08.16.09

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Criticism of Microsoft Deals in Minnesota, US Army, and Wroclaw University (Poland)

Posted in America, Deals, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A variety of new deals put into context

Microsoft has signed some new deals which deserve a bit of background to be fully understood. We shall start with Minnesota.

“This is not a company that appears to be bothered by ethical boundaries.”
      –Mike Hatch, Minnesota’s Attorney General
Microsoft has “Technical Evangelists” (AstroTurf) in Minnesota with examples from Rochester, Minnesota. Minnesota's Attorney General Mike Hatch once called Microsoft’s AstroTurf campaign “sleazy”. He also said: “This is not a company that appears to be bothered by ethical boundaries.”

Minnesota wanted to extend Microsoft oversight by regulators and it also favoured ODF at one stage [1, 2], but Microsoft then retaliated and a Minnesota State study about document formats does not appear to have made much impact. To name some more minor details, Bill Gates invests in the Minnesota-based Otter Tail Corporation.

It is only now that Microsoft is signing a government deal with Minnesota, which in simpler terms means that taxpayers will shell out money for vendor lock-in whether they like it or not.

In an effort to save millions of dollars and streamline government operations, the state of Minnesota has signed a six-year enterprise software agreement with Microsoft Corp. Announced today by Minnesota Chief Information Officer and head of the Office of Enterprise Technology (OET), Gopal Khanna, the deal will reportedly save the state $2.37 million in annual licensing fees, as well as save millions for the state taxpayers by improving services delivery.

[...]

The deal is one of the largest enterprise agreements Microsoft has ever signed with a state. Minnesota’s Office of Enterprise Technology (OET) is purchasing 32,000 software licenses for its executive branch agencies, paying the same price that would have covered roughly 10,000 users under a previous contract.

This type of problem does not only affect Minnesota. Based on another piece of news, the US army negotiates a Microsoft moratorium.

The Army issued the moratorium on purchasing Microsoft software while it negotiated a new agreement, which it awarded on July 7 to Softmart Government Services in Downing, Pa. Softmart had held the original agreement as well, according to the Defense Department.

Perhaps they prefer to use ‘patriotic’ software which contains back doors that only the Unites States can use and the FBI can penetrate with CIPAV. There may be other explanations, but to use Microsoft software in the military is otherwise illogical. The above seems similar to an MoU, for which we provided recent examples [1, 2, 3]. There are some older examples of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in:

Then, it brings us to Poland where Microsoft seems to have turned another university into a sort of self-serving breeding ground.

Wroclaw University of Technology to co-operate with Microsoft

[...]

Microsoft has also pledged to actively engage in both research and teaching activities at the University. – We are among world leaders when it comes to research expenditure. The company spends USD 9 bn annually on research – Jacek Murawski, managing director of Microsoft Polska told Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. – We want to work with the best and that is why we picked the University of Technology in Wroclaw.

A lot has already been said about Microsoft’s impact on the educational systems. Rather than teach methods (long-term lessons) they train young people to become customers of Microsoft. Suffice to say, Microsoft engages in other misconduct in Poland. Examples may be memorable enough, e.g. from the OOXML fiasco:

If people do not stand up against such deals, then corruptible seniors who benefit from these deals (at the expense of victims) will just carry on.

“Value your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history. “Don’t bother us with politics,” respond those who don’t want to learn.”

Richard Stallman

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A Single Comment

  1. JohnD said,

    August 16, 2009 at 6:24 pm

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    Softmart is in Downingtown PA – not Downing.

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