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[News] Businesses in India Gradually Move to Free Software

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The foundation of today’s network economy

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| India is growing as an economy and as an IT superpower. Enterprises in India 
| are slowly but steadily adopting open source, and so is the government. Open 
| source software has been deployed by both the national and state governments 
| in India. State governments in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, 
| West Bengal, Delhi and Maharashtra have taken the lead in this regard.    



IIT Bombay, Microsoft at loggerheads

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| The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has taken strong objection to the
| fact that despite a "No" to OOXML by a majority of the Bureau of Indian
| Standardsmembers, the software giant "continued to make representations to
| the top Indian leadership (read Ministry of Consumer Affairs), pressuring
| them to change the Indian vote".
| The BIS represented India as a participating member of the ISO. Its LITD 15
| committee -- of which IIT-Bombay was a part -- was responsible for examining
| OOXML and deciding on a "No" regarding India's position at the ISO.


An Open Letter to LITD15 committee of BIS

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| On 20th March 2008, the LITD15 committee of the Bureau of Indian Standards
| voted against Microsoft's proposed OOXML standard. 29th March 2008 was the
| last date for participating countries to vote on OOXML. In the interval
| between these two dates, Microsoft went to the Prime Minister of India and
| alleged that this committee acted against the national interest. Fortunately,
| the Indian bureaucrats who met the PM did a good job of defending the
| committee's vote against OOXML.      
| Prof. DB Phatak of IIT Bombay recently wrote a mail to the LITD15 committee
| saying that, "In my opinion, these actions go well beyond the behavioral
| boundaries for a commercial entity, some of these amounting to interfering
| with the governance process of a sovereign country." IIT Bombay was a member
| of the LITD15 committee and Prof. Phatak was part of a four-member team at
| IIT Bombay that did a very intense review of OOXML before the institute voted
| against OOXML. While Prof. Phatak is a great supporter of open source, he
| also has a great reputation for being fair and balanced.      
| [...]
| As a committee member, I would like to place on record my deep disappointment
| at the fact that Microsoft chose to question the decision of this committee
| at the highest office of our country. For over a year, we have reviewed the
| proposed standard with a fine tooth comb. Every opportunity was given to
| Microsoft to put their points across. At every meeting they brought a
| disproportionate number of participants along; some of these participants
| were not even Indian nationals. I think the committee as a whole was very
| courteous in accommodating all this but drew the line when this began to
| detract from the functioning of the committee. The only words that came to my
| mind when I heard that Microsoft's complaint had prompted the Prime Minister
| of my country to review this committee's decision was "stabbed-in-the-back."
| This was a great disservice to this committee and the country and I hope this
| never happens again.            
| [...]
| Standards cannot (and should not) be created in a technical vaccum. Without a
| moral and ethical framework, we cannot create standards that benefit
| humanity. Mahatma Gandhi summed it up best when he said that, “Real swaraj
| will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but by the acquisition
| of capacity by all.” I believe that this committee should be focused solely
| on the user's swaraj (freedom) to encode and decode their data.    


Microsoft embraces and extends server promiscuity

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| Microsoft of course has a long way to go before it can match market VMware
| for virt. technology or market share. But "deep integration" with
| SystemCenter is the key to how it will play catch-up. And if it fails, the
| company will certainly hasten the day that VMWare will have to lower its
| prices.    
| [...]
| A third principle is to encourage data portability, so that customers can
| move their data, without let or hindrance. That is entirely admirable, but
| the way Microsoft is working to ensure this, by way of a fourth principle -
| to work with all the software standards bodies on God's planet - is the stuff
| of battlefields, as this year's furore over Open XML shows. Microsoft is
| content to work behind the scenes, while its rivals cry foul.    
| When the rivals stop shouting, we will know that Microsoft truly is fully
| interoperable and is seen to be fully interoperable. In the meantime, we look
| forward to reporting the bush wars for many years to come.  


Microsoft wins Open XML vote, frowns at Indian panel

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| Industry experts said they were "unhappy" with the Microsoft which has almost
| accused the committee of being packed with "open document format (ODF)
| supporters".  
| "I am very upset and uncomfortable with such complaints. In fact, the
| chairperson of the committee (LITD 15) offered to step down over the
| allegation," D.B. Phatak, professor at IIT Mumbai, told DNA Money.  
| IIT Mumbai is a member of LITD 15, and Phatak was part of the deliberations
| that have been taking place within IIT on the issue.
| Phatak said a Microsoft official was asked if it would withdraw the
| complaint, but the company refused as the "complaint was made by some higher
| officer in Microsoft".  
| Jaijit Bhattacharya, country director of government strategy for Sun
| Microsystems India, a company that has been at loggerheads with Microsoft for
| years, talks in a similar vein.  
| "I am surprised that such allegations are made against India's top academic
| and government institutions … such allegations lack credibility,'
| Bhattacharya said. Venkatesh Hariharan, co-founder Open Source Foundation of
| India said, "I am just amazed and shocked at the depths to which Microsoft is
| willing to descend."    
| He said Microsoft's complaint is a "great disservice to the committee, its
| chairperson and the BIS".  


OOXML: decision time is nigh

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| Wipro, Infosys and TCS are the three big companies that accept business
| process outsourcing from the American and other markets, hence their vote for
| Microsoft is not a surprise at all. These are companies that maintain the
| status quo, conservative to the core and willing to do the bidding of the
| piper. Nasscom represents the interests of the bigger IT companies and it
| probably had no choice but to fall in line.    


Microsoft files complaint on OOXML vote to apex office and Ministry of Consumer

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| At the meeting held on 20th March 2008, we were informed that Microsoft has
| complained to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and to the apex office of the
| country about the constitution of the committee and also cast aspersions on
| the impartiality of the chairperson of LITD15, Mrs. Neeta Verma. The
| chairperson was furious and offered to step down from her post. She pointed
| out that the committee has met numerous times and Microsoft never brought
| this issue up in front of the committee nor did they check the facts with her
| or her organization before complaining to the apex office.      


Should India change its vote No vote for OOXML? - please?

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| Well done to the Bureau of Indian Standards for standing firm against this
| raging bully. Hopefully one day the bully will learn how to play fair and
| contribute positively to the standards process, and not try to manipulate its
| way in.  
| Truly despicable behaviour. Shame on you, Microsoft, yet again. How will we
| ever trust you?


Steve Ballmer was in India?

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| Interestingly, that was the day when BIS met to discuss OOXML. For those who
| have been following this issue, India's final vote on the subject will be on
| 20th May 2008. Talk about timing!  


Microsoft influencing partner NGOs to support OOXML in India

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| Microsoft is encouraging its business partners to promote its Office Open XML
| specification (OOXML) to the Indian Bureau of Standards (BIS) and Ministry of
| IT. This move has incensed supporters of the rival OpenDocument Format (ODF)
| who fear that the "soft" Indian state may not be able to stand up to
| Microsoft pressure tactics.    


Microsoft India using NGOs to fake support for OOXML


Becoming a better company: Microsoft helps NGOs in India

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| Of course, there has to be some trade-offs, because there should never be
| free lunch, even for the ones who starve: Microsoft, according to this
| article, has conditioned its help to Indian NGOs to their support of OOXML.
| What the NGOs had to do was to send letters of support on OOXML to the
| federal government of India.    


Microsoft "persuades" NGOs to support OOXML

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| Our friends at Linux Delhi have put up a copy of the form letters that
| Microsoft has been sending NGOs on the OOXML issue. Apparently, these NGOs
| have been sending copies of these letters to the Ministry of IT and Bureau of
| Indian standards.    


Developers around the world, unite!

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| Monopoly and proprietary software have an advantage in influencing state and
| governmental institutions because of their large market base and ready
| capital. Unscrupulous ways of influencing state governments have persisted in
| India, for example, where executives of proprietary software cajole
| government heads to promote their brands in lieu of some form of charity
| given. FLOSS activists must overcome this huge challenge in order to get
| their philosophy accepted and model implemented for the good of people who
| are still on the barren side of the digital divide.      


Using NGOs to Push Agendas

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| The extent to which Microsoft can go in its efforts to get OOXML is
| interesting. Microsoft has "persuaded" several non-profit organizations to
| bombard the Indian IT Secretary and the Additional Director General of the
| Bureau of Indian Standards with letters supporting its OOXML proposal. A copy
| of the form letter they have been circulating to NGOs is given below.
| Somebody should interview these NGOs to see how much they really know about
| OOXML and open standards.      
| The sequence of events leading up to the spamming of GoI? is:
| Letter from an NGO thanking Microsoft (name changed to protect their
| identity)


Wipro Microsoft alliance is a shame for all Indians – alliance or slavery?

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| The alliance uses Microsoft technologies instead of challenging Gates in his
| own game. Wipro is just a servant of Microsoft facilitating Indian cyber
| slavery under the American corporate banners.  


An Open Letter to Wipro, Infosys and TCS

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| This letter is to express our deep disappointment over your open support to
| the OOXML format forced through ISO by Microsoft. Being the top IT giants and
| thus the representatives of the IT industry in the country, it is a great
| shock to us that you do not stand with academia of the country and its
| representatives like the IITs, IIMs and IISc in supporting the Open Document
| Format (ODF) which is a true Free and Open Standard already recognised as an
| ISO Standard. Considering that a major portion of your employees come from
| such institutions, it is a wonder to us that you have decided to go ahead
| with this decisions.        


Candle Light Vigil for Document Freedom

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| The Candle light vigil demands India to appeal ISO approval of ooxml based on
| its comments and no vote. We also demands the Department of IT to draft a
| clear national policy for the use of Free standards for data storage.  
| This programme is planned as a starting point for various events & awareness
| campaigns on Document freedom.  

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