07.28.08

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The Games Microsoft Plays in GNU/Linux-bound South Africa

Posted in Africa, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, ISO, Windows at 2:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s subtle, yet very obvious

South Africa is gradually moving to Free software, but not without Microsoft’s interference. For example, recently there was a dumpage of 'adhesive' gratis software. Microsoft was aiming to capture the young minds first because they are least resistant to change, and thus can become trend-setting.

Proprietary software is like a drug in a state seeking a social and technical reform. Trust is lost when you in introduce and put it inside the equation. Several months or years after the original plan, figures came out to suggest that South Africa had lost a level of focus. Here is the article which has just been published:

During her speech, minister Fraser-Moleketi said that open source and open standards were important to government because they ensured interoperability and “guaranteed” the ability of government to “pass the baton” on to the next generation, unhindered by proprietary formats.

Open standards are favoured by most industry players because they are viewed as being less prescriptive than open source software which is very often associated with operating systems such as Linux.

Looking more closely at the numbers, this suggests that the delegates are a bit FOSS-hostile. Moreover, also based on the South African press, Microsoft now appears to be encouraging the deployment of FOSS on Windows and the rest of the Microsoft stack, using ‘donations’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

David Ives, Microsoft’s group lead developer and platform strategy director, says the laboratory means a total investment of about R700 000, including five high-end desktop Dell PCs with Microsoft Vista and two high-end Dell servers with Microsoft Windows Server 2008 installed.

“After some discussion with the Cape IT Initiative, we realised that many open source developers were struggling to get their software to run on various Microsoft products such as Exchange, so we decided to do this installation to help,” Ives says.

There are a few observations worth making to put things in perspective.

CompTIA, a Microsoft lobbying arm, was seen brainwashing the government on its trips [1, 2, 3] (Microsoft soon joined them too, which makes its intentions crystal clear). No wonder they move from Free software to open source and then settle for “open standards”, where this happens to include specifications that Microsoft rams down ISO’s throat by breaking the law.

It has become more or less clear that when a country decides to adopt Free software, Microsoft will play hardball against progress. It always knows better what’s good for its shareholders these countries.

“People everywhere love Windows.”

Bill Gates

“That particular meeting was followed by an anonymous smear campaign against one of the TC members. A letter was faxed to the organization of the TC member in question, accusing the TC member in question of helping politicize the issue (which is, of course, untrue). I too had the dubious pleasure of hearing first hand how Microsoft attempted to remove me from the TC (they did not succeed, thanks to integrity and cojones of the organization I am affiliated with).”

“If this unethical behaviour by Microsoft was not sufficiently despicable, they did the unthinkable by involving politics in what should have been a technical evaluation of the standard by writing to the head of the Malaysian standards organization and getting its business partners to engage in a negative letter writing campaign to indicate lack of support of ODF in the Malaysian market. Every single negative letter on ODF received by the Malaysian standards organization was written either by Microsoft, or a Microsoft business partner or a Microsoft affiliated organization (Initiative for Software Choice and IASA).

A Memo to Patrick Durusau

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