12.01.08

Exploring the BECTA-Microsoft Relationship

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 7:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BECTA’s mischiefs with Microsoft are a serious issue that was covered here before, e.g. in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. This morning we did some more research and came up with the following interesting findings.

We thought it would be interesting to see how many former Softies there are inside BECTA as it would make good business sense for Microsoft to push their ex-employees everywhere they can. Kent LEA, for example, are busy adopting everything Microsoft as fast as they can.

“We thought it would be interesting to see how many former Softies there are inside BECTA…”So we decided get a list of BECTA seniors and then do some googling for each. That, we assumed, would be handy in identifying suspicious appointments. Members of the board are listed here and those who attended a recent meeting [PDF] are: Andrew Pinder, John Roberts, Graham Moore, Stephen Gill, Derek Wise Stephen Crowne, Niel McLean, Tony Richardson, Ian Adams, Alan Cowie, Jane Williams, John Landeryou, Mark Wallbank, Roger Parr, Leigh Fish, John Newbigin, and Doug Brown.

On the agenda in that May 2008 meeting:

“Board members explored how Becta should engage with Microsoft, and secure benefits on behalf of the education sector, particularly around flexibility and price; and how the Board should support the Executive in the planned discussions with Microsoft.”

It also says: “Action: A small group of the Board (John Roberts, Steve Gill, Graham Moore and Andrew Pinder) to support the Executive in its discussions with Microsoft…”

Finally: “Summing up, the Chairman said the Board was broadly content with progress so far. The forthcoming meeting with Microsoft was an important opportunity to deal with the outstanding issues.”

Why is Free software hardly explored? We’ll come to this in a moment.

It is worth adding that they do not tell taxpayers how much is being paid to Microsoft. Part of the agreement is that it must remain secret in order to prevent comparisons or backlash. However, for purposes of public procurement it’s not only ludicrous but also illegal.

School boyHeading this body is Andrew Pinder, whose Wikipedia biography contains to a link to an article (“Government Gateway is not a ‘Microsoft puppet’”) where he tries to dissociate himself from Microsoft.

Here is how he describes “Open Source” in one context or another:

“Typically [teachers who run IT] would be people who have a real passion about Open Source — as if open source is any different from any other software — it’s just the pricing structure is different, that’s all. ”

He also compares it to a religion:

“It’s a religion, it’s a real belief, and again they have a belief about bits of technology that are going to change things. What they don’t do, however, is organize things properly.”

A known Microsoft puppet [1, 2, 3], the Yankee Group, uses similar analogies. Its founder, Howard Anderson Framingham, wrote in an article last year: “Open source is not a movement; it’s a religion. It is a set of principles and practices that let everyone share non-existent or semi-existent intellectual property. Remember the Communist Manifesto: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” It is this generation’s Woodstock.”

There seems to a shared foundation of open source insults and smears.

Going back to Andrew Pinder, Wikipedia states: “In this role, he gave a speech at the CBI in November 2001,[3] and spoke at a Microsoft-sponsored Government Leaders Conference in Seattle in April 2002, where he famously announced that the government’s target of putting all services online by 2005 could cost 800,000 public sector employees their jobs.[4]”

Also: “He oversaw the rushed implementation in 2001 of the Government Gateway, a project for putting all the government services on-line, which was built by Microsoft in just 15 weeks and initially locked out all browsers except Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer.

“The deal also involved Microsoft using UK government intellectual property to build products for other governments in order to recoup some of the costs of building the technology. The rate of return was to the tune of 22% of their gross sales of the intellectual property, which Pinder hoped would “give us quite a lot of money”.[6]”

“This makes BECTA seem a tad hostile towards Freedom, which it describes as “religion” instead.”Another BECTA board member, Ralph Tabberer, is seen in this article where he states: “We are looking forward to a productive working relationship with Microsoft over the next three years and we will work closely together…”

To sum up, as Wikipedia puts it, “The current chairman of Becta holds the view that “open source is [no] different from any other software — it’s just the pricing structure is different, that’s all. But [its supporters] have a passion. It’s a religion, it’s a real belief.”[2]”

Overall, it’s disappointing. This makes BECTA seem a tad hostile towards Freedom, which it describes as “religion” instead. It prefers training children for one foreign monopolist's pipeline rather than have them acquire actual skills. Education is about skills. If there is any clannish pattern here (“religion” so to speak), it appears to be this type of cronyism that’s so prevalent in BECTA’s decision-making.

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11 Comments

  1. aeshna23 said,

    December 1, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Gravatar

    As a general philosophical point, I think we should reserve religion to ideologies that involve some combination of God or gods, prayer, afterlife or reincarnation, and institutional structure. We also need to get sophisticated enough to say that some non-religious ideologies like Marxism, Naziism, Libertarianism, racism, and contemporary anti-racism are lunatic and only serve to cause suffering. Even trying to imagine a serious argument against free software I don’t think it would qualify so much as non-religious ideology as much as just an enthusiasm. I admit I love my enthusiasm for it.

  2. Josh Bell said,

    December 1, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Gravatar

    It seems that anyone who has ever worked for Microsoft and then leaves to go to a new company or form a new company must be doing so Microsoft has a presence so they can force their software on others. At least that what it seems like from this site. I guess even the janitors who leave Microsoft must be people that will push MS software. After all they have been exposed to these nasty people.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 1, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Gravatar

    No, but if evidence can be shown, then people can draw conclusions.

  4. Josh Bell said,

    December 1, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Gravatar

    How can people draw conclusions when you state opinion as fact?

    We thought it would be interesting to see how many former Softies there are inside BECTA as it would make good business sense for Microsoft to push their ex-employees everywhere they can. Kent LEA, for example, are busy adopting everything Microsoft as fast as they can.

    That’s your quote. To me you state this as a fact not for anyone to draw any conclusion other than Microsoft pushes their employees to other companies to pollute those companies.

  5. Ian said,

    December 2, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Gravatar

    I think the ends don’t necessarily jive with the means that Roy is suggesting. Is there a possibility that Microsoft actively pushes their own employees out the door to other companies to push their wares and agenda? I guess it’s possible, but generally speaking just a matter of opinion.

    I’d guess that most people, and we’ll just say management for the sake of argument, leave for new challenges, better pay, or whatever. Their pushing or at least the perceived pushing of Microsoft’s wares on wherever they land could very well be because that’s all they know, for better or worse.

  6. Needs Sunlight said,

    December 2, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft hires no-hopers fresh out of school. They have no tech skills or they would be aware of the company and its products. The main draw, marketed by MS itself, is the draw of the quick buck. Those more ambitious and less skilled, gravitate towards management where dogma is more important than reality-based work.

    So, after a number of years, with lots and lots of dogma and *zero* real-word engineering or computing experience, these lice jump to a new host and begin doing the only thing they know how: peddling MS dogma and blocking Internet technologies.

    C’mon, do you think anyone with any length of time at MS is going to *ever* mention or, less likely, recommend best of breed? No. They’ll simply parrot the MS dogma they sold their soul to learn by rote.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 2, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Gravatar

    C’mon, do you think anyone with any length of time at MS is going to *ever* mention or, less likely, recommend best of breed?

    They seem to “recommend best of breed” in house though.

    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/04/25/buying-linux-for-advantage/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/01/18/hotmail-cio-stuart-scott/
    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/08/04/novell-harnesses-microsoft/

    Sheesh.

  8. Ian said,

    December 2, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Gravatar

    C’mon, do you think anyone with any length of time at MS is going to *ever* mention or, less likely, recommend best of breed? No. They’ll simply parrot the MS dogma they sold their soul to learn by rote.

    If that’s all they know, then most likely they’ll recommend Microsoft Technologies. I don’t really understand what you’re arguing, because aside from absurd generalizations such as “no-hopers”, we’re agreeing on the same basic principal. What I don’t agree with, however, is that there is absolutely a direct malicious intent in every instance when someone leaves Microsoft to pursue another opportunity.

  9. Gentoo User (and proud of it) said,

    December 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Gravatar

    Microsoft hires no-hopers fresh out of school. They have no tech skills or they would be aware of the company and its products.

    Just out of curiosity, how many “no-hopers” from Microsoft have you met?

    I’ve never met anyone from Microsoft other than online, but even from reading their blogs I’ve honestly never had that impression of any them.

    (The ominous-looking text in RED that Roy Schestowitz attaches to all my comments accuses me of engaging in “witch hunts”. Consider that in the context of the comments here and ask yourself if you need to be best buddies with Roy in order to avoid being branded for doing essentially the same thing)

    Note: comment arrived from a witch hunter that does not even use GNU/Linux.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 3, 2008 at 7:00 am

    Gravatar

    Ian, it’s mostly a matter of probabilities.

  11. Mr. Redmond said,

    December 13, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Gravatar

    Becta are not so friendly to the FBI, the FBI have been saying for a while that IWF and CEOP, don’t really do anything, and that Brit schools are flooding Japan with toilet-cam material, and changing room stuff. Becta is a religion that believes the IWF do anything worth doing.

    “The Governments of the US and Russia need to up their game and stem the tide of child pornography leaving their virtual shores because it is putting children across the world at risk.”‘

    LIke bomb Wiki? Becta & IWF should lobby to take the child porn-cams out of Brit primary schools and leave the real policing to the FBI, who it has to be aid, provides its services free of charge to the UK.

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