Open source lobby group Open Source Industry Australia (OSIA) has lashed out at Gartner analyst Annette Jump's claim that pre-installing Linux on PCs encourages piracy of Windows.
OSIA spokesperson Steven D'Aprano said Jump's findings were "extremely dubious" and the analyst's logic as "problematic at best and farcical at worst" since there was no fully specified methodology and a presentation of all raw numbers and polling methods.
"There is no advantage to PC resellers in using Linux as a means of shipping lower price PCs, which in turn are used to pirate Windows. These PC vendors can simply ship a PC without any operating system at all. This would make the resulting computer even cheaper than deploying Linux on it, as zero effort is needed to image the system. If PC vendors are selling computers with Linux pre-installed, that can only mean there is demand for Linux on the desktop," said D'Aprano.
"The Linux community is opposed to software piracy in all its forms. There is no advantage to the Linux community in using pirated Windows," he added. D'Aprano added that only Microsoft benefits from piracy.
"As Jump herself admits, 'Microsoft closed its eyes to counterfeiting, actually preferring that users turned to phoney versions rather than go to Linux. [This would] lock users into other Microsoft products,'" D'Aprano said quoting Jump's analysis.
D'Aprano said that if Gartner's conclusion were correct, then the logic can be extended by stating "that pre-installing Windows in turn must clearly encourage people to pirate application-level software; if there was no Windows OS on the PC, then users couldn't pirate other products like Photoshop, Microsoft Office or Dreamweaver which need Windows in order to be used."
"If Microsoft has a problem with piracy, it shouldn't be blamed on OEMs who sell PCs with Linux pre-installed or no operating system at all," continued D'Aprano.
"To discourage vendors from selling PCs with Linux installed because of the hypothetical loss of revenue to Microsoft goes against the spirit of the free market. While Microsoft seeks to avoid competition in the market, the Linux community believes in the free market. We have a better product at a cheaper price and Microsoft can't compete except by blaming us for piracy."
He added that Gartner should have observed the low incidence of illegal copying of open source software products.
"As such open source software can contribute billions of dollars to local economies by reducing software piracy. After two decades of closed-source's failure to address rampant piracy, open-source provides the only credible and successful solution to the problem. If it was serious about the piracy problem Gartner would be out there supporting preloaded Linux," concluded D'Aprano.