Today, The Linux Extremist, posted his attempts to compute what we in the Linux world call “The Microsoft Tax”, this is the extra cost of a computer with Windows as opposed to a computer without an operating system. His numbers are not all that surprising with an extra cost of 323.67 British pounds for Windows, Office, and Paint Shop Pro. In my eyes, the true purpose of his article was not so much to document the extra cost of Windows, but rather highlight that the Windows user must pay 323.67 in order to gain the functionality that us Linux users take for granted.
For example, most Windows users are used to buying a computer from the store and having it come with Windows, AOL trial software, and some other crippleware. To get Office costs Windows users an extra $120 or more. Try doing real artwork with MS Paint. By contrast, we in the Linux world get Linux for free (although one can pay $50 or more for a boxed version with a support contract – nothing wrong with that) along with a free office suite – Openoffice.org. We also get The GIMP, a program functionally somewhere between Paint Shop Pro and Adobe Photoshop. We also have other software such as K3B which is equivalent to Roxio or Nero CD/DVD burning software. We don’t have to first pay for the OS and then pay extra just to make it USEFUL! For more examples, check out the book I wrote about migrating away from Windows (available for free) at Lulu.com.
TLE also makes the same point I often try to make – that poorer countries benefit the most from Linux which allows them to catch up in the “digital divide” without having to pay the MS tax.