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05.27.09

Microsoft and Romania: Follow the Money

Posted in Europe, Finance, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OLPC, Open XML, Windows at 1:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Romanian flag

Summary: European Commission fines allegedly returned to Microsoft via Romania

Microsoft’s OOXML ballots were a scandal in Romania [1, 2] (direct links), just like in the rest of the world.

There is active adoption of GNU/Linux in Romania (Ubuntu for example), but Microsoft fights back. A *buntu presentation, for example, got foiled/derailed by Microsoft employees in Romania last year.

It turns out that a lot more is happening in Romania. According to this post from yesterday, there may be an EU-wide Microsoft scam.

In what is perhaps a sign of desperation, Microsoft is really pushing governments around the world to sign up to el cheapo mega-deals that they think they can’t refuse. The FSFE’s Georg Greve points out to me in an email that there’s an interesting angle to this story in Romania:

It seems ironic that the European Commission has to fine Microsoft repeatedly over sustained monopoly abuse, then transfers part of that money to Romania, which enjoyed the highest level of financial support ever granted to a candidate country in the history of the European Union, and the Romanian government then decides to return part of that money to Microsoft with close to no tangible benefit for Romania.

The post then links to the following story:

The Romanian government is about to spend millions of euro on proprietary software, drawing flak from the country’s budding open source movement. “This government is out of touch with reality.”

The Romanian government announced its renewal of a framework software licence with Microsoft in the middle of May. The framework licence deal is worth 100 million euro in software licences to be used by government agencies between 2010 and 2012. Romania will also pay the software giant another 58 million euro this fall, as the final payment for the 2004 – 2009 framework licence agreement that expired last month.

We wrote about the relationship between the Romanian government and Microsoft quite a long time ago. With Bill Gates visiting and the defunct 2007 talks about OLPC it became clear that Romania’s government was a proud prisoner of Redmond. Rather than thank and promote Free software it just took pride in illegal copying that Microsoft permitted in Romania because, as Bill Gates put it a couple of years ago, “It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.”

“How many crimes are committed simply because their authors could not endure being wrong.”

Albert Camus

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