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People Power Works in India, Microsoft Deal Partly Crushed After AICTE Comes Under Fire

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 11:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cute kid
Microsoft customer, not by his own choice (AICTE’s choice)

Summary: Weakening of a Microsoft pact after intervention by freedom-respecting software advocates in India and abroad

THE latest sellout by AICTE was covered here earlier, not before some readers from India sent yours truly links and asked for coverage (the international press totally ignored it). The subject of it, as introduced by Muktware, is total Microsoft lock-in in colleges. Total. Surveillance included. As one man of Indian descent put it: “It seems that the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has finally rediscovered its wisdom. AICTE is the prime decision-making national-level council that takes care of technical education in India. It accredits postgraduate and graduate programs under specific categories at Indian institutions as per its charter. You can judge its importance from the fact that some of the top Indian universities/colleges like NITs and IIITs are affiliated with AICTE.”

The original announcement came from “Bhuvan Krishna, General Secretary, Free Software Movement of India (FSMI), [who] announced on the FOSSCOM mailing list that AICTE has finally agreed to remove the the mandatory clause from the notice on implementing Office­365. The decision comes in light of concerns raised by some eminent politicians, free software supporters and people from the academia.” (source).

To quote the original: “We understand that the AICTE has now agreed and is removing the mandatory clause from the notice. We welcome this decision. However, we demand that AICTE should revise the decision of using Office-365 totally, as it is not in the interest of the students, institutions and colleges. AICTE as a public funded body should not engage in supporting proprietary systems.”

This move is not ideal, but it is a step in the right direction as it permits keeping/using Free software, unlike the deal is written before (prior to revision). This whole thing is still EDGI and should be treated formally as abuse. As we explained before, a software-savvy nation like India, its education sector in particular, hardly needs Microsoft. Moreover, it is against national interests, with or without Microsoft bribes. Even NASA dumps Windows, which ought to tell everyone just how bad Microsoft’s products are from a technical perspective. As one of us (from the US, a former Microsoft MVP) put it: “According to an article at ExtremeTech, NASA has given Microsoft Windows the boot out of the nearest airlock that it should have gotten a long time ago.

“According to the article, dozens of laptops aboard the space station will be purged of their Windows infestations and transitioned over to the more reliable Debian GNU/Linux.”

The Telegraph says: “Computers aboard the International Space Station are to be switched from Windows XP to the Linux operating system in an attempt to improve stability and reliability.”

Here is some more coverage. There is a lot more in a bulk of links in our daily links. This utterly embarrassing new display of Windows error messages in an elevator helps remind us why NASA cannot afford Windows, irrespective of cost. If US government agencies reject Microsoft, why don’t Indian government agencies? Amid bribery investigations against Microsoft it is plausible to suggest Microsoft might be bribing — one way another — the officials involved. Every Free software advocate in India should call for a federal investigation; AICTE should be probed to see why it put forth the outrageous deal to begin with. That deal is not totally dead yet.

“I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and the only conclusion I can come to is that this is ethically indistinguishable from bribery.”

Former Microsoft manager

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