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Buy PC Without an OS... Get a Visit From MSFT? 639

sebFlyte writes "'Don't sell PCs without operating systems or we'll send the boys round.' That seems to be the general message coming out of microsoft's antipiracy unit, according to ZDNet. While MS seems to accept that people might want to get hold of PCs without Windows so they can put Linux on them, they don't think that's a good enough excuse. "We want to urge all system builders -- indeed, all Partners -- not to supply naked PCs. It is a risk to your customers and a risk to your business," says Microsoft. The FSF has given this policy short shrift, saying: "It looks like a private sniffing service which is supposed to spy on these who do not want to pay the Microsoft tax anymore. It is an incredible piece of impudence.""
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Buy PC Without an OS... Get a Visit From MSFT?

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  • Ummm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fak3r ( 917687 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:55AM (#15067174) Homepage
    So again, how is this not a Monopoly?
  • Here we go again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by liliafan ( 454080 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:56AM (#15067180) Homepage
    All I can say is thank God I build all my own systems, forcing people to buy something they don't want is a really unethical extortion racket, if I need to buy any prebuilt machine in the future I will always take the time to look for that 5% of dealers that will not make me purchase an OS.

    Does a move like this do anything to effect all the current antitrust cases?


    We want to urge all system builders -- indeed, all Partners -- not to supply naked PCs. It is a risk to your customers and a risk to your business

    This sounds a lot like a veiled threat to me.

  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:58AM (#15067212)
    If they are only targetting PC makers that have agreed to only sell PCs with their OS on them, then they have a legal, though morally questionable, right to do this. However, it seems they are targetting all PC makers.

    Right now, this is basically just marketing, but if they actually take action against computer makers who sell "naked" PCs, such as refusing to license the Windows OS to them because of it, they run the risk of once again being brought up on charges of monpolistic practices.

    To say that a PC sold without an OS will undoubtedly be used to pirate Windows is an absurd stance, and so forcing PC makers to sell PCs with Windows pre-installed in order to avoid such piracy is not valid. If Microsoft presses the issue too hard, they're going to end up making their lawyers very happy once again.
  • Headline wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:59AM (#15067228)
    The headline talks about buying, yet TFA is about selling. Way to go...
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:00PM (#15067241) Homepage
    It is a monopoly. Nobody ever implied it wasn't. Monolopolies are not illegal. Abuse of a monopoly is illegal.
  • monopoly money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:00PM (#15067248) Homepage
    I can't imagine a larger brag that microsoft is a monopoly. It really is straight from the horses mouth with implicit proof of monopoly abuse.
  • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:04PM (#15067303) Journal
    Here's a scan of the article, as linked by the story linked in this article. []

    Now for some serious FUD debunking:

    This quote seems popular: "We want to urge all system builders -- indeed, all Partners -- not to supply naked PCs. It is a risk to your customers and a risk to your business"

    Now here's the rest of it: "with specifically 5 percent fewer opportunities to market software and services,"

    As for the idea that MS might pay you a visit for not buying's pure speculation and is not indicated by MS at all.

    The FSF Europe is alarmed by the prospect that customers who request a base systems would risk a visit from Microsoft's investigators.

    "It looks like a private sniffing service which is supposed to spy on these who do not want to pay the Microsoft tax anymore. It is an incredible piece of impudence which any politician, customer and journalist should recognise carefully," said Jakobs.

    When contacted by ZDNet UK, Alexander denied that operatives would be dispatched into the premises of customers who attempted to buy a PC without Windows.

    "I can confirm that the... personnel are not participating in customer visits. This is an error in the copy and will be amended in future material on the subject," Alexander claimed.

    This describes the situation best:

    "Microsoft is clearly concerned about the threat of Linux on the desktop and is trying to protect its base. Naked PCs provide customers with choice and lower the price of commodity PCs," said a Novell spokesman.

    Microsoft is trying to convince OEMs to sell more of their product? Those fiends!
  • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:06PM (#15067332) Journal
    This sounds a lot like a veiled threat to me.

    Finish the quote:

    "...with specifically 5 percent fewer opportunities to market software and services."

    It's a risk to your business because you miss out on opportunities for profit. Not because MS will send goons over to "buy you out".
  • by oirtemed ( 849229 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:06PM (#15067333)
    To say that a PC sold without an OS will undoubtedly be used to pirate Windows is an absurd stance

    And even if it is not the PC makers responsibility!

  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:08PM (#15067358)
    But a legal definition is not the the same as a dictionary definition. From a legal standpoint they ARE a monopoly.
  • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:09PM (#15067376) Homepage Journal
    That has to be the best post in this thread. It removes the anti-MS hype and FUD and lays this article out for what it is. A description of MS trying to protect its base and limit Linux growth. Yes, they are successful capitalist assholes, but we already knew that. Nothing really surprising here once you remove the FUD claims of MS visits.

  • by liliafan ( 454080 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:13PM (#15067443) Homepage
    Damn you are so right, because I am risking my customers and my business by selling 5% less copies of their products for them.

    The veiled comes into effect because it could be interpreted as a threat, I took the section I considered to be the threat.
  • Yes, it's wrong of Microsoft as it's wrong of you. If you were in Mainland Europe, the "agreements" your customers had signed would not be worth the paper they were printed upon: anti-competitive practices are well and truly illegal, and damn right too.

    Microsoft are abusing their dominant position, which they only reached in the first place by abusing a dominant position.
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by colinu1701 ( 966292 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:19PM (#15067517)
    They are illegal unless controlled strictly by the gov't (utilities etc.)
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AviLazar ( 741826 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:19PM (#15067518) Journal
    From a judges statement they participated in monopolistic actions. And frankly, I could care less if a judge says heroin is healthy and doing it twice a day will make your skin pale, and vibrant. Just cause a judge says something does not make it so. Let us not be too much of robots willing to bend to the word of one guy. The text-book definition of monopoly has not been what they did wrong and illegal - sure, is it a monopoly pfft - no it isn't. I don't love MS, I don't hate MS. I use some of their products and I use other OS just as well. I like competition, but these guys are not a monopoly...they will be a monopoly when they are the ONLY OS providers on the market.
  • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:20PM (#15067536) Journal
    I was pointing out that context was thrown out the window when the quote was cut mid-sentence to make it sound menacing, when it really wasn't.

    I don't know what MS is saying is the danger for end users, aside from the obvious that they want people to think that Linux is a risk (just like some Linux zealots say about MS) and are concerned about piracy.

    From the scanned article linked in TFA:

    1. To install their own software
    2. To transfer software from an old machine
    3. To install Linux
    4. To take advantage of a volume licensing agreement

    Now, you might make a great leap and infer that 1 and 2 point to piracy, but generally it's assumed that "their software" is legally theirs, and this old machine has a tranferable license (as in, non-OEM).

    The point being made by the scanned article is that a lot of buyers are planning on using an "old" OS...I would assume non-XP is implied here. What they're wanting is for OEMs to determine why people are ordering naked PCs and see if they can find a way to pitch Windows to them. It's a win/win for MS and the OEM...both would turn a profit off the sale.
  • Biased information (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DeeDob ( 966086 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:21PM (#15067546)
    This is typical anti-everything journalism.

    As some people have already pointed-out, this "information" don't relate the facts. This is just an interpretation of possible results from those facts.

    The interpretation is NOT the fact. It just makes for more "entertaining" news to say that an evil company will own you in the future. Usually "evil company" is equal to "biggest company" in a given field. In this case Microsoft.
  • Big Deal! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skryche ( 26871 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:23PM (#15067570) Homepage
    Microsoft's request isn't all that difficult to follow; just put FreeDOS [] on every machine. Everybody wins!
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) <> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:26PM (#15067600) Homepage Journal
    If you were in Mainland Europe, the "agreements" your customers had signed would not be worth the paper they were printed upon: anti-competitive practices are well and truly illegal, and damn right too.

    How is it anti-competitive if I offer the customer a savings on a product that they want? I don't ask others not to compete with me, I just worked out a long term agreement with someone to get the product they want at a price they want.

    If an employee works for me, I also make them sign a non-compete in exchange for a much higher income. If they don't want to sign with me, they can go make 50% of the money with some company that doesn't care.

    Anti-competition comes only out of licensing by the state and excessive regulations causing high-barriers to entry. Anti-competition does not come from companies forcing themselves into the consumers' homes. Microsoft has definitely taken advantage of government regulations (copyrights, patents, DCMA etc) so they're not clean in my mind, but I see nothing anti-competitive about getting people to agree to certain terms so you can plan your budget and growth.

    Is signing a cell phone contract for 2 years to get a free phone anti-competitive? Is signing a satellite TV contract for 2 years to get $1500 in free hardware anti-competitive? You made the decision.
  • by sbaker ( 47485 ) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:30PM (#15067670) Homepage
    God knows I hate Microsoft more than most people...but this might be a teensy bit of an overreaction.

    The actual source of this information says that:

    1) This is a UK-only thing.
    2) There are only TWO new MS employees doing this.
    3) They discuss this during routine customer meetings.
    4) There is no hint of coersion implied here.

    So what this actually means is that there are a couple of extra marketeers out there trying to pursuade stores not to sell bare PC's.

    Furthermore, the MS article n.jpg [] says that the top four reasons people buy bare PC's is:

    * To install their own software.
    * To transfer software from an old machine.
    * To install Linux
    * To take advantage of volume licensing.

    The didn't mention "To use a pirated version of windows".

    What they ARE saying is that selling a bare system is a missed opportunity for the store. They suggest that if you sell someone a bare machine, you're missing a chance to sell them additional software such as photo processing, music players, etc.

    So - yeah Microsoft are most definitely *evil* - but this isn't anything to panic about.

    I doubt this will change the minds of many sellers - two guys in one country appealing to store owners who probably made a careful decision to let their customers avoid the MS tax.

    You DON'T need to keep re-buying windows over and over again. You DON'T need to buy a copy of Windows only to have it be overwritten with a site-licensed version at work. You DON'T need to buy a copy only to scribble all over it with Linux. You SHOULD be able to save $50 off the cost of your PC if you are in one of those catagories.
  • by MarkByers ( 770551 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:30PM (#15067671) Homepage Journal
    Abuse of a monopoly is illegal.

    What's the point of getting a monopoly if you don't abuse it? The shareholders would sue you if you didn't even try to abuse it.
  • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:42PM (#15067808) Journal
    It is well-verified that Microsoft strong-arm OEMs into buying Windows "or else."

    That's odd, because in my experience dealing directly with MS as an OEM, that wasn't the case at all. Now, they did tell us when we told them we were switching to Linux for some apps that our unit prices would go up...but that should be expected when your purchase volume drops by 20%. They then flooded us with pamphlets telling us how much better Server 2003 is than Linux and how TCO for Linux was actually higher and so forth. We had that crammed down our throats for four months before I finally told our MS rep that it was customers who drove our switch to Linux, and we weren't going to push MS on them if they specifically requested the change.

    The article most definitely is not "FUD"

    So stating that MS will pay you a visit for not buying Windows with your new PC isn't FUD? It's even clearly stated in TFA that they have no intention of doing that.

    In this instance, it is Microsoft who are employing this tactic by hinting that bad things will happen to OEMs and to consumers who buy OS-less machines.

    Yes. Businesses will miss out on a chance at boosting their sales figures, and consumers will install Linux. That's pretty much what MS said.
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rufty_tufty ( 888596 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:47PM (#15067855) Homepage
    If they gave it away for free probably not*

    If they force you to buy it, then yes it certainly is.

    *i.e. if (like AOL used to with their product) ensure a CD with a legal copy of windows was included with every computer then I'd be very happy. Some would argue this would still be an abuse of monopoly though because it would be even less of an alternative to swap to alternate OS platforms and MS would still have lock in via their API
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:49PM (#15067876)
    They are illegal unless controlled strictly by the gov't (utilities etc.)

    So, if I were to buy Moller and start selling the vaperware that is their flying cars, then the government would need to shut me down. Since I would be the only flying car seller, I would instantly be illegal. In fact, the first company to sell any product would be instantly illegal, as they would have a monopoly. Patents would be illegal, since they are a guaranteed monopoly, as are copyrights.

    No, monopolies are completely legal, as long as you operate as if you have stiff competition. It is when you take advantage of the monopoly status you hold that you run into problems.
  • by diakka ( 2281 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:02PM (#15068008)
    If I had a nickel for every time someone pointed out that MS was not a monopoly, I'd be as rich as... well, Bill Gates. Just because they don't mean the literal dictionary definition doesn't mean it's not useful to classify them as a monopoly. The legal definition of monopoly is broader, and it is broader for a reason. When a company is in a high position of power like MS, they can do things that are detrimental to consumers, such as strongarming PC manufacturers into not selling naked PCs. When I bought a Dell notebook, I had to pay MS tax, even though I totally wiped off XP and installed Fedora. These are strongarm tactcs, and they work only because MS has such a high degree of market conrol. The fact that you put "encouraging" in quotes tells me something. Maybe it's like how the local mafia bosses "encourage" store owners to pay protection fees. Oh no, MS doesn't have any real power.. The real reason PC manufacturers listen to what they say is that Ballmer is so charasmatic.
  • by WeeBit ( 961530 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:29PM (#15068331) Homepage
    "The FSF Europe is alarmed by the prospect that customers who request a base systems would risk a visit from Microsoft's investigators." I am still waiting on the day that I can buy a computer, and instead of them saying "They support Microsoft Windows only" for their computer customers, they instead ask me "What Operating system would you like on your new computer? I don't think they can come knocking on a regular consumers front door demanding to see their new computer just because they got the computer without a Operating System. If they can do this... Regardless of my choosing of Opeating System I plan to tell them to get a warrant. I advise businesses to do the same. I believe its time also for Vendors to drop the "Microsoft only" policy too. This is still forcing users to use Microsoft. Microsoft knows it too. Too bad the Courts don't see it for what it is.
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by renehollan ( 138013 ) <> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:32PM (#15068377) Homepage Journal
    Abuse of a monopoly is illegal.

    That's both absurd and insightful.

    Absurd: In a free market, no abusive monopoly would stay that way -- competitors, smelling profits, would start supplying effective alternatives. Heck, even with a less than free market, alternatives sprung up to Windows: the community-produced and collectively owned GNU/* and BSD-* alternatives.

    Oh, but it was hard, time-consuming, and difficult to do. Considering the capital investgment MSFT made, this is not surprising. Now Windows®, while catering to 90%+ of computer users' needs, might be awkward for your needs, that's just plain good business sense: go after the low hanging fruit. Try buying fresh galangal outside of Thailand sometime. I don't see attempts to bust up the "ginger monopoly" in response.

    The anti-monopolists wish to use the force of the state for the simple purpose of making their lives more convenient at someone else's expense. And it is to the initiation of such force that I object. (Much as I'd object to state-granted patents, licensing requirements, and other impediments to a free market - why should the taxpayer protect your intellectual property?).

    Insightful: If you wish to object to a monopoly object to the state's monopoly on the initiation of force on behalf of the popular thieves of the day and read "The Market for Liberty."

    Those that are strong enough to steal for you are strong enough to steal from you.

    Those that think monopolies should be busted so their lives might be more convenient should have no objection to the busting of their skulls with a crowbar, facilitating the taking of their monies so my life could, too, be more convenient.

  • by merc ( 115854 ) <> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:32PM (#15068384) Homepage
    PC resellers could just offer to bundle with Linux or *BSD -- which would make Microsoft's argument completely untenable.
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 'nother poster ( 700681 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:34PM (#15068412)
    But they are not giving it away for free. They are telling the vendors that they need to install windows on the systems and pay Microsoft their standard licensing fee. They are even getting "feet on the street" to "help you get the value proposition for pre-installed software and related services."

    The "value proposition" is apparently that you had better not cut into Microsofts income stream by selling customers what they want.
  • Re:Build your own (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Steffan ( 126616 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:36PM (#15068432)
    "Or just blame piracy. See, it's win-win. Blaming piracy can never lose because it's unfalsifiable. Blame pirates, being suing people randomly/needlessly. There are three possibilities:
    1) Sales go up (The pirates were the problem! Let's kill the bastards!
    2) Sales go down. (We aren't being harsh enough on the pirates! They're still stealing from us, we need to crack down harder!)
    3) Sales stay the same. (The pirates are still pirating as much as they always have, we need to send a firmer message! KILL THE PIRATES!)"
    Seems like if you substitute 'terrorists' for 'pirates', and 'terrorism' for 'sales', you could have a workable foreign policy / justification for a domestic spying program...
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:37PM (#15068440) Homepage Journal
    Oh heck, this argument can be simply stated, on both sides, with 3 words:

    1: Guns
    2: Alcohol
    3: Cigarettes

    The reason I say *both* sides is that all of my examples only hurt mere people, and sales send profits to well-connected corporate donors. Selling a naked PC is certainly less deadly than all of my examples put together, but it only benefits mere consumers. Arguably the hardware revenue of that naked PC has simply been transfered from another supplier who wouldn't sell that way. Besides, most likely neither PC supplier was politically well-connected. OTOH, the naked PC deprives Microsoft of the "well-deserved" profits, and they ARE politically well-connected.

    Oh, plus think "movies" and "music" for a deadly contrast to guns, alcohol, and cigarettes.

    "Our" government has been very protective, indeed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:39PM (#15068481)
    This something for nothing deal where somehow magically they are "owed" huge sums because they threw some inflation money at some bogus company has gotten to the point it's *nuts*. Screw the shareholders! It's time to hold SHAREHOLDERS to the full benefits of the RISK associated with so called "investing". It's RISK, and you are supposed to be watching whichever crooks you hire run the business. Failure to do that SHOULD result in a pure capitalist guilt by association deal. No due diligence in keeping your crooked managers under control, then TOO BAD.

      If a company gets nailed for illegalities, over and over again, EVERY SINGLE SHAREHOLDER should get the same exact fine and or jail time. How ya like them apples? Screw them never getting any notice. And if a big corporation keeps losing in court, it should be the same as with individuals, THREE STRIKES AND YOU ARE OUT, automatic instant dissolution of the corporation, stocks made worthless, tangible assets put up for auction by the US marshalls.

    That would FORCE these profit seeking they don't care about anything but money "shareholders" to think twice about throwing money at some shady company like MS or Enron or Worldcom or Arthur Andersen in the hopes of getting a lot more money for doing nothing other than already being wealthy enough to "own shares". It would make them take a LOOK at what the company is doing, to ACTIVELY take part in shareholders meetings and oversight issues. Screw em, they want the money, let them actually WORK for it.
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by popeguilty ( 961923 ) <> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:46PM (#15068538)
    +++++In a free market+++++ It's always nice when people mark the point in their post at which you can safely stop reading.
  • by mollog ( 841386 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:50PM (#15068593)
    Would it be safe to say that you're a Microsoft apologist?

    First of all, there is a history of Microsoft strong-arming its customers. Denials by you or by Microsoft notwithstanding, once you've seen your competitors suffer by not submitting to Microsoft's demands, you quickly learn to do what's best for your business.

    Second, you make a misstatement. You say that Microsoft did not state that they would visit customer's sites. Microsoft themselves clearly admit to saying that. They claim that they will stop saying that at sometime the future, but they said it and they admit it.

    But there's an underlying issue here. The PC business has a pretty short product lifecycle. Once a PC is obsoleted and excessed for hardware obsolence reasons, why should the OS on that PC be excessed? If XP was installed on the old PC, why not move it to the new PC? And the old PC can be used as a Linux server.

    This is the heart of the problem for Microsoft; they want vendors to sell a new copy of Windows with a new PC. They don't want to see XP be reused. Microsoft finally issued an OS that works halfway decent, and now they're afraid that it will be reused on new hardware. And they're right to think this will happen.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @01:51PM (#15068598)
    Aw, look. Another idealistic Slashbot who doesn't understand how capitalism works. I think you're becoming the majority, there big guy.
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hrvat ( 307784 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:18PM (#15068934)
    There are no anti-monoply laws. There are antitrust laws that a monopoly may be in violation of. From wikipedia:

    A business with a monopoly over certain products or services may be in violation of antitrust laws if it has abused its dominant position or market power. Although not all anti-competitive behavior which is subject to antitrust laws involve illegal cartels or trusts, the following types of activity are generally prohibited.

    Bid rigging
    Predatory pricing
    Price fixing
    Vendor lock-in
    Group boycotts

    The reason the government does not act on certain monopolies is that they don't engage in such practices which discourage new businesses and stifle competition.
  • by Keeper ( 56691 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @02:55PM (#15069302)
    I'm really not following you here. How exactly does pointing out that the standard bias on Slashdot is anti-Windows, help support your argument in even the smallest way?

    He's saying that people with modpoints have a tendancy to be dicks, and that in all likelyhood you're just being paranoid.
  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:02PM (#15069390)
    This has been happening all along - there are still a variety of verions of Windows/other MS Software in use. Microsoft is trying to maximize its revenue by requiring that the OS be treated like a consumable commodity- much like electricity, gas, or water.

    Someone needs to explain some economics to Bill et al. It just doesn't work that way.
  • by YesIAmAScript ( 886271 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:10PM (#15070086)
    As a documentar, but it wasn't correct. The GM said at the time they were being killed by the labor market in Michigan. And they were right, the contracts they signed with the UAW then to keep their plants open are the ones that are killing them right now. The Jobs Bank came into being in that timeframe.

    The awards for movies are given by artists and mostly for art. Don't confuse recognition of artistic principles with statements underscoring factual correctness.
  • by John Jamieson ( 890438 ) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:16PM (#15070143)
    A unloaded hard drive in not as much an invitation to pirate as it is to EXPEREMENT! Maybe that is what microsoft fears

    I have a coworker who after watching us order componants and build our own PC's, go excited an ordered his own. With his former Dell, that he always felt uneasy about messing with the partition, but that new empty drive was just BEGGING to be played with, so he installed Ubuntu today.

    I don't know if he will stick with it, but the chances are good as he is not a gamer. But even if he does not, Linux has mindshare between his ears, and he is not afraid of it anymore.

    You Ubuntu people will be interested to know that it is your free cd's with shipping that made him pick your distro. (I am a KDE guy, so it was not me, lol)
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:35PM (#15070377) Journal
    It's called "Rent Seeking" [] behavior, and it's one of those little problems with the free market (along with monopolies themselves, the inequality of access to information, externalities, and many other issues) that libertarians and conservative economists like to sweep under the rug.

    If you are a libertarian or conservative economist, I suggest sticking your fingers in your ears and chanting "The Free Market is GOD!" until the problem goes away.
  • by Snorbert Xangox ( 10583 ) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @01:25AM (#15073635)
    If you want a laugh, head to the Business Software Alliance's Global Piracy Study []. Check out the methodology for calculating losses due to piracy. If a bunch of people buy assembled machines and stick nothing but free-as-in-freedom-and-also-coincidentally-as-in-b eer software on it, it looks to me like those hardware sales contribute towards lifting the calculated bogodollar value of global piracy.

    This is pretty irritating - where I used to work, we had 120 machines in student labs set up running Knoppix from their hard drives (no Ubuntu at that time). No for-money software on them at all. I don't think the BSA's methodology adequately accounts for machines that legitimately generate $0 in software sales.

Veni, Vidi, VISA: I came, I saw, I did a little shopping.