OpenOffice and Anti-Americanism

This interview with Sam Hiser of OpenOffice.org (OOo) has a quote that dovetails nicely with this New Yorker article on U.S. Foreign Policy. First, the interview quote:

Honestly, just OOo/SO’s file format is enough to make governments around the world swoon. It’s because, ex-USA, they are very nervous about a single entity (and an American one, to boot) controlling, like, noticeable portions of their national budgets and they just want to be sure that their citizens have open access to information forever. OpenOffice.org 1.0 / StarOffice 6.0 do that. It’s quite a lot.

And now, the quote from the New Yorker:

But countries will obstruct American purposes whenever and in whatever way they can, and the pursuit of American interests will have to be undertaken through coercion rather than consensus. Anti-Americanism will become the global language of political protest […]

Since Microsoft is seen by many as a quintessentially American company, people are going to begin to resist their software. Of course, Microsoft will step in with aid packages and diplomatic pressure as they’ve tried to do in Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Taiwan, Germany, and France. For a global company to be so closely identified with a nation that people dislike and are often politically opposed to seems like a dangerous business move. In fact, in the case of Peru,

“They are terrified,” Villanueva told Wired News. “They insisted once and again that Peru (represents) but an insignificant portion of their total income. What worries them is the cascading effect that could be triggered if a national state took such a decision.”

Of course, this is long term, five years at the earliest for open source alternatives to take a sizable chunk of the desktop market, but I don’t think that Microsoft’s dominance in the computing world can be sustained as long as they are so closely identified with the U.S.

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