05.11.09

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Will Microsoft Sign an MOU with Indonesia?

Posted in Asia, Deals, Microsoft at 3:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Balinese relief

Summary: Steve Ballmer goes to Indonesian developers conference, but there might be more to the visit

A reader drew our attention to this page which says that Steve Ballmer is going to/appearing in Indonesia today. The reader writes: “Wanna bet he comes away with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) from the government and ‘donates’ a few thousand windows licenses to education?”

For background, it is worth seeing what Microsoft says about MOUs. In internal correspondence, Microsoft is explaining what an MOU is for and how it blocks competition.

Here is the funny thing about Microsoft’s announcement of this event (see the reference page at microsoft.com and scroll down to the bottom): They entirely leave out Windows Vista, which is virtually estranged by now because it gives room for vapouware (Vista 7), which is almost identical anyway.

We’ve already dealt with the Microsoft situation in Indonesia back in 2007. To quote in full what we shared at the time:

More recently, the Linux-based Eee PC arrived at Indonesia, but the big(ger) story in Indonesia has been quite different for a while.

A new line of low-cost mini laptop is set to hit the Indonesian market with Asus Technology Indonesia planning to introduce the Eee PC 701 next January at the latest.

Microsoft seems to have been exploited the government in Indonesia in order to create a stranglehold on the nation. Here is one of the more recent articles on this subject:

Government to Review Cooperation with Microsoft

The government will review the possibility of cooperating with PT Microsoft Indonesia in terms of software legalization process in all governmental institutions.

This is because Microsoft is currently marketing cheap software, priced at US$3 or around Rp27,000 each.

Cahyana Ahmadjayadi, Director General of Telematics Applications at the Information and Communication Department, said the review would not reduce the government’s concern regarding open source software.

The BSA makes an appearance as well. Here is its presence:

It is a decision that has, however, weathered criticism for likely giving Microsoft’s proprietary software products an unfair advantage for use in publicly funded government services, and sidelining the use of free/libre and open-source software (FLOSS), which the government has actually been encouraging through its Indonesia Goes Open Source (IGOS) program.

[...]

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), an industry lobby group of proprietary software vendors with Microsoft as its main backer, ranks Indonesia’s piracy rate at 87 percent and the world’s third highest after Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

[...]

But the validity and accuracy of BSA’s piracy ratings and studies have also come under criticism recently, from the respected business weekly The Economist, among others.

It is these concerns that has made I Made Wiryana, one of Indonesia’s noted FLOSS advocates, advise the government not to take for granted that the deal with Microsoft will benefit development of the country’s IT sector.

[...]

“We also have to consider the actual benefits from the deal’s implementation compared to the costs we will be making, when the use of open source software can also reduce piracy and save costs.”

There were some angry people who watched the government falling into this deal with Microsoft after promises of Free software adoption. The government then tried to quiet down the storm with some promises.

In spite of a deal with the U.S.-based software giant Microsoft, the government pledged Wednesday that it would continue promoting the use of open-source software.

[...]

Kusmayanto said — without mentioning Microsoft by name — that dependence on one operating system would curtail the country’s freedom to choose software most consistent with its own needs.

[...]

The deal has, however, come under fire, including from the House of Representatives, with critics arguing that it will create a monopoly for Microsoft, and undermine the government’s own IGOS program, which encourages the use of free open-source software for the public sector.

Here is another shout-out about this issue. It actually came from Sun Microsystems.

To help boost the application of open source technology, which could in turn benefit local industry, the government needs to help out with better regulations, an IT firm says.

Harry Kaligis, business and marketing general manager of Sun Microsystems Indonesia (SMI), said that although open-source firms had been given the freedom to grow, they were still often subject to “unequal treatment” by the government.

The government’s deal with Microsoft actually antagonises existing effort which brought GNU/Linux and open source software to many parts of the country. Consider for instance:

1. Open source, closed mind

It recently launched the Indonesia Goes Open-Source Nusantara 2006 package, which provides desktop software based on Linux Fedora Core 5 and with the ability to operate applications such as Open Office for text documents, Firefox for Internet browsing, Thunderbird for email and Gaim for chatting.

The ministry’s website also lists a range of open-source software material, domestic and foreign, from which material can be downloaded for free.

Furthermore, the use of open-source software cuts down on piracy, which is as prevalent in this country as the use of computers.

2. Sofyan: Open Source Hampers Government’s Activity

The Department of Research and Technology will involve eight universities as developing agents of Indonesia GO Open Source (IGOS) program. They include Bandung Institute of Technology, Sepuluh November Institute of Technology, Gadjah Mada University, University of Indonesia, Udayana University, Deli Polytechnics, Batam Polytechnics and President University.

3. Open-source system sought for SMEs, ministries

To help protect intellectual property rights and reduce costs, the State Ministry for Research and Technology is urging state institutions, and small and medium enterprises to adopt open-source software for their computers. The Information and Communications Ministry had already saved on its IT budget after deciding to migrate.

Here is another decent article from the Jakarta Post:

Mention Microsoft, and some would think of Bill Gates, the Windows computer platform and the world’s largest (and richest) software company. For a certain group of people, however, Microsoft is the embodiment of an evil empire lead by a Dark Prince, conducting questionable business practices toward maintaining its (monopolistic?) market leadership.

[...]

Perhaps what Microsoft should do as a whole is to play better with others and listen to its user base. The world and markets have changed, yet a number of companies and organizations continue to struggle to maintain their old business models. Using legal tactics instead of true technology innovation will not endear nor create loyal customers.

We are appending more recent references from Indonesia below. Microsoft has many reasons to dump gratis software on this country.

[1] Ubuntu Classroom #1 at Engineering Faculty

Saturday 19th, 7pm at Engineering Faculty Jember universty we made basic training about ubuntu. we made class in the night because many student have another class in the morning. in this clas we have 2 mentors, me and Ashadebi (from Debian Indonesia).

[2] Govt urges software developers to increase compatibility

Incompatibility between proprietary software and open source software (OSS) remains a major barrier to reducing piracy in the country, the government says.

Communication and Information Minister Muhammad Nuh said in the Second Indonesia Go Open Source (IGOS) Summit that proprietary software makers should increase compatibility with OSS products.

IGOS is a national initiative launched in June 2004 to promote OSS in the country, especially in state departments.

“During our meeting with Bill Gates (this month), we touched on the incompatibility of Microsoft software with open source software.”

“It is troublesome (to increase compatibility), but it will eventually benefit both sides,” Nuh said.

[3] Unair socializes Open Source

Unair Information System (DSI) development head Imam Siswanto said that Unair was one of 13 universities in Indonesia that were supporting Open Source.

[4] Less software piracy means more jobs, more state revenue: Study

Ansori Sinungan, director of intellectual copyright at the ministry of law and human rights, said that to promote the use of legal software, the government has urged consumers to shift to open-source software instead of depending on pirated software.  

The government has also been promoting the Indonesia Go Open Source (IGOS) since 2005 in support of local software producers.

Harry Surjanto, president director of PT Computrade Technology Indonesia, said that the growth of open-source support services was growing every year.

“The number of customers using Red Hat operating systems, for example, doubled in 2007,” he said.  

[5] Computing systems for business: Linux or Mac?

“It was annoying, the spams and the virus. It slows down my work, which relies heavily on e-mails. I can get and send 50 e-mails a day, but because of spams my inbox is sometimes crowded with hundreds of e-mails, some carrying virus,” Ruthie said.

[6] Sun Microsystems Committed to Help Indonesian Government Champion Open-Source IT Movement

Sun Microsystems reaffirmed its commitment to work closely with the Indonesian Government and its various departments to boost information and technology (IT) development especially to elevate the use of open source technology in Indonesia.

[7] Indonesia to organize ASEAN open source workshop

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