Bonum Certa Men Certa

Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy



Summary: Microsoft's situation in the the Spanish, Swiss and New Zealand governments

THE GATES family embarked on a visit to Spain this week. This visit was characteristically described as "for charity" (never mind the actual meaning [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]), but it soon emerged that it was a business trip. We wrote about it throughout the week in:

  1. Reader's Report from Spain: “Bill Gates Meets Tomorrow with Spain's Prime Minister in Order to Ensure Spanish School Students Get 'Addicted'”
  2. Microsoft's Latest Netbooks Collusion and Attack on Spanish and Australian Education
  3. Bill Gates Uses Malaria to Attack GNU/Linux


It has not escaped the attention of Linux Magazine that Bill Gates had used his time in Spain to lobby for Windows-powered sub-notebooks for young people (at the expense of taxpayers under a financial crisis).

On his visit to Spain, Bill Gates met the Spanish prime minister and didn't fail to lobby for Microsoft computers in schools. But lacking knowledge of Spanish regions led to some confusion and did not quite bring the attention he might have wanted.

Although he was officially in Madrid to reach some cooperation agreements between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Spanish government, everybody was expecting Bill Gates, who met up yesterday morning with the Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, to also lobby for Windows on the laptops that are expected to be given out to Spanish students in September (for the full story see here and here). And lobby he did, although things didn't go quite as expected...


It would be valuable to keep an eye on what Microsoft is up to in Spain.

Microsoft is meanwhile ridiculing GNU/Linux on sub-notebooks, calling its users "geeks". More myths, more stereotypes, more FUD. We spot it all the time.

In previous writings about Microsoft's affairs with the Swiss government leading to a lawsuit [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], we showed that some headlines wrongly attributed this issue to Red Hat. In a couple of newer articles, the opposition is correctly attributed to "open source business" or just "open source". There are no less than eighteen companies involved, so isolating the issue and focusing on Red Hat alone is like using IBM to wrongly characterise ODF as a one-company standard and thus daemonise it.

Contracts can in principle be awarded directly without a tendering process, but only where there are specific reasons, for example, technical reasons, for which no suitable alternative exists. The companies behind the lawsuit argue that suitable alternatives clearly do exist in this case.


The other day we wrote about Microsoft losing its contract -- so to speak -- in the nation of New Zealand. FOSS heavyweight Don Christie, however, does not believe that the implications are positive. He has explained this to IDG News Service:

That effort has now failed and even Open Source Society president Don Christie is prepared to concede that Microsoft has won a victory -- though he believes it will be a short-term one.

Christie says Microsoft found the all-of-government approach constricting. In the short term, he says, it's "absolutely a win" for Microsoft as the company will now be free to "milk its clients for licence fees, like a sunset industry".


It is commendable that Christie keeps vigilant. Microsoft will just not step down and step away.

"People get the government their behavior deserves. People deserve better than that."

--Richard Stallman

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