Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Abuses the Word “Open” to Sneak into Governments

Mice in a mousetrap
Microsoft is open... like a mousetrap



Summary: As laws are reformed, Microsoft is misusing the "open source" buzz (formerly Free software) to take over government contracts

USING a familiar set of turncoats [1, 2], Microsoft carries on pretending that "Open Source" and Microsoft are not distinguishable. That was the intent all along. People have warned about this since 2007 (or earlier) as it was made more or less clear. When someone accuses Microsoft of discrimination, then it will pretend to be part of that same "discriminated" crowd that it compares to a "cult", "communism", and all sorts of things with negative connotations. Moreover, if a government contract requires something like "Open Source", then Microsoft will strongly insist that it too is a contender (and will even cry like a baby if it gets excluded).



A few months ago, Glyn Moody warned that Microsoft uses the "open" meme in "open government", which is just a PR trick for Microsoft to sneak into more parts of the government/s and then possess national assets using the typical lock-ins. The Microsoft-sponsored portion of the Web has some further new coverage of this and it neglects to mention what Microsoft is really trying to do. See NASA for example.

Today's Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase, the prelude to this week's more exclusive Gov 2.0 "Summit" in D.C. shows that Microsoft is pouring some real effort into its Open Government efforts, sponsoring the conferences and lining up top Microsoft people to speak about the importance of open, accessible government technology and data.


"Open, open, open..."

As Microsoft's Jason Matusow once put it, “I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.” He was referring to "open", which is an easy word to twist.

When NSW (Australia) decided to sell out to Microsoft, it then used the "open source" token to pretend that it was being fair to children's future, not just to Microsoft shareholders. It said that it would throw some "open" stuff on top of Vista 7. That's just what happens when Australia is run by former Microsoft employees or those who dine with them. Here is Con Zymaris explaining "why Microsoft is Australia's default buy." From the news we have:

A veteran of Australia's open source industry says that unless government agencies make a fundamental decision to change technologies and then plan their move, the status quo will remain.

[...]

Con Zymaris: There are not enough companies in Australia with the muscle to put something in and have any real chance of success. The problem with something like this is the way bidding has gone in this country in the past, say, 15 or 20 years, where successive governments, both Labor and Liberal, have pushed towards larger and larger outsourcing components. It used to be that an agency would put out a tender for a small project - 50,000, or 100,000 or 200,000 - which was feasible for many small Australian companies to bid for.


It is not impossible to train people for this job. See Brazil for example.

Here in the UK, like in most English-speaking countries (with the exception of post-apartheid South Africa), it is more or less the same story. It applies both to government and commerce, which are inherently the same. To give another new example, here is Tesco shilling for Microsoft. We previously showed that Tesco was being paid by Microsoft to pretend it recommends Windows Vista and publicly make this bogus endorsement. The ASA should be all over them for deceiving the public.

"It’s a good moment for people to take a step back and re-think how friendly Microsoft is to open source."

--Bradley M. Kuhn (SFLC) in response to the TomTom lawsuit

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