User influence on gigantic corporations

It has come up many times, that the users of software products have the most influence over how these greedy and gigantic companies operate. Why?
Written by Chris Clay Clay, Contributor

It has come up many times, that the users of software products have the most influence over how these greedy and gigantic companies operate. Why? Because if users do not use and/or buy products, these companies could not and would not exist.

Microsoft is probably one of the worst abusers of its consumers. Complex licensing programs are designed purposely to make customers overpay for licenses. Little to no discounts have been offered for upgrades, even for users that had already purchased Windows Vista for example, despite Microsoft's declaration that Vista was a "mistake". Secretly undermining the competition, using legal devices like software patents, so that users must go to Microsoft and pay royalties to Microsoft if they use non-Microsoft software. Vendor lock-in, where current customers are unable to use non-Microsoft software because their Microsoft products are incompatible and too expensive to migrate away from. Closely monitoring the software that its customers use, in order to keep them from installing the software on too many computers without paying more. And the list goes on.

If you agree with these points, you may feel helpless against a large corporation like this. But, you are not. You have the freedom to choose to use whatever software best suits you. And, if feasible, this means choosing to use open source software which doesn't have usage restrictions whatsoever, not to mention being completely free in most cases or having access to the source code if needed. If you don't like the ethics of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, or whatever company, simply stop using their products. If enough people do this, they will get the message. Today, moving away from Microsoft products is easier than ever, because there are alternatives available that do just as much, at zero or minimal cost. And, once the migration is complete, there are no more of these issues to worry about. Would you support a politician who goes against your views? Of course not. And the same should go with a software vendor.

Probably the most disturbing behavior today is the use of software patents to gain market share. This is essentially giving companies like Microsoft the ability to create a virtual monopoly. Unfortunately, others like Apple have also picked up on this idea.

Migrating away from Microsoft products IS possible, with a little time and patience. At a minimum, if you MUST use Windows on a physical (not virtual) PC, at a minimum you can use open source software on Windows. Using a completely open operating system like GNU/Linux is most ideal, however it's not for everybody.

In the end, it's a personal choice to use proprietary software vs. open source software. But in mass numbers, users can dramatically change the landscape and also pull a lot of weight against these massive corporations that are present today.

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