Its about the baby steps.
One of the more interesting aspects of supporting Windows users is their love/hate relationship with their operating system and applications. Truth be told I don’t believe they give a damn about those pesky operating systems all they want to do is quote the mantra ” the computer is just a tool ” and then work out how to avoid paying legitimate license fees for software. Needless to say though they find the concept of being offered free stuff a little disconcerting. They do not like to loose the opportunity to be smart as they “defeat” the system and get their tools working without paying licensing fees.
One such classic example is a Business and BNI associate who approached me about his database requirements. Now this guy is a “canny” fellow and has created a niche business for himself which i cant help but respect for its simplicity of delivery .In short hes not lacking in brains deparment and will make good on any opportunity presented to him. Needless to say though he has the same emotional commitment to windows and its applications and would never consider switching to an other operating system. What he is willing to consider though is the possibility of running an open source ( and free ) application in his windows environment . His requirements are fairly standard customer management fair. He needs to be able to track sales leads, current customers, costs and sales. He wants to track what he has done for clients and he wants to streamline his business accounting requirements with his customer sales information. As usual he wants the world, an oyster and a big shiny pearl to go with it. So when I pointed him to SugarCRM and TINY ERP it was interesting to see where his initial value judgments were made. His acceptance was based on the website quality and how it presented itself to a business man, in this case Sugar CRM won. He was then voiced some concerns that this software could be free and would not have some clever restrictive loophole that would either cripple the software or lock him into contracts. In short this windows users mind is locked into the “where is the cost ?” mentality. As a businessman he wonders where the value is being generated in giving something away for almost free. Now this is an interesting question to me since If I was to offer a free mobile phone or free Internet access or even free Gym membership he would be able understand how the service extras will recover the cost of the apparent free thing. However this particular business model, free and open , does not spread so easily as a meme.
I don’t need to go repeating the mantras of Mr Raymond we know that software reproduction and distribution is not the cost of production and that softwares value has in reality no real value accept in how it meets an task assigned to it. What I would like to do though is , and this addresses previous posts, start a new meme about software which addresses the ideas currently stuck in peoples minds. Something along the lines of” Software is delivery and Service has value” are ideas that knock around at present but id be interested in knowing more.
One thing though is certain and that’s the apprehension and the concern over free and open source software is lessened by the continual exposure to free and open source software in the windows user world so whilst I love how my clients are using Ubuntu CDs, and I’ll blog about that tomorrow if I get the chance, I love taking time with the Windows user world to show them the bright and shiny pe[a]rls of opportunity available to them now.
Thanks for reading.