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Open Letter to Bill Gates; About Obsolete MS OSes

I started work a few weeks ago at a Anglican Church's community centre, in one of Christchurch's poorer suburbs. I am to be the tutor for a class of adult learners and techie for the community centre.

They have five computers, three running Windows 95 and two running Windows 98. It's all kosher, since they got them from a computer recycler I know, which has a charity license setup with Microsoft.

But I tried printing from the three running Windows 95, at differing times, via the printer server running Windows 98. It didn't work. The problem was not in the network, as they could all see one another, the problem was in the way the later Windows product treated the earlier one's print request.

This comes as no great surprise to me, since Microsoft after all has had a settled policy of pushing businesses using Microsoft products off the earlier ones in order to maximize profit. (Which has the effect of pushing these products onto the poorer communities, who after all are the beneficiaries of businesses' donations.)

It is a great PITA, though, because I am now responsible for maintaining those machines, and Microsoft has declared them obsolete. Microsoft understandably doesn't want to spend vast amounts of money on supporting obsolete products. Particularly when the people wanting support can't afford it.

So I am asking you, would you consider off-loading the provision of that support onto those self-same people who can't afford the latest fancy machines to run the latest up-to-date Microsoft Operating Systems.

Yes; that's what I mean - open-source them. That way, you can wash your hands of them, and stop worrying about their support.

What license? BSD, of course. I've investigated the Shared-Source licenses and the Shared Source license for the CLI, C# and JScript looks a little too much like the GPL.

And you have alleged that the GPL is viral, pacmanlike, a cancer. Plus, each of the Shared Source licenses I have investigated leaves Microsoft with too many onerous duties in relation to obsolete End-Of-Line products. Admittedly, the .NET Passport Manager Source Licensing Program doesn't have the non-commercial sort of restriction, but it still leaves Microsoft with far too much to do, and the product in this case is obsolete and End-Of-Line. But since the BSD license has been praised by most Microsoft executives, that should mean something.

The objective is to shift the onus for maintaining obsolete End-Of-Line software products off Microsoft's shoulders onto the shoulders of those still using them. Because this problem is world-wide and it isn't going to go away any time soon.