, they need training. According to the article some African countries the average annual salary is $160!!!
OK, think a little farther down the line. What happens when you’re living in one of these developing nations and you’ve taken Microsoft’s courses? They are now calling you an MCPs or MCSEs or whatever acronym they want to use. Your salary still won’t be much over $160 / year. How the hell are you going to afford a computer, let alone pay $400 for Office or $150 – $200 on Windows XP? Office is going to be over double your yearly salary!!
OK, think about nations that are a bit more developed now. For example, I’m here in Argentina. The expertise and training already exist. At least in the metropolitan areas. Heck theres a cybercafe on every block. You have people with computers who earn maybe $1,200 pesos (roughly $400 US) per month. In many cases thats if you’re lucky enough to even be able to find a job. So now you’re spending your monthly salary on a piece of software like Office? At least its not double your *yearly salary* but its more than what most people pay for rent here.
So how does everyone get by in Buenos Aires? They *pirate* software. And we aren’t talking about piracy in the US. Company’s actually order software from piracy services. You send someone an e-mail or make a phone call and they send a bike messenger over with your CD full of software for $10 – 20 pesos per cd. I have not seen a single legal license of Windows, Office or any other software since I started traveling to Argentina over 3 years ago.
Actually if you think about it Microsoft is completely right. Microsoft realizes this. They count on the piracy. Their goal isn’t to help developing nations actually *develop*. Oh, thats a great side-effect that their PR company will be more than happy to publicize. But their real goal is to get everyone hooked on the drug they sell. They want everyone to use windows, be trained on windows, and live Windows. They want their products to become to entrenched in peoples lives that they cannot live or do their jobs with out. As soon as they reach that goal they will start to crack down on software piracy in these developing nations and they’ll reap their rewards.
This is why free software is the only choice for developing nations. They can’t afford to deal with licensing costs, EULAs and other barriers that will hamper development. That is why the work done by Richard Stallman, Jon “maddog” Hall, and Mark Shuttleworth is so important. Thats why Argentina and Brazil are some of the top users of free software.