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Brazil Government : Linux:YES, Microsoft:NO ! - 9/16/2004 5:31:16 AM   


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National Public Radio (NPR) is airing a story about the Brazillian government's initiative to migrate 40 percent of its computers to Free Software such as Linux by 2006. The four-minute spot includes great quotes from Brazillian government officials, including one likening Microsoft's marketing tactics to those of a drug dealer.

The NPR report, from Martin Kaste, says that the government of "left-leaning" President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva "has not been subtle" in its campaign to replace Microsoft software with Free Software such as Linux. "Earlier this year, the government's chief of software gave an interview in which he accused Microsoft of using the tactics of a drug pusher. The way he sees it, the company's offer to donate Windows to poor communities is just a ploy to hook them on Microsoft products," reports Kaste.

Kaste then quotes the leader of Brazil's alternative software program saying that Brazil simply cannot afford Windows. The country has paid more than a billion in software royalties and licenses to foreign companies since 1999, yet would have to pay another two billion to eliminate pirated software, the NPR report quotes the official saying.

Thus, the Brazillian government has decided to switch to open source, Kaste reports, in part because "Linux has become more user-friendly in recent years, and is beginning to go mainstream." Kaste adds that the government hopes to convert 40 percent of its computers to Free Software such as Linux by the end of President Lula da Silva's term in 2006.

Kaste then interviews an IT manager with a data processing company in Brazil that has already switched to Linux. The manager says that Free Software has better quality than Microsoft products, because it suffers from fewer security problems and is easier to manage, and that the next step is to get users to accept Linux on the desktop.

The NPR report then suggests that some Brazillians might be drawn to Linux and Free Software because of Brazillian patriotism, since some of the largest Open Source software companies are based in Brazil.

The report then concludes by saying that Microsoft would not give NPR an interview on the subject, but that the president of Microsoft Brazil had earlier told a Reuters reporter that it was a mistake for the Brazillian government to choose software for "ideological" reasons.

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