Thanks for your post. It is a good reminder that as believers we have a responsibility not to needlessly offend. I didn't check my previous posts, but I would not be surprised to find that I have referred to Microsoft in the manners you find offensive.
I am a theological and political conservative and as such certainly support a capitalistic business model and limited government. Microsoft raises an interesting opportunity for discussion with my five children as we consider the role of government, the current anti-business propaganda in the media ("obscene profits of big oil" to cite an example), and the Biblical principles that should inform us. Is there a limit to laissez-faire capitalism and if so what should trigger it? As an American, I believe our founders envisioned a capitalism guided by Christian principles, but as we have moved away from Biblical ethic in our corporate and personal lives things have gotten murky.
My complaints about Microsoft fall into practical, economic, and ethical categories.
1. After spending 15 (literally) hours on the phone with Dell and doing three deep formats of my hard drive and being told there was nothing wrong with my hardware and they had no idea how to make Windows work right I switched to Linux four years ago. Dell was right, because that computer is still running fine on Mepis. Linux works for me with far less hastles than Windows.
2. As a pastor I realized that I needed to be a good steward of the resources the church had and my personal income was limited. The mandatory hardware and software upgrades became economically unfeasible. (Note: BibleWorks is very considerate of this concern in their software as is demonstrated by their Unicode policy.)
3. Some of Microsoft's practices and policies to defeat the competition by influencing legislators, government officials, and business partners seem unethical at times. A previous post pointed out that numerous discussions of these things can be found on the Internet. Does Microsoft have the right to write it's licensing in a very restrictive manner? Yes. So does BibleWorks, but they allow me to buy one copy and install on more than one computer if certain conditions are met. When M$ writes it's licenses that way they have every right. And I have every right to complain. I also have every right to complain about the intimidation they try to put out. Does M$ have the right to change the format of its word processor and other applications to make them incompatible with earlier versions so that they can lock people in to upgrades? Yes, and I have a right to object and to question the ethics of such a model. What is M$'s objection to ODF, is it really technical or is it really dollars? Why did they destroy the career of the CIO of Massachusetts, was it over technical concerns or dollars? Before becoming a pastor I worked for General Motors as an electrical engineer and an electrical maintenance supervisor. If I recall correctly our profit margin was 3-4% (this was in the '70s and I have not verified this). The other night I turned on BBC radio in the middle of a panel discussion about Microsoft. Some on the panel were defending Microsoft and its practices and some were questioning it. I don't know what occasioned the discussion. But, I think I heard them say, and both sides agreed, that Microsoft's profit margin was 85%. I don't know if this is correct or not. I have not tried to verify it. The point was made that overhead for software was pretty low compared to automobiles. Anyway, does Microsoft have a right to an 85% profit margin? Yes, but I have a right to complain, to questions the ethics, and to encourage people to consider other options.
The next few years, if the Lord tarries, will be interesting ones legally and commercially for the software industry. We shall see what is upheld in court and what is not and what the public will choose.
Perhaps we can all contribute to a better use of our resources.