There’s so much press about the growth of free software in the United States but free / open source software is a HUGE consideration for developing countries as well.
Microsoft software can be VERY expensive and for countries looking to purchase and/or subsidize thousands or millions of computers, technology costs can quickly add up. Purchasing used or very cheap hardware and loading up free software can be a low cost way for economic development in developing countries like Brazil.
I do encourage small business to work with their consultants to see if they can save money by using some Linux solutions. HOWEVER, I do suggest that their core business applications stay with Microsoft Office as their basic competitor and customer is and will be using Microsoft Office for the long term. In addition, Microsoft Office is overall a VERY good application suite and has far more integrated and ready to use features than many of the free offerings.
The NY Times writes Since taking office two years ago, President Luiz In·cio Lula da Silva has turned Brazil into a tropical outpost of the free software movement.
Looking to save millions of dollars in royalties and licensing fees, Mr. da Silva has instructed government ministries and state-run companies to gradually switch from costly operating systems made by Microsoft and others to free operating systems, like Linux. On Mr. da Silva’s watch, Brazil has also become the first country to require any company or research institute that receives government financing to develop software to license it as open-source, meaning the underlying software code must be free to all.
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