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Attack of the Proxies

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Muenchen Kleines Stadtwappen

Summary: Microsoft proxies interfere with government migrations to FOSS and we gather some new examples

Matt Asay, who almost worked for Microsoft, has a relative play ball for Microsoft.

“Clark Asay (yes relation),” writes Richard Fontana (Red Hat), “calls FSF “the most active of FOSS copyright holders on the litigation front”” (smells like propaganda because it is).

Guess the source…

Microsoft proxy Outercurve [1, 2], which gave him a platform in which to say:

Free and open source software (FOSS) has always presented a bit of a conundrum for companies wishing to use it. On the one hand, significant numbers of useful FOSS projects are freely available under license terms that grant users broad rights in the FOSS. On the other, FOSS is still subject to intellectual property (IP) rights, and FOSS generally doesn’t come with any sort of backing from a third party. In fact, FOSS licenses almost universally disclaim any sort of IP warranty or indemnity.

IP is a meaningless term. Stallman explains why it's meaningless and he does it well. Picking on the FSF is easy and convenient as it does not have PR staff with which to defend itself. Meanwhile, more pseudo-Open Source lobbies emerge (a lot of PR put in news and blogs), with this latest example being OSSI, a SUSE-led (i.e. Microsoft-funded) group and some proprietary software companies, Microsoft proxies, and Red Hat/LPI as the only exception to the rule. It seems like a Trojan horse, openwashing proprietary options. Even Black Duck is in there.

Remember how Microsoft repeatedly tried to infiltrate government and sabotage migrations to FOSS. It did this by proxy with HP recently. The latest example is Munich, which ECT says Microsoft wants to believe was a failure. To quote, “Munich’s multiyear migration to Linux has been nothing if not an ongoing saga over the past decade or so, beset as it has been by stops, starts, and various twists and turns.”

Microsoft repeatedly tried to derail this migration, as we covered here many times before. Microsoft used hired guns and proxies, too. The latest so-called ‘study’ in Munich [1, 2] comes from HP for some secret lobbying. Here is what it says after spilling out:

Questioning the City of Munich’s figures by quoting a non-public study that could not be verified has sparked considerable criticism. Most likely it is in response to this that Microsoft has now released a summary of the study. Two tables in the document are designed to clarify why HP arrives at significantly higher costs for Munich’s Linux/OpenOffice environment than for a solution involving Windows and Microsoft Office. HP estimates that migrating from Windows NT 4 and Microsoft Office to Linux and OpenOffice cost €60.6 million (£51 million):

A rebuttal was written by Pogson, who concludes: “Don’t hire either HP or M$ to do your analysis for your next project. You will be wasting your money and get the wrong answer. They might even include fiction.”

The same goes for Gartner, which played a similar role.

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  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 30, 2013 at 5:33 am


    One of the largest expenses is the cost of escaping the vendor lock-in. While it is often misapplied to the cost of adopting a new system, either another vendor or an open system, that is not where that cost belongs. The cost of escaping vendor lock-in belongs squarely in the calculations for total cost of ownership of the proprietary system containing the lock-in. Why? Because that cost follows the proprietary system no matter what.

    If the Munich case wants to level the playing field in the cost analysis, they’d redo both the Munich report and the M$ “report” to include the exit cost as part of the cost of the M$ system.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    One can arrive at any desired conclusion by adjusting the timespan. For realistic estimates, it needs to be extended to the whole.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    Yeah, broadening or narrowing the scope of a cost-benefit analysis is a known trick. However, in this case the costs of escaping the lock-in are quite real. And they only manifest if one goes down the road of vendor lock-in. So it is an unavoidable cost that is part and parcel of certain choices. M$ has been able to hid it because it hits at the end of the product lifecycle. It’s even there a bit when going from M$ to M$ because it’s own products are never fully compatible across versions. In part it is just those incompatibilities that it often used to drive sales. I’m thinking especially of M$ Office file formats, but there are others.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Microsoft (like many others) also uses selection bias in so-called ‘studies’ it commissions others to perform. Right now the Gates Foundation uses similar tactics in lobbying.

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