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04.18.09

Possible Microsoft Influence in FOSS Press, ISO, India, Portugal, and South Africa

Posted in Africa, Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 4:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Money house
Trust thy institute

Summary: A batch of stories that deserve greater attention

THIS IS A SET of new observations about Microsoft’s affairs in international establishments and governments.

Beware the Black Ducks

It is worrying to find that a purely proprietary software company created by a (former) Microsoft employee is becoming some sort of a self-appointed speaker for FOSS. A few days ago we found Black Duck Software cited in some major publications where its take on open source is embraced without question, despite the company’s sheer hypocrisy (it doesn’t even do open source) and occasional FUD, which is exactly how it makes business for itself. It’s the classic business model to offer medicine which combats perceived risk and newly-created problems.

ISO

The OOXML fiasco is far from over and there is a new scandal brewing. To summarise:

ISO SC34, now heavily controlled by Microsoft people who go to ISO meeting happening all over the planet, has published a report of defects of the pseudo ISO standard ISO29500. They do not provide a definition of what is an “existing document”.

That’s what happens when ISO gets controlled by Microsoft (at least the relevant parts of it).

India

In previous writings about the Bharatiya Janata Party (in India) [1, 2] we placed insufficient emphasis on this party’s level of posturing (potential stunt). We first witnessed it a few days ago and we have readers provide us with more evidence that includes:

The BJP’s awkward embrace of Free Software

[...]

The IT manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party has created ripples among software circles with its support for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), and its opposition to “digital standards.” While the Kerala government has a policy that makes the use of FOSS in government and education mandatory, Tamil Nadu has implemented it in a few departments. Left parties have for long backed the Free Software movement politically. It is surprising that the BJP, with its strong pro-corporate and pro-patent leanings, should back this cause.

[...]

Consider this. As late as January 2009, the BJP government in Gujarat, led by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, inked a deal with the global proprietary software giant Microsoft that includes a Microsoft-developed IT curriculum for high school students, teacher training, certification programmes, and offers free Microsoft software development tools to universities.

This seems like a very easy target for Indian EDGI [1, 2].

Portugal

We’ve just learned that the exclusive benefits to Microsoft are inquired by MPs at the Portuguese Parliament, despite existing complaints about Microsoft corruption in the country. Microsoft also mocks GNU/Linux and publicly frowns upon Free software advocates over there.

South Africa

Speaking of government affairs with Microsoft, Tectonic reports that one of Microsoft’s nightmares in South African has just departed.

SA government loses key OSS advocate

[...]

Besides being the chairperson of the government’s open source workgroup Raffee was also a prime advocate of open source software and standards in government circles as well as more widely in South Africa and the world. Over the past two years he and his department played a key role in the opposition to the OOXML standards process at the International Standards Organisation, hosted the second OpenDocument Format workshop in South Africa and led the battle for South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission to open up its website to all South African citizens.

[...]

The South African government is still home to many staunch open source advocates but losing Raffee will undoubtedly leave a noticeable hole in its ranks.

We already know what Microsoft did in South Africa [1, 2, 3], which it treated in its fashionable cult-like approach. It even insulted South African people and did everything within its power to derail ODF and GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3] in this strong, stubborn nation which understands the detrimental impact of colonialism.

Knowing what Microsoft did in India and in Massachusetts, namely the overthrow of opposition [1, 2, 3], we decided to check why the man above left the government and asked the author about it. Publicly he replied: “I don’t think he was pushed. But never say never.” Who will replace the guy? That may be the key question.

“No other large companies as far as I know use their employees as attack dogs to silen[ce] dissent. It’s time for Microsoft to stop this nonsense.”

The Prickly Prince From Microsoft Strikes Again

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A Single Comment

  1. Peter Vescuso said,

    April 20, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Gravatar

    We at Black Duck view ourselves as open source evangelists, not creators of FUD. Our recent posts on the value of open source and its potential for helping development organizations is intended to highlight its value and increase adoption. Spreading FUD would hurt open source and would hurt our business. We believe open source and commercial businesses are not mutually exclusive. And we’re not creating risk – it’s out there. We provide a platform that allows commercial development organizations to embrace and use open source at scale, realize the benefits and manage the associated risks and challenges. It’s a fact that there is risk in re-using open source code in a commercial product if attention isn’t paid to licensing and complying with the associated obligations.

    Black Duck has made a significant investment to create our KnowledgeBase, a comprehensive database (DB) of OSS, which our customers use to search for open source code that meets their development requirements. Without the ability to find and evaluate OSS that meets their needs, manage and control it, commercial entities wouldn’t be able to embrace open source the way they are. It is this DB of information that we draw upon to provide estimates of OSS, which we do as a way to promote the adoption and widespread use of open source. Plus we contribute the code form the KnowledgeBase to a free code search website we make available to the community (more on that below).

    Black Duck uses open source and contributes to a number of open source projects (e.g., Pentaho, OpenOffice, serverjs, piston). In addition we maintain a free code search website called http://www.koders.com for the OSS community. It has 2 billion lines of source code and is used heavily, daily by thousands in the OSS community. In the last year we’ve increased the searchable code base 2.5 X to almost 2 billion lines of code by leveraging information from our KnowledgeBase.

    Last, the fact that someone (founder or an employee of a company) has worked at Microsoft doesn’t disqualify them as a positive contributor to the OSS community, nor should it immediately cast doubt on their motives. Imagine how many former Microsoft employees actively participate in and contribute to the open source community today.

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