EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

10.29.07

Microsoft’s Exclusionary Deal in the UK: BECTA

Posted in Deals, Europe, Microsoft, Novell, Windows at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BECTA: The ‘Novell’ of the British Government?

“The press appears to be portraying BECTA as a victim at the moment, but that’s not the full story.”BECTA is a government-associated body which procures for education in the United Kingdom. The press appears to be portraying BECTA as a victim at the moment, but that’s not the full story. Biased and one-sided journalism? Well, what else is new?

It is actually the BBC that offers sympathy to BECTA. Ironically, yet unsurprisingly, the BBC itself is a 'victim' of Microsoft (mind the comments int he cited page). The same goes for the British Library and National Archives, but they are not this post’s focus. In short, a lot of the British government departments are essentially in Microsoft’s pocket and they operate in Microsoft’s favour at the expense of innocent taxpayers. Just ask Dr. Pugh, who is a Member of Parliament here.

Lawmaker blasts U.K. government on Microsoft policy

“A member of Parliament of the United Kingdom has launched a stinging attack on the U.K. government’s IT strategy, saying that it has given Microsoft too much control.

John Pugh, who is a member of Parliament, or MP, for Southport and a member of the Public Accounts Committee, was speaking in an adjournment debate on Tuesday that he had called. The aim of the debate, he said, was to explore the alternatives to using Microsoft software, including open source.”

According to the press, ‘poor BECTA’ suffers from Microsoft, which tries to take over British schools. But… it takes two to tango! BECTA just plays nice due to the European Commission’s new probe, we reckon. The OSC and others are on BECTA’s tail, so BECTA must find a way out of this mess and cover its behind. Here is a quick refresher from the news (multiple sources confirm consistency):

An advisor to Becta, the education technology quango, has complained to the European Commission about its procurement process for firms to provide online learning platforms and content to British schools.

Local Authorities are avoiding the use of Becta’s framework procurement for Learning Platforms, while the European Commission has formally registered Alpha Learning’s complaint that the framework failed to comply with European regulations for public procurement.

Open Source Consortium president, Mark Taylor, has been in contact to voice its opinion on the controversy surrounding Becta’s purchasing frameworks and the adoption of open source adoption in UK schools.

In short, it doesn’t make happy reading for Becta. “The essence of our concern is that they’re saying one thing and actually pursuing policies that are exclusive,” he said. “Becta’s own research shows there are major benefits [with open source], however the reality of the framework is that it excludes both products and services.”

MP Pugh reckons shcools should support independent or open source software firms. He says, “In my experience a school is a key part of the community and as such has a role to play in the economy of that community. By supporting SMEs the local high-technology industry will be encouraged which will benefit everyone.”

Nineteen MPs have accused a government agency of restricting the procurement of software in schools.

The UK Government’s own studies have shown savings of up to 60% can be made by schools and colleges using Open Source software. Despite this clear advantage, some MPs believe the software procurement frameworks from Becta and official advice from DfES effectively locks out the us of free, Open Source software.

Mind the fact that the items above do not cover the same incident. The criticism came from different directions at different stages.

Let’s assume that everyone has already become familiar with the stories cited above. Then, and only then, can one begin to consider the most recent ‘news’, which was reported by the (MS)BBC. The BBC’s report follows recent news about BECTA unleashing a report. The response to this report is not as welcoming as the press wishes to paint it. Those who have watches this problem for over a year and even had BECTA reported to the European Commission tell the full story better:

Here is one interpretation of BECTA’s complaint.

Rather than investing time and energy into helping to promote real alternatives to Redmond’s hold on school IT, Becta is simply using the OFT as a negotiating tool. Like many organisations, Becta seems incapable of thinking outside a Microsoft-defined box.

Here is another.

“Mark Taylor of the Open Source Consortium pressure group said: ‘This is a mini-step in the right direction but what Becta is actually doing is keeping Microsoft in front of the market to the exclusion of alternatives.’ He claimed Becta’s complaint is part of the process of negotiating a new contract for the use of Microsoft technology in schools and will therefore only add to the visibility of Microsoft in the market.”

Someone should truly follow the path taken by Linpro, which is located in Norway.

Schools will no longer be subjected to Windows licensing for Linux or Mac computers. Furthermore, Microsoft has accepted to discontinue their commercial bundling which required schools to buy several Microsoft products to obtain discounts.

Linpro seems to have successfully resolved this issue some months ago, but the damage done over the years translates into a great deal of lock-in that will be hard to leave behind. Still, it’s a decent first step in the right direction. Now it’s BECTA’s turn.

Many other countries (probably most of them) suffer from the same issue and the same tricks are being played. I just don’t happen to watch the procurement process in other countries very closely. Perhaps you should.

The story reflects on the nature of the deal with Novell in various ways:

  1. Capture of authority. Novell is one of the most powerful players that contribute to Linux and open source. Likewise, BECTA instructs virtually all schools in the UK, so controlling a position of command is a strategic priority to Microsoft.
  2. Lock-in strategy. The nature of the deal with BECTA is not only exclusionary, but it also imprisons young minds (students), whose personal data and skills will be tied to one software vendor. In the case of SUSE, ‘interoperability’ limits the ability to dance from one Linux distributor to another. The same goes for support coupons.
  3. Cost strategy. With Novell, licensing agreements mean that no matter if you buy SUSE or Windows, Microsoft will get paid. Similarly, in the UK, whether a school has some PCs running Mac OS and Linux or not, Microsoft will get paid for all the PCs, assuming all are dominated by Microsoft’s operating system and pricey office suite (or fall under Microsoft’s unsubstantiated patent claims).
  4. Secrecy and lack of transparency. BECTA’s last deal with Microsoft was signed just a few of months ago and there was no public disclosure about the deal, even though public money was involved. Remember Novell’s SEC filing? Remember how it was redacted? We also had to wait for 9 months before seeing anything, only to be left with more questions than answers [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Turning to BECTA again, part of he deal was that it had to remain secret, for competitive reasons (or maybe “antitrust” outcries). This was similar to the tricks Microsoft had used to impose a “chokehold” on OEMs (that’s the word which Conlin used in Iowa when she served heaps of compelling proof).

The exclusionary deals with the OEMs would actually make a good comparison when it comes to the deal with Novell. Will anyone be interested in a detailed analysis involving rotten OEM practices and the way they relate to the exclusionary deals with Novell et al?

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

2 Comments

  1. SubSonicMan said,

    October 29, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Gravatar

    That is why one of the first outcomes of the EU antitrust case should be forcing the unbundling of OEM PCs and Microsoft Products:

    http://www.digitalmajority.org/forum/t-23463/why-the-unbundling-windows-sceptics-are-wrong

    I see that the covert Microsoft practices hijacking high-IT-expenditure public agencies repeat themselves in every country.
    Take, for example Spain, where the proposed amendments of the Law for Citizen Access to the Public Administrations aiming at the promotion of Free Software were swiftly neutered by the Micrososft lobbies inside the Public Procurement Ministry:

    http://www.internautas.org/html/3950.html

    Or the infamous secret deal with the Chilean government by which Microsoft becomes the exclusive IT provider for software and IT-related-services.
    (And dont miss the photo):
    http://www.elreflejo.cl/wp-content/uploads/bachelet-microsoft_4.jpg
    http://www.liberaciondigital.org/blog/2007/08/carta-publica-sobre-acuerdo-ms-gobierno/

    The news in spanish, you can use babelish to translate it, I think yu get better translation than with google, which you can try as well:
    http://babelfish.altavista.com/
    http://www.google.com/translate_t

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 29, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Gravatar

    I am aware of the news in Chile (mentioned here before), but the news from Spain is new to me. It’s unsurprising.

    Watch this essay that was published only hours ago:

    A Call To Accountability

    Not only do you have Teachers and Administrators who are protecting Microsoft (isn’t money wonderful?), you have System Administrators and Network Technicians that lock their heels on any movement to change the system to FOSS. Between job security, laziness and politics, Microsoft has fairly well assured itself a solid and substantial place in the United States educational system.

    [...]

    It’s your money. You’ve paid dearly for our public school system and you have the right to know how many millions the schools are putting into the pockets of Bill Gates. Wouldn’t that money be better used to educate our kids?

    I might as well press ahead and publish something which discusses the exclusionary deals with the OEMs also. Essentially, the same tricks are being played with Linux vendors, education ministries (or “governments”, to generalise a bit), and OEMs.

What Else is New


  1. The European Patent Office Goes Down a Very Slippery Slope by Promoting and Defending Patents on Life/Nature in Defiance of Parliament and the EPC

    The reluctance to obey the law at the EPO is very much noteworthy; things have gotten so bad that nature and life itself become 'corporate property' or monopoly



  2. Software Patents Are in a Freefall in Courts Worldwide, But the EPO Keeps Granting and Promoting These

    Courts are tearing down abstract patents, but this has neither deterred nor discouraged António Campinos from coming up with new buzzwords and acronyms by which to promote these and grant these to applicants



  3. Team UPC Excited Over Nothing, President Campinos Rarely Even Mentions UPC Anymore

    President Campinos started his term with UPC advocacy, but he has barely even mentioned the acronym since then. In fact, it seems increasingly unlikely that UPC can ever materialise with just month left before Brexit



  4. Battistelli's Bodyguard Has Been Arrested, But Battistelli Should Join Him

    Alexandre Benalla and Vincent Crase end up in prison; will French investigators bother checking Benalla's past with Battistelli as well as other Battistelli scandals (incidents of law-breaking and of corruption)?



  5. Links 22/2/2019: GNOME 3.32 Beta 2 Released and Fedora 30 Flicker-Free Boot

    Links for the day



  6. Links 20/2/2019: digiKam 6.0.0, Cockpit 188, Mesa 19.0 RC5

    Links for the day



  7. How Long Can the EPO Bend the Rules Before the Avalanche of Invalid Software Patents?

    A 35 U.S.C. § 101/SCOTUS moment in Europe will likely squash loads of abstract European Patents granted by the EPO; shouldn’t the EPO foresee this and immediately cease granting such obviously bogus patents, whose main beneficiary is a bunch of patent trolls?



  8. Battistelli Trashed 223 Millions (of Stakeholders' Euros) on a System That Destroyed the European Patent Office and Made Few Private Corporations a Lot Richer

    A quarter of a billion euros later the EPO finally admits in private that this was a massive failure



  9. Links 19/2/2019: Mesa 18.3.4, Cutelyst 2.7.0, Plasma Pass 1.0.0

    Links for the day



  10. What Happened in the United States Now Happens in Europe: Lots of Patents Turn Out to Be Bunk, Fake, Bogus, Invalid and Thus Worthless

    Worthless patents — not opposition to such patents — are the greatest threat to the legitimacy of the patent system, yet bureaucrats fail to heed the warning in the name of short-term profits



  11. Stephen Rowan's and Nellie Simon's Letter to EPO Staff: eDossier Has “Not Reached the Required Quality Levels.”

    We've just commented on it; here is the raw letter in full, explaining that eDossier and related frameworks will be abandoned entirely and indefinitely within less than a fortnight



  12. Search Matters Not at the European Patent Office

    The EPO has found out that "System Battistelli" has been catastrophic for the quality of patents; it stops short of openly admitting it as such and in fact it keeps the message strictly confidential (explained to insiders, who will inevitably notice a system being abandoned)



  13. António Campinos Still Needs to Undo Battistelli's Union-Busting Activities at the EPO

    Solidarity and support for Laurent Prunier are needed because the new French president lacks empathy even for fellow Frenchmen whose sole 'crime' is that they represented EPO staff



  14. Links 18/2/2019: Linux 5.0 RC7, RISC-V Spreading Fast

    Links for the day



  15. António Campinos Still Needs to Hold Team Battistelli Accountable for Illegally Bringing Weapons to the EPO

    It is imperative that, in order to repair the reputation of the European Patent Office (EPO), António Campinos should pursue accountability for the managers who brought Benalla and firearms to the Office (very serious breach of German law, jail sentence included)



  16. Links 17/2/2019: Compiz 0.9.14.0, Geary 0.13.0, GNU FreeDink 109.6, Debian 9.8, Texinfo 6.6

    Links for the day



  17. Amazon's Patent Policy Should be Enough of a Reason to Boycott Amazon and AWS

    There are many things to criticise Amazon and its founder for; but rarely does the mainstream media bring up the company's appalling patent policy



  18. Don't Use Cloudflare Because You Impose This on People Who Least Want It

    Reasons to stop making the World Wide Web so heavily dependent on some dubious companies like Cloudflare, which already has a worrisome track record



  19. How Many/Most EPO Examiners View 'President' António Campinos

    Based on what readers/insiders have told us, there’s a prevalent perception that António Campinos is afraid of (thus controlled/directed by) Bergot, who is still doing Battistelli’s biddings at the European Patent Office (EPO)



  20. Techrights' Priorities Over the Years

    An old priority of ours, eliminating software patents in the United States, is no longer quite so relevant because such patents are perishing in US courts, with or without outside intervention such as activism



  21. Courts in Disagreement: Warning on Wrongly-Granted European Patents and the Looming Collapse of All Software Patents in Europe

    By devaluing patents and reducing their perceived worth (as is happening in China and Europe) patent offices risk decreasing participation in the very system they fundamentally depend on



  22. Computing Will Not Necessarily Make the World a Better Place

    The vision of "happy world" (because each person has a so-called 'smart' 'phone') is a yuppie delusion that overlooks business models and corporate interests



  23. EPO Grants Fake European Patents -- Including Software Patents -- and European Courts Keep Rejecting These

    The demise of the legitimacy or perceived validity of European Patents is measurable and the system isn't the same anymore; the EPO makes no effort to change this for the better, either



  24. Nobody But Patent Trolls and Litigators Will Benefit From the Corruption of the European Patent Office

    IAM, EPO leadership, Iancu and the rest of these raiders are enabling corruption and facilitating or supporting a racket; that money they collect comes at the expense of future victims of their "clients" or "customers" (that's what they call applicants, to whom they grant dubious monopolies as a matter of urgency)



  25. WSL is a Misleading Acronym/Name Because There's No Linux in It, It's Just Windows

    When Microsoft says "Linux" (as in "Microsoft loves Linux") what it actually means is Windows and/or Azure



  26. Links 16/2/2019: Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS, PyCharm 2019.1 EAP 4

    Links for the day



  27. Outline/Index of the Alexandre Benalla/Battistelli Scandal

    Our writings about the scandals implicating Benalla and the European Patent Office (EPO)



  28. Reading Techrights on a Mobile Device Running Android

    A new Android app for reading this site is being tested



  29. Links 14/2/2019: “I Love Free Software Day” and Mesa 19.0 RC4 Released

    Links for the day



  30. “EPO Lawlessness Again”

    Blackberry uses bogus European Patents (on software) for lawsuits; "all of them pure software patents. Patents on programs for computers as such," as Müller puts it


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts