New Internationalist

Brazil throws Microsoft out of the windows

Issue 380

Brazil has pledged to invest heavily in its own software industry in a bid to keep pace with the technological advance of the developed nations. And to Microsoft’s chagrin, there won’t be a Start button in sight. The Government has thrown its weight behind the open-source software movement and plans to rid all its federal departments of the Microsoft Windows operating system. A driving force behind this initiative is the president of the Government’s National Institute for Information Technology (ITI), Sérgio Amadeu de Silveira. In his book Digital Exclusion: Misery in the Information Era, he argues that access to computing is essential to stop the growing gap between rich and poor. In a country where 46 million live below the poverty line, Amadeu is against proprietary software such as Windows chiefly because of the exorbitant licensing costs. Free software, he believes, will ‘democratize access to knowledge’. He has already built a network of 86 free computing centres in São Paulo. Now he plans to expand this base by setting up the Federal Government as an example for states and business to follow. ‘We have some islands in the Federal Government using open-source, but we want to create a continent,’ said Amadeu in a recent interview.

Sholto Macpherson

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