When I see an article starting with the sentence saying a company offering free software has urged people to start reaping the benefits of free software, I get this sinking feeling. I mean, they would, wouldn't they - it's a bit like Microsoft saying everyone should get the benefit of total compatibility from its various offerings. True though it might be, it's hardly a surprise.
Which is why the announcement that Global Graphics is pushing people towards the free model left me cold at first. It's a supplier of the systems it wants to push - I therefore didn't look much beyond the first sentence of comment from the chief executive.
What actually caught my eye about the announcement was the claim that 74% of enterprises are already using this free stuff. And this led me to think: are these guys nuts? If your software fails and your company suffers, who's obliged to offer support if you're not actually paying for it?
And yet this is the way the software industry is starting to go. Microsoft's next version of Office will include a free one - once Google had offered its Docs service I suppose they didn't have the choice (now there's an interesting psychological point - I called it a service rather than software, completely automatically). Others will no doubt follow and of course OpenOffice has been there for a while.
Personally I'll keep paying for software as long as I can. I'm self-employed - and if my software goes pfft and leaves me in a hole, I want to be able to jump up and down a bit.