12.02.10

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Amidst Its Moves to Software Freedom Italy Falls Under Microsoft Siege

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 1:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Taxi - Italy colours

Summary: Microsoft is still preying on the young where the ‘threat’ of software freedom is identified

Microsoft has openly admitted (sometimes a little less openly) that it preys on young people and young businesses because it tries to establish an effective lock-in earlier on. In the case of schools it is worse than in the case of businesses because schools are usually funded by the parents or funded by the government, which is in turn funded by taxpayers (also parents). This means that all citizens are required to subsidise Microsoft indoctrination which targets children.

In the UK, an agency called BECTA used to sign secret Microsoft deals to pass British taxpayers’ money to Microsoft. What for? For compulsory Microsoft indoctrination (Windows, Office, and more) of every British child. BECTA has been abolished but not before it “agree[d to] £400m ICT framework” (that’s more than half a billion dollars):

More than 20 suppliers have been included in a services framework agreement set up by the soon to be abolished education ICT agency.

Becta has divided the framework into two lots. The first covers network technologies, which will incorporate infrastructure services and mobile connectivity services, and the second covers ICT integration services.

Those suppliers in turn supply money to Microsoft UK.

“Microsoft seems to be ‘pulling an EDGI’ and corruptible politicians like Nichi Vendola are helping.”The situation in UK is not much different than the situation elsewhere in Europe. A Romanian reader of ours wrote in Identi.ca earlier this week: “Romanian State’s Authority for Communications buys #proprietary #software for 1,8 mil. € xhttp://tinyurl.com/3xensla

Cassidy wrote this article which shows how Microsoft is also preying on startups, using BizSpark [1, 2]. “But programs like Start Up Central and BizSpark,” he wrote, “are also a sign that startups cannot be ignored by even the biggest players.” Of course they cannot, it’s about lock-in.

What bothers us the most right now is what goes on in Italy (EN|ES), which moved to Free software more quickly than its neighbours in the EU. Microsoft seems to be ‘pulling an EDGI’ and corruptible politicians like Nichi Vendola are helping. Glyn Moody explains “why Puglia’s deal with Microsoft will lead to lock-in” in this new post which states:

will Microsoft and representatives of the Puglia administration work together to discuss the latest developments in mobile, on the desktop, or data centres, and come to the conclusion: “you know, what would really be best for Puglia would be replacing all these expensive Microsoft Office systems by free LibreOffice; replacing handsets with low-cost Android smartphones; and adopting open stack solutions in the cloud”? Or might they just possibly decide: “let’s just keep Microsoft Office on the desktop, buy a few thousands Windows Mobile 7 phones (they’re so pretty!), and use Windows Azure, and Microsoft’ll look after all the details”?

[...]

are we to imagine that Microsoft will diligently provide a nicely balanced selection of PCs running Windows, some Apple Macintoshes, and PCs running GNU/Linux? Will it send along specialists in open source? Will it provide examples of all the leading free software packages to be used in the joint competency centre? Or will it simply fill the place to the gunwales with Windows-based, proprietary software, and staff it with Windows engineers?

The point is the “deal” with Microsoft is simply an invitation for Microsoft to colonise everywhere it can. And to be fair, there’s not much else it can do: it has little deep knowledge of free software, so it would be unreasonable to expect it to explore or promote it. But it is precisely for that reason that this agreement is completely useless; it can produce one result, and one result only: recommendations to use Microsoft products at every level, either explicitly or implicitly.

Italians should become active here if they want to impede the emptying of Italy’s coffers. If Microsoft is allowed access to the administration (the Italian government moved to GNU/Linux in places), it will become quite the money Hoover and the burden will contribute towards what we already see in Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal.

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