03.16.10

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Quebec Authorities Should be Sued Again for Microsoft Corruption; BECTA Should Too

Posted in America, Antitrust, Courtroom, Europe at 7:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coat of arms of Québec

Summary: Quebec’s government is up to no good again (bidless procurement suspected); the time is right to challenge BECTA legally, just like in Quebec

LAST WEEK we showed that Canada is quietly embracing GNU/Linux. Canada’s National Bureau of Economic Research says that patents harm the poor, so there would be nothing destructive about Free software when it comes to economics.

Citizens of Quebec have already sued their government for allegedly illegal deals with Microsoft [1, 2]. Going further back, Groklaw translated an article from French (it’s Quebec after all), saying that “the general translation is that you can find at the link the documents regarding a lawsuit a company called Savoir-Faire Linux, Inc. has filed in the Superior Court of Quebec against the government’s pension plan for choosing Microsoft software without putting the job out publicly for bid. It seems the law in Quebec is very strict that the government is supposed to publish an invitation to tender for any acquisition of more than $25,000, and this job was a good deal more than that.

“I gather Savoir-Faire Linux’s position is that only open standards, formats and protocols are suitable to match the demands of a public market policy upholding four fundamental principles: act in an transparent way, favor strong competition, favor local economic development, get the best overall cost.”

“…Savoir-Faire Linux, Inc. has filed in the Superior Court of Quebec against the government’s pension plan for choosing Microsoft software without putting the job out publicly for bid.”
      –Pamela Jones, Groklaw
The headline said: “Savoir-Fair Linux, Inc. sues Quebec government agency over Microsoft”

At the bottom we are appending some more valuable references about the situation in Quebec. It may matter not just because Microsoft is sued in Canada (class-action lawsuit) but also because Glyn Moody reveals more grounds for Canadian antitrust in Quebec:

Does Quebec Hate Free Software?

[...]

What’s particularly disturbing here is that it looks like the regional government doesn’t want anyone to question why it is going with proprietary software, and not giving free software a fair chance – that’s doubly wrong. (Via @akaSassinak.)

Does the regional government want to be sued again? This has already boiled over in Italy and it should also happen in the UK, where BECTA serves Microsoft almost exclusively. The Open Learning Centre has this new post on the subject:

Does Microsoft think “Rip-Off Britain” is an instruction?

In the current economic climate what do you think is the best way to keep existing customers happy and encourage them to spend more with you?

Introduce some special offers perhaps? Add extra value to your products and services? Be even more nice than you are normally?

[...]

Just think about that for a moment. That’s 100,000,000 individual downloads of a free product, the alternative legacy application from Microsoft will soon cost you £430. Oh yes, and those 100,000,000 downloads happened in a year and 16 days…

Brits should learn from Quebec and consider a lawsuit. It’s long overdue and the evidence available for presentation is overwhelming. The British Standards Institute (BSI) too was sued two years ago after it had engaged in what seemed like corruption with Microsoft [1, 2].
_____
[1] The Long Road To Free Software in Quebec

The report was overwhelming: “ We have no control over our own information systems! And yet that is the one and only area in which we can achieve the necessary gains in productivity.” That day, I came to understand the many needs that are fulfilled by free software and how it is of crucial importance to our country’s economy.

[2] A Free Software Week quandary

Events this week, mostly at the Université du Québec à Montréal, will promote the benefits of free software and introduce beginners to the open vs. proprietary politics that divide the tech-savvy community.

But the hostility between the two camps is nothing like it was in the past, said Michael Gould, an analyst with Forrester Research. And on the one hand, this is good news for open sourcers.

“A lot of significantly sized companies have been using more open source software,” Gould said. “A lot of the concerns they had, like quality, security and support, have been mostly addressed.”

[3] Oracle shop ditches Unix for Linux on the mainframe

The IT department for the Canadian province of Quebec is consolidating hundreds of Oracle databases — spread across hundreds of midrange servers — onto a new mainframe running Linux on top of z/VM.

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