[Bill Gates]

"He who sells what his isn't
Must buy it back or go to pris'n."

Microsoft Windows Refund for New Zealand - Report

By: Dr Anand Venkataraman, UniForum NZ
Ph: (06) 350 4186

Ok, the words I put into Billy Gates' mouth this time aren't his own. They belonged to Daniel Drew, the legendary and notorious stock market manipulator of the 1860s who made and lost millions by short selling stock of the infamous Erie Railroad with his associates Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer, Oops, make that Jay Gould and Jim Fisk.

But I thought it will bear special relevance to the Windows Refund effort if and when Microsoft refuses to hand out refunds and the OEMs in their turn followed suit as we were led to believe from their comments.

That's what I thought, that is, until about 5pm on Monday 15 Feb. There was an awful lot of nibbles, cheese and wine and less than twenty people to consume them. Not one had brought along a pack of Windows to return to Microsoft, saving us a valuable trip to its office the next day and me the time and effort required to launch Plans B and C.

Before the bubbles hit my head and between my cheddar burps I remember thinking "Well, have I done my job as co-ordinator?"

The answer to this is that I personally consider it a most satisfactory event. It couldn't have been better, unless of course, we had had the forethought to include some creamy brie to complement the sharpness of aged cheddar.

A few years ago, an alternative operating system like Linux had few software packages available for it. It also had a small installed base. Today there are a number of top-of-the-line desktop software packages available for Linux. And it still has a rather small installed base compared to Windows. Why?

I think a remark in response to my previous article by Guy Haycock, NZ Marketing Manager for Microsoft, is probably pertinent here. In the recent Computer World article Mr Haycock is quoted as saying:

"Some people might prefer that PCs were shipped without operating systems, but that's not very good for mom 'n' pop."

Very nice, but I think he is mistaken to cast mom 'n' pop in it. Granmom 'n' granpop would have been better. Indeed, even that I seriously doubt given that the older that people get, the more cautious they are and the more they tend to insist we do our homework before making purchases.

The real reason why people want PCs with Windows on it is because mom 'n' pop are carefully conspired from discovering that Microsoft isn't a hardware company that is etching silicon wafers with Windows code. Most people tend to think that Windows is part of the hardware and thus insist upon getting it when buying a PC. If only they knew the closely guarded secret that Windows isn't the only game in town, and that there are high-quality, free OSes available for them to choose from, I can't imagine they will want to give proprietary OSes a second look.

To this end, I believe that the event, thanks to coverage by the media and the Press, especially, Computerworld, has been quite successful. Keep an eye on this site for links to follow-up articles in Computerworld about responses to the Refund Effort in NZ and the rest of the world.

If even one more person than before knows that there is a viable, free and high-quality alternative to Windows now available, that indicates the UniForum initiative has been entirely satisfactory.