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12.11.09

Austria and Switzerland Complain About Microsoft Lock-in, Latvia and Assam Escape Lock-in

Posted in America, Asia, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 4:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: OSOR provides informative updates on the adoption of Free software in Europe; others report on progress elsewhere

ACCORDING to the Open Source Observatory and Repository for European public administrations (OSOR), “vendor dependency [by Microsoft] forces Vienna to renew proprietary office licences.” There is some good news nonetheless:

Layr explained to Der Standard that the decision will not have any influence on the open source desktop plans of the city. Public administrators can continue to use the Linux based desktop distribution Wienux and or OpenOffice if they so choose.

The city has always said that the use of the Wienux desktop is voluntary.

Of the city’s total 32,000 PCs just a thousand run the open source desktop system. Some 15,000 PCs in the city have OpenOffice installed.

Last year, the city was forced to renew proprietary operating system licences for some seven hundred of these Wienux PCs. The deal was necessary for all of the Wienux PCs used in child day care centres, in order to run an application testing language skills that can only work with a proprietary browser.

Over in the neighbouring Switzerland, “parliament members say vendor lock-in desktop is causing chaos,” according to OSOR. From the opening:

Members of the Swiss parliament (Nationalrat) say that the government’s dependence on a single IT vendor for its desktop operating systems is causing a chaos and is leading to increasing IT costs.

If so, then why did the lawsuit not proceed as planned? We wrote about it in:

  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?
  11. Switzerland and the UK Under Fire for Perpetual Microsoft Engagements

By contrast, and very on the bright side, the Latvian government gradually fulfills its commitment to Free software because OSOR claims that the country’s ministry of education approves Free software in schools. It’s an endorsement but not a real push. It’s s start.

Open source can be used to teach computer science classes to secondary school pupils, Latvia’s Ministry of Education announced on 1 December 2009.

The ministry bases its conclusion on the work of a group of experts, industry association representatives, ministry officials and school representatives. In August 2009 the group started looking for open source applications that could be used for computer science classes.

According to the group, open source software will be able to fulfil all requirements of the computer education curriculum in primary and secondary schools.

Even better news arrives from a Red Hat employee in India. Another state is gradually moving to Free software.

Yet another Indian state government made open source an integral part of its state IT policy. The policy is because it mandates open standards and ODF, in particular, which has been advocated open source supporters the open standard for office documents (instead of Microsoft’s proprietary .doc, OOXML and other data formats). It also extends beyond software and says that all generic hardware purchased by the government should have support for open source software. The section mandating that source code developed for any State Government body shall be duly archived in a repository, indicates that the policy makers also understand the power of the open source development model. Overall, it is a good policy and worth forwarding to all the government policy makers that we are in touch with.

Dana Blankenhorn finds encouraging signs even in the United States where Microsoft boasts a lot of control.

The government has issued a new Open Government Directive (PDF) that requires agencies to release “three high value data sets” in the next 45 days, create their own open government sites, and creates an Open Government Dashboard, overseen by the Office of Management and Budget, to assure compliance.

The White House has already dumped Microsoft and moved to Free software. There is a glimmer of Hope® after all.

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