Charity wins global support in Microsoft dispute

An Australian charity which donates old computers to under privileged kids is winning worldwide support in a licensing dispute against the software giant

An Australian charity has received applause from around the world after standing up to Microsoft Australia in a dispute over software licences.

"It is clear that the international audience is concerned that a well known philanthropist company and its major stake holder Mr Gates must understand that their hard line on charities is very damaging to their record," PCs for Kids president Colin Bayes said.

The non-profit organisation says it has received overwhelming support on an international scale in regards to the software giant's refusal to support the charity.

PCs for Kids recycles old computers and donates them to children. The organisation reformats Windows 3.11 or Windows 95, both of which are no longer supported by Microsoft.

The charity received a letter from Microsoft telling it to stop downloading its operating system onto computers as this was in breach of the software giant's copyright laws.

In the past two years, the charity has donated over 1000 recycled computers to under-privileged children, each containing old versions of Microsoft's operating system.

In an act of defiance, Bayes has sent a letter to Bill Gates saying that it is "rapacious in its grasp for control and profit is obvious...".

"But, never so obvious as in the matter quoted above, that a coporation of Microsoft's size and profitability, would act against a charity using software that is basically obsolete is reprehensible."

The charity has ceased the distribution of computers to children as it investigates ways in which to obtain legal Microsoft software or alternatives.

"One only hopes this stupid mess is resolved sooner rather than later. Let's face it, we are requesting to use operating software that Microsoft no longer supports," Bayes said.

In an earlier ZDNet report, Microsoft Australia said, "if you truly want to bridge the digital divide, you need to provide modern software that enables Internet access."

In one last attempt, PC's for Kids said it tried to convince Microsoft that the old computers would not run new versions of Microsoft's OS.

"Again the message fell on deaf ears," Bayes said.

For complete business coverage, see ZDNet UK's Enterprise Channel.

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