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04.01.11

Legalising Corruption in Europe, the Microsoft Way

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 5:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Langham street, London

Summary: News from France and Switzerland, all showing that Microsoft is pretty much above the law

LAWS are affected by lobbying, which is why a lot of large corporations managed to legalise tax evasion in Europe, using newly-created loopholes. This is not exactly news and not even the subject of this post. We wrote about this many times before. The unfortunate thing is that Microsoft’s “special relationships” in France continue to enable the company to penetrate the French government. As “twitter” told us last night: “So if you check the two docs uploaded yesterday by CoinMeuh, (http://interopwikiproject.com/public-procurement-files) and that you read french you’ll see this is a pretty big tender where, most surprisingly, the french Defense Ministry contracts directly with MS Ireland. That calls for two comments, I think:

* why the heck would a french ministry buy directly from an US-based software vendor in Ireland instead of purchasing the same stuff directly in France? (as a government it does not even get the VAT)
* the scope of the contract seems very large, unusually large, as it covers pretty much the range of MS products in general. If someone has more background on this, go ahead.
[PJ: Some are questioning if this is legal. It's in French, but Google Translate will help you if you don't read French. I can't help but recall Steve Ballmer's "win win" speech when French President Sarkozy made Ballmer a knight of the legion of honor, of all things, in February.] – Interop Wiki Project

from PJ’s news picks

http://interopwikiproject.com/public-procurement:french-defense-ministry-buys-directly-fro

It gets worse with the publication of this ruling in Switzerland, which relates to a similar situation in France.

Open source vendors turned down by Swiss Federal Supreme Court

[...]

The original complaint was about the renewal of a licensing, maintenance and support contract worth 42 million Swiss francs (€32 million / £28 million) the Swiss Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics had awarded to Microsoft without public invitation to tender. This contracting practice, which the complainants say has existed since the 1990s, was the subject of a complaint by 18 open source vendors including various Swiss SMEs, Linux vendors Red Hat, Univention and Collax, and groupware specialists Zarafa and Open-Xchange.

Pogson rightly calls it a Catch-22 for the following reasons:

Now the Swiss Supreme Court has ruled that the lower court erred by not allowing FLOSS providers to object to giving M$ a sweet deal but also found that the FLOSS providers had not provided any evidence that they could meet the requirements of the purchaser (the Swiss government). The Supremes did not accept that no proof could be provided because there were no specifications… Catch-22. You can’t win in that court. Obviously the judges have been living in a cave somewhere for 20 years. Perhaps they have never heard of Munich or Extramedura. I find it tragic that supposedly wise people could make such a silly ruling.

For some background information about this case also see:

  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
  13. When Microsoft-Only/Lock-in is Defined as “Technology”
  14. Microsoft’s Allegedly Illegal Swiss Contracts to Take People to Court Again
  15. Microsoft’s Allegedly Illegal US Procurement Gets Frozen After Lawsuit

Microsoft is currently rubbing the back of the UK coalition government, too. To quote a prominent member of the FFII (2008), “Many participants and speakers referenced to the OOXML standardisation process, in particular were intrigued by the French AFNOR developments. Generally speakers feel concerned about OOXML to become a standard in governmental procurement. In private a government delegate compared Microsoft’s public affairs methods with the scientology cult.”

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