Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why Today's European Commission Could Face Legal Action for Selling Out to Microsoft

Siim Kallas - GWB
Siim Kallas with George Bush



Summary: Vendor-neutral tendering processes which the Commission ought to be preaching for is not even a tenet honoured by the Commission itself; Jan Wildeboer speaks out against this unacceptable behaviour

The latest incarnation of Vista, called Vista 7, is hardly in the news anymore. There is nothing exciting about it. People could never really name any compelling reason to move from Windows XP to Vista 7. For all we know, based on very recent incidents, all that is special about Vista 7 is that it is a lot more likely to get bricked by updates (made unbootable) than Windows XP.



Earlier this week there was renewed interest in the way Europe handles software procurement. There is plenty of room for improvement and linking to Wildeboer's blog, Robert Pogson has just said that "Switzerland [is] Owned" by Microsoft (reusing Wildeboer's words). As a refresher:

A court has ruled that it is OK for the government to buy thousands of PCs with that other OS without public tenders preventing providers of GNU/Linux from competing. One judge disagreed but it was not enough to open the bidding process. This was a migration from XP to Vista/”7″ so it was a lot of work either way but the government did not use an open bidding process as is usual.


We wrote about this case of bad procurement in Switzerland under, e.g.:

  1. Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
  2. Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
  3. 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
  4. Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
  5. Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland's Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
  6. ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge's Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
  7. Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
  8. Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit
  9. Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand
  10. Swiss Government and Federal Computer Weekly: Why the Hostility Towards Free Software?
  11. Switzerland and the UK Under Fire for Perpetual Microsoft Engagements
  12. Lawsuit Over Alleged Microsoft Corruption in Switzerland Escalates to Federal Court
  13. When Microsoft-Only/Lock-in is Defined as “Technology”
  14. Microsoft's Allegedly Illegal Swiss Contracts to Take People to Court Again
  15. Microsoft's Allegedly Illegal US Procurement Gets Frozen After Lawsuit


Bearing in mind the status of this case, there might still be room for reversal of Microsoft deals, so regarding this new report about Vista 7 plans in EU bodies, Wildeboer has a lot to say:

At a secret meeting last December, Commission civil servants agreed in principle to upgrade more than 36,000 desktop computers in European institutions to Windows 7 without holding a public tender. The proposed move could tie the Commission to Microsoft for the next four to five years, flying in the face of the Commission's own advice to avoid public procurement lock-in.

Jan Wildeboer of Linux distributor Red Hat said on Wednesday that he was very disappointed in the decision. "The Commission's supposed deal with Microsoft is not really strengthening its own message of avoiding lock-in. We are hopeful that the Commission will practice what it preaches. In the interests of a fair and free market we must have vendor-neutral tendering," he said at an event organized by open source advocates in Brussels. Commission representatives attending the event were visibly uncomfortable, but did not comment.


The Commission should be pressured on this. This whole situation damages the Commission's legitimacy and unless it assesses GNU/Linux in publicly-funded desktops, this sure will validate our observation that it is being derailed by lobbyists and newly-appointed cronies who serve Microsoft's interests. Maybe there will even be a lawsuit, which is possible given that the Swiss government got sued (nobody is immune to litigation).

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