Sunday, March 15, 2009

Elevate America: Yes and No

Microsoft announces Elevate America initiative

I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand the US is in dire need of a program like this to bring the general tech skills up to par. I really hope it succeeds in its stated goal of offering training at all levels to all those in the US. We are following woefully behind the rest of the world in cell networks, internet penetration, education levels, and all sorts of other factors. Hopefully this program (or something similar) can both bring up the general education level and, as a result, make consumers push for better systems.

However, I'm extremely disappointed to see this being headed by Microsoft. Their track record squarely points this initiative devolving into a pro-Microsoft cheer fest; I have a feeling all the training will be exclusively for Microsoft products. It is true that this will improve tech skills on some level, but it is not what we need. Just as the government needs to start backing open source initiatives, so the public needs to get out from under Microsoft's thumb and learn that there is a whole universe outside the Microsoft ecosystem. Microsoft's products have their place but I think businesses and the populace could save a lot of money and headaches by trying the numerous open source offerings out there. Microsoft does not have the stranglehold on the world market as it does in the US, so if for nothing else, we should want to be able to interface with the rest of the world's countries as they mature and become our technological peers.

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