Ballmer’s Gold

Ballmer’s Gold

Here, we have a mug-shot of Steven Anthony Ballmer—the same Ballmer who has been ranting and raving that the Free Software Movement has “stolen” code from his precious Microsoft Windows OS, and incorporated it into software which we... uh... “give away” for free.

Question please, Mr Ballmer;

If we “stole” our operating systems from Microsoft, then how come our operating systems never “crash” in the monotonously regular fashion that every Windows OS has done since Windows 3.11?

If we “stole” our operating systems from Microsoft, then how come our security isn’t so bad that any bored school-kid can hack into it between homework assignments?

If we “stole” our operating systems from Microsoft, then how come we don’t need to spend more than the GDP of many smaller countries, on advertising, that tries to brainwash the public into only “using” our operating systems?

If we “stole” our operating systems from Microsoft, then how come we don’t need to twist the arms off hardware manufacturers, to ensure that they only ship computers with “our” operating systems installed?

Therein, lies the rub, Mr Ballmer.

You claim we owe you money, for Microsoft “patents” you claim we are using.

But we have been paying you for years, Mr Ballmer, whether we’ve liked it, or not.

Microsoft? Really? They owe us money?

I went to buy a new Thinkpad last year, Mr Ballmer.

I asked Lenovo Australia which models were configured to run with GNU/Linux. They got very mysterious on me. They told me they had “heard” of such a model, that “might” be getting produced overseas sometime in the “near” future, but then inferred that actually getting hold of such a model, in Australia, might be a somewhat difficult undertaking.

When I asked further about this, “model”, they quoted the most exotic-level Thinkpad imaginable, with an even more exotic price-tag attached to it. No, indeed, they couldn’t sell me any unit without a Microsoft operating system installed; for reasons they couldn’t adequately explain.

Don’t come talking to us about “royalties”, Mr Ballmer; you owe us!

Seeing I had to cop Microsoft, anyway, I got my Thinkpad cheaper from someone else.

Guess how long that XP lasted, after I first got it booted up?

That’s right: exactly as long as it takes to get a Kubuntu-install disk into the slot.

Now, I had to pay you an undisclosed amount of money, Mr Ballmer, for the sheer joy of not having an operating system I don’t use infesting my computer.

Worse still, a couple of months later, I had to pay you the same amount, again, when I got a new desktop setup.

Microsoft has been ripping all of us off for years, Mr Ballmer, in a big way.

All of the millions upon millions of free software users around the world, have had to fork out undisclosed amounts of money to your company, for a product on every new computer they purchase, that they don’t want, didn’t request, and will never use.

Maybe it’s high time all the GNU/Linux users around the world commenced a class-action against Microsoft, attempting to recover the millions of dollars they’ve been unwillingly forced to pay to your corporation when purchasing new computer hardware.

We call it the “Microsoft Tax”, but none of us are laughing at our little joke, especially when you then take it upon yourself to threaten us and demand even more money from us, for giving us absolutely nothing.

You’ve got a colossal hide, Mr Ballmer, coming ’round to us with your palm outstretched, seeking gold, for any reason whatsoever.



Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

You paid for a desktop computer with a preinstalled OS? Why didn't you just build your own?

Also, I've seen laptops with FreeDOS preinstalled. Not many, and not necessarily great deals, but they do come without an OS.

fredsambo's picture
Submitted by fredsambo on

Good job!

I think you speak for a lot of folks out there who have been using Free Software for years, including me! I think Dell's decision to pre-install Ubuntu was a direct result of Free Software users finally speaking out. The larger benefit of the Dell/Ubuntu deal is that finally a big player, like Dell, will now be helping leverage Hardware Manufacturers to produce stable device drivers. If we can get solid Video Card support and game manufactures start porting to GNU/Linux, we'll be really on our way!

Emil Kastberg's picture
Submitted by Emil Kastberg (not verified) on

Laurie - But why not find out what hardware parts are cool with GNU/Linux, buy them seperately and build the desktop computer yourself? It's really not that hard, and there's help to find. If you don't want to do that, I have to say it doesn't seem like it's important enough to you. ;)

Laurie Langham's picture

First of all, I now buy all my new equipment from Grays Online Auctions in Australia. All the major manufacturers run out their superseded stock-lines at this online auction before they introduce their new lines. In September 06, I got a new, with warranty, single-core Centrino Thinkpad for less than $A1200 at the very time that Lenovo Australia were still discounting the same model for $A1600, 'without' a battery and DVD r/w, on their website. This was when the new core-duo line was about to be released.

Then I wanted a new Thinkcentre server, but some new HP Athlon64 Presarios with a gig of ram, 200 gigs of hard drive, and all the bells and whistles were offered, and I got one for about $A700 instead of the recommended $A2000. They were no longer adequate for the threatened M$ Vista release, but they go like a blur with Kubuntu. I also got top-level Thinkcentre 17p and 19p LCD screens for less than $A200 each and a HP Photosmart for about the same price.

Quite frankly, against this sort of purchasing environment rolling my own was not a viable option.

However, because someone else in the house has grabbed the HP for a media-centre, and my new requirements for a server will include the lowest power consumption possible, I do intend to build my own. This will be solely a document server for historical research, which won't require any power-hungry video-cards, and will probably run Kubuntu Server, so the component selection won't be that critical other than low power consumption.

Emil Kastberg's picture
Submitted by Emil Kastberg (not verified) on

So you got to but them without Windows, or did you just save a truckload of money either way?

For low power consumption, you might consider DDR3 memory. It's just that they're really expensive. :/ And then there are SSD's, which are even more expensive...!!
No, really, CPU and MB are the most power hungry fellas...

Author information

Laurie Langham's picture


A retired, recent Kubuntu fanatic, who has graduated through Microsoft, Mandrake, Debian, Ubuntu,and now to Kubuntu.