Here published with kind permission by Cybersource Pty. Ltd.

7th September, 2005

In a recent move which is both patronising and yet another instance of acting against the best interests of a foreign country, Microsoft is backing a proxy war against Linux and open source software adoption in China.

"By using arguments that even the most ignorant IT professional would recognise are bogus, the Microsoft-backed China Software Industry Association (CSIA) is doing little more than insult the intelligence of China's IT decision-makers1. This gaggle of tired anti-Linux falsities were discredited years ago, yet are still trotted out as the only weapon against Linux they have," said Con Zymaris, CEO of Cybersource, a Linux business with fifteen years experience. "This attack is little more than an incompetently executed anti-Linux hatchet job."

The reason for this sudden scaremongering? A projected 64% compound annual growth rate2 for Linux over the next 5 years - making it the fastest-growing computer platform in China. Which is in turn, the fastest growing computer market and thus, a dead serious threat to Microsoft.

Against CSIA's message of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD), here are the facts Microsoft don't want you to know:

  1. Yes, you can build profitable businesses around Linux, there are many thousands of these around the world, ranging from giants like IBM to sole-proprietor micro-businesses.
  2. Most open source developers have not 'died', as the CSIA has stated, nor have they moved on to other things. Most of the developers are healthy, happy and still coding on open source projects. In fact, there are over a million open source developers world-wide.
  3. Linux and open source software are not 'locked in lawsuits over copyright infringements' any more than Microsoft's proprietary software - in fact, less so. The only major instance of a lawsuit against Linux, the SCO vs. IBM case, withered when SCO could produce not a single line of copyright infringement as evidence to the judge.
  4. Software patents are not merely problems for Linux and open source, but for all software. While Linux developers are yet to pay a single dollar for patent infringement, Microsoft have paid out billions to Eolas, Alacritech, IBM, Gateway, Novel, Sun and others just in the last few years.
  5. More importantly, U.S. software patents do not even apply in China, making this a baseless FUD tactic.

"The key question is why would the China Software Industry Association choose now as the time to launch a major offensive against Linux? We suggest the fact that Microsoft recently joined this organisation offers an answer. It is obvious that Linux's huge success in China coupled with the likelihood of massive growth for the coming decade, are seriously threatening vested interests," continued Zymaris.

"In simple terms, Linux and open source software are the best means by which countries like China can avoid sending billions of dollars overseas to pay for software licences. It's the best way for the average Chinese citizen to afford high-quality software, legally. It's the best way for China to reduce copyright-infringement of proprietary software, which causes it embarrassment. It's the best approach towards fostering an indigenous software industry. Finally, it's the only way the Chinese government can be certain that it controls its own software destiny and security," continued Zymaris.

"We see that once again, as in Europe and South America, areas which have similarly seen extraordinary Linux growth, Microsoft is meddling against the best interests of foreign countries. Our suggestion to these countries is simple: in almost all circumstances, Microsoft's best interests are not your best interests. Every dollar Microsoft makes is a dollar you lose. Your best option is Linux and open source software. Make the right decision for your country," concluded Zymaris.


  1. Anti-Linux FUD hatchet job

  2. Linux revenues to grow at 64% a year in China

  3. Microsoft Joins China Software Industry Association