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07.06.20

LibreOffice ‘Personal Edition’ Seems Like a Marketing and Communication Fluke

Posted in FUD, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 9:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t panic

LibreOffice 'Personal Edition'

Summary: Had LibreOffice developers (and the Document Foundation) communicated these changes more openly, they would have averted/avoided some of the FUD

OVER the weekend, in the “Planet” of LibreOffice, one contributor complained [1] (links below) about what was addressed a day later (Monday) by the Document Foundation [2]. Some sites took notes of the clarification [3], some did click-bait nonsense [4] and others said that it had “raised some alarms since it implies that businesses, governments, schools, or other institutions might need a different license to use LibreOffice in the future.”

“From what we can gather, there’s nothing nefarious and/or sinister here. It was an honest mistake.”Transparency is very important. Had the Document Foundation negotiated this language prior to implementing the changes (in “dev” build), a lot of negative publicity and rumours would be spared. From what we can gather, there’s nothing nefarious and/or sinister here. It was an honest mistake. It served to highlight the need for participation at all levels. To avoid unnecessary misunderstandings always work in the open.

References

  1. Will LibreOffice 7.0 be only Personal Edition for individual use???

    Look at LibreOffice logo with “Personal Edition” phrase, look at sidebar in Start Center with the same phrase and note to “The Personal edition is supported by volunteers and intended for individual use.”
    And what is mean? Where is any public announcement? They say it was in marketing mail list. How many people read that mail list? Five?
    It means that I can’t install LibreOffice 7.0 in any organization in Russia, because our controlling people will be see very simple to legality in this case: open the About dialog -> read that “intended for individual use” and LibreOffice logo with “Personal Edition” -> you can’t use LibreOffice here! Nobody will check what say MPL 2.0 license about it or why TDF made it, they just point a finger at it and they will be right!
    It will close for LibreOffice any education organizations like schools or colleges or universities.
    I wont popularize LibreOffice for young people because they will never see LibreOffice in them schools.
    I against these changes. Please revoke it!

  2. Board statement on the LibreOffice 7.0 RC “Personal Edition” label

    Thanks to the hard work put in by many individual and ecosystem contributors, working together as a team in different fields, such as development, QA, design, marketing, localisation, release engineering, infrastructure, just to mention some, in a few weeks’ time we will be welcoming our LibreOffice 7.0 milestone.

    At the same time, we are discussing our vision for the next five years, with a starting point being marketing and branding. See our marketing and board-discuss mailing lists.

    Due to draft and development work in the area of branding and product naming, some speculation, in particular related to the “Personal Edition” tag shown in a LibreOffice 7.0 RC (Release Candidate), has started on several communication channels. So let us, as The Document Foundation’s Board of Directors, please provide further clarifications:

    1. None of the changes being evaluated will affect the license, the availability, the permitted uses and/or the functionality. LibreOffice will always be free software and nothing is changing for end users, developers and Community members.

    2. Due to the short time frame we are working with, the tagline appeared on the RC and we apologise if this caused some of you to think we unilaterally implemented the change. Rest assured that the consultation with the Community is still ongoing.

  3. The Document Foundation Clarifies LibreOffice 7.0′s “Personal Edition” Branding

    Yes, it’s true the LibreOffice builds in recent days — including the new LibreOffice 7.0 RC1 — have “Personal Edition” branding for the open-source builds. But given user concerns, The Document Foundation board has issued some clarifications to try to ease any immediate rumors, etc.

    The LibreOffice builds provided are indeed marked now as “LibreOffice Personal Edition” as part of planned but not yet finalized marketing changes for LibreOffice. These builds of the open-source office suite remain free and available to anyone without restrictions.

  4. Linux users might find themselves paying money to use LibreOffice one day

    If you are a Linux nerd or Windows user without much money, you probably use LibreOffice. That free software is actually quite good, although Microsoft’s Office is far superior. Regardless of how you feel about the Windows-maker, its office suite of software is second to none. If you use Windows or Mac and can afford it, I always recommend using “real” Word and Excel over knockoffs, such as the aforementioned LibreOffice’s Writer or Calc. Sadly, other than the web version, Microsoft Office is not available for Linux. With that said, as a Linux user, I appreciate LibreOffice’s existence and use it regularly.

    But what if LibreOffice wasn’t free? Would people still use it if it cost money? Some folks became very worried about that exactly, as the release candidate of LibreOffice 7.0 labeled itself as “Personal Edition.” To some, it was a sign that a paid version of LibreOffice was on the horizon. Well, guess what? They weren’t totally wrong. In the future, you might find yourself paying money to use LibreOffice software. According to a new blog post from The Document Foundation Board aimed at quelling fears, however, there is no need to panic.

  5. Lilbits 7-06-2020: LibreOffice Personal Edition?

    LibreOffice is a suite of office applications for creating, editing, and viewing text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases, among other things. LibreOffice is free and open source software. Anyone can download it, use it, and even examine and modify the source code.

    But with version 7.0 set to launch next month, some users have been noticing unusual language in pre-release builds suggesting that LibreOffice “Personal edition” is “intended for individual use.

    That’s raised some alarms since it implies that businesses, governments, schools, or other institutions might need a different license to use LibreOffice in the future.

11.16.19

USPTO Rewards Microsoft for Corruption at ISO by Teaching People Proprietary OOXML and Promoting Its Use

Posted in America, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents at 10:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

USPTO locked in

USPTO locked in

Summary: The world’s most important patent office promotes Microsoft lock-in, revealing not only corporate bias but also highlighting ways in which Microsoft crimes continue to pay off

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) seems to be working for famous criminals like Bill Gates et al while ‘dissing’ actual judges (e.g. looking for tricks to overcome 35 U.S.C. § 101 caselaw). It’s starting to remind us of what happens in Europe, where Microsoft bribed a lot of people to rig ISO in Switzerland.

“So the USPTO isn’t just looking to penalise people who aren’t Microsoft customers; now it’s actively advertising OOXML instead of something FOSS-friendly such as OpenDocument Format (ODF) or even PDF.”As we noted here before, the USPTO now considers penalising people for not using Microsoft products/formats. It’s almost as if the Office works for Microsoft to reward it for corruption and it’s no laughing matter. Dennis Crouch has quoted the USPTO: “Join us for a seminar on filing DOCX, which is structured text. The DOCX Information Sessions will start Wednesday, November 13 from 2-3 p.m. ET. We will discuss DOCX as an efficient way to file a patent application electronically. You’ll learn what the DOCX format is, how you can use it to file nonprovisional utility applications, and the benefits it provides to you and your patent applications.”

Donald Zuhn has also just mentioned that: “In a Patent Alert e-mail distributed today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that it will be offering several seminars on how to use DOCX for EFS-Web filings and on PAIR. The DOCX Information Sessions will focus on the advantages of filing patent applications using structured text (DOCX).”

So the USPTO isn’t just looking to penalise people who aren’t Microsoft customers; now it’s actively advertising OOXML instead of something FOSS-friendly such as OpenDocument Format (ODF) or even PDF. This is an ongoing problem which we will likely revisit if (or when) the USPTO makes these penalties official.

07.15.19

Microsoft Office 360 Banned

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument, Standard at 2:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft implemented ODF with all the grace of a 6 year old asked to tidy up their room”

Jeremy Allison, LCA 2010

Summary: OpenDocument Format (ODF, a real standard everyone can implement) and Free/libre software should be taught in schools; it’s not supposed to be just a matter of privacy

Days ago we included in our daily links some early reports about Microsoft Office 360 getting banned in German schools. CBS (ZDNet) is helping Microsoft spin all this with a bunch of lies [1], but this development must worry Microsoft as it can inspire other countries and even non-schools to do the same. We’ve meanwhile noticed (hours ago) that some “Linux sites” promote proprietary software with “ribbons” and OOXML [2] (because there are binaries for Ubuntu). Why not Free/libre software? Are bloggers really this clueless? What does one gain by swapping one piece of proprietary software with another? Or one surveillance form (Microsoft) with another (Google)?

Software Freedom needs to be stressed more and more for such poor advocacy to be discouraged. Choosing something like Google or Apple instead of Microsoft isn’t swapping digital slavery with freedom but instead just swapping ‘masters’.

Update: For the second time in just hours [3] that same “Linux site” promotes yet another piece of proprietary software as a “replacement” for Microsoft Office.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft Office 365: Banned in German schools over privacy fears
  2. FreeOffice July Update Adds MS Office 2019 Support, Classic Interface Option

    A major update to FreeOffice by SoftMaker, a gratis set of productivity apps modelled after Microsoft Office, is now available to download.

    Dubbed the “anniversary update”, the latest version of this office suite intros compatibility with the latest Microsoft Office file formats.

    All three apps in the family, TextMaker, PlanMaker and Presentations, are said to be fully compatible with the latest Microsoft Office file formats, allowing users to open, edit and save in native Office formats like .docx.

    The suite now lets users choose an interface layout, with the standard “Ribbon” interface mode and a more traditional menu-based UI available.

  3. Microsoft Office Clone ‘SoftMaker Office 2018’ Sees Summer Update

    Do keep in mind that SoftMaker Office 2018 is not free software so you will need to buy a subscription or make a one-off purchase to use it longterm.

12.01.18

Patent Offices Reward Microsoft for Corruption

Posted in America, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No-OOXML

Summary: The EPO and Britain’s UKIPO join the USPTO in making Microsoft’s proprietary format the ‘standard’ in filing; this merely perpetuates the negative publicity associated with patent offices

THIS IS not an unfamiliar topic. A decade ago (or more) we wrote hundreds of articles about Microsoft’s OOXML-related abuses. Corrupt European Patent Office (EPO) officials now help the abusers from Microsoft by advancing their fake ‘standard’ that they bribed and corrupted ISO for. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does too, but the latter is based in the US (where Microsoft is based, unlike ISO, which is Europe-centric).

“We suppose they’re perfectly OK being agents of Microsoft, rewarding the company for its corruption instead of embracing open standards anyone can use (not just clients of Microsoft).”As IP Kat put it two days ago: “The EPO and UKIPO are teaming up to make online filing easier to understand. In the EPO and UKIPO online services workshop you will learn about the EPO’s web-based online filing system and the second phase of the DOCX filing pilot. Witness a live demonstration of Mailbox and hear an overview of best practice interaction with the EPO.”

No ODF pilot? Why not? We suppose they’re perfectly OK being agents of Microsoft, rewarding the company for its corruption instead of embracing open standards anyone can use (not just clients of Microsoft).

03.13.17

Ten Years Later, Microsoft Admission on Dirty Tricks and Borderline Corruption Which It Uses to This Day in Order to Suppress GNU/Linux Adoption in Desktops

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 7:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Munich, pay attention

“I have decided that we should not publish these extensions. We should wait until we have a way to do a high level of integration that will be harder for the likes of Notes, Wordperfect to achieve, and which will give Office a real advantage.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Summary: Remarkable new admission from the former head of Microsoft Office development, who makes it no secret that the war over file formats (trying to pass off proprietary formats as a ‘standard’) was “a critical competitive moat” (denying the competition access to the desktop)

Microsoft is a very corrupt company. I should know. I wrote many thousands of articles about it, including nearly 1,000 articles about the OOXML saga (almost as many as the EPO saga that makes the US counterpart look like an angel).

I’ve noticed something over the past few years, and I cannot understand if it’s due to erosion of collective memory or due to young people joining in, with little or no understanding of Microsoft’s past (which mostly continues to present, just better veiled or misleadingly marketed). Reddit actually censored a link to this article of ours about Microsoft's ongoing attacks on Free software proponents. It was deleted from the Linux subreddit. Is this like a new thing? Cannot criticise Microsoft even in Linux-centric forums? It had a lot of upvotes and comments. It was on topic and widely appreciated by most. We have been hearing similar things over the past two weeks in relation to other forums, but were unable to verify with strong enough evidence that this was a conscious decision to gag members who had criticised Microsoft. Is the “Microsoft loves Linux” charm offensive targeting enough gullible people to actually be effective?

“Is the “Microsoft loves Linux” charm offensive targeting enough gullible people to actually be effective?”Anyway, this new article was brought up yesterday in the Linux subreddit. It is not directly about GNU/Linux, but as the title put it, “Former head of Microsoft Office development brags that file formats were “a critical competitive moat””

So now they admit this so openly. Having infected so many infrastructures with OOXML lock-in, which typically limits or prevents access by Free software users. Or has developers wasting a lot of time chasing a bogus ‘standard’ that even Microsoft cannot implement or conform to.

“Gates spoke about breaking compatibility on numerous occasions (that we caught him in antitrust exhibits). The above is just one example among several which we covered here before.”This head of Microsoft Office development wrote: “This is probably already way too long but I also wanted to just touch on the ongoing discussions we had with Bill Gates over my entire career at Microsoft that directly related to these perspectives on complexity.”

Gates spoke about breaking compatibility on numerous occasions (that we caught him in antitrust exhibits). The above is just one example among several which we covered here before.

The thugs from Microsoft, for those who cannot recall articles from one decade ago, bribed, colluded and did even worse things for OOXML. The whole thing was a culmination of desperate need to counter fair competition through ODF. Microsoft was put under investigations, but just like Battistelli at the EPO it always managed to get away with it. It never got punished for it. It was absolutely extraordinary and it demonstrated what a large corporation can get away with. It was a good example of when crime pays off, and one manages to stay out of jail “because well-connected” or “that’s just business” or “we deny the allegations.”

“Well, the only ‘standard’ Microsoft accepts and embraces is Microsoft.”In Reddit, a lot of people commented about this issue. One person said: “I’ve said before that even Microsoft couldn’t re-implement MS Office file formats in another product with perfect compatibility, and here they admit it!’

They almost admitted it before and we quoted them on it. Nobody ever implemented OOXML, not even Microsoft. It was just a mirage ‘standard’ — or the mere pretense that Microsoft and its proprietary software adhere to industry standards. Well, the only ‘standard’ Microsoft accepts and embraces is Microsoft. None of that has changed. All other embraces are “embrace, extend, extinguish” (EEE). Right now it’s trying to interject such bogus 'standards' into Free/Open source software.

06.12.15

The World is Already Leaving Microsoft Windows Behind, in Favour of ODF, Free Software, and GNU/Linux (Usually in Turn)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument, Standard, Windows at 6:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows too old and long in the tooth

Windows

Summary: The ongoing migration of various governments to Free/libre software contributes to the demise of Microsoft’s monopoly and common carrier

“REPORTS suggest Windows phone users are jumping ship with sales in rapid decline,” said the British media earlier this week (title is “Microsoft has a very big problem”). Linux and Android are certainly still gaining. When one switches completely to GNU/Linux, embrace of OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Free/libre software is often implied. It’s virtually imperative. It’s like the ultimate and most complete switch, whereas embrace of open standards or Free software alone tends to be ‘softer’ or rather restrained, staged, and at times hesitant. There is lobbying against each at varying (depending on perceived risk or severity) levels of granularity.

“Someone inside GE recently told me that GE was quietly dumping Windows for Linux in its lucrative CT scanners business.”Microsoft is in trouble and there is no denying that.

According to British media, Vista 8 continues to be a disaster technically and in some nations, unsurprisingly, GNU/Linux has greater market share than the latest Vista (Windows 8.1). The desktop monopoly too is in jeopardy, especially where governments made it their policy to embrace Free/libre software (Uruguay and Venezuela in this case).

Here in the UK the National Health Service (NHS), longtime prisoner of Microsoft, is putting up resistance and considering Free software in a growing number of operations. Making the huge mistake of putting Microsoft Windows in medical devices or facilities is not forgivable. Someone inside GE recently told me that GE was quietly dumping Windows for Linux in its lucrative CT scanners business. According to this new report, X-ray scanners (causing cancer) are behaving badly because of Windows. To quote: “the device proved an easy target. TrapX’s team was able to use an exploit for a known weakness in the Windows 2000 operating system to establish what TrapX refers to as a “pivot” – or point of control- on their test network from which they could attack other systems. After creating a backdoor into the device, TrapX researchers added a new user to the system and decrypted the local user password. The company was then able to extract the database files that would contain medical information.”

“In due course, having removed the Office barrier/hurdle, HMRC can move to GNU/Linux because Google is purely Web-based.”This can become ground for many lawsuits from patients or families of dead patients. This is the sort of scandal that ought to push all British government departments which still use Windows XP immediately to GNU/Linux. No version of Windows is secure; the underlying encryption (proprietary) tends to have back doors. Every piece of proprietary software must be assumed insecure until proven otherwise (by becoming Free software and standards-compliant). There are moves in this direction, namely of standards, in Sweden [1] and in Holland [2,3], with calls growing for the NHS to embrace openness [4]. There is an increasing push towards Free/libre software, not just open standards (which relate to one another). The governments in Europe should move to Free software like LibreOffice, where interoperability becomes trivial, to borrow Andy Updegrove’s latest arguments [5], but alas, as we noted the other day (alluding to the UK, Sweden, and India), HMRC is moving from one proprietary office suite to another. Here is the ‘damage control’ from Microsoft, which is trying to avoid the impression of being dumped. To quote the British press, “MICROSOFT HAS HIT BACK at claims that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has dumped the firm in favour of Google’s cloud apps.

“The move, first reported at The Register, will see 70,000 HMRC employees switching from Microsoft’s productivity offering to Google’s cloud-based apps services.”

Google will emphasise ODF support (open standards), but it is not Free/libre software. In due course, having removed the Office barrier/hurdle, HMRC can move to GNU/Linux because Google is purely Web-based. HMRC’s footsteps are likely to be followed by other British government departments (owing to ODF as a national requirement for editable document), taking away some of Microsoft’s most lucrative contracts (British government) and showing other governments across the world that they too can dump Microsoft and proprietary software, not just Windows. Office is the cash cow, Windows is the common carrier. The demise of one leads to the demise of the other.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Sweden refines specifications of open standards

    Sweden’s governmental procurement specialists at Statens inköpscentral are fine-tuning the list of ICT standards that public authorities may use as mandatory requirements when procuring software and ICT services. The procurement agency is working with standardisation specialists at the University of Skövde, to check which ICT standards are truly open.

  2. Dutch MP wants sanctions to enforce open standards

    Public administrations that continue to ignore the policy to implement open standards in their ICT solutions should be fined, says Dutch MP Astrid Oosenbrug. “Public administrations should come to grips with open data, open standards and open source. With all their talk about regaining the trust of their citizens and creating a participatory society, public administrations should take a cue from open source communities.”

  3. Dutch government agency switches core services to open source

    Public administrations that switch to open source regain financial scalability, says Jan-Taeke Schuilenga, IT architect at DUO, the Dutch government agency managing the financing of the country’s educational institutions. “We had reached the limit of proprietary licence possibilities. Switching to open source gave us freedom of choice.”

  4. Open data could save the NHS hundreds of millions, says top UK scientist

    The UK government must open up and highlight the power of more basic data sets to improve patient care in the NHS and save hundreds of millions of pounds a year, Nigel Shadbolt, chairman of the Open Data Institute (ODI) has urged.

  5. Licensing Standards that Include Code: Heads or Tails?

    Once upon a time, standards were standards and open source software was open source software (OSS), and the only thing people worried about was whether the copyright and patent rules relating to the standards would prevent them from being implemented in OSS. Actually, that was complicated enough, but it seems simple in comparison now that OSS is being included in the standards themselves. Now what?

    If this sounds unusual and exotic, it isn’t. In fact, code has been creeping into standards for years, often without the keepers of the intellectual property rights (IPR) Policies governing the standards even being aware of it.

06.09.15

Microsoft’s Government Stranglehold Collapsing: As Expected, British Government Departments (Tax Authorities First) Dump Microsoft, Will Likely Embrace ODF; India and Sweden Likewise

Posted in Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OpenDocument at 3:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Digital sovereignty gradually being restored

Flags

Summary: Despite Microsoft blackmail of British politicians, HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) moves to Google’s ODF-supporting office suite, dumping Microsoft’s biggest cash cow and notorious lock-in; India and Sweden too move in a positive direction with more Free software, despite Microsoft lobbying and bullying

THE BEGINNING OF this week has been great. It had lots to offer in terms of good news. It really started with a bang and hopefully it won’t end with a just a mere whimper.

Microsoft is evidently getting desperate in convincing people to sign its horrible deals (because fewer are willing to sign these) and it is losing some very major clients right now, including governments in wealthy and/or large countries. It’s not some home users and a company or two. It’s now a growing trend, including the world’s second population (by size) and the world’s biggest empire ever, in addition to a top GDP/capita economy. There are literally billions of dollars at stake.

Microsoft is still actively trying to derail Free/Open Source software (FOSS) in voting systems in the United States and it often gets away with it because it has plenty of influence in the United States government. Controlling the voting system and bribing political candidates (as it does, even personally) ensures interference in elections and thus government decisions regarding IT procurement. We are still seeing it in this new article from IDG, stating: “Microsoft’s new system not only provides for easy transmission of election results, but it also allows party administrators to view results as they come in and will automatically identify potential problem areas. Election officials can then contact the precinct representative to clear anything up. It also means that tech experts will be lending their security know-how to the process, which is a good sign since the Iowa Democrats’ press release announcing the system included spammy advertisements Friday for discount pharmaceuticals.”

We recently showed how Microsoft interfered not only in voting but was seemingly inserting anti-FOSS provisions into the law, via ‘trade’ agreements. Now our suspicions are further defended, seeing articles like “Revealed Emails Show How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The TPP”. This shows sick jokes, bribery, government capture, and how corporations (through their lobbyists) are writing the law. “One for Techrights stories,” wrote a reader to us regarding this news from TechDirt, summarising it with “How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The TPP”.

“Watch has a full writeup showing how industry lobbyists influenced the TPP agreement,” he wrote, “to the point that one is even openly celebrating that the USTR version copied his own text word for word.”

Here is the direct quote: “Hi Barbara – John sent through a link to the P4 agreement. I have taken a quick look at the rules of origin. Someone owes USTR a royalty payment – these are our rules. They will need some tweaking but will likely not need major surgery. This is a very pleasant surprise. I will study more closely over the weekend.”’

TechDirt recalled: “Back in 2013, we wrote about a FOIA lawsuit that was filed by William New at IP Watch. After trying to find out more information on the TPP by filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and being told that they were classified as “national security information” (no, seriously), New teamed up with Yale’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic to sue. As part of that lawsuit, the USTR has now released a bunch of internal emails concerning TPP negotiations, and IP Watch has a full writeup showing how industry lobbyists influenced the TPP agreement, to the point that one is even openly celebrating that the USTR version copied his own text word for word.”

“We recently showed how Microsoft interfered not only in voting but was seemingly inserting anti-FOSS provisions into the law, via ‘trade’ agreements.”Here is the original article. “Leaked TPP emails talks about software patentability,” Benjamin Henrion (FFII) noted about it.

To quote IP Watch: “While a full range of stakeholders would be affected by the outcome of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement under secret negotiation by the United States and a dozen trading partners, corporate representatives have had a special seat at the negotiating table, as shown by hundreds of pages of confidential emails from the US Trade Representative’s office obtained by Intellectual Property Watch. The emails give a rare and fascinating perspective on how policy is developed in the trade office.

“Years into the negotiation, the TPP is said to be nearing completion and is the subject of a US congressional debate over renewal of fast-track negotiating authority for the president (limiting Congress to a yes or no vote). But the TPP text has never been made available to the public of the countries negotiating it, except through periodic leaks of parts of the text, making these emails timely for the debate.

“Through a US Freedom of Information Act request, Intellectual Property Watch has obtained some 400 pages of email traffic between USTR officials and industry advisors. Most of the content of the emails is redacted (blacked out), but they still give insight into the process.”

“The emails give a rare and fascinating perspective on how policy is developed in the trade office.”
      –IP Watch
This is significant because we recently found out about anti-FOSS parts in these agreements, likely to have been the result of lobbying by Microsoft or the likes of it. If so-called ‘trade’ agreements pass with the anti-FOSS sections and ISDS, then Microsoft can sue ones like the Indian government for choosing FOSS as a matter of policy. There is a lot of Microsoft lobbying in India, objecting specifically to this [1, 2, 3], but how about lobbying around trade agreements? Wouldn’t that be clever? It would demolish FOSS globally in one fell swoop, as long as corruptible politicians remain quiet enough and citizens are therefore too ignorant to prevent the signing of nasty (but secret) agreements.

India’s move to FOSS, or the increasing embrace of FOSS (with a FOSS-leaning procurement policy) was covered by Red Hat’s OpenSource.com the other day, noting: “The Government of India has implemented a remarkable new policy-level change for open source software (OSS) deployment. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has asked that open source software-based applications be included in Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for all new procurements. Note there is not a plan at this time to replace existing proprietary systems with open source software.”

This is still going on while Microsoft fights back viciously. If the aforementioned ‘trade’ agreements pass, Microsoft might even be able to sue the government, not for discrimination but for not obeying so-called ‘trade’ laws (newly-introduced). It’s a back door trick, negotiated behind closed doors.

Here in the UK the government is now in a good position to move to GNU/Linux, despite Microsoft's blackmail of British politicians. Dependence on Windows is already being reduced because, according to this article, “HMRC ditches Microsoft in favour of Google Apps”. To quote some relevant bits:

HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) has become the first major government department to dump Microsoft in favour of Google.

The Register reported that 70,000 HMRC staff will adopt Google’s cloud-based productivity apps over Microsoft’s Office 365 offering, joining 20,000 government employees who already use Google’s Gmail service.

HMRC has since confirmed the move in a statement. A spokesperson said: “HMRC has an ambitious digital future planned. This contract will make it easier for staff to collaborate on internal documents, providing greater flexibility and efficiency while reducing costs.

HM Revenues and Customs (British tax) dumping Microsoft is huge news; blackmailing politicians didn’t work out and one wonder if there are more government offices poised to follow suit. Surely they’ll watch how HMRC gets along. It has become abundantly clear that Microsoft is so scared/worried about FOSS and ODF (also Google) in the UK that it’s willing to blackmail or bribe.

Meanwhile, as revealed by Andy Updegrove, Sweden follows the UK government’s footsteps by choosing standards, including ODF. This is why Microsoft was so scared and then became aggressive over the decision that might later spread to the rest of Europe. One might wonder about Swedish politicians who led to this; will Microsoft blackmail them too?

“While the current list of approved standards in Sweden is short,” wrote Updegrove, “it does (as in the U.K.) include the ISO standard PDF/A-1, for uneditable documents, and OASIS’s ODF 1.2, for editable text. The ODF standard (adopted in an earlier version by ISO in 2004) was the subject of perhaps the most vigorously fought standards war of the last 20 years, raging on a global basis for several years. The contest was sparked by the decision of the Commowealth of Massachusetts to approve ODF, but not Microsoft’s competing XML-based standard, referred to as OOXML. That standard was also adopted by ISO, following Microsoft’s contribution of the original text to another standards body, called ECMA.

“Massachusetts ultimately adopted OOXML as well as ODF after severe lobbying pressure. Since then, the question of whether ODF, OOXML or both meets with the approval of cities, states and nations making such determinations has continued to be a contentious and closely watched matter.

“For this reason, it will be interesting to see whether additional EU countries follow the lead of the U.K. and Sweden.”

Scandinavia as a whole (not just Sweden it seems) is ‘plotting’/’scheming’ (to use negative terms) to embrace standards and dump proprietary blobs. North Europe seems to be eager to emancipate itself from NSA-leaning, Empire-serving blobs. There is a shift to FOSS, fostering local jobs and improving trust (no back doors from across the Atlantic). Open standards, suffice to say, tend to lead to FOSS.

05.22.15

Microsoft Blackmails and Extorts British Politicians Over Open Standards and Free Software-Leaning Policies

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OpenDocument at 11:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Westminster Abbey

Summary: Microsoft’s digital imperialism in the UK getting defended using blackmail, reminding a lot of Brits that Microsoft is just as evil as ever before

LARGE nations are moving away from Microsoft for technical reasons. Free software is simply better, not just more ethical. Despite Microsoft’s strong influence in the Indian government, the government of India is one of the latest to put Microsoft behind. Microsoft is already using the Indian corporate media to attack India's decision, sometimes lobbying by proxy. The same has been happening in the UK, whose government probably spends far more money than any other nation in the world on Microsoft software (per capita).

“They can incite against politicians to induce resignations or firings.”One year ago, when an ODF consultation was still ongoing, we warned Cabinet Office (UK) about what now turns out to be true. No country is immune to it, not even a large and powerful nation like India, let alone the UK (which for many years occupied India)

Microsoft already attacked the government just weeks or months after the consultation and did this again later in the year (these are the cases where we found out about it, surely there is more that was never reported on). Microsoft’s FUD attacks on ODF at the time often relied on Microsoft buddies and cooperation from some goons inside the British media. We named and shamed the culprits at the time.

The Inquirer, which is not Microsoft-friendly, says in today’s headline that “Microsoft bullied MPs over government switch to open source standards”. To quote: “As reported at Bloomberg, Steve Hilton, who was the prime minister’s director of strategy until 2012, revealed at an event that Microsoft began lobbying members of parliament after the Conservative Party proposed shifting government computer systems to open standards.”

In the original report from Bloomberg, which is usually quite Microsoft-friendly, the headline says “Microsoft Threatened to Close U.K. Plants, Ex-Cameron Aide Says”. “We just resisted,” the aide is quoted. “You have to be brave.”

Have to be brave? Who is in charge of who? Are corporations from the US now controlling the British government, too? Well, that pretty much sums up Microsoft. They will retaliate and intimidate, as per their usual behaviour. They can incite against politicians to induce resignations or firings. Watch what they did to Peter Quinn, who had been supporting ODF in his state.

The British media is gradually waking up. It is being filled with more and more news reports about Microsoft’s political blackmail over ODF (the modus operandi of Microsoft’s allies at the NSA). This is going to cost them. Here is the most widely-cited (in the UK at least) report which says: “Microsoft executives telephoned Conservative MPs threatening to shut down a facility in their local area because of planned IT reforms, David Cameron’s former strategy chief has claimed.

“Steve Hilton, who worked for Cameron in opposition and for two years in Downing Street, made the allegation as he argued the dominance of corporate lobbying in the UK was leading to bad policy-making.

“Asked how the government should deal with lobbyists, he said: “You just have to fight them off. I can give you specific examples: the thing I mentioned about IT contracts. Maybe there is someone here to confirm this from Microsoft? When we proposed this, Microsoft phoned Conservative MPs with Microsoft R&D facilities in their constituencies and said, ‘we will close them down in your constituency if this goes through’.”

“There are a lot more cases like these, but they are scarcely reported on or never reported on.”Here at Techrights we are not surprised that Microsoft blackmails. It always did. Almost exactly a year ago we foresaw this and warned Cabinet Office staff that this would happen. Microsoft is not a company but a Scientology-like cult, to quote a government delegate with Microsoft experiences. Paolo Vecchi asked rhetorically: “Is anybody shocked about the fact that MS used lobbying, blackmailing and bribing to create & maintain their monopoly?”

Remember that “Microsoft loves Linux” (its CEO says that). Under the leadership of that phony, Nadella (right-hand man of Bill Gates and the real owners of the company), Microsoft is unable to decide whether it supports FOSS (pretending to anyway) or attacks it (usually secretly, in order to support the former illusion).

Surely Microsoft hates not only Linux but also FOSS and open standards, such as ODF. Recall the following older posts:

In summary, watch out for and keep an eye on Microsoft. These are lunatic bullies who are willing to get people out of their job (or make their job deprecated) if these people ‘dare’ to stand in Microsoft’s way, i.e. not fully serve Microsoft’s interests. This was reportedly the case in Bristol (UK), not just in Massachusetts (US). There are a lot more cases like these, but they are scarcely reported on or never reported on. Microsoft does this covertly and quite often indirectly, too.

Free software usage is rapidly growing in public sector in the UK and it’s easy to see why Microsoft has gone off the rails. It must be furious over migrations to FOSS, which have become a frequent occurrence here. Good and honest journalism is key to exposing Microsoft’s real behaviour. Transparency would serve as deterrent against Microsoft’s corruption.

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