Summary: Countries where policy is written to prioritise Free software (i.e. software controlled by domestic companies) as well as open standards are facing interference from hostile pressure groups
With Microsoft moles inside many governments (we gave lot of examples) it is no wonder that taxpayers don’t have their interests served. As a bit of a primer, consider going through the following Wiki pages:
Over in France, which famously has gotten one of the strongest European pro-FOSS policies in place, funny business is going on. April writes: “The Senate, at first reading, and National Assembly commission of Cultural Affairs and Education, at second reading, voted for a provision giving priority to Free Software and open formats in the future “Public Service for Digital Education.” Regrettably, the government, yielding, without any doubt, to pressure from Afdel and Syntec Numérique, has just filed an amendment neutralizing this provision.”
“Over in Italy, rogue actions are being reported as people try to stall the famous migrations to FOSS.”Recall what Microsoft did about imminent ODF preference in France. It used proxies to derail the democracy and promote OOXML, i.e. Microsoft formats as a ‘standard’ [1, 2, 3, 4].
Speaking of people who boosted OOXML (e.g. Winterford in this case, the writer who became a Microsoft booster after receiving gifts from Microsoft [1, 2]), they are demonising FOSS, comparing the FOSS advocates to “crusaders” and even showing a photo of a medieval shield. The truth is exactly the opposite. The crusaders are the foreigners (multinationals) who try to impose proprietary software on populations across the world. Winterford must not be happy to see ODF elevated in his nation, Australia. He did a lot to promote OOXML after Microsoft had given him gifts.
“Microsoft can sometimes make the Italian Mafia look benign in comparison.”Over here in the UK, policy is being put in place which favours local companies like my employer (FOSS only). Pogson writes: “There it is, a whole government planning how to escape M$ and “partners” bloat. They are going to do IT the right way, considering what will give the desired outcome efficiently instead of just throwing money away to get the desired outcome any way possible. If we all did that would anyone pay ~$100 extra for a PC with M$’s OS on it, $150 extra for M$’s office suite, $thousands to run a server on a network? How about enduring endless malware aimed at the leaking hulk of that other OS and endless re-re-reboots?”
Over in Italy, rogue actions are being reported as people try to stall the famous migrations to FOSS. To quote: “The discussion in the working group that is supposed to detail when Italy’s public administrations should prefer open source over proprietary solutions, is stalling, says lawyer Ernesto Belisario, professor at University of Basilicata in the city of Potenza. “Some of the members think the law stipulates a technical and economical assessment, instead of reading it as a statement supporting open source.”"
“The fight for FOSS in the public sector does not end when policies are written.”Recall the role played by Nichi Vendola. Microsoft can sometimes make the Italian Mafia look benign in comparison. Microsoft is desperate to stop FOSS expansion in Italy and some other news from Italy is now properly summarised in our Wiki.
The article above notes that “Carlo Piana, member of the working group on behalf of the Free Software Foundation Europe and the KDE foundation, confirms that the members do not agree on the reading of the law. “It is important that we agree on the interpretation as soon as possible, otherwise the working group will fall short on its tasks. “I don’t believe this will be the outcome, but if the current position persists, the communities I and the other members represent will strongly protest and we will have little choice but to take all the consequences on our contribution.”
“I am sure that the organisation will realise that this is a crucial point. The law clearly supports our position, for many good reasons. While we are aware that some level of compromise is necessary, this cannot be on the substance of the law and on the very mission of our activity. As Mr. Belisario correctly says, some may disagree with the law, in which case they can try to change it; but as long as it remains unchanged, the law must be abided with.”
“One strategy for impeding FOSS growth in Europe has been lobbying for FRAND and the unitary patent (software patents in Europe through the back doors). “The fight for FOSS in the public sector does not end when policies are written. Just look at what Microsoft did in Brazil to bypass policies.
One strategy for impeding FOSS growth in Europe has been lobbying for FRAND and the unitary patent (software patents in Europe through the back doors). Matthias Lamping does not think that the EU should embrace this trajectory for patents. He writes in a pro-patents blog that he “is not a big fan of the unitary patent package – not because it dislikes the idea of unitary patent protection for the Internal Market, but precisely because [he] does like it. However, creating a “unitary patent” which claims EU origin but disclaims EU character, just because something is supposedly better than nothing, is rather an act of desperation than sensible policy making. This is not the place and not the time to repeat old arguments, but [despite Merpel's warning that this might offend the sensibilities of some readers] one thing cannot be said often enough: False integration can be worse than no integration; and a bad court system is not necessarily better than no court at all. It may be true, to a certain extent, that the system can be improved once it is in force. But a house built on a shaky foundation will always be in danger of collapsing, no matter how many cosmetic repairs are made.”
It seems possible that, owing to pressure from countries like Spain, the unitary patent package will fall through. Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, the loudest opposer of the unitary patent package, said the other day:
that’s why I’m now 99.9999% sure that #UnitaryPatent will die, but what a waste of time/energy and political confidence!
The unitary patent package has taught many of us on the developers’ side that there will always be opportunistic lawyers/politicians looking to serve themselves and their friends at governmental/industrial levels. This incestuous relationship is all about self gain. The fight against corruption is perpetual and it is an important fight to be fighting. █
‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’
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Summary: Although the Australian government does not guarantee the use of open standards and/or Free software, it does give way for better facilitation of those
After years of OOXML-related abuses such as bribes, Microsoft might — just might — see some consequences. According to this announcement from Australia, ODF is a winner, but the “proposal does not require that ODF be used as a standard. Rather, it just specifies that productivity suites must support ODF. Recent versions of Microsoft Office, as well as Google Docs, Libre Office and OpenOffice support the file format,” says this post. It is not entirely true that Microsoft supports ODF; it is just its proprietary hybrid which it labels ODF. The news sites, nonetheless, welcome the news. Here is a bunch of reports about it:
Australia’s government may mandate that its agencies use software compatible with OpenDocument Format (ODF), an international file standard.
The country’s government agencies mostly use Microsoft’s Office software, but support for an open standard eliminates the “potential for a vendor ending support for specific format,” wrote John Sheridan, Australia’s chief technology officer.
If the draft proposal is approved, however, government agencies would not be required to work only with ODF documents, Sheridan wrote. The proposal is now open for comments and will eventually be taken up by the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board for approval.
The office of the Australian Government Chief Technology Officer (AGCTO) is proposing support for the Open Document Format (ODF) in an annual review of computing system policies.
The AGCTO’s office says that requiring support for ODF will not preclude use of other formats and does not mandate use of ODF 1.1. But it will establish ODF 1.1 as the baseline for compatibility within the Australian government. According to Australian tech news site Delimiter, in 2011, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) decided to standardise on Office Open XML, but was pushed to reconsider that choice after receiving complaints. The new proposal has now been published and the AGIMO and AGCTO are seeking public feedback before progressing further.
We previously covered outrage in Australia over choice of OOXML (entryism possibly the cause, i.e. Microsoft moles), so this latest news sure is a positive change and a step in the right direction. Have they just rewritten the policy to conform with a t prior decision of choosing Microsoft Office though? We shall see… █
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The world has moved on and beyond the “desktop”
Summary: With Microsoft’s common carrier and browser share down considerably Microsoft finds itself increasingly irrelevant and it tries subversive means of making another comeback
According to this new article from IDG, Forrester has no faith in Vista 8, despite Forrester ‘research’ (for a fee, for agenda) being Microsoft-funded for years. To quote: “Windows 8, the most significant upgrade to Microsoft’s operating system since Windows 95 and one of the most important products in the company’s history, will not achieve enough adoption in enterprises to be considered a standard, according to Forrester Research.”
“Even the Microsoft boosters have ceased trying to lie about Vista 8 sales.”Britain’s leading Microsoft booster can offer damage control no more. He wrote: “Those who upgraded to Windows 8 aren’t the only ones unhappy with the new touch-driven operating system – Wall Street is too. Just don’t expect any of the criticism hurled at Steve “Teflon” Ballmer, Microsoft’s shy and retiring boss, to stick.
“The chief executive is under fire from money men who responded to tech reporters trolling the markets for blistering opinions on Microsoft’s leadership, given that: PC sales are crashing; Windows Phone 8 smartmobes are in fourth place in the US mobile OS market; and Windows 8 Surface gadgets are barely on the worldwide tablet sales charts. The new touchscreen-friendly Windows has not been that well received, resulting the software giant undoing decisions made at the highest levels.”
Here are his closing words: “Arguably, Ballmer’s pain has been postponed. Microsoft’s Windows growth isn’t coming from new Windows 8 PCs sold to consumers, rather sales of Windows 8 licences to distribution channel partners and volume customers. Actual Windows 8 machines haven’t moved in any significant numbers. The PCs that are selling run Windows 7.”
Even the Microsoft boosters have ceased trying to lie about Vista 8 sales. Android already became far more of an industry standard than Vista 7 and 8 combined. Android will soon celebrate one billion activations. It sometimes seems like Google has helped harm many Microsoft de facto standards, including multimedia ones, not just operating systems. The hardest part to knock down is Microsoft’s most profitable monopoly, Office, which relies solely on format-induced lock-in.
According to this piece from the pro-Microsoft 'news' site ReadWrite, “Google is Prepping a Sneak Attack on Microsoft Office” and the author says: “Google sources also say they’re confident that Microsoft won’t be able to block QuickOffice with licensing issues or other legal threats. Eventually, these individuals say, QuickOffice will become the foundation of Google Apps, although that’s still a ways off.”
“The hardest part to knock down is Microsoft’s most profitable monopoly, Office, which relies solely on format-induced lock-in.”Pamela Jones responded as follows: “I hope Google doesn’t make the mistake of thinking that building your business on a Microsoft “standard” format that includes a right for Microsoft to add proprietary doodads is going to work out for them. And if they don’t include ODF, Microsoft will be correct that then Microsoft will be more open than Google in that one area. On the other hand, if the lawyers are in this decision because Microsoft is a litigation bully and competes in courtrooms instead of in the marketplace, who knows what has gone into the decision? Dealing with Microsoft is a headache, and it causes others endless troubles for absolutely no good reason with folks ending up doing things to protect themselves from attack that they’d otherwise never have done.
“And speaking of openness, what’s with ReadWrite’s new policy of making their articles impossible to copy and paste? This is the Internet, and there are principles and a culture, and they are violating them.”
Recall how Microsoft resorted to corruption for OOXML, which Google, for some reason, no longer opposes as fiercely as it used to, partly due to Microsoft's pollution in formats space.
“Google has made good progress on weaning Microsoft lock-in, but the job is not done yet.”According to a post about OGC, Microsoft is now trying to ‘pull an OOXML’ again, this time not against video chats through Web standards, namely WebRTC (a threat to Skype) but against another common standard. As one person put it: “Most (all?) current OGC web service standards to date have an Open Source reference implementation, which was often (always?) part funded by OGC testbeds, and open source implementations were tested against proprietary implementations during OGC testbeds. As far as I’m aware, there has been very little up-take from the Open Source community of the “GeoServices REST API”, and I’m unaware of any testing of non-ESRI applications during OGC testbeds. (Someone may be able to correct me here).”
Here is the source. Pamela Jones, who fought against OOXML, calls this “Another OOXML,” noting that it is “a “standard” proposed when there is already a FOSS overlapping standard in use. ESRI lists Microsoft, Oracle, Novell and SAP as partners.”
In order to starve Microsoft, a longtime abusive monopolist and patent racketeer (Microsoft tries to extract money from devices using FAT patents in exFAT), one needs to erode its lock-in. Google has made good progress on weaning Microsoft lock-in, but the job is not done yet. █
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Summary: Recalling the older corruption of Microsoft and Bill Gates, especially in light of some news from Europe
n anonymous Scandinavian reader wrote to tell us that Microsoft “has gotten inside the Norwegian public sector.” For context he gives these two links [1, 2] and reminds us that; “In 2007, Norway required that editable documents be in ODF within the state agencies. Now they’re following the “Microsoft too” tactic and “also” permitting OOXML and removing the requirement for ODF. Apparently the head of Microsoft Norway has had a series of closed meetings with the state council(?) (statsråden).
“”statsråden” is minister, but I don’t know which one. It would be good to hear from NUUG because they are the main opposition to the change.
“Apparently the king helped slam it through. Your country has royalty still. How does that complicate matters or does it affect things at all?
“Google Translate does an ok job.”
We wrote about OOXML-related abuses in Norway in posts such as this one. Citing the new article titled “DoJ, SEC investigating Microsoft over bribery claims” Pamela Jones writes: “While they are at it, I wish they’d look into the French about-face on OOXML.”
Nicolas Sarkozy and OOXML scandals in France were covered here before. Here are some of the more notable posts about it:
- More on France and Microsoft’s OOXML; ODF Still a Leader
- White-Collar Crime Pays Off, Shows Microsoft OOXML
- Hewlett-Packard Does Microsoft’s Dirty Job Again, Lobbies for the Monopoly
- Guilty Parties in OOXML Fiasco in France Gets Exposed (Updated)
Separately, adds Jones: “The first thing I thought of was France doing a 180 on OOXML, after reports of a phone call from Bill Gates to Sarkozy and the AFNOR letter from Microsoft France mentioning telephone contacts, the letter sent the day before the OOXML vote deadline. By the way, notice in that last link how Microsoft behaved at meetings of AFNOR, according to Frederick:
Q: Last August there were some reports that the AFNOR commission meetings were heated. Can you tell us anything about that?
Couchet: On August 29th 2007 the AFNOR standardization commission meeting took place with the objective of establishing the position of the commission and therefore consequently France’s position. The exchanges were stormy at some points since Marc Mosse, head of Legal and Public Affairs at Microsoft France, did everything, I thought, he could to sabotage the meeting. Marc Mossé, judging from appearances, seemed to have the very clear assignment to obtain AFNOR’s abstention. Absolutely not constructive, not very polite either, in particular with the representatives of the French administration, Marc Mosse seemed to have decided to ruin the meeting and heighten the pressure — well-known tactic to block the arrival at a consensus. But he did too much, way too much. The end was pitiful enough, notably when he accused one of the State’s representatives of serving a “banana republic”. He claimed by the way to be representing local administrations against the central administration. The resume of Marc Mosse is online but strangely, his stint at the BSA, the Business Software Alliance, is not mentioned in it. The meeting of March 25th 2008 was much more calm and cordial, perhaps because of the absence of Marc Mosse.
Does that not remind you of the behavior this month of those who seemed determined to disrupt Google’s presentations regarding Vp8 so as to avoid consensus, including the one on IPR?” (we just wrote about this in the previous post).
That last part we may cover in a separate post. Why is the English-speaking press not covering these scandals?
At ZDNet this month, Microsoft employee Jason Perlow has been actively bashing Android and promoting Microsoft products under the guise of ‘journalism’ (no links given, on purpose). This is a farce. Corruption is allowed to carry on because real journalism is left for sites like Groklaw to do while Perlow smears those real journalists. █
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Summary: Microsoft is under fire for bribery allegations in governments; now that the UK government says it will adopt Free and open source software while the Swiss government refuses to do so there is more food for thought about the motives and backdoor dealings
Governments are not only being robbed by Microsoft through tax evasion. Taxpayer are constantly being hit by Microsoft tax when they buy PCs and when the government buys PCs. Now we know, based on Murdoch’s press that “U.S. Probes Microsoft, Partners Over Bribery Claims”. Microsoft is Obama’s second among companies that bribed him in 2012, so we doubt anyone will go to jail over it. Bribery is a crime when the small person does it; for a corporation like Microsoft it is just a standard way of doing business. We saw a lot of it amid OOXML scandals.
Here is what the Wall Street Journal says:
Lawyers from the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are examining kickback allegations made by a former Microsoft representative in China, as well as the company’s relationship with certain resellers and consultants in Romania and Italy, these people said.
The investigation is in a preliminary phase, according to people familiar with the probe, and the government hasn’t accused Microsoft or any of its business associates of wrongdoing. Such investigations can end with no charges being filed.
The Slashdot summary includes more news links. There are reports in other languages as well. It’s an international fiasco and the thing about the invetigation is that it’s well overdue. Microsoft is a criminal firm with criminal past, so there’s not much of a reputation to keep and not much reason for hesitation in investigating the practices.
Today in the mail I received two letters. One tells me that City Council tax is up almost ten percent and the other says that the bank is slashing an already low interest rate by around 12.5 percent. Inflation is a popular form of hidden tax, more hidden than the notorious bank levy in Cyprus.
So, how does my government save money other than by taxing ordinary citizens who have no access to offshore tax havens like the multi-millionaires and billionaires? Well , it recently seemed like Microsoft was on its way out. As one report puts it:
Open source use in UK government has been establishing itself, in both the Government’s G-Cloud and in procurement standards. Now, the publication of a beta of the UK’s “Government Service Design Manual”, part of the Digital by Default Standard for government services, is writing in a preference towards using open source into the guidance for service managers, developers and web operations.
Robert Pogson, responding to this move from the government, says:
If you read the comments on that blog post you find that previously the IT department were afraid of the security of WordPress, used on tens of millions of web-facing sites…
Sometimes top-down leadership is needed to break log-jams and catch the wave.
Here is another report. We are waiting to see what Microsoft will do other than bribe, openwash, or intimidate rivals or politicians (like in Massachusetts). It affects me personally in my daytime job. Here is some widely-cited post about the news:
Since I’m writing this on St. Patrick’s Day, covering news involving the British government–those perfidious Hanoverians who dispossessed my Irish ancestors several centuries ago–feels just a little off-base. Still, the United Kingdom’s official endorsement of open source software, which became public just a few days ago, seems too important to miss, particularly for the implications it could have for businesses, governments and other organizations throughout the channel.
In other words, this is bad news for companies such as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), whose products the guide discourages.
Microsoft will definitely lobby behind the scenes, as it always does to derail such policies. Bribes are possible too. We saw it before.
Switzerland is a country where Microsoft corruption in government contracts led to a lawsuit which we covered before in:
Here is a nice analogy for what’s happening in Switzerland:
The reason behind the motion was an application called Agate which is used by farmers to report on transport of their animals. The application is available only for Microsoft Windows so if someone is running GNU/Linux system they can’t file the report. So in other words the government is ‘forcing’ people to pay Microsoft tax, buy Windows operating system and then file the reports.
Government related activities should be vendor neutral and citizens must be able to file report using any operating system they deem fit instead of being forced to buy proprietary and extremely insecure Microsoft products.
Corruption in the Swiss government was covered in the following posts around 2009:
- Switzerland and the UK Under Fire for Perpetual Microsoft Engagements
- Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
- Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
- 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
- Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
- Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland’s Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
- ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge’s Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
- Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
- Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit
- Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand
- Swiss Government and Federal Computer Weekly: Why the Hostility Towards Free Software?
Corruption in the Swiss banks makes it not far-fetched to assume corruption in the government as well. Here’s where things stand:
The Swiss Parliament on Wednesday rejected a motion calling on the government to create vendor independent e-government services, Swiss newspapers report. With 14 votes against and 12 vote in favour, the Swiss Council of States (Ständerat) threw out a motion, submitted in 2011, requesting the government to create ‘Non-discriminatory eGovernment solutions for Swiss farmers’.
Pogson responds by saying:
I hope the voters wake up their representatives. Apparently a bunch of them are asleep. It is the 21st century and many governments recognize that there is more than one supplier of software for personal computing.
Remember what happened in Switzerland amid OOXML abuses. Someone should investigate to see if here too there are bribes. The outcome of the anti-ODF campaign was clear and today we found this article which says:
…both [ODF and OOMXL] are ISO standard document formats
They neglect to say how Microsoft corrupted ISO to make this happen. Bribes too were involved. Whether Microsoft is found guilty in this latest investigation won’t change Microsoft’s record on bribes. Microsoft is corrupt. █
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Summary: UEFI, Mono and OOXML recalled along with their role in suppressing GNU and Linux adoption
The other day we named SJVN (Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols) for publishing “Linux on Windows 8 PCs: Some progress, but still a nuisance” and the context was spin that said Microsoft liked Linux while attacking its booting rights. Groklaw‘s Pamela Jones wrote something similar to us: “What’s clear to me is that Microsoft hates Linux, it would like it to die, and it throws tacks in its roadway perpetually at every opportunity.”
“What’s clear to me is that Microsoft hates Linux, it would like it to die, and it throws tacks in its roadway perpetually at every opportunity.”
–Pamela JonesThe media spin which says Microsoft likes Linux often cites or quotes former Novell employees (we will abstain from naming some in order to keep this impersonal), i.e. people who were paid by Microsoft to work on stuff like Hyper-V, Mono, Moonlight, and OOXML.
UEFI is a similar story and former Novell staff maintains it. The same goes for Mono backer Xamarim and some elements of LibreOffice (the Go-OO component, which was made obliged by Microsoft money to promote OOXML). We previously explained how OOXML helped impede FOSS adoption in Germany, e.g. in Freiburg [1, 2, 3].
Behind the scenes in Munich [1, 2, 3] Microsoft worked to lobby against it too, using a study which the The H says is nonsense, based on what Munich itself is saying:
Talking to The H’s associates at heise open, the head of the Press and Information Office at Munich City Hall, Stefan Hauf, said that it was not possible to conduct a thorough analysis of the study based on the published summary and that many of the study’s assumptions could not be verified due to the lack of detail. Hauf said that, for example, the study factors in support costs for 12,000 clients from the start of the project, although the number of clients gradually rose to 13,000 over the duration of the project. Additionally, workplace maintenance and support is only a minor work aspect for the 1,000 IT staff that are listed in the study, he added.
HP’s calculation completely omits hardware costs as the study assumes that Linux and Windows systems have “roughly the same hardware requirements”. Hauf disagrees: this approach ignores “the experience that Linux clients have lower hardware requirements than Windows clients”, he said. The official added that the study does not differentiate between migration and regular life cycle management costs, and that regular updates of the same operating system were rated as migrations.
HP is worth boycotting over this, but since Red Hat relies on HP servers and both are UEFI backers we find those two sharing a bed, more so this week. █
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As a reminder, as part of its many OOXML abuses, Microsoft paid companies to ‘support’ OOXML
Summary: The similarities between the effect of adding UEFI code and adding OOXML code to Free software
IN 40 comments or so I have been discussing UEFI with the developer of Shim, whose latest work one can read about in:
So, while Garrett’s shim will soon be bring many more varieties of Linux to many more Windows 8 PCs, UEFI Secure Boot will remain a significant worry for anyone wanting to run Linux or other alternative operating systems on Windows 8 PCs.
Next I went to the other extreme, disabled Legacy Boot and enabled Secure Boot. In this configuration, the Live USB media for Linux Mint and openSuSE wouldn’t even try to boot as they don’t have EFI bootloaders included. Fedora 18 Beta would try, but failed — the necessary security certification is not yet included on the 18 Beta distribution. But Ubuntu 12.10 booted with absolutely no problem. Hooray!
UEFI was designed with lock-down — not just “security” — in mind. It’s like TPM. Thus, Microsoft hoped to embrace the darn thing, making it harder to boot Linux. It doesn’t take a wild theory to deduce this. We saw the same things around 2007, as I explained in comments alluding to hundreds of posts I had written in 2006-2008. Antitrust is bound to be hurt when the anticompetitive is embraced by that who is being hurt.
Speaking of which, check out what Simon Phipps says about Freiburg:
We recently saw the news that the German city of Freiburg had decided to end its open source migration and instead switch to using Microsoft products again. The rationale provided seemed curious to me – after all, at the same time the German city of Munich announced total savings amounting to €10 million from its own successful and ongoing migration.
What seemed odd was there was no account of how they changed course to make the migration succeed. Munich learned lessons from early challenges and updated its strategy in order to succeed. But not Freiburg.
From what I could see, instead of ditching the old versions of MS Office and OpenOffice.org they’d started with and installing up-to-date LibreOffice using expert in-house help, they had just hung on to outdated software and expected staff to muddle through to success. When that didn’t happen, they blamed the software and not the strategy. Everything was in German, so rather than risk misinterpretation I turned to German-speaking friends in the technology industry to explain the report to me (if I got anything wrong, please tell me – the documents seemed very complicated).
My (guided) reading shows three points of concern in the situation over the last four years. First, the only ongoing expenditure in support of the migration is running costs of less than €15 per seat per annum, all associated with licensing supposedly superceded proprietary software. Second, substantial one-off costs of around €231/seat associated with interoperability – a topic that is always an indicator that proprietary software is controlling people’s thinking. Third, no obvious investment in ongoing community engagement or equivalent commercial subscriptions for open source.
“Very good article,” Matthias Kirschner calls it. He is right. Phipps did a fine job and he should know. He was overseeing a lot of aspects of OpenOffice.org for several years at Sun. He also led some efforts to spread ODF and opposed Go-OO, whose team moved on to LibreOffice.
As we showed before, Microsoft had also used OOXML to derail the kind of migrations we saw in Freiburg. Those who were paid by Microsoft to pretend to support OOXML were also to blame. They helped legitimise it. It was always disguised as “choice”, where one choice was lock-in, i.e. no choice. For proprietary software lobbyists, to be “neutral” is to choose proprietary lock-in, as shown in this new article:
Two members of Congress, reaching across the partisan divide, are pushing the government to think broadly — governmentwide — about open-source software, provoking warnings from industry groups that they are ignoring the core principle of technology neutrality.
No, this is not such a matter. To deny choice using lock-in is not to be neutral, it’s to be predatory.
Anyway, one can hopefully grasp the similarity between the two cases; when Microsoft introduces new FOSS-hostile traps it requires that some "useful idiot" — either paid or unpaid — ‘proves’ that the traps are digestable. An effective diplomatic approach is to reject what is worthy of rejection, not give up. This is not a compromise, it is giving up/surrendering to Microsoft, █
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“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”
–Richard Stallman, June 2008
Summary: Microsoft uses price hikes in the UK amid discussions about ultimately moving to standards like OpenDocument Format
MR. Updegrove, a standards guru, recently wrote about the new UK standards policy which is FRAND-hostile. FRAND is neither fair nor reasonable; it is about patents, usually software patents. There is more on that here at OSS Watch:
I have just got back from this event organised by the European Commission and the European Patent Office to discuss the implications of implementing open standards in open source. Now of course this is an issue that has been very active in the UK recently, and about which we have blogged, due to the present government’s desire to use open standards as a way of increasing efficiency in government IT procurement. The idea, briefly, is that specifying IT systems in smaller, interoperable chunks that implement open standards should make government IT easier to manage and maintain and more able to be supplied by a wider range of bidders, including authors and integrators of free and open source software. As discussed in the blog linked above, there is an issue with implementing royalty-bearing standards in GPL-licensed software, and as a lot of the free and open source software out there is GPL-licensed, government risks locking this software out if they don’t specify standards that are royalty free.
Well, after a long consultation process, the Cabinet Office has decided that it will indeed make it a principle that government IT should implement interoperability standards that are royalty free…
The founder of the FSFE said that Microsoft had stated FRAND is FOSS-compatible, which is of course a lie. Microsoft did this in an awkward European event on FRAND and OSS. It’s not “reasonable” to ban Free software. According to the British technology press, since lock-in enables raising of prices for little risk associated with customer retention, Microsoft does exactly that: [via]
Microsoft will make businesses pay 15% more for licenses…
It is for particular services. As we showed in the site’s previous posts and will also show in the next one, Office as a service is struggling, just like Windows. Price hikes are the only way for Microsoft to dodge further losses in the long term. Microsoft is struggling most than common people appreciate. They think that widespread usage necessitates financial stability.
Now, before it is too late, governments should follow Munich’s lead (12,000 desktops migrated to GNU/Linux with ODF). The sinking ship if the ageing Microsoft monopoly.
Updegrove explains how a controlled opposition strategy, namely the portrayal of non-open as “open” (OOXML is one example), is being used now:
The debate over what ‘openness’ should mean in the standards arena has been around for a long time – perhaps as long as a hundred years. But in order to understand the current debate, it’s important to realize that we are in phase two of that dialogue.
In the first phase, the definition of openness was pretty well established and nailed to the wall, following the evolution and formalization of the global standards infrastructure. The high level result was the principle of “RAND” terms (the RAND standing for reasonable and non-discriminatory terms), or FRAND terms (adding an F for “Fair,” if you hail from Europe). These terms are backed up by fairly universally accepted process rules for the conduct of standards development in the global standards bodies. In the United States, compliance with the rules is supervised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which until recently accredited almost all U.S. standards setting organizations.
The definition of “open” — with all sorts of slants and variations of it (e.g. “open core”) — has been changing over time because of those who feared Free software and later on Open Source resort to deception. They try to conquer the opposition. █
“More Open Than Open [...] I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.”
–Microsoft’s Jason Matusow, integral part of the ‘Open’ XML corruptions (further background in [1, 2, 3])
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