Ghosh ompared the licence fee for the (Windows XP + Office XP) bundle with the per capita GDP, and got some amazing numbers:
The results, even after software price discounts, showed that the cost of proprietary software for developing markets is "enormous" in terms of relative purchasing power. Buying Windows XP and Office XP on Amazon.com in the US is equal to almost 3 months of GDP per capita in South Africa and over 16 months of GDP per capita in Vietnam. This is equivalent to charging a single–user licence fee in the US of $7,541 and $48,011 respectively.
Even if software is discounted to account for local pricing, it is usually still extremely expensive and there is no guarantee that this discount will be sustained in the long term, says Ghosh.
Let us quickly compare things in India. I checked recently the price of Windows XP - Professional Edition, and it is about 6,000 rupees. This figure, when compared to India's per capita GDP of about 24,000 rupees (about 500 dollars), works out to about 3 months of per capita GDP. This is just for the operating system. [since this comparison is all in rupees, we don't have to worry about PPP adjustment].
We may be able to get PCs at under 10,000 rupees, and perhaps they come with some chopped-up, stripped-down, low-value version of Windows installed in them. Considering the ever-falling price of PCs, it is clear that an increasing fraction of the cost is going to be for the operating system software. If you add the cost of the other pieces of software that one needs, we are definitely racing to reach a stage where the software will cost more than hardware!
ICT for the masses will remain a dream if we insist that it should be Windows-driven and legal. At least one of them has to give. It is better to build our society on Open Source Software -- Linux operating system and all the applications that come bundled with it -- that is completely free and legal.[lint to the ZDNet story from slashdot]