01.08.09

Microsoft Dumps on India, South Africa, Malta

Posted in Africa, Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Office Suites, OpenOffice, Windows at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No dumping

Some days ago we wrote about Kerala and about EDGI. The issue is being covered by the Indian press now (“Proponent of Free Software gets marching orders”).

Free software article
Click image for a large-sized version

Those who want to process their taxes must purchase Microsoft Excel and its prerequisites. On top of this, the forced resignation sure makes it seem like Microsoft may be 'pulling a Quinn' using overseas collaborators with joint interests. It’s a familiar recipe.

Another country where Microsoft appears to be pulling such tricks is South Africa (it was offered StarOffice for virtually nothing). That’s where Microsoft wants to capture users while they are young and similar tactics are being applied to Malta. Several days ago we wrote about so-called 'donations' in Malta and now these ‘donations’ (addictionware) are reaching Maltese schools and higher education.

University students are enjoying more and more the benefits of Microsoft specialised training courses. Microsoft Malta teamed up with the Faculty of ICT at the University of Malta and is offering a course in Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: Windows Development. This is currently being delivered to undergraduates over a period of nine months under the IT Academy Programme.

The university needs to offer education, not to become a taxpayers-funded Microsoft workshop [1, 2, 3]. Last night, Richard Stallman sent out this alert about the possible privatisation of US education.

Did Barack Obama Just Appoint An Under-qualified Stooge and Privatizer Secretary of Education?

The short answer seems to be “yes.” Before being appointed CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan never saw the inside of a classroom as a teacher. This is probably a good thing, since Duncan does not possess the academic qualifications to be even a substitute teacher. Worse still, Duncan’s idea of improving inner-city schools in Chicago is handing them over to corporate-run charter schools or converting them to military academies. This, says longtime Chicago educator and activist George Schmidt, is not the change we voted for.

Going back to Malta, the country has been speaking about GNU/Linux and Free software for quite some time [1, 2, 3] and it was even close to choosing StarOffice [4], which Microsoft is committing a ‘targeted assassination’ against, according to the leaked EDGI memos. Is Microsoft ‘pulling an EDGI’ on this country? More importantly, will Malta’s authorities permit this kind of digital colonialism to carry on? Will citizens speak out? Justice rarely comes as a gift from above; it comes through struggles from the bottom.

______
[1] IBM Linux education programme [in Malta]

One of the ICT education initiatives is the Linux Education Programme, through which 60 persons who already work in the ICT industry ambit will certify themselves as Linux Entry Level Administrators.

[2] Leo Brincat’s missionary zeal – Malta and Open Source

While Labour “studies” what its weekly half-hour trip on the internet gives it, we are developing areas where we think the benefits of open-source technology can really make a difference.

[...]

Moreover, should he have researched even further he would have also realised that we are taking our open standards policy even a step further and extending it to cut across different technological platforms such as we recently did with the eGovernment Web Framework when we extended it to cover also Oracle technologies and are currently preparing for its final extension into Linux.

[3] Maltese Government and IBM sign strategic alliance

The strategic programmes and initiatives offered by IBM include educational initiatives such as the setting up of a Linux education programme to certify Maltese students, selected by the Government, as Linux Entry Level Administrators.

[4] € 2 scheme for teachers and students for StarOffice

Maltese students and teachers can purchase StarOffice applications software for a once-only payment of €2.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: January 7th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

AbiWord’s Embrace of OpenDocument Format Increased, Gets Funding from NLnet

Posted in Antitrust, DRM, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Windows at 5:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

AbiWord as ODF

NLnet has already funded ODF support in KOffice [1, 2, 3]. After all, Holland had adopted ODF as a national standard and many implementations of the standard were required. Now they are funding further ODF improvements in AbiWord.

The AbiWord project has announced that NLnet is providing funding to facilitate the development of improved OpenDocument (ODF) filters in AbiWord. This will increase the program’s compatibility with the format and boost its interoperability with OpenOffice.org (OOo).

Why not OOXML? Well, apart from the fact that OOXML is associated with Microsoft corruption, it is a format that only Microsoft can implement (but won't) and it’s a Windows-only format. Here for example is a new discussion about OOXML DRM:

Here is a plea to the OO.o developers who work on OOXML compatibility:

1. Please speak clearly whether the publicly available information about the ISO-approved OOXML format is sufficient for you to implement its DRM-related features.
2. Please speak clearly whether you are sure of your legal safety in implementing OOXML’s DRM-related features.

Please say it loudly in your blogs or emails, in as non-technical terms as possible. Then we will turn around and show your opinions to the confused governments and journalists who still believe Microsoft’s claim that OOXML is an open format, and put an end to that lie.

DRM is a disabler of competition. That’s why companies like Microsoft love it; it’s not just a fetish of the media moguls.

A scarcely-known fact is that in many E-mails inside Microsoft, the competitive threat of online office suites was realised over a decade ago, and it could potentially be suppressed using proprietary document formats and control of Web browsers (with subjugation of users and Web standards).

There is a famous joke which says that “80% of Office users only use 20% of the features.” Well, here is an interesting bit from the latest antitrust trial [PDF]. Microsoft writes:

The Competition

It is both rewarding and scary to look at the current competitive landscape. We can all feel some sense of vindication in the fact that the internet did not cause the immediate death of Office and that so far no one is running Java applets that do the “right 20%” of Office-yet. We can take a moment to gloat, though only a moment as we still have traditional competitors and competition at the LORG level is still there though not as directly…

We must not lose sight of the fact that our biggest competitor continues to be our existing products and the inertia they have. The cost and pain of upgrading still overwhelms any sense of benefit we seem to be able to communicate to customers…

Of course, these days we have office suites which capitalise on JavaScript and do neat things that satisfy the needs of those legendary 80% of users. Microsoft fights this with FUD (perception), just like it says in its manual.

Government Affairs or Just Cheating?

Posted in Finance, Microsoft at 4:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s no secret that Microsoft individuals with vested interests are passing a lot of money to governments. This hardly accounts for influence through lobbyists and corporate sponsorships too.

Nevertheless, it’s always suspicious when one person invests in another, as opposed to a company supporting a company, a person, or vice versa. Associated Press has this report.

The inaugural committee received a total of $150,500 from six Microsoft employees, including the maximum $50,000 from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

They neglected to account for contributions from family members of Microsoft employees, as well as others. This is similar to this article.

The inauguration has raised a total of $150,500 from six Microsoft employees, including the maximum $50,000 from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

There are actually bigger numbers at play.

The 2008 elections may be over, but it’s still interesting to look back and see who supported whom. As a company, Microsoft didn’t stick to just the Democrats or just the Republicans, but according to data from OpenSecrets.org, the software giant did have a clear winner in mind. Out of the $2,973,322 in contributions Microsoft made, $2,124,186 went to the Democrats, while only $844,586 was given to the Republicans. This comes out to about 71.4 percent and 28.4 percent, respectively. The rest of the contributions went to individuals and political action committees.

That is just the tip of the iceberg and it shows rather clearly how the United States government is run and funded. Whose interests will it serve?

Lincoln coin

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