We have now reviewed more than a dozen benefits of the Linux operating system over Windows. Given the functional benefits of Linux and the fatal flaws of Windows, it is difficult to imagine anyone going with Windows if they really understand all of its flaws. By now, you should understand why Windows 8 and 10 are completely different from Windows XP or Windows 7. Still, it is likely that Microsoft will be able to fool millions of people simply with the huge force of their billion dollar per year advertising campaigns. The only question is how many people they will be able to fool before folks find out what a flawed product they are getting with Windows 10. Now, we will look at Microsoft’s plan to convince us that we should spend $500 on Windows 10 and MS Office 365... and signs that word is already starting to get out that Windows 10 is a disaster. We will also look at some of the more hidden costs of the Microsoft monopoly.
Can Microsoft Marketing convince us to buy a fatally flawed product?
According to Forbes Magazine, Microsoft spent a record $1.5 billion dollars trying to convince us to buy Windows. While spending this massive amount of money, the Microsoft marketing department will tell us that Windows 10 is an improvement on Windows 7 because it is “touch screen friendly” and therefore works better on tablets. The name “Windows Blue” seems to be yet another blunder by Microsoft as it will likely just remind Windows users of their past bad experiences with the Windows Blue Screen of Death (see example below).
Microsoft Sales go from bad to worse
In August 2013, Microsoft reported that it actually spent more on advertizing last year than it made in Surface sales. Anytime a company spends more on advertising a product that it gets back on sales, there is a major problem. Microsoft's response is that they will spend yet another billion on advertising. But word is getting out that Windows 10 and Surface are both terrible products. What is needed is not more advertising – but better products. Despite all of these problems, the CEO of Microsoft is optimistic about the success of Windows. In October 2012, at a Windows launch event in New York, Steve Ballmer pointed out that 670 million computers will need upgrading in the next few years and that 400 million more will be sold annually (all thanks to Windows crashing all of our computers).
At $500 per computer to Microsoft for Windows 10 and Office 365, that is a lot of money. If Steve Ballmer is right, the real cost of all of these upgrades to Windows 10 and Office 365 will be close to $200 billion – or $50 billion per year each year for the next four years.
I have a different point of view. I work with real students in the real world. I have seen how they struggled with Windows 7 and everything before that. I am certain that many of these students will NEVER be able to use Windows 8 or 10. So in conclusion, Microsoft has shot themselves and all of the rest of us in the foot by producing an operating system which is basically non-functional. What in the world were these guys thinking? Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing, Microsoft should have hired a few teachers and we could have warned them that simplicity is more important than glitter. What will happen when users around the world discover that Windows 8 is nothing at all like Windows 7? Largely due to huge upgrades in computer hardware (both storage and speed), the average person replaces their computers every three to five years. This means that in the next five years, nearly one billion folks are going to gradually learn that Microsoft has stuck a knife in our backs. I predict that many of those folks are going to do exactly what I have done. First, they will continue to use Windows 7 as a temporary solution. Second, they are going to start looking around for other alternatives – and by other alternatives, I am not talking about Mac. I am talking about other alternatives that will work well with Windows based programs and are not controlled by the NSA. This is why we all need a review of all of the available operating systems. It is because at some point, we all are going to have to find another option.
How much do we spend on commercial programs and how much will we save by moving to open source tools?
It has been estimated that there are around two billion internet capable personal computers in the world today. It has also been estimated that over 300 million new personal computers have been sold each of the past two years. Thus, it is believed that the average user replaces their laptop every four years. Of the two billion computers, about 45% run Windows 7 and another 40% run Windows XP.
Microsoft in April 2014, ended support and security updates for Windows XP. This means that more than 600 million Windows XP users suddenly find their computers basically unprotected. Microsoft has warned that “using XP after April 2014 will be at your own risk.”
Many families have two or three XP computers in their homes – meaning the cost for upgrading could easily reach $1,000 or more. What will these 600 million people do? If you are Microsoft, your hope is that everyone will upgrade to Windows 10. However, as word gets out that Windows 10 has major problems, some people will opt for Windows 7 – which Microsoft has said they will support until 2020.
Most folks are not aware that computer manufacturers pay Microsoft to install the Windows operating system on their computers. This cost varies from model to model. But it is reasonable to assume that the average cost is about one hundred dollars per computer. Manufacturers pay this fee not because they think that Windows is such a terrific operating system. Believe me, they get an earful every time one of their Windows based computers crash. But they realize that Microsoft currently has a monopoly on the computer market and that the only way they are going to sell a computer is if Windows is installed on it. So they pay the hundred dollars and add it to the price of their computers. In other words, when manufacturers offer computers with free open source operating systems, each of us will save $100 per computer. But the cost of the Windows operating system does not end there - because your computer will not work without additional software for everything from games to word processing and accounting. These Windows based programs can cost several hundred dollars. These programs need updating every year which is why folks typically spend hundreds of dollars per year on Windows based programs.
Thankfully, Linux Mint is capable of running Windows programs. But more importantly, Linux offers thousands of free alternatives to Windows programs. In many cases, these free programs are actually better than their expensive commercial cousins. Then there is the cost of lost productivity and computer repair to consider. The average person is forced to either spend hundreds of dollars on computer repair when their laptop crashes – or spend hundreds to thousands of dollars buying a new computer. Having a more reliable computer which does not require constant updates and virus protection programs can save a person hundreds to thousands of dollars every year. But all of this is nothing compared to the loss of productivity associated with a computer crash. This problem can literally cost you a week’s wages – or even put you out of business. So the real savings of learning to use open source tools can be much higher every year.
Public Schools and the Coming Windows 10 Train Wreck
One group in particular that is concerned about price is our public schools. School districts all over the country are turning to portable computers as a way to provide students with a better high tech learning opportunity. They are also looking at computers as opening the door to lower cost and more current electronic text books as well as other new online learning opportunities. However, school districts are on a very limited budget.
One school district in Washington State, the Lake Washington School District, recently spent $500 per student to buy every secondary school student in their school district a portable laptop. This school district which is located in Redmond, the home city of Microsoft, obviously had Windows 7 and Microsoft Office installed on all 20,000 of these computers. The total cost was $10 million. But had they used an Open Source operating system and an open source Office program, the cost would have likely been closer to $300 per student or $6 million for all 20,000 students. The difference of $4 million dollars could have paid for 80 additional teachers in their school district!
A Lake Washington School District administrator recently announced that they will likely be “upgrading” to Windows 8 this summer. At a cost of about $100 per student times 20,000 students this will be another $2 million – or another 40 teachers! The real issue will come when students are unable to use Windows 8 and their classrooms come to a grinding halt. At some point, I see even the Lake Washington School District moving towards open source tools so they can hire more teachers instead of throwing money down the Microsoft drain.
|“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect some time in the next decade.” Bill Gates July 2 1998
We are reaching a turning point. This turning point is only in part due to price. Many folks would gladly pay an extra few hundred dollars per year just to have a reliable computer for saving and processing documents. But what they are likely not willing to do is pay a few hundred dollars for a system which is less usable and less reliable. Safety is a major reason why the vast majority of web servers in the world, including the Google Servers, run on Linux open source programs and operating systems. Obviously, price is not an issue to Google. Their primary concern is keeping their servers and their websites up and running. The real tipping point comes when folks realize that Windows is neither reliable nor functional. All that is needed is a catalyst to force users to take that crucial first step towards open source. Once folks learn how much easier open source is, and how much money they can save, they will happily move to open source tools such as Linux.
Linux is better for Innovation and migration
Open source promotes innovation
Another reason open source has pulled ahead of commercial rivals is that open source programmers are allowed to be more creative than private, commercial programmers. Commercial programs are based on patents and monopolies which are the enemies of innovation. Open source has fewer rules and fewer obstacles. Open source programmers do not have to worry about whether they are violating someone else’s patent or how to prevent someone else from violating their patent. They therefore can focus on simply designing a clear and safe program – rather than a complex, bloated program intended more to create or protect a patent than to help the end users.
Open source tools promote better compatibility
Another benefit of open source is compatibility. There are many ways to create, open, manage and send MS Word documents and PDF documents with Linux and its free word processor Libre Office. You can even automatically save documents in several formats at the same time with Libre Office Writer.
Open source tools offer better migration between formats
An increasingly important benefit of open source is safer and easier website and Ebook migration. Microsoft loads literally pages of programming garbage into the beginning of every Word DocX document. This extra code has to be eliminated when copying and pasting Word documents into website pages – or it will slow down your website and even crash it. This extra code also has to be eliminated to covert a Word document into an HTML document or Ebook. Libre Office allows easy conversion to HTML and/or Ebook formats!
Open Source Linux is better for our economy than a monopoly
Open Source is a more successful business model
Open source tools use a different business model than commercial tools. Open source relies more on cooperation and building together, while closed source relies more on competition and secrecy. Open source recognizes that profit can come from charging less to more people and generating revenue from traffic. Google was the first to realize that traffic itself can generate huge amount of revenue. Google gives away their Search Engine. But Google makes billions of dollars selling ads based on traffic generated by the Search Engine. Most open source projects operate in a similar way. For example, the world’s most powerful web browser is a free open source tool called Mozilla Firefox. The primary source of revenue for Mozilla is that Google pays Mozilla to use the Google Search Engine in their Firefox menu and on their home page. The massive traffic generated turns into huge revenue streams for both companies.
Free Open Source Options to Expensive Commercial Programs
The open source tools we cover in the following articles include the Linux Operating System (which replaces MS Windows) and Libre Office (which replaces MS Office). In our other educational websites and books, we cover more open source tools including Joomla web building tools and VirtueMart online store building tools. Other examples of free open source tools include the Moodle Learning Management System. In fact, there are now thousands of free open source tools available for download with more tools available every day.
Open Source Tools are as User Friendly as Commercial Programs
It used to be that open source tools were only for computer geeks who built their own computers and installed an open source operating system because it was free and there were no patent restrictions on who could use it or how they could use it. One often had to know computer programming just to work with open source tools. However, in the past few years, there have been major advances in open source tools such that today, perhaps for the first time in history, open source tools are actually better and more user friendly than their commercial rivals. They are safer, more reliable and offer more features and functions. We therefore predict that it is just a matter of time until more people realize this and make the move to open source tools.
How can something free be better than something that costs 500 dollars?
In the following articles, we will explain why the Linux Operating System combined with Libre Office word processor is better than the Windows 10 operating system with Microsoft Office. But the first question we should address is how is it possible for something that is free to be better than something that costs $500? When people first hear about Linux as an option to Windows, their first reaction is that they need something that can process their normal Word documents and run their Windows programs. They are shocked to find out that Linux can run Windows programs and even more shocked to find out that Libre Office can open and process their Word documents. The next most common reaction is to claim that there must be a catch. Anything free cannot possible be as good as something that costs $500. But consider other important things which are free and useful: The Google Search Engine, which runs on Linux, is free and is the most popular website in the entire world. Public libraries are also free and do a great job of helping people gather information.
Linux isn’t a for-profit company. It’s a not-for-profit community
You are less likely to need help with Linux. But if you do, there are many active forums to help users overcome obstacles. No waiting on the phone for hours to talk with someone who knows less about computers than you do.
But if you still have trouble believing that Linux can be better than Windows, give it a try. Very few who make the move to open source ever go back to the old and insecure Windows operating system. Just ask the US Department of Defense. They use Linux – and not because it is free. They use it because it is the most secure operating system available. So far, we have simply covered the ten worst technical problems of the Windows operating system. In the next article, we will cover the design problems of Windows and explain why it will be much easier for folks migrating from Windows XP and Windows 7 to learn Linux instead of attempting to learn Windows.
Hidden Costs of the Microsoft Windows Monopoly
Microsoft updates and bloated code and vulnerability to computer viruses mean that all of our computers will slow down and crash over time. This means we will be not only required to buy new Windows programs – costing hundreds of dollars per year – but we will also needlessly be required to buy a new computer every 3 to 5 years. This doubles the profit Microsoft gets due to its monopoly. Assuming there are more than one billion computer users in the world today and that each one is forced to needlessly spend an extra thousand dollars to buy a new computer once their Microsoft computer finally crashes, the real direct cost of Windows 10 will eventually exceed one trillion dollars from us to Microsoft!
But even a trillion dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to other hidden costs of the Microsoft monopoly. First, consider the horrific working conditions that Microsoft imposes on workers around the world. Microsoft and Apple have both shot themselves in the foot by outsourcing both their manufacturing and their customer service to sweat shops in China and India. On May 22, 2013, Microsoft announced that they would hire “several thousand workers.” All of the new hires will be in China – where they already have thousands of workers. Steve Ballmer said at a press conference in Shanghai, “I visited China last about one year ago in May and it is remarkable to me how much has changed. At Microsoft this is an incredibly exciting time.”
Monopolies harm the entire world economy by destroying the rights of workers
Microsoft alone sucks $90 billion per year out of the economy. Add Apple and other monopolies and the total loss is over $200 billion per year. Moreover, the computer monopolies are just part of a much larger corporate monopoly system that has grown like a cancer on the US and world economy and political system in the past 30 years.
Monopolies harm everyone in the world
Microsoft is just like the predatory monopoly banking system where just a few mega banks control over half of the world’s wealth and like the energy monopoly where just a few mega oil companies control nearly all of the world’s energy resources. And just like the information monopoly where just a few families control most of the world news distribution on TV, radio and print. As a direct result of this concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few, the State and National tax burden has transferred from the rich to the poor and what is left of the middle class. As a percent of income, since 1980 and the rise of monopolies like Microsoft and Apple, the federal tax burden on the average middle class family has increased by over $1,000 per year in current dollars. The State tax burden has also increased by about $1,000 per year. And if you or a member of your family has the audacity to want to go to college, that hidden tax burden has tripled to the point where the total college debt is over $1 trillion.
This does not even include skyrocketing costs for everything from gasoline to health care – all due to the concentration of wealth and power in a few corporate monopolies controlled by a few wealthy crime families which control our economic and political systems. This is why our nation and planet are crippled by the worst economic crash since the Great Depression.
The real unemployment rate is over 17% with no real chance of recovery until there is a structural change in the US and world political and economic systems. Imagine the kind of jobs we could create and the kind of economic recovery we could have if we took the hundreds of billions and even trillions of dollars we now waste on commercial programs sold by corporate monopolies and used it instead to support local businesses or put solar panels on our homes. At 20,000 jobs per billion dollars, we could create at least 4 million jobs every year – and possibly more than 40 million jobs per year - just by moving to open source tools!
But the greatest hidden cost of continuing to support the Microsoft monopoly is the harm that Microsoft has done to our Democracy. Microsoft billionaires have used their extreme wealth to buy State and National elections, and evade paying billions of dollars in taxes by hiding their profits in offshore tax havens. If they are not going to be loyal to the American consumers who created their wealth, then why in the world should we continue to give them our hard earned money?
The Silver Linux Lining behind the dark Microsoft Dark Cloud
There is a silver lining to this dark cloud. If all one billion Microsoft Windows users decided to use Linux and Libre Office instead of Windows 10 and Office 365, that would be a savings to the general public of more than $500 billion dollars. This is a savings of $100 billion per year for the next five years for all of the world’s computer users! The only question remaining is what should we use to replace Windows? In the next article, we will provide a brief history of the evolution of open source operating systems. We will then provide a comparison of three open source operating systems to three closed source commercial operating systems.