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06.10.13

~$10,000 Per Windows Desktop Per Year in the British Government, and Microsoft Wants to Deny Us Choice

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft at 2:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Cameron

Image from the 10 Downing Street Web site

Summary: The insane spendings that accompany Microsoft in computing, based on new revelations from the UK

There are some outrageous reports about our government spending about 10,000 US dollars for each Windows-running machine in government, essentially flushing taxpayers’ money down the loo. One article put it like this:

The government has always faced criticism that its IT is slow, unwieldy, inflexible, unnecessarily complex and overpriced. It’s one thing when you face this criticism from your rivals, the press or members of the public – but you know you’ve reached a dire point when it’s your own chief operating officer (COO) twisting the knife.

At a government spending review attended earlier this week by V3, the government’s new COO Stephen Kelly shed some light into the world of technology at Whitehall and across the public sector.

Munich could do far better than that!

Over the years we covered many examples where the British public sector favours Microsoft for no good reason.This is used to funnel public money into private hands. The NHS and BECTA are just two examples of this.

Here is my co-host’s take on this latest outrage. He points the finger at Microsoft:

People still running a Windows system in the home will probably be able to appreciate the almost full time job of securing it against the latest malware, fixing nonsensical bugs which suddenly appear for no reasons and creating their own imaginative workarounds just to get the desktop functioning. For the home user this may be seen as run-of-the-mill home computing, but put the same issues into government systems where your tax money goes and the problem becomes less of an annoyance and more a costly exercise – at your expense.

[...]

Now user’s of Windows can appreciate that boot up (and shut down) can take a long time. Here’s your Government (in the UK)

“I came into the office and I pressed my PC and it took me seven minutes to boot up,” he told attendees. “That’s government in the old world, that’s three days of the year I waste of my time booting up.”

Computers are needed in government, but why do they run Windows? Mr. Pogson says bundling is still the issue. To quote:

Ask yourself, why did M$ insist it’s customers not ship bare metal? Did M$ want to ensure end-users had less choice of OS? Did M$ want to ensure it had a larger market-share than it was otherwise earning on price/performance? Were they afraid people would realize the price they paid for that OS?

A market that does not offer choice of OS is broken and governments should have smacked M$, OEMs and retailers long ago over the practice of bundling the OS. It’s clearly an anti-competitive act. Where I live one can buy a bare-metal PC but only as a “bare bones” system to which you must add components or as parts. That worked for ATX PCs but it does not for notebooks and tablets which so far don’t have many user-changeable parts. Freedom in ATX is fading with the decline in “desktop” PCs. They’ll likely be available for years longer but unless we demand notebooks and other PCs offer a choice of OS, bundling will be coming back in a big way. M$ may yet try to get OEMs to ship nothing but M$’s OS.

Why is there no government action against it? Microsoft is too big to jail; for other illegal practices too there has been no punishment, AstroTurfing and racketeering included. What about UEFI, the latest scheme to keep GNU/Linux out of desktops? UEFI is again being covered in ZDNet, owing to J.A. Watson, a Brit who was approached by UEFI Forum after he had criticised UEFI. Here is his latest problem:

I have written a number of times recently about UEFI Boot, and how much trouble I have had getting it set up and getting it to stay the way I want it.

It is important to remember that system manufacturers sometimes make BIOS firmware updates available, and installing such updates can sometimes be of significant help with existing problems.

An example is my Acer Aspire One 725. I have installed several different Linux distributions on it (openSuSE, Fedora, Ubuntu and Debian), and I had run into two related problems.

First, when the Linux installation was finished the system still only booted Windows, and second, even when I changed the UEFI Boot parameters in NVRAM (using efibootmgr), the changes would be lost on the next reboot (which was actually the root cause of the first problem).

All this complication sure is enough to discourage most people from installing GNU/Linux, There is an antitrust complaint in Europe.

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