[Fsfe-ie] Fwd: [A2k] Red Hat Sues Switzerland Over Microsoft Monopoly

Bob Jolliffe bobjolliffe at gmail.com
Wed May 27 10:13:52 CEST 2009

Sorry for spamming (in case you have picked up on this story already).
 I am sure our politicians and civil servants will be careful in their
awarding of tenders.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Meredith Filak <meredith.filak at gmail.com>
Date: 2009/5/26
Subject: [A2k] Red Hat Sues Switzerland Over Microsoft Monopoly
To: A2k <a2k at lists.essential.org>

[ Picked text/plain from multipart/alternative ]

Red Hat Sues Switzerland Over Microsoft Monopoly

   * 22-05-2009
   * By Peter Judge

£8 million a year to Microsoft, with no public bidding. And that's just the
tip of the iceberg, say open source activists

Linux vendor Red Hat, and 17 other vendors, have protested a Swiss
government contract given to Microsoft without any public bidding. The move
exposes a wider Microsoft monopoly that European governments accept, despite
their lip service for open source, according to commentators.

The Red Hat group has asked a Swiss federal court to overturn a three-year
contract issued to Microsoft by the Swiss Federal Bureau for Building and
Logistics, to provide Windows desktops and applications, with support and
maintenance, for 14 million Swiss Franc (£8 million) each year. The
contract, for "standardised workstations", was issued with no public bidding
process, Red Hat's legal team reports in a blog - because the Swiss agency
asserted there was no sufficient alternative to Microsoft products.

Red Hat and others have made the obvious response that there are plenty of
alternatives to Microsoft, and the current situation makes them more
attractive than ever, according to a report issued this week by Freeform

"It's not just Switzerland who have been getting away with this kind of
nonsense," said Mark Taylor of the UK-based Open Source Consortium, adding
that much of the credit for this action should go to the Free Software
Foundation Europe, led by Georg Greve.

"All over Europe this kind of thing is happening, and in the UK almost all
public sector tenders that we see actually *specify* Microsoft products,"
said Taylor. "Even those that don't will normally insist that the tendered
for technology ties in with specific Microsoft products. I cannot imagine
any other area of Government procurement where this practice would be

Governments are tacitly accepting Microsoft's monopoly on their ICT systems,
said Taylor, despite public statements such as the UK's recent announcement
that it could save £600 million a year with open source said Taylor: "The
cost is phenomenal," he added, with Government spending billions a year on
proprietary systems. "It is a scandal and a waste of public money that makes
the MPs expenses scandal look like a drop in the ocean, and yet hardly
anyone talks about it!"

The challenge to the Swiss government "raises important issues of openness
in government and of a level playing field for open source and other
competitors of Microsoft," said Red Hat's legal team. "Red Hat is seeking a
public bidding process that allows for consideration of the technical and
commercial advantages of open source software products."

Even within Switzerland, Red Hat countered the bureau's argument, by
pointing to several Swiss agencies, including the City of Zurich, the
Federal Agency for Computer Sciences and Telecommunictions (BIT), and the
Federal Institute for Intellectual Property (IGE), who are Red Hat

Microsoft's European chair, Jan Muehlfeit recently boasted to eWEEK that
Microsoft effectively owns 40 percent of all Europe's IT, on the occasion of
a giant promotional event with the EU in Brussels.

European ignorance and hostility to open source and free software is such
that a group has launched a pact for candidates in the forthcoming European
elections to sign,.pledging support for free software.
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