Its just the way it is

Being an open source software user sometimes I forget what other people have to go though. When we want something we just download it, install it and start playing with it. Theres no running to Wall-Mart or Newegg and forking over a large amount of money for a disk. Then spending an hour entering license numbers and confirming blood types for each user, just to end up calling support because the DRM has some bug that will not allow us to use our last name in the registration / activation form. We simply see something we like and use it, some of us even like it so much we decide to get involved and volunteer our time to improve it for others.

Today I was setting up an extra terminal at a restaurant that uses a closed source POS system. I will not mention the software company but I will say how much of a hassle it was. Not setting up but rather activating. I spent the good part of two hours just installing and activating the software. This was not time spent configuring or making the system work better, it was spent just making the software work "legally". The problem is this company will only talk to you if you pay for a support contract. They will not even allow you to download the software you have already purchased. They expect you to sign up for a support contract and pay for the new version of the software, which of course will not run on the older hardware. So on top of it you need new computers to. Luckily I did have an older version of the installer from another customer. I used that installer and then coped the program files over from another system that had the newer version on it. I then spent the next half hour registering DLL's and OCX files to make it work properly. The rest of the time was spent activating the software. Keep in mind this business has five legitimate licenses for this software and before today only had three in use. However, because the software is old the developer was not only not interested in helping activate it but actually told me that using it without a support contract was breaking the law. What law would that be exactly?

This software originally cost the company close to $10,000 when they originally purchased it about 6 years ago. So lets say you buy a new Ford and after you finish paying the payments Ford tells you that your now breaking the law for using their car without paying them. How does that make since. It doesn't make since, that's the point. So then why do people put up with this from software company's if they would not put up with it from automobile manufacturers. Have people been trained to think that this kind of treatment is OK?

I spent some time after this ordeal looking at POS offerings from the open source community and found one that looks almost identical to the system I installed today. It even has the same features, its called Floreant POS (Screenshot below). The best part is its free, not just without cost but completely free and open source. Its completely platform independent and is in use by company's like Denny's. It got me to thinking, why are people paying thousands of dollars for software with horrible support when their are alternatives that are not only free but also open.

(Floreant POS

In todays society we have a funny way of just excepting stuff because we think "its just the way it is". However, in reality we always have options. Many times the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.




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