Over the last month or so, readers of the TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog have been discussing the Windows operating system and software piracy. With its large market share, the Windows operating system is predictably one of the most pilfered pieces of software around. Whether the reasons for using an improperly licensed copy of Windows can ever be justified has been the main focus of the debate so far, but with this poll, I'd like to take on a different angle.
One of the recurring themes I have noticed in the discussions is the idea that the Windows operating system should be made available to more people who cannot afford to pay the asking price. The implication is that Windows skills are a necessary part of a person's life experience when seeking employment and that pricing the operating system out of a large part of the population's capability to obtain it puts them at a disadvantage in the marketplace.
Should we, as a society in the electronic technology age, consider access to the predominant operating system of the period a fundamental right? Does not having experience with the Windows operating system put one at a disadvantage when looking for gainful employment? Does the justification for using improperly icensed copies of Windows in the developing world hinge on the fact that an operating system equals opportunity?
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Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.