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Malaysia Saves with Free Software and ODF, Europe Rises Against Microsoft

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, SUN at 9:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But Novell throws mud

LAST WEEK WE heard about the significant news from Vietnam, which plans to move to Free software within a couple of years. On one occasion in the past we wrote about tricks that Intel and Microsoft had been pulling in Vietnam in order to secure a case of digital colonialism and the subject also arose in the IRC channel (late last week [1, 2, 3]).

Yesterday we saw another nation adopting a similar, pro-Free software stance (mentioned here) and Malaysia had already begun large-scale migrations to OpenOffice.org across the nation, backed by an ODF-supportive policy. Here is the latest encouraging report from Malaysia:

Say it with me slowly, forty million big ones !

That’s how much government agencies have saved by deploying open source software in favour of proprietary, and costly licensed technology in government ministries, departments and agencies.

A massive big up is due to the folks at MAMPU and the Open Source Competency Centre (OSCC) for this.

How might Microsoft respond to this*? Other than EDGI (which targeted StarOffice at the time [1, 2, 3]), Microsoft could probably resort to a favourite strategy which is infighting (civil wars). Technical evangelism presentation material from Microsoft specifically mentions this as a tactic, so "talking points" will continue to appear.

“One vector of FUD that’s aligned against the OpenOffice.org brand at this moment is Microsoft’s ally, Novell.”One vector of FUD that’s aligned against the OpenOffice.org brand at this moment is Microsoft’s ally, Novell. Microsoft rarely ridicules its rivals directly, but this new comment from Linux Today, titled “Talking Points for the Microsoft Trolls,” asked whether “[T]his is the December talking points list for the Microsoft Trolls.” The commenter refers to Michael Meeks. We wrote about this before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and ZDNet (where Microsoft connections do exist) is still kicking a dead horse by calling/labeling OpenOffice.org a “dying horse”, thereby shedding doubt on its future prospects. These insults are coming through Novell**. Having poisoned the minds of some people, ZDNet Asia generalises:

OpenOffice.org is still not past its expiry date, but more needs to be done to drive community participation and ensure the open source software remains relevant, say industry watchers.

Dana Blankenhorn fuels this. He comments on it too. Guess where? ZDNet.

Meeks was explicit in his meaning at the blog, saying Sun is disengaging from the project, that its participation is not being replaced, and that improvements are grinding toward a halt.

A talking points treadmill, poisoned minds, exaggeration, or is it genuine concern? Probably a combination of all these factors is at play. Either way, let’s press on.

Time may have passed since the OOXML corruptions, but activists from FFII have not given up. The real struggle for freedom is taking place right now when countries like Malaysia are choosing ODF. According to research from Andre at <No>OOXML, European SMEs were against OOXML, but their voices probably got hijacked by Microsoft henchmen like Jonathan Zuck and his handful of empty shells that masquerade as groups advocating for small business [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].

A real surprise to many observer of the Open XML debate was that most of the usual suspects of SME astroturf were not called to arms in the Open XML standard struggle. The new turf Voices for Innovation seriously lacked maturity and didn’t take off. The attempt appeared rather foolish. Vendor capture was not restrained but frank, as if European standard setting was the natural domain of European sales departments and partners. Another indication of SME weakness in the process.

As now all relevant sides agree that the ISO fasttrack process needs reform, I am curious what proposals the standard technocrats in Europe will come up with to strengthen true SME representation in the standard setting process. New instruments of competition law are expected to be developed to overcome the misrepresentation problem for which OOXML became a paradigm. How to crack down on future standard voting cartells in Europe and foreign influence? I wonder what reform suggestions NORMAPME would make.

It may have been a while since we last wrote about Microsoft’s OOXML mischiefs in Greece. Examples were included in:

The FFII in Greece has gotten some updates about its case against the government’s deal with Microsoft.

On 1 February 2006, the Greek government and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership agreement (the “Agreement”). At least 6 questions by the parliament remained unanswered by the government. On 10 January 2008, the government created a law proposal that would make the Agreement have the power of law. The law was approved by the Parliament on 29 January 2008. The FFII and the Hellenic Linux Users Group filed a complaint to the European Commission, which is still (as of 28 December 2008) under investigation.

“FFII Greece spent 4700 Eur on lawyer fees but the association didn’t make much buzz in other parts of Europe,” based on what we were told. Quebec took similar steps against the government’s illegitimate deals with Microsoft, as we last noted here. Many of these government deals are illegitimate at best and more likely just corrupt.

“The danger is that Microsoft is using strategic monopolistic pricing in the education market, with the government’s assistance, to turn our state university systems into private workforce training programs for Microsoft.”

Nathan Newman

Microsoft a  bad ride

* This is an exercise in ‘reverse-engineering’ reaction as means of analysis and prevention.

** Sun chooses not to confront publicly as that would make things worse.

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  1. aeshna23 said,

    January 13, 2009 at 2:34 pm


    “The real struggle for freedom is taking place right now when countries like Malaysia are choosing ODF. ”

    This is really weird thing to say about a country like Malaysia where the Islamic government murders people for changing their religion or for being gay. We should keep some perspective on the relative importance of freedom of conscience versus FOSS.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 13, 2009 at 2:43 pm


    We concentrate on software here, so the other points are less relevant. Lots of countries silence dissent in one way or another while they effectively daemonise other countries that do exactly what they do (i.e. they are hypocrites).

  3. Yoon Kit said,

    January 14, 2009 at 2:53 am


    > the Islamic government murders people for changing
    > their religion or for being gay

    Meh? Murder would be a strong allegation.
    Any links to this?


  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 14, 2009 at 5:09 am


    I was doing to ask for proof myself.

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