License Fees and GDP: When XP Costs Over a Years Salary

In developing countries, XP and Office can run to more than a year's salary. Is it any wonder that they turn to open source, observes Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, a programme leader, FLOSS, at MERIT/Infonomics, University of Maastricht, Netherlands.

There is a strong case for free software (also known as open source or libre software) being deployed widely in developing countries. As argued in this note, the open source development community provides an environment of intensive interactive skills development at little explicit cost, which is particularly useful for local development of skills, especially in economically disadvantaged regions. Further, this note argues that the controversy over total costs of ownership (TCO) of free vs. proprietary software is not applicable to developing countries and other regions with low labour costs, where the TCO advantage lies with open source, and the share of licence fees in TCO is much higher than in high labour cost countries. The note concludes with a table comparing license fees for proprietary software against GDP per capita for 176 countries.

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