[Linux-aus] Has M$ bought off the SA Govt ?

Andrae Muys andrae.muys at braintree.com.au
Tue Jul 15 13:57:02 UTC 2003

Leon Brooks wrote:
> I think we need to work hard to broaden the field of enquiry from just 
> "can we see the source" - something pretty abstract and removed from 
> everyday life for Joe Random Politician - to what can we *really* do 
> with this stuff? How much does *this* tie us down in comparison with 
> *this*? What does *this* do to our trade-balance/employment/turnover 
> compared with *this*.

Thanks for making that point as it helped crystalise a vague feeling I 
have had for some time.  My father is a business man, and started 
teaching my siblings and I the basics of business and marketing from the 
moment we could comprehend money.  One thing I was taught early on was 
to consider FAB's, or Features, Advantages, Benefits[1].  As a quick 
example consider selling a can of coke.  One Feature is the caffiene, an 
associated Advantage is it will help keep you awake, however the reason 
you might buy it is because of the Benifit: You will be able to 
concentrate on your study for an extra hour and pass your exam in the 

The point is that people buy things because of the benefits, real or 
perceived, not the features or advantages.

Why is this important?  Because M$ is currently pursuing a reverse 
advertising campaign against FOSS.  They are spending alot of money 
explaining the features of FOSS[2] and comparing them to the benefits of 
proprietary software.

Notice how the ISC is busy explaining how FOSS provides open access to 
source code, and allows you to make modifications, and has low upfront 
costs, and feature this, and feature that... They are attempting to 
saturate peoples perceptions of FOSS with a list of features in an 
attempt to prevent us from effectively communicating the benefits of 
FOSS.  Worse still, it gives them an aura of objectivity, after all 
they're saying all these nice things about FOSS right!?

Leon is right.  We need to focus on the benefits of FOSS.

Feature: FOSS is more adaptable.
Advantage: Allows you to gain greater leverage from your existing IT 
staff and infrastructure.
Benefit: With FOSS, your organisation will be in a better position to 
exploit opportunities for growth.
Benefit: Your IT infrastructure will be more responsive to the changing 
needs of your organisation.

Feature: FOSS has no upfront cost.
Advantage: Small scale deployments require minimal capital expenditure.
Advantage: Cost of failure for experimentation is minimised.
Benefit: FOSS allows experimentation with solutions closer to the problem.
Benefit: FOSS results in more timely solutions to your problems with 
less risk.

Feature: FOSS includes modifiable source code.
Advantage: Guarrenteed non-discrimatory access to data.
Advantage: You can maintain it yourself.
Benefit: You now get complete control over any decision to upgrade vs. 
replace vs. maintain
Benefit: Your IT infrastructure is future proof.  With FOSS your IT 
strategy is now independent of any vendors decision to EOL a key 
product, or mandate migration to an alternative product line.

Could continue of course, but this email is already too long.  Needless 
to say, everytime the ISC or some other industry group mentions a FOSS 
feature, we should be responding by explaining the benefits attached. 
Even more so when we ourselves are initiating the comment.

Andrae Muys

[1] The business world has a preference for acronyms almost as extreme 
as ours in IT.

[2] Well their version/spin/perception[3] of the features.

[3] This is marketing... Perception IS MORE IMPORTANT than Reality![4]

[4] Let me reiterate... In this game Perception is the ONLY thing that 

Andrae Muys                       But can it generate *quantum* Haiku
<andrae.muys at braintree.com.au>    error messages, in Latin, where each
Engineer                          line of the error message is a
Braintree Communications          palindrome? -- Mike Vanier on perl

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