email and I'll try to explain the best I can. ;-) Of course, some companies are doing good business by selling support, documentation, hotline, etc. for their own version of Linux, and this is certainly a good thing. But most of the time, you won't need to pay a cent. In fact, if you buy a copy of Linux from a retail store, what you are paying for are the physical CDs (or media), books, and the pretty box along with a limited length of time support contract.

With Linux, you own the software. You can’t buy a license for it like Windows because the concept is not used. You have a document similar to the EULA that is called the ‘Copyleft’. All it really says is that if you make changes to the source code and you wish to allow others to use it, you can do so, after doing a couple things like making sure the previous developers names are kept in the documentation and you don’t charge folk for getting your application. Otherwise, it is yours to do with as you wish.

The question now becomes, “Is it really free?” The answer is yes. You can access the Internet and download all sorts of distributions, free of charge. Well, free except for the connection charge you pay monthly to access the Internet. But compared to the charges you pay for a Windows license, which have been announced for Vista ($300+), you can’t find a better deal.