the microsoft cycle of life
Fri, Jun 30, 2006
Here’s an interesting thought. You know all those credit cards from organisations linked to the environment etc.? Spend 50 quid on your credit card and we’ll give 5% of that to a deserving charity? Stuff like that. Well, what if it extended to software? Buy this software and we’ll donate a percentage of the cost to charity. In a way, you can, if you take Bill Gates’s foundation at face value:
According to the stats for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they’ve given away 7 billion dollars. OK, at the same time, he handed over 75 billion dollars to his shareholders and donated his 3 billion dollar cut of the handover to his trust. But that’s still 7 billion dollars the foundation gave away. It basically has about 27 billion dollars to dish out to the needy causes. Perhaps the cynic might spot that the greatest donation was 1 billion dollars to the United Negro College Fund. An umbrella group for Negro colleges in the US. Colleges? Surely they’ll need computers and, well, software?
Gates’s stated aim is to “improve the lives of millions of people across the globe” and the foundation donates heavily to medical research to alleviate suffering in developing countries.
So in a small, very small, way, buying Microsoft software could be construed as a redistribution of wealth. Someone, somewhere could be cured of ill health because you bought Office. Never mind that idiotic paper clip nagging you from the corner of the screen, the crap spelling checker that wants to turn your prose into an Americanised flavour of English. Don’t be put off by the barrage of spam mail and worms and viruses crawling over your digital goods, let in by the software equivalent of open prisons. Nay, every wince and grimace elicited from your suffering being is another healthy person somewhere on the globe.
A healthy person who is in need of education, computers, software. Someone to replace you as a worn out Microsoft customer. Devoid of documents which were emailed into the ether by a worm, cashless as a virus found your bank details in a Textpad document and hounded by the police as a trojan found your credit card number and spent the lot on questionable porn.
The only solace is in open source, where at least you know your money, if you’ve any left, is going to keeping the developer’s beer belly in good order.