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05.11.09

Is Microsoft Blocking the United Kingdom’s Free Software Policy by Dumping?

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 3:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tower bridge at night

Summary: Microsoft dumps on the United Kingdom, specifically where new plans exist for adoption of Free/open source software

Several months ago we jubilantly witnessed a major milestone in the United Kingdom (UK), whose government finally decided to adopt open source and ODF. This was a major blow to Microsoft, whose last mischief in the country we mentioned in relation to the London Olympics. There is a lot more, e.g.:

How will Microsoft respond to the UK’s latest plan to acquire some open source (or Free software) solutions? Dumping of course. According to ZDNet UK, “Microsoft [is] to offer discounts to [the] public sector.”

Microsoft has signed a deal with Buying Solutions, the UK government’s public-sector procurement agency, in which the software company has agreed to offer its highest level of discount to all public-sector organisations in the country.

[...]

Mark Taylor [...] told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the figure of £75m was only a “notional saving” because “the values that Microsoft attribute to their software [are] obvious nonsense”.

“No-one has been able to [find out] what is actually being spent by the government on software licences,” Taylor, who also heads up the open-source services company Sirius, added. “It’s nonsense giving a notional saving without revealing what the actual cost is.”

Taylor also criticised the government’s open-source policy document, saying: “It’s not an action plan because an action plan has specific actions, a deadline and someone responsible for achieving them.” He said that “even a mild move to free software in the UK public sector would save £600m a year”.

This is becoming a farce for the government, whose transparency in procurement came under fire before. In the past couple of days we also found Glyn Moody slamming the current government for its secrecy, a couple of times in fact.

Of course, the key issue here is what the licence will be, and what it will let people do. For example, I can’t help fearing that making it “easier for citizens to re-use Government information” means that it will be for non-commecial use only, which would miss the point about what open data can do for business – and hence the economy.

 

One of the central themes of this blog is that the openness that powers the continuing rise and success of open source can be applied to most other areas – in business, and in life generally. No better proof of that could be found than the revelations today about the widespread and thoroughgoing abuse of the expenses system by senior UK politicians.

Going back to Microsoft’s latest move, until someone offers "the Ballmer egg treatment" for this type of corruption [1, 2], such questionable/illegal dealings will probably carry in.

“If you believe that discrimination exists, it will.”

Anthony J. D’Angelo

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A Single Comment

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    May 11, 2009 at 4:57 am

    Gravatar

    What ever price M$ is offering the UK could be used to extrapolate the immediate savings by going with FOSS packages:
    http://www.ecis.eu/documents/Finalversion_Consumerchoicepaper.pdf

    Additionally, breaking the monopoly means that the monopoly rents go and that means that the 65% profit margin on MS Office goes away.

    If there are, as claimed, 500 million copies of MS Office floating around out there, and each costs an average of 52 EUR (to pull a number out of the air), then 26 billion could be saved. Say 105 EUR each, and the savings goes up to 52.5 billion. That’s a big economic stimulus package right there.

    Additional tens of billions could further saved annually because the users would not be stuck on a worm-ridden platform and free to move.

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