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[News] Another British MP Receptive to Idea of Dumping Non-Free Software

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Another letter to Jeremy Hunt MP, but this time a response too

,----[ Quote ]
| The Government has displayed its incompetence and complacency in
| relation to data time and time again - it is no wonder public trust in
| the ability of the Government to keep our personal details safe is at an
| all-time low. Last year, HMRC lost the personal data of almost half the
| population, leaving over 7 million families worried about the security
| of their bank accounts. More recently, the details of thousands of
| criminals, held on a memory stick, were lost by a government contractor.
| Countless other cases of lost data have occurred, including the details
| of thousands of driving test candidates, prospective military recruits
| and over 5,000 prison service staff. Now, even the Prime Minister has
| admitted that he “can’t promise that every single item of information
| will always be safe.”


Governments and open source: never the twain shall meet 

,----[ Quote ]
| Proprietary software companies are thus miles ahead when it comes to making 
| politicians see their point of view. I don't think the Debian GNU/Linux 
| project is in a position to donate money to the Republicans or Democrats.  



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.


EU: Europarlement testing Ubuntu, OpenOffice and Firefox

,----[ Quote ]
| The European Parliament's IT department is testing the use of GNU/Linux
| distribution Ubuntu, OpenOffice, Firefox and other Open Source applications,
| the British MEP James Nicholson explained last week in a letter to Italian
| MEP Marco Cappato.  


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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