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Bill Gates Greases Up Politicians Again, Just Ahead of OOXML Vote

Learning who's running the country

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned Steve Ballmer's and Bill Gates' successful attempt to pressure diplomats on the OOXML question. This was done secretly and totally off the record. Thereby they flipped a "No" vote on OOXML, promptly making it a "Yes". A lot was said back then (including in cited links which provide further details), so the story is not be repeated here. More recently, Pieter summarised such issues as well (pressuring or bribing politicians until people vote "properly").

Well, guess what? It appears to be happening again, albeit in a more open fashion. Moments ago the following article was published:

Gates goes to Washington as US OOXML decision nears



[...]

Gates answered that Microsoft wants to see OOXML become an ISO standard, in part, "so that families and researchers and archivists will be able to access information from the past and use it to interact in the future..."


It's all the usual fluff.

Don't let affluent people buy an undeserved standard in your country. Gates' systematic deception on immigration aside (articles on this are appended below [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]), recall recent evidence of what seems like bribery (via charities) in India, for OOXML [10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15].

___

[1] Programmers Guild rebuts Bill Gates call for more H-1b visas

The Programmers Guild disputes that more H-1b visas would benefit "U.S. global competitiveness," and they would represent undue competition for Americans seeking jobs in this recessionary job market.

1) One way to “allow more highly-skilled workers to remain in the U.S.” is to grant H-1b visas on the basis of skill rather than by a lottery. But just as last year the Programmers Guild expects USCIS to conduct a lottery, granting H-1b to $16/hour hotel clerks while denying visas to PhD genetic researchers. The best proxy for “skill” is “wage.” This simple reform in H-1b would allow Microsoft to have as many “highly skilled H-1b” as then need under the current cap – AS LONG AS THEY PAID THEM WHAT THEY ARE WORTH.

2) Our competitive advantage is eroding, and Bill Gates has used the H-1b program to facilitate that erosion...


[2] Microsoft India centre working on Windows 7

Designers and engineers at Microsoft R&D centre in India have a new mandate for development of Windows 7, the next generation operating system from Microsoft Corporation, slated for release in 2009-10.


[3] Study: There Is No Shortage of U.S. Engineers

...a new study from Duke University calls this argument bunk, stating that there is no shortage of engineers in the United States, and that offshoring is all about cost savings.


[4] Is There a Shortage of U.S. Tech Workers?

Speaking before a Senate committee earlier this month, Gates said that America is facing a critical shortage of tech workers. He recommended boosting the number of H-1B visas to allow more foreign tech workers into the U.S.

[...]

"I think that has created an environment where the population of advanced skill workers has shrunk a lot in the U.S., because we just haven't created a fair system," he says. "Where if you go to other countries, you'll find national policy around broadband deployment, which creates a much more even playing field for people of all income levels to learn by and work by."

"We did it to ourselves," he says.


[5] Microsoft Sending All XP and Vista Tech Support Calls To India?

Microsoft is sending ALL of its XP and Vista tech support calls to India starting March 29th, according to a call center insider


[6] "Dear Microsoft": An open letter to Microsoft regarding the outsourcing of jobs.

Don't get it twisted: I don't have a problem with you outsourcing jobs to people that will work for next-to-nothing. It's just getting a bit out of hand, don't you think? I mean, there's no point trying to fool me.


[7] Gates to speak to Congress [March 2008]

Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., is expected to address the U.S. House Science and Technology Committee in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.


[8] Guess Who's Getting the Most Work Visas

Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC) are the only two traditional U.S. tech companies among the top 10. Microsoft received 959 visa petition approvals, or one fifth as many as Infosys, while Intel got 369.


[9] Microsoft India centre working on Windows 7

Designers and engineers at Microsoft R&D centre in India have a new mandate for development of Windows 7, the next generation operating system from Microsoft Corporation, slated for release in 2009-10.


[10] Microsoft influencing partner NGOs to support OOXML in India

Microsoft is encouraging its business partners to promote its Office Open XML specification (OOXML) to the Indian Bureau of Standards (BIS) and Ministry of IT. This move has incensed supporters of the rival OpenDocument Format (ODF) who fear that the "soft" Indian state may not be able to stand up to Microsoft pressure tactics.


[11] Microsoft India using NGOs to fake support for OOXML

Microsoft has "persuaded" several non-profit organizations to bombard the Indian IT Secretary and the Additional Director General of the Bureau of Indian Standards with letters supporting its OOXML proposal. A copy of the form letter they have been circulating to NGOs is given below.


[12] Becoming a better company: Microsoft helps NGOs in India

Of course, there has to be some trade-offs, because there should never be free lunch, even for the ones who starve: Microsoft, according to this article, has conditioned its help to Indian NGOs to their support of OOXML. What the NGOs had to do was to send letters of support on OOXML to the federal government of India.


[13] Microsoft "persuades" NGOs to support OOXML

Our friends at Linux Delhi have put up a copy of the form letters that Microsoft has been sending NGOs on the OOXML issue. Apparently, these NGOs have been sending copies of these letters to the Ministry of IT and Bureau of Indian standards.


[14] Developers around the world, unite!

Monopoly and proprietary software have an advantage in influencing state and governmental institutions because of their large market base and ready capital. Unscrupulous ways of influencing state governments have persisted in India, for example, where executives of proprietary software cajole government heads to promote their brands in lieu of some form of charity given. FLOSS activists must overcome this huge challenge in order to get their philosophy accepted and model implemented for the good of people who are still on the barren side of the digital divide.


[15] Using NGOs to Push Agendas

The extent to which Microsoft can go in its efforts to get OOXML is interesting. Microsoft has "persuaded" several non-profit organizations to bombard the Indian IT Secretary and the Additional Director General of the Bureau of Indian Standards with letters supporting its OOXML proposal. A copy of the form letter they have been circulating to NGOs is given below. Somebody should interview these NGOs to see how much they really know about OOXML and open standards.

The sequence of events leading up to the spamming of GoI? is:

Letter from an NGO thanking Microsoft (name changed to protect their identity)


Also see our evidence of Microsoft issuing money to tens of thousands to Indian charities just days before the vote.

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