03.26.10

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Former Member of European Parliament Describes Microsoft “Coup in Process” in the European Commission

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OpenDocument, Standard at 7:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s entryism in the European Commission is explained by David Hammerstein and other developments in Europe serve as a practical reminder

A couple of years ago, a government delegate compared Microsoft's methods to “Scientology cult”. Anyone who is intimately familiar with Microsoft’s role and interference with the US government would be inclined to agree. They use the same methods as Scientology and when someone behaves in a way that threatens Microsoft’s bottom line, Microsoft tries to get that someone fired, intimidated, influenced, and even bribed. We have covered many examples that show this. Today’s post is not a summary of such examples but a single example which encompasses the European Parliament and Commission. It’s about standards and patents, but this enables Microsoft to also pressure for antitrust investigations against IBM and against Google in Europe.

We have already written extensively about what Microsoft did to Neelie Kroes and what happened as a result. She turned against open standards and fell for software patents [1, 2] in a continent where these are illegal. But Kroes is just one example amongst others in the Commission [1, 2]. Microsoft became a political vendor, not a software vendor. At stake: our democracy.

Mr. David Hammerstein, who describes himself as “European Advocate for Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue [and] Spanish Green Member European Parliament 2004-2009″ is now saying that “Kroes has been under intense lobbying pressure from Microsoft to get rid of interoperability and open source goals of EU” and also he adds that “Kroes wanted the EU institutions to practice what it preaches and migrate to open standards in its own software. Big backlash.”

“DG enterprise and “revolving door” EC officials from Microsoft torpedo Commissioner Kroes open proposals.”
      –David Hammerstein
In what he described as “revolving door” (we heard this term a lot in relation to Monsanto’s corruption of governments), Hammerstein lays the blame. “DG enterprise and “revolving door” EC officials from Microsoft torpedo Commissioner Kroes open proposals.

“Coup in process,” he writes.

Glyn Moody asked him what can be done and Hammerstein argued: “Some ideas for writing to EU Commissioners to demand open standards in digital agenda.”

He points to this new post which begins with: “STOP THE ELIMINATION OF OPEN STANDARDS FROM THE EU DIGITAL AGENDA”

As we have shown before, Microsoft lobbyists are being injected into EU panels and the Commission then harbours them. We covered this in:

  1. European Open Source Software Workgroup a Total Scam: Hijacked and Subverted by Microsoft et al
  2. Microsoft’s AstroTurfing, Twitter, Waggener Edstrom, and Jonathan Zuck
  3. Does the European Commission Harbour a Destruction of Free/Open Source Software Workgroup?
  4. The Illusion of Transparency at the European Parliament/Commission (on Microsoft)
  5. 2 Months and No Disclosure from the European Parliament
  6. After 3 Months, Europe Lets Microsoft-Influenced EU Panel be Seen
  7. Formal Complaint Against European Commission for Harbouring Microsoft Lobbyists
  8. ‘European’ Software Strategy Published, Written by Lobbyists and Multinationals
  9. Microsoft Uses Inside Influence to Grab Control, Redefine “Open Source”

A lot can be learned about entryism by looking at the recent case of Yahoo! The company continues to collapse this week.

Yet Another Yahoo Director To Leave

Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz now has a third board seat she can fill. John Chapple, the president of PE firm Hawkeye Investments (and the former CEO of Nextel) won’t stand for re-election in order “to devote more time to his other business interests.”

This would never have happened if Microsoft hadn’t demolished the company from within in order to ‘steal’ its users and disrupt its agenda which was sometimes beneficial to Free software (BSD and PHP for example).

Speaking of Microsoft entryism in Europe, an Italian activist who insists on using ODF in his country was recently met by resistance and FUD from Microsoft (yes, Microsoft is still fighting against ODF). Now he writes about a similar scandal that discourages use of standards in Italy. He calls it “Cash for software clunkers”.

Replacing a software program with its latest version, that is continuing to do the same things as before in a computer window with a different color, would do little to solve the italian ICT crisis. However, thinking about it, maybe there is a way to “dismiss software clunkers” that may bring lots of work to italian programmers and make their customers and all taxpayers save much more money than any other incentive program. What if the Government said “within 2/3 years all Public Administrations will cease to accept, produce, archive or distribute new digital documents in closed formats, since they create so many problems, and to use proprietary digital protocols”.

The italian Government already considers closed the formats of Microsoft Office and those of many other programs currently used by italian PAs. Therefore, probably this approach would not be loved by Assinform members like Microsoft: in 2007 Assinform had even stated in a press release that all technical standards on the market should be considered equally valid, without prejudices. This, however, is the same “file format neutrality” that Microsoft promotes without giving enough information.

Imposing certain obligations on the italian PAs is like imposing it on every organization or individual that must communicate with them. Sure, doing so would cause a sort of earthquake, but one that would have, at least in the medium/long term, beneficial consequences both for italian programmers and for the italian economy as a whole. Because the obligation to only use open formats and protocols would not just create a lot of real work. Due to their own nature, these technologies would make it possible for all ICT companies, regardless of their size, to compete on a fair ground, without paying royalties abroad. Open formats and protocols would also allow all public and private users to use the software they really need, not the one that somebody else wants them to buy. I’ll welcome a “cash for software clunkers” program, but only if cash will only be given to organizations that will commit to stop production of documents in proprietary formats.

Yesterday we wrote about Microsoft getting heckled in France after entering the “Solution Linux” event. Here is a new photo which a French speaker described as “Microsoft m’a tuer, or Microsoft killing free software with software patents…”

Microsoft booth
Photo by pterjan

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