Microsoft’s Openwashing Propaganda Effective in Blocking Government Use of Free/Open Source Software
Summary: Microsoft is trying to wipe FOSS off the agenda of the United Kingdom by essentially labeling its proprietary software “open” and claiming it to be cheaper (perhaps using bribes/predatory discounts)
AS ONE who works with the public sector in the UK, I know a lot of managers who grasp the value of Free/libre software and proudly speak about it. Only a minority seems to be dogmatic about proprietary software. The British corporate press, however, is more interested in talking to Microsoft minions and partners. Perhaps that’s where the money is (for the press). Selective quoting and selective approaches sure serve the agenda. Based on many years of reading the British press (especially on the subject of FOSS), I hold a strong conviction and certainty that the press is very much complicit in Microsoft propaganda whose purpose is to push back against ODF and Free software.
Recently we saw lots of the British media quoting only a man or two men (in suits, e.g. a local CIO), extrapolating/generalising their words to come up with sensationalist pro-Microsoft headlines, alleging quite weirdly that Microsoft is cheaper than Free software. Well, Microsoft sure seems to have infiltrated Newham, as we showed repeatedly for many years when Mr. Steele was the CIO there. Now we’re dealing not with a Microsoft MOU but with suits who claim Microsoft to be “open” (shared), spreading TCO FUD as well (see  at the bottom for a little portion of the propaganda). This is a disgrace.
In the previous post we showed Microsoft's latest attempt to derail GNU/Linux in the Middle Kingdom by openwashing Windows (there has been a lot of Microsoft-coordinated openwashing this year [1, 2, 3, 4] and there are many older examples [1, 2]). We are saddened to see that this trend is growing as the Microsoft booster Darryl K. Taft is back to eWeek for some of the Mirosoft propaganda of “cross-platform” .NET. Now, here is a pattern to watch out for: what does the current CIO of Newham say about Microsoft? According to the article, “Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative, which sees qualified customers licensed with product source for debugging and reference purposes, is one example of this says Connell.”
This is utter nonsense. It’s marketing and hogwash. Everyone in the FOSS world knows this. Then it continues: “Regardless of the provenance of any underlying code in a service, cost will always be the key factor in sourcing it, he claims.”
So now we are told that not only is Microsoft “cheaper” but also “open”. Yes, it’s only make believe. Read this article from one year ago. Connell is contradicting even himself. To quote: “Local authorities are faced with a choice of either forking out for costly software licence upgrades or keeping staff, Geoff Connell, CIO at Newham Borough Council, has told Computer Weekly.”
To quote the company that brought this contradiction to our attention: “Didn’t Geoff Connell said the opposite last year? … Is Stockholm syndrome slowing #opensource adoption?”
Watch what he says a year later. To quote: “London authorities are working together to look at how they can procure best. “We’ve got support from the Government Procurement Service to help us buy collectively and improve the deal that way,” said Connell.
““However, with the likes of Oracle and Microsoft the prices are set, so they are not so open to discussion,” he added.”
And yes, Connell advocates paying Microsoft for spyware with back doors. In the public sector! This is beyond dangerous, it’s vandalism.
“*If* this is true,” writes Mark Taylor, “Newham’s ‘Proprietary cheaper than Open Source’ claim looks a little shaky… what are the facts?”
Ask Microsoft. It ran a “Get the Facts” campaign, with figures paid for by Microsoft.
Taylor also asks: “what kind of special deal would make this true?”
We already know that Microsoft is trying to kill the threat of FOSS selectively, e.g. with bribes (or special discounts) in places such as Munich. This is monopoly abuse and Newham is now part of the problem, helped by the British (corporate) press. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
One London CIO has claimed to the UK press that in cases where the public sector can no longer provide competitive cost savings with proprietary systems, it may choose to adopt open source alternatives.
According to Geoff Connell, Havering and Newham joint head of ICT, despite the government’s open source drive, even after all this time open source tends to only be used for niche solutions.
TCO (total cost of ownership) is the biggest problem in adopting open source technology and software in the public sector, Connell contends.