Steve Ballmer & Co. are correct, using M$’s software without a licence is a competitive advantage to many. Of course those businesses could have the same advantage quite legally by using FLOSS. They would have a larger advantage, too: no legal liability, better performance and greater flexibility in how software is used. In my experience with XP versus GNU/Linux, GNU/Linux saves much more than the cost of licences: lower maintenance, longer-lived PCs, fewer re-re-reboots and much less malware. If illegally copying that other OS saves $2.9 billion, imagine tens of $billions gained by using FLOSS.
It’s interesting that the countries where M$ finds the most illegal copying, there is also the most use of FLOSS, too, Brazil, Russia, India and China. The benefits to the local economy by local entrepreneurs installing and supporting FLOSS is probably much larger than the licensing fees that M$ worries about. Let’s hope that M$ pushes hard to extort more money from the emerging markets of IT. That will only promote GNU/Linux, a better way to do IT. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux because for the same or lower effort than using that other OS or other distros of GNU/Linux, a business will have a much larger repository of FLOSS software, which permits accomplishing anything. A large competitive advantage comes from sharing the work of 1000 Debian developers organizing and building the repository so that the software works together and can easily be installed on almost any hardware.
There are lots of examples of businesses saving huge amounts on licensing going to FLOSS:
- Ernie Ball – “I know I saved $80,000 right away by going to open source.”
- French police – “ the Gendarmerie has saved up to €50 million on licensing and maintenance costs as a result of the migration strategy. He believes that the move from Windows to Ubuntu posed fewer challenges than the organization would have faced if it had updated to Windows Vista.“
- Amazon – “the e-commerce giant said it was able to cut technology expenses by about 25 percent, from $71 million to $54 million.”