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Open Source

Can you really declare independence from Microsoft?

Microsoft is kind of like the weather. Everybody complains about their software, but nobody does anything about. Can you *really* declare independence if you wanted to? I'm not so sure. Here's why.

Microsoft is kind of like the weather. Everybody complains about their software, but nobody does anything about. Can you *really* declare independence if you wanted to? I'm not so sure. Here's why.

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232 years ago, 13 British colonies declared independence from England and formed what was to become the United States Of America. The whole quarrel was basically over taxes and tyranny so we've been taught in our history classes.

An analogy can be drawn between the British throne of 1776 and Microsoft today. We hear constantly of the Microsoft 'taxes' placed on equipment and IT budgets. We struggle under the tyranny of forced upgrades and software that stifles creativity and productivity.

At least that's the story we're lead to believe. Much like the cartoon versions we get of American forefathers where George Washington chops down the cherry tree, we get a cartoon version of Microsoft and Bill Gates.

Is Microsoft really as bad as some people would have you believe?  Is it even possible to declare independence from Microsoft or would you want to?

The paths to Independence

Most often when people say we should abandon Microsoft they point to one of two solutions, depending on what their platform of choice is. On one hand, you have those which say we should all move to Macs, which another group advocates moving entirely to Linux and an Open Source model.

Many organizations and governments have tried to do such a thing with moderate success, so it's not impossible. It's just not quite as easy as you'd be lead to believe.

On the Mac front, it's extremely ironic how Macophiles will tout the advantages of OS X on one hand but then claim an important reason to choose something like a Macbook is because you can dual-boot Windows on it. They also point to the fact that the Mac is a great choice because Microsoft makes a version of Office that runs on it. In the process Apple only offers partial 'independence'.  You can run all of the software you want on your Mac, but Apple makes sure it doesn't completely alienate Microsoft in the process.

Linux on the other hand seems to boldly and proudly tout itself as being completely independent of Microsoft, although open source programs can be used to talk to it through things like Samba and filters in Open Office. Linux proponents go so far as to claim there's nothing Linux can't do.

The problem is, the value proposition on a large scale with Linux is oversold. Every year has been the year of Linux On The Desktop since before the turn of the century. Linux inches closer, but it's still not there yet. There's more choice with Windows when it comes to hardware support and software availability. Central administration is still difficult with Linux, which makes it a hard sale for many businesses. Plus, even though it took Microsoft 5 years to get from XP to Vista, at least the slower upgrade cycle made XP easier to support. Linux revs so fast that it's hard to keep up with. As soon as you'd get it tested and deployed in an organization a new version would be out to have to test and redeploy.

Even if you could guide your organization off of Microsoft products, you'd still have to deal with customers, vendors and employees who still use Microsoft stuff.  You'd find yourself much like the colonies - independent, but having to trade with the British Empire.

Is Independence possible?

What do you think? Is it possible to declare independence from Microsoft? Or does it really matter? Take the poll below and sound off in Comments.

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