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06.17.09

Switzerland and the UK Under Fire for Perpetual Microsoft Engagements

Posted in Courtroom, Deals, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 11:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Swiss coins

Summary: Both independent people and businesses call for the end of illegal procurement deals with Microsoft

YESTERDAY WE published an essay that explains how Microsoft built an ecosystem that rejects anything but Microsoft (and/or its ecosystem). Such is the case in most countries, but the level of this corruption (e.g. illegal procurement) depends on the country. The press gave a lot of coverage to the Switzerland example, but there is actually more than one story over there. Here is an update about the first:

The Swiss Open Systems User Group and the canton of Berne treasurer’s office have reached a rapprochement. The open source advocacy group had criticised the fact that a contract for revamping the canton’s 14,000 workstations was awarded to Microsoft without a tendering process. Although the canton is insisting that the contract should stand, the Swiss Open Systems User Group has decided not to pursue the case in the courts.

This is separate from another case in Switzerland, namely:

In a similar case, also in Switzerland, a group of open source companies including Red Hat, Univention and Collax recently brought an action against the Swiss Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics (BBL).

More on the latter situation in Switzerland can be found in our prior posts:

  1. Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
  2. Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
  3. 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
  4. Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
  5. Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland’s Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
  6. ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge’s Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
  7. Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
  8. Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit
  9. Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand
  10. Swiss Government and Federal Computer Weekly: Why the Hostility Towards Free Software?

Microsoft UK gets no easy ride, either. Following the departure of the company's National Technology Officer (in the UK), a notoriously-deep relationship between the British government and Microsoft comes under fire.

The UK is still a laggard at open source, even though the recession has increased pressure for its adoption, according to speakers at a London conference.

“I could go to Mali, and Mali would probably have a better adoption of open source than the UK,” said Matt Asay, marketing vice president at Alfresco and open source blogger at CNet. “The UK tends to be a laggard compared to just about every other country on the planet.”

The UK government’s decision to promote open source in public sector IT won kudos, but was behind countries like the Netherlands, which has had a strong public sector IT policy for two years now, according to Jan Wildeboer, open source evangelist at Red Hat.

More information on the situation in the UK may be found in previous posts that include:

  1. Newham (UK) Powered by Microsoft, for Microsoft
  2. Microsoft Dealt Another Big Blow in Europe (UK), Pawns Exposed Further
  3. Richard ‘Microsoft’ Steels’ Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
  4. Microsoft is Having an Affair with the UK and Ireland
  5. Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?

With increased awareness comes increased public support. People stand up and demand software that respects their wallets, if not their freedom and regional independence too. Fewer people are made conscious of that latter factor. The BBC has a decent documentary (a 3-hour show titled “The Trap”) about people’s inability to grasp the real meaning of freedom. Without losing it, people cannot properly understand it and instead they are told about freedom of choice (limited choice) or freedom as in “no cost”.

“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”

Jim Allchin, President of Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft

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