Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Steve Ballmer's Thoughts On Free Software 263

Posted by Hemos
from the there's-a-slow-change-coming dept.
An anonymous reader writes, "Steve Ballmer during a 3-day visit to India was asked about whether Free software is the future of India. And he effectively circumvented the question and answered that in the future, software businesses can look at a number of revenue streams such as subscription fees, lower cost hardware, advertising and of course traditional transaction. What is amusing is that in answering the question, he refuses to use the word 'free' or anything close to it."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Steve Ballmer's Thoughts On Free Software

Comments Filter:

  • I was just in India this year (Spring 2006) for almost a month on a tour of Eastern Europe and Western India. The primary focus of the trip was to see how gold bullion affected areas with poverty and reduced labor. I was shocked at the competitive and relatively free market of India -- I also saw why so many people were gaining wealth and blowing open the tech community -- they were driven versus what I am familiar with in the States.

    That being said, I don't think Ballmer was wrong to dance around the que
    • by eggsurplus (631231) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:15PM (#16824356) Journal
      How was this all formulated and typed within one minute of the news posting?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LeninZhiv (464864) *
        Subscribers can see the stories before the riff-raff (but posting is only possible after the official publication). This actually works out well for everyone, since it increases the chances that some of the early comments might be actually be on-topic and thought through rather than endless 'first post' mispellings. And subscribers can visit sites before they're slashdotted.
        • by dada21 (163177) *
          Exactly. I "read" slashdot through my RSS newsreader, so I don't really pay attention to whether or not something is publicly visible or not. When I see something that is interesting, and if I have a few minutes to throw some notes up, I'll create my reply and send it -- usually by the time I finish my reply it is already live so it works well.

          I'm sort of surprised how often I'll get a first post, though, even though I'm not looking for it. Where are the other subscribers? Maybe they don't read via RSS
          • Every once in a while there will be a link on top of the front page that you can click and watch some ads and earn a small subscription (a days worth basically) but its not permanent.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          Easy,

          He is a schill. dada21 often claims how he is some millionaire with these new concepts and ideas. I don't buy it. I think you should question it too. He sounds like a hired snake oil salesman.

          • by dada21 (163177) *
            It is possible that I am a shill, but I have ALWAYS said why I come to slashdot: for personal gain in information and to promote the foundations of anarcho-capitalism to an audience that seems to be listening (looking at the growth of pro-free market techies here).

            I'm NOT a millionaire -- I live in a mobile home, I drive a 96 Toyota Corolla, and I reinvest almost all my profits into new risky ventures or into ventures for others. But I may LIVE like a millionaire because my cost of living is about 80% lowe
      • by quokkapox (847798) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:42PM (#16825606)
        The little asterisk next to his nickname means he's an anarcho-capitalist. They are able to think and type much more rapidly than garden-variety Pinko-Commie/Libertarian Slashdotters.
    • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:18PM (#16824402) Journal
      The entire Indian economy is run in a balanced Statist-Anarchist way. If you buy anything large (car, house, land, business) you pay a small portion of "white" money (that is heavily taxed) and a big portion of "black" money (that is under the table, and often comes in the form of bullion). That's awesome -- people realize what a burden the State is, and they work around it.


      And how are they working around the extreme poverty? And social services?

      Yes, I thought so.

      • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:24PM (#16824484) Homepage Journal
        Social services in India are a joke -- the black market provides much more for the poor at a cheaper price. I got a terrible high fever in Europe (over 104) and was treated perfectly by an Indian doctor in a black market-type clinic. I paid cash (Rupees) and I couldn't believe how little they asked for the help. Would I get surgery in that clinic? I doubt it. But the fever was treated professionally, in a clean atmosphere, with no wait time. I saw enough poor people in that same clinic and in talking to them realized that there were numerous doctors who ran inexpensive clinics for everyone. The biggest dilemma was the social services officials who jailed (and possibly killed, alledgely) the black market clinics that competed with the terrible free ones.

        As for extreme poverty, I saw a lot of poor people doing what they needed to do to get out of that situation -- caused by the high taxes and tyranny that existed within the socialist schemes. Some poor people recycled what they found in the trash (one lady we met with in a poor area actually bought her house by recycling water bottles over 10 years). Some poor people sold coconuts to tourists (very lucrative at 25 cents per coconut). Some poor people did horrific things -- but I've seen indebted Americans do horrific things, too. Overall, I saw people with their eyes glistening for opportunity rather than what I see in my own country -- poor people who submit to the State to take care of everything.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NDPTAL85 (260093)
          Let me get this straight. You were in Europe, land of free health care, and you went to a black market doctor ANYWAY?

          Are you nuts?
          • by dada21 (163177) *
            I first went to a private clinic in Warsaw. The wait for free health care for my fever was about 3 weeks. The private clinic cost me about US$25, and the doctor said I should just stay in bed for a week and take some pills. I had a flight to India that was not cancelable, which I had to cancel (cost me about US$3000) but I traveled a few days later because I felt better. Then the REAL fever hit, heh.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I work for one of the main players of the Indian IT world, and I'm currently in my 4th month of living here out of 6. I can definitely say confirm two thins about the parent: people are very driven by the entrepreneurial spirit, and they could care less about ads. Ever since the socialist veil was lifted it's been incredibly easy for anyone to get a business up and running. It's actually creating problems of it's own. The tailor I go to says that they have a high turnover rate after they train their tailors
    • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:42PM (#16824710)

      I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support.

      For most people it's email, office applications, web browser, solitaire. I keep seeing this support argument tossed around and every time I ask myself - honestly, how much support does someone actually need?

      I used to do end-user support for a living (think Geek Squad-like work). And 99% of the time, it was getting rid of spyware/viruses. Most people really don't need more than that, in my experience.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Jesapoo (929240)
        Most people, when referring to the support needed, are talking about Companies, not Individuals.

        If MegaWidgets, Inc. has its email and web servers crash and can't sell any Widgets, then that's when you need support.

        You start losing money at a rapid, rapid rate when key services drop. In business, you can't afford to be out of the game for any length of time.
        • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:51PM (#16826610)

          Most people, when referring to the support needed, are talking about Companies, not Individuals.

          You make a valid point about business. Downtime is lost money and that adds up fast. But - the original poster's point is the following:

          I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support.

          Most of the computers running today are not business computers. They are end-users. To apply a business metric to these users is incorrect, IMHO. Your average user doesn't need tier-1 24/7 support.

          Using this as an argument against open source is misleading.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:46PM (#16824764) Homepage Journal

      I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support. I'd rather see ad-bloated "free" software like Google Mail than bug-ridden memory-leaking software like Thunderbird. I use Firefox, but it is still a memory leaker that competes well with IE in terms of falling apart over a few hours of work.

      The problem with web services is that they are just that - services. You are not in control of your data. Granted, you can use gmail as a pop account and utilize encryption securely that way, but that's not what you mean and it's not what I mean, either. For many people this is all right, but for those of us who care about privacy, it is mandatory. Now, with that said, I use gmail for any communications that I don't care about keeping secure, because it is quite good. However, I also use thunderbird for other mail, and I have a work account and a personal account which I use with it.

      Incidentally, if you find thunderbird frustrating, I'm interested in what you think of Outlook. Outlook is very unreliable itself. I was using it for a while so I could try out a Franklin-Covey planning application (which turned out to be pretty lame anyway) and I just sort of kept using it for a while because I was already using it - until one day, without any help from me beyond possibly allowing some security updates at some point, it stopped retrieving my mail and I went back to Thunderbird.

      Firefox, by the way, may be a memory leaker, but IE7 is the least responsive IE yet (in terms of the UI) and its memory use has come down to practically nothing relative to how it has been. In fact IE often uses more memory than Firefox on my system now. But just as importantly, Firefox is standards-based, it receives security updates dramatically more rapidly than IE, it has a much richer architecture that allows much more powerful plugins to be donated by the community... No, there are many compelling reasons to use it over IE that have nothing to do with ideology.

      The Indians will want nothing to do with it. India has a history of thousands of years of being capitalists -- only recently did we really see socialism take over

      Socialism is a red herring. (Couple decades ago, it was communism... ah, how the rhetoric changes, and how it stays the same.) Free software doesn't mean you can't make money. It means that you sell services. This only makes sense - over time there is less and less difference between software packages, not more and more; they all tend to pick the low-hanging fruit first with only limited exceptions which are driven by monetarily directed development, which is to say that some company commits to buying a zillion seats if it does x. Thus they all tend to converge on the same point, or at least wander more or less towards it. At that point the only differentiating feature is service. The Open Source community is in a better position to provide service simply because of its size.

      In actuality, this model moves us closer to the ideal of the free market, because those who are best able to provide the service are the ones who are in the best position to profit from it. The person who is best suited to develop the new feature is the one who (ostensibly) gets the job. The people who need it the most pay for it.

      The Indians are already grasping the idea of advertising-funded online media, so maybe the next step is some sort of "use it for free" software -- but we all have to see that paid software seems to be better supported that truly free software.

      I'd like to believe that, but my experience tells me different. In fact most commercial software gets worse and worse as time goes by, not better and better, until it is a big pile of crap that collapses under its own weight and is replaced by the new hotness. On the other hand, Free softwar

    • ...and I do see how Microsoft wouldn't care about free software because it isn't on their radar screen. I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support. I'd rather see ad-bloated "free" software like Google Mail than bug-ridden memory-leaking software like Thunderbird. I use Firefox, but it is still a memory leaker that competes well with IE in terms of falling apart over a few ho

    • by El Torico (732160) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:54PM (#16824880)
      Interesting first post; I have been to India twice and have seen many of the remarkable changes brought by Narasimha Rao's and Dr. Manmohan Singh's economic liberalization. It is another example of what improvements can be made when a nation decides to discard the failed ideology of Communism.

      However, India has a very serious problem that you appear to view as a virtue.

      The entire Indian economy is run in a balanced Statist-Anarchist way. If you buy anything large (car, house, land, business) you pay a small portion of "white" money (that is heavily taxed) and a big portion of "black" money (that is under the table, and often comes in the form of bullion). That's awesome -- people realize what a burden the State is, and they work around it. The same will be true of the "free" software drive there -- people will realize that they can gain without causing other people to lose -- by finding a way to subsidize whatever the future is of the software market.

      What you are referring to when you say "black" money is tax evasion, and it is a means of corruption. I don't see how it can be compared to open source software. Can you (or someone else) explain this analogy? I don't see it.

      Also, the State can be a burden, but the degree that it is a burden is ultimately under the control of the populace. The State is a necessity; order will always be imposed, contrary to what anarchists fantasize, since order is necessary.

      • by dada21 (163177) *
        The black market is a great function for society in India versus society in the U.S. In India, the bureacracy is so corrupt already that people are rarely afraid of the law. If you pay a significant sum in black market dollars, you'll likely also pay some money to the law to keep them out of the process.

        All forms of taxes come from a cost-benefit analysis, even if you don't realize you're doing it. In India, people KNOW their government is worthless, so they only give just enough in white market money to
        • by jdavidb (449077) *

          Did you see this article about tax collection in India [timesonline.co.uk] this weekend off of LRC? I was astounded to read this paragraph:

          About 4 per cent of India's population pay tax, an improvement on 2 per cent last year, but still a pitiful statistic for one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

          I hate that it's assumed to be pitiful that most people don't pay tax. That's like the insanity here in America of assuming it's pitiful that so many people don't get healthcare insurance.

          • That is an amazing statistic.

            Maybe the US government can send them Lon Horiuchi, as a gift.
          • by El Torico (732160)
            Of course it is pitiful that most people are not paying taxes; that means that the governments (in his case, the regional and federal levels in India) have failed. I'm not saying that high taxes are a good thing; they aren't, but there are specific functions that only governments can provide (such as defense, police, and standards) and governments rely mainly on taxes for revenue.

            Here's an unpleasant truth - "pure" Libertarianism (or Anarcho-capitalism) is as silly a fantasy as pure Communism; neither re

      • by metlin (258108) on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:16PM (#16825200) Journal
        Interesting first post; I have been to India twice and have seen many of the remarkable changes brought by Narasimha Rao's and Dr. Manmohan Singh's economic liberalization. It is another example of what improvements can be made when a nation decides to discard the failed ideology of Communism.

        India was never communist -- they had a quasi Socialist economy post independence, for a short while. During this time, the state owned most most things, but the private sector was also allowed ownership of a lot of things.

        Perhaps you meant Socialism, not Communism?
        • by El Torico (732160)
          I stand corrected; India's version of Socialism had one particular common element with Communism that I was thinking of. This variant of Socialism was closer to Communism than other versions. Thanks for the correction.
    • by argoff (142580) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:16PM (#16825184)
      The Indians will want nothing to do with it. India has a history of thousands of years of being capitalists...

      Then India will love Linux, because Linux is more pro- free market than Microsoft is. You need to stop thinking of copyrights like a property right, and start thinking of them like a communist regulation that controlls how people use information in the information age.

      Let me give an example, at one large data center I worked for they had these NT servers that ran a database application for 1000's of locations. Sure enough the things would crash every day, and sure enough it would cost them over a million dollars per hour of down time. They bought the best x86's that money could buy, they custom re-wrote the tcp/ip stack, but still the computers would crash every single day and still it would cost them over a million dollars per hour. Finally, they flew in experts from all over the planet. The experts came back and said that there was a bug in the OS that was causing it. So my company then went to Microsoft and demanded that they fix it. Microsoft in "business speak" basically said "screw off and FU".

      So please tell me that if they had the source, and ownership of that source couldn't be controled. Would they have refused to pay for a fully backed support contract? Would they have said "no were not going pay developers to fix it, because someone else could copy our fixes?" Hell no, that code would have gotten fixed, and every body would have benefited.

      In things like software, free riders are not a burden because their copy deosn't deprive me of my copy. But rather, spreads exposure and therefore the chances soneone elses fix will be my fix. So the forces driving Linux forward and pushing Microsoft back are pure unadulterated free market forces and that is that.

      • I agree with you 100% and feel that "intellectual property" is a bogus concept, but I don't understand how you can call this a "communist regulation". It's the opposite, if anything: communism opposes illegitimate private property, while the "copyright regime" tries to make property out of ideas.. "Protectionist regulation" would, I think be better. This notion is diatemtrically opposed to libertarianism and communism.
    • But if you go to countries where people don't like to work for free -- they want SOMETHING for their time and to make their lives better -- you won't see a social drive to giving away their labor.

      Where the hell do you get the idea that open source developers don't get paid, and paid handsomely? I suspect the average FOSS developer salary is significantly higher than industry average, because it takes dedication and skill to produce software that stands up to public scrutiny. And companies are willing to p
    • hi there steveo .. "I think his answer hit the nail, head on!"

      "I do see how Microsoft wouldn't care about free software because it isn't on their radar screen. I don't know of much free software that is really competitive because truly free software doesn't have the support that it needs to compete with software that does have support"

      How do you explain the existance of the Firebird Database project. It isn't 'free' but free to use and extend as you see fit as long as you contribute changes back to
    • by morcego (260031) *
      Some Americans care about Open Source because they're anti-corporation

      You know, this simple phrase made you lost all credibility. There are some very big South American corporations, like Vale do Rio Doce, Odebrech, Petrobas, just to name 3, and only from Brasil.

      Sorry, but I have to ask. If you failed so badly doing your research for something as simple as this, how can we credit anything you say on a much more complex topic, like free software ?
    • by Bozdune (68800)
      You write well and it is enjoyable to read your posts.

      However, in a Libertarian world, contrary to Libertarian claims, there is little mercy for the unfortunate. India is a perfect example of this, where one sees desperately poor people living in shanty towns next to glittering high tech campuses.

      British professor Alexander Fraser Tyler wrote:

      "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can exist only until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse (defined as a liberal gift)
    • by Himring (646324)
      Really nice.... How much?

  • The word "free" was not assimilated, as the Borg collective concluded that it was irrelevant.
  • Defense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:08PM (#16824266)
    No too defend him (too much), but from a businesses point of view, there must be a revenue stream somewhere, be it for development, or just support. At some point, people want to get paid. Free works commercially, as long as someone, generally large companies, is willing to pay for guaranteed support.
    • Microsoft uses "free" as a method to differ payment for the product while denying somebody else the revenue from their hard work. The problem with Microsoft is that they believe ONLY MICROSOFT SHOULD BE PAID.. they don't share the wealth with others very well. Example... where's DVD playback in windows... that's right, Microsoft is too cheap to pay the royalties, so they expect somebody else to do that.. and so it is with many technologies they "adopt"... If M$ can't buy into the company or get a one tim
  • Ballmer is a businessman, and 'free' isn't a word in a businessman's dictionary. Add that to the fact that Microsoft is fairly entrenched in a business market, i'm not sure what else you'd expect. Even Canonical (Ubuntu's parent) has bills to pay, and these bills have to be paid somehow.
    • Why is it so many people on Slashdot only seem to care about the "free as in beer" definition of free? Business guys LOVE the freedom definition of free. Why do you think they like free trade so much? Freedom gives you flexibility, and business tends to thrive on flexibility since you can easily adapt and aren't stuck in one path. Most businesses would love to be free from the lock-in of proprietary software. Most of them just can't do it though because the headlock is too tight, or there's no open sou
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:10PM (#16824294)
    ...software businesses can look at a number of revenue streams such as...lower cost hardware...

    I'm assuming by this he means that as hardware costs drop, the overall product cost can remain the same or even increase, thereby increasing the percentage of revenue that's attributable to the software.
    • "...software businesses can look at a number of revenue streams such as...lower cost hardware..."

      I'm assuming by this he means that as hardware costs drop, the overall product cost can remain the same or even increase, thereby increasing the percentage of revenue that's attributable to the software.

      Or he was misquoted, or he rambled. I will bet on the "rambled".
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:10PM (#16824298) Homepage Journal
    Is Free Software the future of India? Steve Ballmer CEO of Microsoft answers...
    This must be some new definition of "answers" I wasn't previously aware of.
    "As rich and good be bridging the digital divide
    Steve Ballmer is Ali G!
    "It is not not about money but also not about short term profits".
    This comment is not about chicken and is also not about chicken picatta.
    "You can do three things ... you can stay in and do nothing, stay in and have a point of view or stay out".
    In many cases you only actually have the first and third of those options.
  • Wrong Subject (Score:2, Interesting)

    He didn't mention F/LOSS anywhere. He just used this as a way to push his own plans on how we (the sheeple) will pay for his software. Nothing to see here. Move along... ...and duck. Incoming chair, with fucking killing power, made by Developers, Developers, Developers.
  • by toby (759) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:16PM (#16824366) Homepage Journal
    "Free Software's thoughts on Steve Ballmer."
    • by MS-06FZ (832329) on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:51PM (#16825718) Homepage Journal
      george:/usr/src/altra/test/monte_carlo/12:37:03 > bash, what do you think about Steve Ballmer?
      c:\bin\bash: bash,: command not found


      Python 2.3.4 (#1, Jun 13 2004, 11:21:03)
      [GCC 3.3.1 (cygming special)] on cygwin
      Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
      >>> Any thoughts on Steve Ballmer?
          File "", line 1
              Any thoughts on Steve Ballmer?
                                    ^
      SyntaxError: invalid syntax


      george:/usr/src/altra/test/monte_carlo/12:38:22 > perl
      Would you like to make a comment on Steve Ballmer?
      Search pattern not terminated at - line 1.


      M-X could-you-tell-me-about-Steve-Ballmer-please [no match]


      I am the psychotherapist. Please, describe your problems. Each time you are finished talking, type RET twice.
      > I'd like to know how Free Software feels about Steve Ballmer.
      Why do you say you might want to know how?
      > Because someone on Slashdot raised the question and I think it deserves an answer.
      Is it because someone on slashdot raised the question and you think it deserves an answer that you came to me?
      > Not exactly. I couldn't get a good answer from bash, xemacs, python, or perl.
      What makes you believe that?
      > I asked them and they didn't provide me with a good answer.
      Earlier you said you would like to know how?
      > how Free Software feels about Steve Ballmer, yes.
      Does it bother you that free software feels about steve ballmer yes?
      > What?
      Can you elaborate on that?
      > On what?
      Maybe your plans have something to do with this.
      > What plans? What are you talking about?
      Are you sure that what are I talking about?
      > Am I... huh?
      I would appreciate it if you would continue.
      > Look, can you just tell me what you think of Steve Ballmer?
      You mentioned that someone on slashdot raised the question and you think it deserves an answer?
      > Yes, that's why I'm asking.
      When did you first know that you are asking?
      > Just now. When I asked.
      What happened when you asked?
      > You dodged the question.
      Is it because of your life that you are going through all this?
      > In a very, very indirect way, you could make that attribution. You could also say that I'm doing this because life developed on Earth.
      Is the fact that you are doing this because life developed on earth the real reason?
      > Not from my perspective, no.
      Is it because of the people you hang around with that you say not from your perspective no?
      > It's because that's not the direct reason, from my perspective.
      Does the fact that that's not the direct reason from your perspective explain anything else?
      > I'm sick of this. Please answer my question.
      Do you really think you would like to know how?
      > How you feel about Steve Ballmer, yes.
      Are you sure I feel about steve ballmer yes?
      > No.
      Why not?
      > Because you haven't made your feelings clear.
      Is it because I have not made my feelings clear that you came to me?
      > That doesn't make any sense at all.
      Are you annoyed that does not make any sense at all?
      > Yes.


      As you can see, Free Software seems committed to avoiding the question - always changing the subject or feigning ignorance of the grammar being used. To be fair, I don't think we can consider this a reasonable position, any more so than Ballmer's at least.
    • What for? It's information value is equally zero, but without the option of flying chairs.
  • Ballmers Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs&ovi,com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:16PM (#16824374) Homepage
    I think Ballmers, and M$'s ideas on free software can be sumed up by the following statement:

    " Free software is fine, as long as it isn't really free, and we control it "

    Anything more is simply a waste of words.

    Cheers
    • " Free software is fine, as long as it isn't really free, and we control it "

      That's right, it needs to be at least $99 [youtube.com].
  • Riiight (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Cisco Kid (31490) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:21PM (#16824450)
    Balmer is one of the top level executives at a company whose profits are made by selling proprietary software (Making it neither free-as-in-beer, except for all the pirating, nor Free-as-in-speech). If any major market decides to extensively embrace Free Software, his company stands to lose large amounts of future profits.

    Asking him what *he* thinks of free software is not a fair question, neither to him (how can he possibly be honest) nor to anyone else that doesnt already understand that (they are likely to not understand that his answer is evasive at best)

    Try asking a buggy whip exectuve what they think of the automobile, and internal combustion engines in general.
  • But since MS has nothing else to offer, they need to keep the upgrade cycles running as long as possible.

    However today you can get a reliable, secure set of all the comodity software you need for free, by getting one of the numerous Linux distros, according to your level of competence (I hear Ubuntu has prettu low competence requirements, I use Debian etch, more of an expert's distro). Unless you do gaming, there is no need at all to buy OS, browser, mailer, office application, backup software, ....

    In addit
  • When teh roman numeral system was being used for accounting it was an elite position to be an accountant, having social status, higher pay, etc..

    Then in time we began using the hindu-arabic decimal system that allowed the common man to do math beyond with the former elite accounts could do. Today we use calculators in common everyday use.

    And so it shall be with programming. The common man will do it as they find need to.

    Free Software is just a step in that direction.

    For programming is the act of simplifying
    • It'll become easier, but also the demand will grow.

      To stay in your analogy, back in medieval times (or rather, before that), accounting was a fairly simple process. Today, you have regulations, you have things like SOX, you have a billion of rules to obey and things to watch and take care of to be a "good" accountant.

      The same will (and already does) happen with programming. In the 70s, being a "programmer" was a position only a handpicked few could fulfil, who could actually figure out just why those punchc
  • rodent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AntEater (16627) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:29PM (#16824548) Homepage
    This is a classic tactic. Answer the question you want to answer rather than the one which really was asked of you. Basically Balmer didn't want to discuss free software so he discussed revenue streams (which is all software is about in his mind anyways). Anytime someone does this you can be sure that they're not interested in your interests, just their own.
    • by kthejoker (931838)
      Why are you judging only the answerer and not the questioner? That question is so loaded it's a 12 gauge right between Ballmer's eyes. And you expect him to pull the trigger?

      So why are you so upset about his answer? The question wasn't fair, and it was based on a premise that is entirely antithetical to Ballmer's interests - in fact, to suggest somehow that we didn't know Microsoft was "not interested in your interests (i.e. free software)" until this question was asked is bordering on clinical.

      Don't get so
  • Ballmer: "Our primary aim is to have a generally more helpful participation in world economy. You can do three things ... you can stay in and do nothing, stay in and have a point of view or stay out."

    Now THAT is conviction!
  • asking the president of Saudi Arabia or the president of ExxonMobil if they think that the electric car is the way of the future.
  • I can't help but think that if copyrights were normalized to property rights conventions that FOSS would never have taken off. The problem with IP is that two people cannot equally own it. It's not possible for Microsoft to sell Windows the way that Dell can sell the hardware because if the user had a true property right in it, all hell would break loose for the copyright. This is why I think that the law needs to frame copyright holders' rights in terms of natural and common law rights. I think it's perfec
  • a number of revenue streams such as subscription fees, lower cost hardware, advertising and of course traditional transaction.

    Obviously, when ever a Microsoft exec speaks, the only thing you can count on is hot air escaping their lips. But really, this does give some insight into how they will continue to fight FOSS. They've been trying the SUBSCRIPTION FEE approach for a few years already. The LOWER COST HARDWARE is an interesting one since it means subsidies for OEMs( like marketing dollars, etc? ) or m

  • What is amusing is that in answering the question, he refuses to use the word 'free' or anything close to it.
    Really? Did the interviewer attempt to compel him to use the word or did he merely omit it? Let's try not to be too obvious about our biases.
  • that Ballmer's hair would catch on fire or something if he used the word "Free" in public?

    (or that Bill would beat the stuffing out of him all the way back to Redmond)

    Seriously though, I'm sure there is a list of words that he has trained himself to avoid using in public at all costs, and I'm certain that "free software" is really high on that list.
  • Microsoft always has a stance against something. For example, Microsoft considers free and open software to be their enemy. Not their competition, not just an alternative. However, suppose I called some of the other top software companies [wikipedia.org] in the world. Do you think that Intuit considers GNUCash to be the enemy or that Symantec thinks that free virus scanners, firewalls, and disk partitioning tools should be unconstitutional because they are viral and will destroy the industry? Does Adobe send secret em [aaxnet.com]
  • ...does not preclude you from also getting what you did not pay for.

    Just a thought.
  • Did you know that Steve Ballmer's chair was bolted to the ground during the interview?
  • terminology (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bitspotter (455598) on Monday November 13, 2006 @07:18PM (#16830960) Journal
    This is where we suffer once again from the a ability to conflate gratis with libre. When a journalist says "free software", it's an ambiguous term, so Ballmer gets to pick which frame which is to his best advantage. Of course, he immediately starts talking about the software //business//, which is the context that Microsoft exists entirely within.

    Libre software only partially exists in the business world, however. Industry can benefit from user freedom the same as everyone else.

    It bugs me that "free software" is the term de jour when the gratis/libre confusion is mainly caused by the selection of a thing - software - for the object of the adjective. Things have no use for freedom; as such, it's reasonable to assume that free software means gratis. Software has no use for freedom; //users// do. We would be better off referring more to user freedom (eg "the free user foudation") that to free software.

Mystics always hope that science will some day overtake them. -- Booth Tarkington

Working...