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07.07.10

When Microsoft-Only/Lock-in is Defined as “Technology”

Posted in Courtroom, Deals, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Open XML, Red Hat at 5:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Microsoft manages to get away with abuse of taxpayers’ money in Switzerland, thanks to an apparent lingual loophole

LAST YEAR WE wrote a lot of posts about Microsoft’s illegal deals in Europe, including the suspicion that it is doing it this year in France and in Italy. Illegality here has to do with the lack of tender and the consideration of just one monopolistic company, to which taxpayers’ money will get funnelled in order to further increase lock-in. One interesting case took place in Switzerland, where the matter was taken into court (just like in Quebec, where Microsoft lost last month [1, 2, 3]). Previous posts about the situation in Switzerland are:

  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
  12. Lawsuit Over Alleged Microsoft Corruption in Switzerland Escalates to Federal Court

According to Jan from Red Hat, Switzerland is still “0wn3d by Microsoft”:

The court has decided. A tender would be disruptive to the Microsoft-only world of the swiss public. One of five judges disagrees and mentions that this effectively means there is no alternative to Microsoft and that this might not be what a free market is about.

I can only say “Congratulations” to Microsoft. Feel free to cash in the 47 million SFR of swiss taxpayers money and look forward to a perpetuum mobile. You now own the swiss public sector. This is what competition and free market is about?

The trick used here was to say that the BBL wanted to buy a defined “technology”. The “technology” however was the Microsoft range of products. By using this interpretation it was obvious that Open Source solutions cannot compete and therefore a tender was not needed.

This argumentation disrespects a fundamental fact IMHO – this “technology” is not available in a market – it is *only* available from a *single* vendor who sets the price, the features and the scope. With this fundamentally flawed argument Microsoft now effectively is even free to ask *any* price for its “technology”. A single-vendor market is typically not seen as a free market. But I guess in Switzerland they have a different definition in place. Is this a wise use of taxpayers money? I respectfully disagree.

Notice the trick that they use. Microsoft still uses its cult-like ecosystem to pretend that Microsoft is default “technology”; calling Microsoft technology is like calling or referring to Coca-Cola just as “beverage”. Red Hat et al. will hopefully appeal this decision if they can. This is similar to the case in Quebec — a case that Microsoft lost.

As Pogson put it yesterday:

The only thing preventing total collapse at the moment is the loyalty of the “partners” who are solidly locked in.

Microsoft partners too are a threat to Free software. That is why we mention companies like Novell too, for their contribution to Microsoft with Mono and Moonlight for example. Microsoft partners are part of the problem and Swiss partners of Microsoft were also playing a role in this country's crooked vote on OOXML.

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