08.27.07

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Has Microsoft ‘Bought’ the Vote for OOXML in Vietnam?

Posted in Asia, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, Videos at 3:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There are always reasons to suspect that something is amiss when you spot an exchange of favours and all sorts of special concessions. Some of them come at very critical times, so they are strategic. Sometimes, charitable causes are used as a disguise for a broader and self-centric agenda.

Recall recent stories, including Gates’ involvements in China. A bit of research brought up the following report about Vietnam.

In the context of the many open source national initiatives worldwide along with the pilot OLPC deployments, it should be noted that Microsoft has announced a development initiative for the “billions” of people in developing countries…

[...]

I’ll leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions on this latest turn of events.

There is clearly a great deal of manipulation going on. When the Linux-powered OLPC gains traction, for example, Gates introduces a $3 version of Windows. Vietnam, being a small country, would be an easy target to such manipulations. Its government is not renowned for the best of values, either.

From a Microsoft blog comes the announcement that Vietnam will support OOXML as an ISO standard. This is accompanies by the birth of what is not an anonymous blog, but a Microsoft DPE (i.e. lobbyist) blog whose address is yes2ooxml.blogspot.com/. It comes from Vietnam.

The following video from Vietnam was brought to YouTube a week ago. There is no translation available, but maybe the pictures tell a bit of a story.

The add context to this post, here are some interesting recent stories from Vietnam, whose Free software plan is continuously being subverted by Microsoft and its proxy, the BSA (I have been watching these stories closely for over a year). Be the judge, knowing what we know about Microsoft’s manipulation on OOXML in other countries. The following reports came after many articles (in the English language) about Vietnam adopting GNU/Linux and open source software (they sometimes call it “shareware”).

Microsoft CEO Visits Vietnam

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer witnessed the signing of an agreement Monday requiring all of Vietnam’s government offices to use licensed computer software in a step to curb rampant piracy.

Vietnam Praised for Economic Reforms (another URL)

“Vietnam has demonstrated to the world its capacity for quantum leaps,” said Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft Corp.

“It’s clear that the government has recognized that broad-based reform and economic liberalization are essential to Vietnam’s integration into the global economy,” Mundie said.

[...]

The summit has brought fresh opportunities, with Vietnam signing two deals with U.S. companies worth $1.5 billion.

Vietnam is to pay billions of dollars for software copyrights

If office software such as Windows and Office is used, the total amount for 6 million PCs will be 3 billion USD (600 million x 500 USD). And the government may have to pay about 1 billion USD to buy software copyrights for its 2 million employees.

Software copyright purchase: no monopoly in Govt [Vietnam's] agencies

Free open source software is encouraged for use in not only government agencies but in the whole of society as well. The purchase of Microsoft software copyright will help promote the wider use of open source software. If using illegal commercial software without having to pay fees, nobody would think of using open source software.

Intel, whose top executives have close ties with Microsoft, seem to be joining Microsoft in some of their trips to the nation.

Vietnam’s Communist Party gets help from Intel

The Communist Party’s decision to use open-source software matches a wider Vietnamese government effort. In 2004, the government announced plans to promote the use of open-source software in a bid to reduce its IT costs and promote the development of the local software industry.

Intel Raises Vietnam’s High-Tech Profile (another URL)

The latest Intel news, which follows an initial announcement in February to invest $300 million in the factory, comes as Vietnam is working hard to convince foreign companies to put their trust in a country many still equate with war and poverty.

It also is trying to overcome a reputation as one of the region’s worst violators of intellectual property rights. Vietnam has the highest percentage of pirated software in Asia, with copies of Microsoft Corp. operating systems available on the street for a couple dollars.

[...]

While the country remains a staunch one-party system, the communist government is opening up and pushing for economic reforms that will lead to a market economy. Vietnam’s fledgling high-tech sector also got a boost in April when Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates visited and was treated like a rock star by hundreds of cheering technology students.

[...]

“This is a very positive development, which will help to boost information technology industry in Vietnam in general and the software industry in particular,” said Tran Doan Kim, administrative head of Vietnam Software Association, or Vinasa. “Vietnam’s IT industry badly needs investment from a major foreign investor like Intel or Microsoft.”

Exchange of favours to stifle Free software adoption is one thing, but how about issuing unsubstantiated threats of lawsuits (also in east Asia)?

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3 Comments

  1. John Drinkwater said,

    August 28, 2007 at 6:25 am

    Gravatar

    Roy,
    I know it’s easy to find out the URL of your embeds, but could you provide links below the YouTube videos you post? Would be neat.

    Regards,

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 28, 2007 at 7:18 am

    Gravatar

    Will do. I’ll post a link to it unless I forget. Those with gnash/swfdec/transcoders can then have it translated locally.

    As an addendum to the above, moments ago I found the following breaking news:

    http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070827/india_microsoft_software_donation.html?.v=1
    “Microsoft to Boost Charity in India”

    India decided it would vote “no”, but keep a close eye on what they do in September.

  3. Progfou said,

    September 19, 2007 at 3:49 am

    Gravatar

    « The following video from Vietnam was brought to YouTube a week ago. There is no translation available, but maybe the pictures tell a bit of a story. »

    Well… What a good argument when one doesn’t even know what they are talking about…

    For your information, the Vietnamese guy who put this video online, M. Nghĩa, is one of the most active people here in Vietnam for promoting FOSS. He even distributes OOo and GNU/Linux (Ubuntu) CDs itself.

    We had a video-conference between Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh city and Mark Shuttleworth from Canonical (Ubuntu) recently. And M. Nghĩa was there, off course. Mark told the Vietnamese FOSS comunity his concern about voting against OOXML, why it was wrong and still voting no wasn’t voting against Microsoft.

    Note that Mark really does understand the real situation here: how come Vietnam could do without Microsoft when 99% of the industry here is using it? It will be a long way to go before being able to leave this technology-trap…

    But, again, Vietnamese people are not stupid! Yes they does deal with Microsoft, but just because they are enforced to do so! Vietnam wanted access to WTO, they got it at the price of having to reduce copyright violation as fast as possible. How come they could afford this without dealing with Microsoft to reduce prices? And please dont tell them they should go FOSS, they already know it! And they are even studying plan to do so! But it can’t be done in one day, neither one month, not even one year… And WTO is pushing off course…

    So, please, be carefull when writing article like this one… You only have may be half of the information (and may be less, since media often doesn’t know what they are talking about, as you said when you read Linux as a “shareware”) and not the best part of it for sure…

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