MANILA, November 23, 2005
 (STAR) By Ehda M. Dago-oc The Freeman - "If Linux makes sense [to your business] go ahead and use it," said Tep Misa director for Microsoft Philippines Inc., on the brewing issue of Internet Café's considering to shift to free Linux (operating system) over using costly Microsoft programs.

Misa was recently in Cebu, as keynote speaker during the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) general membership meeting, and talked about the continued usage of unlicensed Microsoft products, especially in establishments like internet cafes.

One of the new industries having good business performance is the Internet Café Industry in the Philippines. However, the industry is recently rocked by problems on piracy, as most operators apparently are using unlicensed Microsoft software products.

Thriving amidst thin profit margin, with huge investment outlay, most Internet Café operators are considering shifting to using Linux, over Microsoft platform, as the former does not require license cost or it's basically offered for free.

With Microsoft, which is known as the most "user friendly" operating system platform, license for every computer is pegged at an average of P5,000 (plus). For an Internet Café with 10 PCs (Personal Computer), owners are bound to invest another P55,000 for (Windows software) licensing which affectivity will last only for three years.

Misa said Microsoft is not threatened if Internet Café owners, or corporations, and other PC users are up to use Linux products saying, "It's all about choice, but there's reason why most vendors develop their platform on Microsoft."

Misa who has been meeting with Internet Café owners across the country, in the company's bid to curb piracy, came with detailed computation on how licensing contribute to an Internet Café's additional operating cost.

He said for a Café with 10 PCs, owner is bound to spend P3.11 million in three to five years, for total operating cost of his business. With this, only three percent can be spent on software licensing, on top of other costs, like gaming license, personnel salary, among others.

However, the Billgates-led Microsoft is not playing deaf on the Internet Café industry's problem, as it already developed a financing scheme in partnership with Banco de Oro to provide easy payment system, or installment for licensing expenses up to P300,000.

He mentioned that based on the detailed computation, Internet Cafes are spending more on the DSL connection, than on software licensing.

With this, Misa said operators are given the easiest way, just to "obey the law" or operate in legal way.

Prior to Microsoft's active effort to seize the usage of unlicensed software, Misa said nine out of 10 Internet Café operators in the country are using unlicensed Microsoft software.

He said the company has touched based with 1,200 Internet Café's nationwide, to urge operators into using licensed software.

According to Misa, the Internet Café industry is the most emotional and also the most resistant industry to face the IPR (intellectual property rights) issue.

In fact, Microsoft has received "death threats" apparently coming from Cebu and Davao because of this move, he mentioned.

In Cebu, the marketing arm of Microsoft Philippines in Visayas and Mindanao, Microsoft Development Partner (MDP) is currently working on to ink partnership with the Internet Café Association of Cebu (ICAC) to help its members maintain licensed Microsoft software products.

It is an "open secret" that a number of Internet Cafés are operating unlicensed Microsoft software, and under the law it is not allowed.

Already, the business of Internet Café alone has breached the regulation stipulated in the end-users agreement that the owner of the Microsoft software is not allowed to rent out, or let other party to use with a cost.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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