Does anybody care about Mr. Gates’s visit in Paris?

I think this is a question worth asking. Although this links to an article in French, you’ll probably get the idea: Bill Gates is visiting my beautiful city, Paris, just like many other well-known figures the U.S have brought to the world, such as Britney Spears, Georges W. Bush and Mr Potato. The major difference with them is that Bill Gates did not have to avoid mobs of curious people or fans (although I think Mr Potato managed to spend some time pretty much anonymously ). Bill Gates took the opportunity to enslave sign an agreement with the mayor of Paris that will provide educational and social services of the city with “free” PCs running Windows Vista (oh, Joy!).

So this world benefactor (I know, I know, he’s done a lot to fight AIDS. But wait, there’s more to it) that everybody loves had to set up a press conference with no journalists around, while bodyguards and roads were emptied for his cars to circulate. Here’s a man who’s loved by everybody, that comes to Paris for an initiative to help bridging the digital divide, and who has to hide from people.

Call me envious, jealous, or simply evil, but it’s been a long time I don’t buy into Mr Gate’s social initiatives. I call them enlightened self-interest, especially when it’s about offering computers running Vista to the poor the very same day the French gendarmerie is announcing the migration of 70,000 desktops to Ubuntu Linux. Yes, you read that right. If there’s any news this week coming from France, this is it.

Now, I respect what Mr Gates’s other initiatives worldwide, I truly do, because no good deed should be unappreciated. But this kind of political agreements trapping one and benefiting the other outlines how powerless behemoths like Microsoft arein front of Free Software. As time will go by, we will see more announcements related to migrations to the Linux desktop, and Microsoft should better realize this instead of vampirizing whole governments. No monopoly lasts for ever, just like no system is perfect. In fact, flawless systems only exist in the mind of their authors.

Let’s take an example: The City of Paris can boast one of the very best public cleaning services in the world (it truly has such one) .Yet everybody who ever walked in the streets of Paris has noticed how much dog’s poo lies on the sidewalks. Our public cleaning service is not perfect, and many citizens are just careless, although our cleaning service is improving every year.

That’s just the same with Free Software: Its adoption will continue to grow, but you will always learn about those dubious and grandiose announcements  related to Microsoft. If you pay too much attention to those, you will miss the bigger picture, just like paying attention to the annoyances on the street of Paris will make you miss how much this city is beautiful.

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