Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 30/08/2001From Rio de Janeiro to Florence, China to France, a new mood is in the air. Legislation is turning up that's forcing state and local governments to use open-source software instead of Microsoft OS and applications.

Thursday 30/08/2001

From Rio de Janeiro to Florence, China to France, a new mood is in the air. Legislation is turning up that's forcing state and local governments to use open-source software instead of Microsoft OS and applications. Microsoft does not like this one little bit -- although when it called such behaviour "un-American" the irony meter here at ZDNet emitted a small wisp of smoke and hasn't worked since. And when it gives Richard Stallman the chance to witter on about "the software needs of humanity", I even feel a little uneasy myself.

There is a huge risk in giving one company an effective monopoly on the global instruments of governance. Although it's unlikely that Bill Gates would ever seek to hold the world to ransom -- it's not as if he needs the money -- experience shows that at some point, he or his successors would be tempted by having so much power. Even if Microsoft itself remains wholly aloof from such things, we know that its software is vulnerable to attack from outside. If one system runs half the world, then one successful attack can bring down half the world.

Monocultures are dangerous, always. Nothing Microsoft can say can change that.

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