03.06.09

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Signs of Microsoft Corruption in the United Kingdom and Czech Republic

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Open XML at 9:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft cronyism reigns over the UK government, Czech presidency practically sponsored by Microsoft

LAST WEEK we wrote about Richard Steel, who is considered Microsoft’s main ‘gun’ in the UK [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. He is also responsible for subscribing to Microsoft’s potentially illegal — and definitely anti-competitive — procurement deals.

Mark Ballard is one of the few people who have researched and published details about this scam for the past couple of years. Once again he delivers a detailed report which can hopefully shed light on how much manipulation and ill intent is involved here. Here is how it starts:

MICROSOFT HAS FAILED to agree new terms for its Government-wide UK megadeal more than a year since the last one expired. The Government has meanwhile announced a policy promoting Open Source software. But it is not just in the UK public sector that Microsoft is losing its grip on power.

Microsoft’s Memorandum of Understanding to sell its software at mate-rates in the UK public sector expired last January after four years, at a time when authorities were again investigating the software giant’s business practices.

Failing to agree new terms, the convicted monopolist and Government extended the agreement for six months. But negotiations dragged on. They were forced to agree another six month extension in June. And still the negotiations dragged on. Now another extension has expired.

Worrying for Microsoft, challenges to similar agreements have been reported all over Europe. The EC has been investigating a Microsoft licensing contract in Greece. MOUs have been challenged in Italy. Hungary’s largest-ever software contract, a Euro100 million Microsoft deal, was challenged in court. The European Parliament even challenged the European Commission’s own contract with Microsoft reseller, Fujitsu, to supply the software to Eurocrats.

There are weak denials of the misconduct and attempts to characterise Free software as “lagging” despite projects like Firefox and even Apache. From the comments on the latest denial:

People in his position should know to keep their personal opinions to themselves. Whether we like it or not, Richard Steel is an ambassador for Newham and for IT in local government. He should start behaving like one. Ambassadors can’t express a personal opinion without that opinion being interpreted as the view of the country he/she represents. The same hold true for the presidents of publicly-funded quangos.

Also:

Isn’t this an obvious and a serious conflict of interest in the case of someone involved in procuring software from Microsoft for Newham council? This must also surely breach EU competition laws applying to local government procurement.

This is not over yet and there are signs of change.

Another interesting story follows the many reports of OOXML-related corruptions in the Czech Republic, which is one among many victims. Details can be found in:

Now watch what happens:

The Czech Presidency recommends you to buy Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint in other to read what they are publishing.

[...]

No need to say that Microsoft is an official sponsor of the Czech Presidency…

See the picture in there. How can a private tyranny from the United States become a sponsor of the Czech presidency? This smacks of corruption and fits the overall picture that we’ve put together. We suspected, based on and backed by evidence, that Microsoft and the Czech authorities were trading favours that included Microsoft Office/OOXML. Microsoft rewards the country using money, sponsorships, and strategic projects.

Counting money

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