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Y does not mean X : decoding the MS reply

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RE: Microsoft says stealing in wrong Good reply Microsoft. Let us see what we can decode from this reply. Software Piracy is wrong. I actually like this one. They wrote the software and should profit from it. Of course, it costs more than the hardware it runs on, is often of poor quality, and generally makes everyone unhappy, but if you use it and keep using it upgrade after upgrade, you should pay for it. Don't blame US for the numbers we use, blame International Planning and Research IPR), and while we don't know if those numbers are cooked or not, they are probably far less than they seem. This statement implies that Microsoft doesn't look at the numbers it quotes in its marketing. Before I quote a number in a paper, I make sure that it is a valid measure of what I am talking about. If we follow this argument, then Marty Rimm's paper proves everyone on the Internet is a porn-head and the Bell Curve proves African blacks are genetically less intelligent than Anglo-Saxons. Good research reveals it data set for public comment. Good research (as opposed to Microsoft, the Bell Curve, and the Rimm report) measure what it actually attempts to prove and is approached from as unbiased a manner possible. Y does not mean X Without looking at the data sets, I can already tell you that they are somewhat suspect. Loss of jobs is an assumption that "X" number of people are needed to produce "Y" amount of product, and that an increase in "Y" will lead to an increase in "X". That is true, in a diminishing fashion, in the manufacture of cars, boats, hair dryers, or other consumer goods. In fact, it is not a perfect curb as increased demand may lead to increased automation and a net loss of jobs (even when you include the increase of capital production like automation equipment). The Software Industry is a Service Industry If Ys effect on X is not exactly true for manufacturing, it is not even remotely true for software. One set of engineers work on a Microsoft product. When that product is finished, it goes to a highly automated process of CD-ROM stamping and packaging. The difference in producing 10 or 100 or 15,000 copies is not much, certainly not a huge loss of jobs. The same goes for warehousing and distribution, which probably can move and store thousands of pieces of software a week for each employee. Sales, especially in the age of the Internet, are increasingly automated, adding fewer and fewer people. The largest segment of the work force exists merely to service and support software releases that are often difficult to maintain, understand, and deploy, both because of unintended bugs (don't blame Microsoft for bugs, everyone has them, Microsoft is just more lax than other companies in solving bugs before an initial software release) and because of design flaws that arise from the Microsoft corporate culture. This service force will be employed for pirated software or for legal software, no jobs lost. In fact, if Microsoft's OS side ever tighten up its act and adopted a culture closer to Adobe, Be, Apple, or even its own application division, it would cost these thousands of job, as well as jobs in the dozens of "Windows Patch" firms that sell software to make Windows work the way the press releases say it will. The Real Problem: If using bogus software is wrong, so is using bogus data (and lying). The problem in fact is not pirated software but a computer culture that accepts the "bending of the truth" (called lying in many places in the world) using bogus statistics and hidden agendas. The Linux tests show how decks can be stacked (and comically enough, Windows NT may not have needed that stacking - NT's poor performance against most versions of UNIX does not mean it automatically performs poorly against Linux) using less than scientific tests, while marketing people quote adoption rates, reliability rates, and other numbers that are about as valid as taste comparisons for soda pop. Look closely enough, and a researcher is presented with a startling array of "fibs" in Microsoft literature, from the LA Times discovery that Microsoft had hired public relations people to run a fake letters to the editors campaign in American media, to the shift of money from profitable quarters to unprofitable quarters to "fool" investors into thinking that Microsoft was consistently profitable. Sure, those are letters to the editor, but they were written by Microsoft, and I admit that a profit is a profit, but hiding profits is an unethical trick aimed at investors who deserve better. As a researcher, tainted research with a hidden agenda makes my teeth hurt, even when it is used for a good cause. Selling software is not a good cause, and Microsoft only plays into pirates hands when it feeds the world bad research with hidden data sets. ®

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