Unix users up in arms at Bill Gates' knighthood

The UK Unix users' group is unhappy about Bill Gates receiving an honorary knighthood, saying that Microsoft's licence fees negate any contribution the company's chairman has made

The UK Unix User Group is up in arms at the prospect of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates receiving an honorary knighthood.

Following the news that the Microsoft founder, who is the world's wealthiest man, will receive an honorary knighthood for "services to global enterprise", the group said it "had serious reservations at such an award".

"Microsoft's use of unfair business practices to damage its competitors and to extend its de facto monopolies in desktop and consumer computing has been before the courts many times," said the group. "Microsoft's software has been written with scant regard for security, pushing the enormous cost of counteracting viruses/spam, and for repairing their damage, onto its own customers." Other operating systems rarely suffer such problems, said UKUUG chairman Charles Curran, "having been designed with security and robustness as goals rather than as afterthoughts."

The UKUUG bills itself as a non-profit organisation and technical forum for the advocacy of Unix and Unix-like operating systems, the promotion of open-source software, and the advancement of open programming standards and networking protocols.

Curran took particular offence to the reasons given by the Foreign Office for the award, which included recognition of Gates' outstanding contribution to enterprise, employment, education and the voluntary sector in the UK.

"Given the enormous sums paid to Microsoft as licence fees by the British public and private sector every year," said Curran, "it is doubtful that he even makes a net contribution, still less an 'outstanding' one."

"It is particularly unfortunate that this honour should be given at a time when government and business finally have real alternatives to Microsoft on PCs," Curran added. "The UKUUG believes that the government, as a matter of urgency, should get serious about using alternatives like Linux to reduce the costs of UK enterprise, employment, education, and voluntary sectors."

Microsoft was not immediately able to pick up the gauntlet.