Free software, free speech

An pro-open source protester is arrested during a Bill Gates speech in China

It's interesting that Karoshi, a project to develop a free open source server solution for schools has been nominated in these awards. Increasingly, socially minded software developers are ganging together to provide such solutions, especially for the developing world where buying a copy of Windows Vista would bankrupt the average family or even small business.

The issue was recently highlighted when a protester calling for free computer software and open source programming crashed a speech at a Chinese university last week by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

The Chinese man walked on stage and unveiled a banner with "free software, open source" written in English. He has since been identified in newspapers as Wang Yang, also known as WangKaiyuan, chief China representative for Linux, the free operating system.

It is a testament to the continuing lock-down on free speech that a simple protest advocating free software - not even human rights - meant that he was still taken away for questioning by police.

Gates's presence in China can be explained by the fact that this is a country where Microsoft is enjoying enormous growth since its market in the developed world is already saturated and, if anything, is likely to shrink over the next few years. Hence why some commentators say that Windows Vista is a system designed with the sole intent to lock you in and stop you switching to anything else.