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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 November 2014

Take over software giants

John Sharpe

The article "Private companies hold NHS to ransom" (Socialist 830) showed how giant software companies can exploit their near monopoly position. It isn't only the NHS that finds itself in this position. And apart from Microsoft, Adobe, McAfee and others are all at it.

As the article explains, Open Source software could be an alternative to continually handing over money to big business. Everyone would back that. One drawback - you have to support it yourself.

Free to use?

Even a small network of say, fifty users, would be hard to support without a dedicated team of skilled software engineers. The email system alone is horrendously complex to make secure and reliable. These costs tie even large companies to Microsoft and their ilk. 'Free to download' is not the same as 'free to use'.

The Open Source community can offer support and fixes, eventually. But when the boss stands next to your desk constantly, demanding to know where his emails are, it can be career limiting.

'In the cloud'

The next big wheeze is 'in the cloud' computing. You don't buy or own any software, but for a monthly per user fee you can rent it. That cranks up the dial on the treadmill to eleven.

These big companies will also keep all your data on their servers, which is very kind of them. Decline and decide to stick with what you've got, and you face having unsupported software that will become ever more out of date and vulnerable to attack from viruses. That's exactly the position the NHS was in.

Cloud computing is not necessarily a bad idea and might be developed in a socialist society. That is why the article rightly demands that "the huge IT companies should be run under democratic working class control and management".

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In The Socialist 5 November 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Cold, cruel cuts: Fight the Con-Dem attacks

The Con-Dems' Machiavellian cuts

All main parties in crisis: where will the opposition go?

Pressure mounts on zero-hour contracts

Them & Us


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Every penny counts: donate to Socialism 2014

TUSC fights for health centre

Carlisle: Stop the car parking tax

Socialist Students campaign reports


International socialist news and analysis

Ireland water tax: 'We won't pay'

Burkina Faso: Mass uprising ousts dictator


Socialist Party workplace news

Back fresh strikes to save the NHS

Defend firefighters' right to strike!

Victory to St Mungo's strikers

Sheffield Green workers start indefinite strike

Greenwich libraries victory

Police staff ballot for decent pay

Ritzy cinema bosses back down

Kent: Range wardens strike

Workplace news in brief


Readers' comments

Agree with Russell Brand? Join the Socialist Party!

Ebola virus crisis - no profit, no vaccine

Repel the Tories' attacks on our democratic rights

Portsmouth jihadis: austerity and alienation to blame

Take over software giants


Obituary

Benny Adams


 

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