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[News] UK Slammed for Microsoft Collusion, Illegal MOU (Project Marshall)

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Microsoft megadeal gives UK.gov indigestion 

,----[ Quote ]
| 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.      


See comments in:


"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."

"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


  Message-Id:   <2311998.lOE0gtRACO@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  From:   Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  Newsgroups:   comp.os.linux.advocacy
  Subject:   [News] Microsoft's Main UK Shill (Richard Steel) Attacks Free
  Date:   Sat, 28 Feb 2009 03:24:32 +0000
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  This isn't “Open Source”

,----[ Quote ]
| The piece is entitle “Open Sauce”, but it ought really be called “”Open
| Source””, since its author, Richard Steel, the CIO of Newham, seems to have
| such distaste for the concept that he can't bring himself even to write the
| words without sanitising them between the quotation marks.
| He is reacting to the UK Government's Action Plan on open source, and I'd
| like to react to those reactions.
| Mr Steel writes:
| I don’t like the term “Open Source”. It’s misleading; what many people mean
| is “anything but Microsoft”; few businesses actually use open source
| directly – they buy software derived from open source that has been
| commercially packaged and sold with support, which, in practice, is little
| different to licensed software.
| Well, no: there's nothing misleading in the term. It's tightly defined by the
| rigorous and well-understood Open Source Definition, which has nothing
| whatsoever to do with “anything but Microsoft”; indeed, Microsoft actually
| has some OSD-approved licences – the Microsoft Public License and Microsoft
| Reciprocal License: so does this mean that Microsoft is pushing “anything but
| Microsoft” too?


That's the guy behind the "Get the Facts" roadshow in the UK. First the
Microsoft buddies from Fortify... now this.

Microsoft must really, really be miserable right now. Its puppets are throwing
slime at open source while Microsoft is suing.

"...Then they fight you..."


British Tech Execs Ignore Vista

,----[ Quote
| Steel, who was criticized by open source proponents for selecting Microsoft
| over open source, said there is still an anti-Microsoft feeling among local
| authority CIOs. As Socitm president he said he saw little adoption of the new
| operating system. Recently analysts have come out in support of Vista,
| claiming organizations could miss out on important business benefits if they
| delay adoption. "One of the things that I am finding more and more is that
| the anti-Microsoft camp is growing," he said.


Promoting Microsoft...

,----[ Quote ]
| This is the same man who originated the term "doing a Newham" - ie the
| process of feigning interest in Linux to get, ahem, 'preferential
| arrangements' with Microsoft.  
| This is the same man who, in line with Newhams MoU with Microsoft, starred in
| Microsoft's "Get the Facts" roadshow.
| As Dr John Pugh MP has stated, "Microsoft is *very* close to the UK
| Government, and they intend to stay there".
| Richard Steel's appointment as President of Socitm is a very canny play from
| the multiply-convicted monopolist.
| Of course the contractual obligation to promote Microsoft in the UK Public
| Sector will not affect either his credibility, or his bias-free ability to
| perform this new role, nobody could possibly think that, could they?  


ID Cards: Scandalous as Well as Idiotic

,----[ Quote ]
| In other words, the UK government is trying to use a kind of financial
| blackmail to keep its idiotic projects going: continue or cough up. And to
| add insult to injury, it cloaks its activities in secrecy. What a morally
| corrupt bunch.


If a Linux interoperability deal is done in a forest, and no one is around to
witness it, does it really exist?

,----[ Quote ]
| During a visit to the KommITS conference in Sweden, Richard discovered the
| following information: “I note that Novell has a local arrangement with
| Microsoft, which resells its version of Suse Linux to enable Linux
| exploitation on a Windows platform!” The exclamation mark is his own, and
| suggests genuine surprise at hearing the news of Microsoft and Novell’s
| entanglement.
| It would be easy to suggest that any CIO must have had their head in the sand
| not to have been aware of a small agreement that Microsoft and Novell entered
| into a little while ago, but also I think one also has to accept that for a
| great number of senior IT executives this sort of information just isn’t as
| fascinating as open source followers think it is.
| [...]
| Conspiracy theory alert: Newham is one of Microsoft’s flagship local
| government accounts in the UK following its controversial decision to sign a
| ten-year agreement with Microsoft after ditching plans to move to an open
| source environment. Clearly, Newham has less reason then to be interested in
| Linux and Microsoft’s relationship with Novell than other organizations (it
| also explains why Microsoft’s SLES voucher-wielding sales team hasn’t been
| breaking down the door).



Newham has a cow over Microsoft MOU

,----[ Quote
| However, Newham has supplied the INQUIRER with internal studies that it says
| do demonstrate that its decision to commit to Microsoft was justified. The
| studies were performed by Socitm, a private public sector consulting firm of
| which Newham COI Steele is a vice president. the INQUIRER will report on
| these findings in due course.    
| Meanwhile, the original MOU is enlightening. As well as claiming the deal
| would enable Newham to achieve high rankings in Audit Commission assessments,
| it committed Newham to moving all "competitive technology" to Microsoft,
| regardless of the feasibility of such a move.  
| It also required Steele to promote Microsoft software.
| See attached file: Memorandum of Understanding.doc


Is This the Season of Porcine Aerobatics?

,----[ Quote ]
| Two of the darkest moments for open source in the UK involved the loss of
| major public projects. The first was Newham Borough Council, which ran a
| high-profile trial of open source only to ditch it at the last moment, after
| magically receiving an offer it couldn't refuse from Microsoft – which cynics
| suggested was the main motivation for the open source exercise in the first
| place.    
| This was bad news for free software, because it enabled Microsoft to do two
| things. First, it could claim that an independent body had tried open source
| and found it wanting, and secondly, it was able to use Newham as a showcase
| for its public sector technology.  
| In some ways, the second defeat was even worse. It involved a massive
| contract with the NHS that was far-reaching in scope...


War of words breaks out over Microsoft MOU

,----[ Quote ]
| The salutary lesson to draw from our dealings, Richard, is not whether you
| can trust the press. It is rather a lesson in managing expectations, a
| process every CIO should know well.  
| The expectations you invested in your 2004 deal with Microsoft, as enshrined
| in the memorandum of understanding, were also unrealistic.
| To recap, the original MOU said the use of Microsoft software would "improve
| Common Performance Assessment results and Star Ratings" measured by the Audit
| Commission.  
| The analysis presented in the INQUIRER on Friday demonstrated that this
| expectation had not been met.
| When we asked you about this on Friday you told us there was a new MOU. Now
| you accuse us of twisting your words.
| How would you prefer to describe what happened to the original agreement? If
| it has not been scrapped, perhaps it has been decommissioned, recycled, sold
| on eBay?  
| Having been told you had drawn up a second MOU with Microsoft, we were
| clearly interested to learn what new terms you had agreed in the public
| interest. You said it was confidential. But the first MOU was deemed fit for
| publication under FOI rules.  
| You also said the first MOU was only ever a three year deal. But the document
| was accepted by a Council vote as part of a 10-year deal.
| Now four years since you signed the original agreement it is proper for us to
| ask how well the public money you are giving Microsoft is spent.


Government faces crunch on Microsoft mega-deal

,----[ Quote ]
| Rumour has it that Microsoft hasn't been feeling appreciated in the public
| sector, thinking its customers don't know what a good deal they've been
| getting since the MOU was first negotiated in 2002. BECTA, the procurement
| quango for the education sector, has recommended schools don't upgrade to
| Microsoft Vista and Office 2007.    
| [...]
| "There's a big anti-Microsoft lobby growing on the green agenda" he said,
| especially among local councils who were beginning to realise that PC's were
| power hungry and expensive to maintain. They were taking interest in
| think-client computers instead.  


UK: Major cost reduction result of Bristol's switch to Open Standards

,----[ Quote ]
| Bristol City Council's switch to StarOffice in 2005 has led to a major
| reduction of IT costs, says Gavin Beckett, the council's ICT Strategy
| manager.  
| StarOffice is Sun Microsystems' proprietary suite of office applications,
| which is based on the Open Source OpenOffice. In 2006 Bristol took the
| further step of adopting the ISO-approved Open Document Format (ODF).  
| Speaking at a conference on ODF in the Netherlands last month, Beckett said
| that implementing StarOffice for 5,500 desktops in Bristol saved 1.1 million
| GBP (1.4 million euro) in comparison to the total cost of implementing
| Microsoft Office. "The licences for StarOffice cost us 186,000 GBP (243,000
| euro), in comparison to 1.4 million GBP (1.8 million euro) for MS Office."    
| These major savings were offset slightly by extra time needed for
| implementing StarOffice. Implementation cost the city council 484,000 GBP
| (632,000 euro), double the estimate for MS Office. This was due to document
| conversion and training, said the IT Strategy manager. Explaining and
| troubleshooting the new office applications took several months more than
| planned.    


Is Becta loosening Microsoft's grip on UK schools?

,----[ Quote ]
| Capita-SIMS, the powerful and dominant schools database provider, has been
| instructed by Becta to comply with the new interoperability framework. This
| move potentially opens up a large and growing market to solutions based on
| Open Source databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL.  
| [...]
| Moving away from Microsoft SQL
| The school database market has been a closed shop for many years. Products
| from Capita and Serco, both based on MS-SQL, account for well over 90% of
| market share. In the case of Capita-SIMS.net, not only does it use Microsoft
| SQL , requires schools to use MS Office 2003 and has a MS IIS web server but
| it also has a non-interoperable API.    


Interview: Tim Pearson, CEO at RM plc on interoperability and software patents

,----[ Quote ]
| John Spencer talks to Tim Pearson Chief Executive of RM. RM is the largest
| most successful supplier of ICT to the UK education market and, for good
| measure, is British too. Tim has been there from the start and so is really
| now Mr RM. This autumn he gave the school ICT world a jolt when RM announced
| its Asus miniBook. It retails to schools for only £169 and runs Open Source
| software throughout. The miniBook has preceded an avalanche of new products
| and new thinking.      
| [...]
| More seriously, it's been hard to forecast when we have no real experience
| selling at this price point before, neither have we ever sold a machine with
| a Linux-based client OS before.  


Lawmaker blasts U.K. government on Microsoft policy

,----[ Quote ]
| "A member of Parliament of the United Kingdom has launched a stinging
| attack on the U.K. government's IT strategy, saying that it has given
| Microsoft too much control.
| John Pugh, who is a member of Parliament, or MP, for Southport and a
| member of the Public Accounts Committee, was speaking in an
| adjournment debate on Tuesday that he had called. The aim of the
| debate, he said, was to explore the alternatives to using Microsoft
| software, including open source."
| [...]


Interview with Richard M. Stallman

,----[ Quote ]
| It is important to know this because we will always face pressure, from those
| who are powerful and would like to take away our freedom, to surrender our
| freedom—and they frequently offer us something attractive in exchange. For
| instance, B’liar wanted to abolish the Rights of Englishmen, and to serve his
| American master, Bush, faithfully; so he offered Britons “protection” from
| this or that, plus the imagined idea that he influences his master on their
| behalf through the “special relationship”.      


London council dumps Microsoft, may go open source instead

,----[ Quote ]
| NEWHAM LONDON Borough Council has scrapped the controversial 10-year
| Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it signed with Microsoft in 2004 and drawn
| up a new agreement with a new set of deliverables.


Open source trumps Microsoft in UK schools

,----[ Quote ]
| MICROSOFT has suffered further set-backs in the UK education sector this week
| after Becta, the government procurement quango, reformed its purchasing
| regime to break the software giant's hold on education, and launched a
| programme to get schools to adopt open source software.
| At least three open source software suppliers submitted tenders to Becta
| yesterday for the £270,000 Schools Open Source Project. The winner will spend
| two years building a community of schools which uses and develops its own
| open source alternatives to Microsoft software.
| Becta has also specifically called on open source companies to join its £80
| million framework list of certified suppliers of software to schools,
| contracts for which will be awarded in June. The last framework list
| consisted entirely of Microsoft suppliers and drew Becta widespread criticism
| for favouring the convicted monopolist over cheaper, homegrown alternatives.

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