10.01.09

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Microsoft and English-speaking Countries

Posted in Australia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 4:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: In Australia, the government and Microsoft rub each other’s back and in the United Kingdom Free software is still discriminated against

WITH the exception of South Africa, which learned valuable lessons from a suppressive apartheid regime, the English-speaking world is said to be tied to Microsoft more than most. That’s an empirically-provable fact, and here is a new article implicitly confirming it. When countries align on political matters, then affinity and joint interests descend down to corporations too (and vice versa), as they are inherently similar if not the same; there is always overlap.

Several countries that are likely to be last to embrace Free software are the UK, Australia, and the United States (where surveys that are hostile towards GNU/Linux typically come from). The sampled populations of surveyed entities are not homogeneous across the different nations. Perception is therefore affected a lot when one is exposed to the press in particular language/s.

Many stories from Australia demonstrate a degree of Microsoft influence and mischief, some of which we covered in, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. Watch this new post from the OpenAustralia Community:

With Rob’s permission I have forwarded on his email (attached) here.

Yesterday, I discovered that any vendor that gets money from the Government 2.0 Taskforce has to sign a contract with Microsoft. The reason, as I understand it, is a little long-winded, but basically Microsoft and the government had a deal where Microsoft would give the government software and in return the government would give Microsoft money and some fraction of that money would go in to a fund which could then be later used by the government.

The money that the taskforce has to give out comes out of that Microsoft fund. So, to gain access to the money the vendors have to sign a contract with Microsoft. On the face of it, fair enough, sort of.

Yesterday, the taskforce published a draft contract with Microsoft on their website: http://gov2.net.au/files/2009/09/Government-2-0-Service-Provider-Agmt…

Similar things happen in the UK, as we last noted a few days ago. Apparently illegal contracts are being signed with total exclusion of competitors; excuses and evasion from the really important questions is a standard routine. Ingres is bold enough to speak out about the problem, which seems like a true fear of Free software. There are a few exceptions though.

Mark Taylor is founder and former president of the Open Source Consortium and CEO of open source consultants Sirius Corporation, which will manage and localise the NDRB.

“The policy is having a positive effect,” he said. “This [an open source platform powering the NDRB] could not have existed before the policy came through, it enabled public sector organisations to say I am going down an open source route.

Could the departure of people like Richard Steel contribute to real change?

“Ask the partner to give you heads up on customer situations – bribe them!”

Steve Winfield, Microsoft

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