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Microsoft Invites Dutch Free Software or GNU/Linux Evangelists

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 2:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“They may shove it,” say the activists

BACK in August we mentioned how Microsoft spammed registered GNU/Linux users in Austria. It may have been part of the love-buying campaign, which continues to this date.

As many readers are probably aware, Holland has already waved goodbye to proprietary software (including Microsoft’s) in a growing number of regions of the country. Microsoft, in response, threatened to sue. It’s almost as though it believes to be privileged and deserving of business no matter what the competition has to offer. This angered a lot Dutch people because it drips arrogance.

According to one of our readers: “Some cities in the Netherlands did [a migration to Free software] before and now that Amsterdam made this wise move, I expect many cities and other public services in NL to follow.

“Probably Theo Rinsema (CEO of Microsoft the Netherlands) will cry like a little baby again in the media, like he did before.

“The Microsoft Imperial is dying because they’ve lost their credibility.”“Unfortunately for Rinsema, his whining will probably be ignored by the vast majority. The Vole has screwed up. More and more companies, public services and end users are becoming aware of the fact that the Vole’s products are riddled with spyware and other flaws, out of the box.

“The Vole NL invited Free Software Activists – in public – for “Foot on the table (Voeten op tafel) sessions. Meaning a brainwash and probably free drinks and food to shut Free Software Activist’s mouth.

“I even received a personal invitation from a Microsoft employee, describing himself as a Microsoft something Evangelist something. So at least he was earnest.

“I declined and AFAIK all Free Software Activists did.

“They may shove their free drinks and food up their [.. wherever they prefer ..]

“The Microsoft Imperial is dying because they’ve lost their credibility. If they don’t remove their vicious spyware, they will be doomed to death.”

Coffee heart

Free as in “free coffee”

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  1. Jan Stedehouder said,

    October 30, 2008 at 3:42 pm


    Sorry Roy, but this is old news. Besides, there were free and open source activists at these meetings. Talking never hurts ;)

  2. mike said,

    October 30, 2008 at 5:34 pm


    “talking never hurt” — are you so sure? Why would they be doing it, if they didn’t expect to gain something? It might not be so tangible but don’t be so quick to repeat that oft-used, demonstrably false line.

    After-all how many people been conned out of serious money, merely by being talked to?

    (of course, a cynical `enemy’ wouldn’t so easily dismiss an opportunity to `know their enemy better’ either …).

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 30, 2008 at 5:39 pm


    My thoughts exactly. I’ll do a post about it shortly (very much related to this). In the mean time, also worth reading:


  4. Jan Stedehouder said,

    October 31, 2008 at 12:24 am


    Too bad you don’t understand the real gist of my comment. The statement about no free and open source activists being present at the Voeten op tafel sessions is not true. By simply copy/pasting it you undermine the validiity of all your other contributions.

    Just for clarification, the Voeten op tafel sessions had one topic only: Can guys/girls (free and open source activists) tell us (Microsoft) what we did or are doing wrong? Other obligations kept me from attending, but I know other people went, like Arjen Kamphuis, arguably a serious critic of Microsoft. And you know? Even months after attending the sessions he is still verociously promoting free and open source software. I guess the brainwashing didn’t work ;)

  5. ml2mst said,

    October 31, 2008 at 1:40 am


    Jan, what you call “Free Software Activists” I would rather call “Linux Users”. People who use GNU/Linux because it’s “hip” but are clueless, don’t value their Freedom and sell out.

    iGNUtius (on Webwereld)

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 31, 2008 at 4:51 am


    Here is some more information of interest. The reader I spoke to has dug up the “Open request for the foot on the table session” on Webwereld. The personal request for visiting Microsoft in Schiphol is in the same treat. Here’s what he wrote:

    I found one of the articles (English), which might be interesting.

    All of this is part of GOUD, Microsoft’s project to bribe Dutch public services.

    First was decided that all Public Services in Holland would megrate to Free Software and Open Standards. With the “Foot on the table” sessions and some sneaky way of buying the minister of Financial affairs Wouter Bos, who said “He didn’t understand a bit of it” (Ik snap er geen “hout” van).

    So here we have it again. Microsoft uses incompetent powerful people, who are clueless (concerning computer technology). What they achieved is that many public services will megrate to Windows Vista in stead of GNU/Linux, however they are free to choose GNU/Linux if they decide so.

    Very confusing and this made many people furious, including me.

  7. Jan Stedehouder said,

    October 31, 2008 at 5:12 am


    Sorry Roy, but did you check the date? December 15, 2007. That’s ten months ago!

    Not really a matter of “again”, don’t you think? Old news, false statements. Something you could have been angry about a year ago, but definitely shouldn’t have been presented here as a ‘new thing’.

    But, it’s your site. I prefer you keep pointing out the things we have to worry about now though.



  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 31, 2008 at 5:44 am


    Fair point, Jan. I was under the impression that it was news until a later stage of the correspondence.

  9. ml2mst said,

    October 31, 2008 at 7:08 am


    Jan, I don’t have the slightest idea, why on Earth you are defending the Vole. It is not Roy’s fault that he is presenting this as news.

    This is my and all my fellow Dutch Free Software Activist’s fault. We hided this information, probably because we are ashamed of it.

    Roy made this post because I responded to one of his articles at COLA (news://comp.os.linux.advocacy).

    I am the one who “leaked” this information, not Roy. Mr. Schestowitz is merely the messenger. – Don’t shoot the Messenger –

    Anyway, the genie is out of the bottle and thanks to BoycottNovell the world is able to see the Microsoft Dirty Tricks In Holland(tm)

  10. twitter said,

    October 31, 2008 at 9:14 am


    Hello Jan and welcome to software freedom.

    Unlike you, I don’t dismiss allegations because they are “old news.” As M$ knows, language barriers slow news down. This is especially true for gritty technical details like what software local offices are using and why. M$’s crime may be 10 months old but it’s news to me. Sometimes people have to get creative to get their point to the US audience where people might be able to regulate a large out of control company. Simply telling Roy about it is more straight forward.
    The free software community has been telling your company what they are doing wrong for decades. Give your users the four software freedoms. If you are not willing to do this, the least you can do is quit trying to corrupt hardware vendors, the ISO, governments around the world and let your new file formats sink or swim on their merits. Your company’s blatant assault on ISO has discredited both ISO and everyone who works for Microsoft. Who wants to talk to a bunch of crooks?
    Good for the Dutch to be throwing you out. The US government should be as clever.

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 31, 2008 at 9:33 am



    Jan is a Free software advocate. There must have been some misunderstanding here.

  12. twitter said,

    October 31, 2008 at 10:15 am


    Ah, I misunderstood her to be a M$ employee when she said, “Can guys/girls (free and open source activists) tell us (Microsoft) what we did or are doing wrong?” If that was the topic of conversation, it could have taken place in email as above. Glad a few people got a few javas out of M$ but not a brain washing.

  13. Jan Stedehouder said,

    October 31, 2008 at 10:57 am


    Thank you Roy, on two accounts.

    Marti, I am not defending Microsoft. I wish this site to remain as accurate and sharp as possible. Perhaps I don’t always agree with Roy’s position, but he does keep a keen eye on what happens with Microsoft, open source and what could amount to unhealthy influence. I believe you have done this site a disservice by not being as accurate as you should have been, in this case mixing up a recent decision by Amsterdam to move to open source desktops and a completely unrelated event that happened almost a year ago.

    Granted, I am not as disgusted by Microsoft as other free software advocates (as you see I have no qualms using the proper name of the company, as does Roy by the way). I believe we should approach the company and it’s employees with human decency. We might not respect some business practices and should expose those as veracious as possible, in order to create a level playing field where free and open source software can compete on quality and merit.

    For that I have expressed support for the free software movement in various ways, but that doesn’t stop me from being critical to some elements within that movement as well. I believe peer-criticism is a key to quality and my remarks about this article should only be seen in that context. I am saddened that you can only see it in the context of me being supportive of Microsoft.

    @ twitter
    As Roy pointed out, I am not on Microsoft’s payroll, didn’t receive a nice laptop to blog about Vista etcetera ;)

    And to clarify a bit, the Dutch government didn’t throw out Microsoft, not by a long shot. The main policy plan (Nederland Open in Verbinding) requires the use of open standards as of this year by the central government with the OpenDocument format at the forefront. However, it was clarified that this doesn’t mean that government institutions are obliged to use ODF internally, but it gives citizens the right to send and receive ODF documents when communicating with the government. Open source software should be included in new procurements in the future and – when found equal to proprietary solutions- give preferable treatment.

    The GOUD desktop, mentioned above, is Windows based and will receive -what was called- an open source rim, meaning it will be able to deal with open standards as they are approved.

    Vague? Exactly, and this means free and open source advocates are keeping a very keen eye on developments as they unfold.

    Kindest regards,

    Jan Stedehouder

    P.S. It is ‘he’ ;)

  14. ml2mst said,

    October 31, 2008 at 12:35 pm


    Jan, thank you for your respond, but I would like to point out a few things:

    1) I didn’t provide this information exclusively to BN. I posted it as a respond to an article on COLA.

    2) Roy (probably) used this information in this article, because it perfectily suits BN (exposing Microsoft’s Dirty Trics(tm)). It is our fault (for hiding this) not Roy’s. To him this is “news”. — Don’t shoot the messenger.

    3) Me and my fellow Dutch COLA posters kept this information behind, simply because COLA is infested with a bunch of hostile “Trolls”, who might abuse it against the COLA readership.

    4) If you disagree with Roy, than thats *YOUR PROBLEM* he simply wants the truth to be known, which is apparently a problem to you.

    5) You are _not_ representing the Free Software Movement in the Netherlands. You are running the Livre Website, which is supposed to be the #1 “Open Source” website in the Netherlands, which miserably fails in the eyes of real Free Software Activists.

    However unfortunately you have invited Microsoft Employees to your so called “Open Source” website and where criticized by Free Software Activists over and over again and you simply ignore the feedback of your users.

    When will you understand that the Free Software Movement and Microsoft are incompatible?

    I am very thankful to Roy for getting the truth (about Microsoft’s Dirty Trics in Holland) out in the open.

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 31, 2008 at 1:07 pm



    I did not realise that you had opened the [G|g]ates for Microsoft to cross the bridge and entice FL/OSS developers to harness Windows. Do you not realise how dangerous that it to GNU/Linux and the GPL? I hope you realise what Microsoft’s strategy is. If not, let me know and I’ll elaborate (with links and everything).

  16. Jan Stedehouder said,

    October 31, 2008 at 1:56 pm


    Well Roy, Marti is again mixing his personal opinion with selected bits of facts.

    Let me answer point 5, since that seems the only pertinent point at this junction. I am one of the editors of Livre, an online magazine that has been writing about free and open source software for some years now. I don’t run it, that is a gross exaggeration at best, a deliberate misrepresention at worst.

    Secondly, Livre is a platform for discussion where we have invited guest writers 99% of whom are active in free and open source software and open standards. I personally have ignored a few anonymous trolls that have left derogative remarks here and there, remarks that can found among some extreme members of the free software movement. Stupidity (forgive the phrase) does not deserve a rebuttal. We do listen to our users and even engage in a healthy debate now and then.

    Third, we have invited Microsoft to give their take on issues an a few occassions. I would need to check for the exact numbers, but my guess is that we did it less than 5 times in 2008. We run about 10 to 15 articles each week, so it’s a bit much too state we are on Microsofts payroll.

    Fourth, as Livre we decided to pursue a course of independent journalism and we did point out some serious weaknesses in the free and open source movement this year, one of which was the very close association of a major open source lobby group with a single commercial vendor. Compared to that we did run far more articles that were a critique of Microsoft’s handling of affairs.

    The point is that some people in the free software movement, a small minority, would prefer Livre to be a copy/paste machine of their press releases. Sorry, but we are not. By choice. If that makes us fail in the eyes of a few, so be it. That’s part of life: some people like you, more people don’t, and the rest of the world has no clue who you are.

    We do pay attention to developments in the free software movement and report on it, for instance the ‘freedom not fear’ campaign and it’s Dutch organizer, Vrijbits. What we didn’t report on was the abysmal program that was highly criticed by other parts of the free and open source movement. Again, that was a choice, because we feel the key issue (digital rights) should remain on the fore, not that lone speaker that believes the aliens will come.

    So, we didn’t open the floodgates for Microsoft. Heck, in decimal points it’s almost nill.

    And Marti, where did I claim to represent the free software movement in the Netherlands? Please stick to the facts, that makes for a healthier debate. Otherwise you run the risk of trolling as much as you blame others of doing that.

    Are Microsoft and the Free Software Movement incompatible? Perhaps it is to a small minority of that movement. On the FSF website you will find that at least one Microsoft open source license is fully compatible with the GPL, though the admission is grudgingly and it still recommended to move to an open platform. I have no idea what the future will bring in this regard. Microsoft has it’s own strategy, one that it will adapt to the pressure that it feels from governments and the market place.

    So, yes, I do know what it going on and that is why I care about setting the record straight about this article. We need at least one reliable source about the darker sides of that strategy. I am just sorry that Marti and his comrades prefer propaganda over truth, which is – in my opinion- as bad as the FUD that goes around about free and open source software.

    Where does that put me in the binary world of good versus evil, free software versus Microsoft? Sorry, but I don’t believe real life is binary. Promoting and evangelizing free and open solutions isn’t an all or nothing, zero sum game. I have embraced the notion of freedom that is at the heart of free software and I take that freedom, preferring my independent opinion over the approval of people who claim to represent the free software movement and the open source software movement. I have cooperated with both, debated with both and criticized both. You won’t find me at the extremes, but you will find me at various times and locations promoting the core values of free software. On nobody’s payroll but my own, earning respect by few, derision by others and ignored by the rest of the world.But, like I said, that’s life ;)

    Kindest regards,


  17. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 31, 2008 at 2:35 pm


    I was probably led to the wrong impression.

  18. Jan Stedehouder said,

    October 31, 2008 at 3:17 pm


    No problem, I enjoy a healthy debate.

    Oh, and to ‘prove’ Livre isn’t biased:


    In this article we promoted the FOSS4WIN cd, compiled by Marti (ml2mst):


    A great initiative.

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 31, 2008 at 3:32 pm


    I was once invited to write for the site too (in English). I don’t know enough about this though.

  20. G. Michaels said,

    October 31, 2008 at 4:59 pm


    > I was probably led to the wrong impression.

    No matter, you always have your best friend twitter to whip out the insults and “OMG YOU WORK FOR M$ AND I HATE YOU AND YOU SHOULD DIE” schizophrenic attacks.

    There’s something wrong with someone who can be so odious and go off attacking people like that. It’s really the detail he puts into those things that give you pause. Normal people would think before posting, and even then just voice their *suspicions* instead of cocking the gun and pulling the trigger.

    “Good for the Dutch to be throwing you out.” – comedy gold.

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

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