Charity's battle with Microsoft hits a nerve

PCs for Kids, the Australian charity that refurbishes PCs, has been flooded with messages of support in its fight over Windows licensing fees
Written by Megan McAuliffe, Contributor

A decision by a husband and wife team to take on software giant Microsoft has hit a nerve with computer buffs around the world.

Colin and Therresa Bayes, who set up PCs for Kids in 1999, have been embroiled in a standoff with Microsoft over the installation of obsolete operating systems on recycled computers which are donated to underprivileged kids.

The Australian charity claims its Web site has been inundated with support from all corners of the globe since news of their plight got out.

The couple says hits to the site have risen from 400 a day to around 20,000, including 15,000 hits from the United States in a 24-hour period. She says most visitors are in support of PCs for Kids.

"[Microsoft] missed their Kodak moment and decided to turn their back on the kids, they have to put up with the public outcry."

"Only half a dozen of the emails have been in favour of Microsoft, they were mostly software developers with monitory stake," PCs for Kids, Therresa Bayes said. However, she says even those in support of Microsoft congratulated the couple for their efforts in helping kids.

Bayes says the public support highlights the need for individuals or corporations to be much more generous.

Earlier this month, Microsoft threatened legal action against the charity which, in turn, stood its ground and initiated discussions with the software giant.

Microsoft has agreed that there would be "no further action" for the past hard loading of its operating system, however, a solution for the charity to continue donating computers with legal software installed has so far not been reached.

Microsoft Australia released a statement after meeting the charity this week to discuss an application for software under its Community Assistance Initiative (CAI).

"Given concern about PCs for Kids, we are doing everything to expidite the application process and are hoping to ensure continued support...."

According to Bayes, Microsoft is now scrambling to come up with some sort of solution.

"They do want to fix the problem, they just don't know how to do it in a way that they don't look like they're condoning people to operate software illegally," she said.

A ZDNet reader said, "given that Microsoft have already been paid once for the [old] Operating Systems I think that they probably should give PCs for Kids a break."

Another suggested the charity use Linux's operating system, saying it would create a "generation of kids bought up using open-source software, not tied to the Microsoft monopoly."

"The only operating system that they can use with absolute assurance of not being sued is Linux," another reader said.

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