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Microsoft's Bulk Deal With New Zealand Collapses 166

Posted by kdawson
from the door-off-hinges dept.
vik writes "The latest 3-year, pan-government deal that Microsoft has been establishing with the New Zealand government since 2000 has collapsed, opening the doors to the wider use of open source software in government. The NZ State Services Commission (already a prize-winning user of open source) says in a statement that it '...became apparent during discussions that a formal agreement with Microsoft is no longer appropriate.' Having lost their discount, individual government departments will now have to put their IT requirements out to tender individually."
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Microsoft's Bulk Deal With New Zealand Collapses

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  • RIP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Smivs (1197859)

    Another nail in MSs coffin?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Daengbo (523424)

      Maybe not a nail:

      SSC spokesperson Marian Mortensen says government looks for three things in its negotiations: value for money, fitness for purpose and strategic benefit.

      Mortensen says open source will be "part fo [sic] the mix, definitely". However, she adds, such choices will be made by individual agencies.

      There's something, anyway, but it might not be much. It's up to the individual agencies.

      • by donaldm (919619)

        There's something, anyway, but it might not be much. It's up to the individual agencies.

        You are right, however Government agencies quickly develop a sixth sense with regard to which way government policy is blowing. It is a "courageous" IT department that insists on continuing with the same spending when that department's budget is reduced and while nothing has been said about cost cutting you can be positive that the NZ Government is going to reduce all Government spending. like it or not Departments are going to have to make do with less money and when this happens you are going to see Open

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sumdumass (711423)

      It's likely a positioning move to get steeper discounts.

      What would put another nail in MS's coffin would be them calling the bluff and forcing NZ to take on quite a bit of Open source software. Once past the "OMG it's different then what we have always used" stage, it might be more then enough to the government agencies and lead to more OSS adoption.

      • by Petrushka (815171)

        What would put another nail in MS's coffin would be them calling the bluff and forcing NZ to take on quite a bit of Open source software. Once past the "OMG it's different then what we have always used" stage, it might be more then enough to the government agencies and lead to more OSS adoption.

        I think that's exactly what has already happened! That seems to me to be exactly the reason why the State Services Commission has taken the position they have.

        As the summary points out, the SSC has won one award already [nzosa.org.nz] from the NZ Open Source Awards; in addition, they've been using SUSE [computerworld.co.nz] (both server and desktop) since at least 2005, and in 2006 they published a guide [e.govt.nz] on using open source software in government departments. (An early version of the guide, prepared for them by a legal firm that also worked f

  • Linux (Score:3, Funny)

    by p!ngu (854287) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:11AM (#28093313)
    Doors open! Get 'em, boys!
    • Re:Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:25AM (#28094043)
      Remember that David only defeats Goliath in the movies. In real life, David usually ends up with a slingshot shoved up his ass.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        True enough, but the global Linux community is considerably larger than Microsoft so the particular placement of that slingshot is open for debate.

      • by rbanffy (584143)

        Sure... Remember Microsoft against IBM (Goliath ended up with the sligshot soved up its ass twice), Google against Digital...

        Just to name a few...

  • Open Formats (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:12AM (#28093319)
    The individual departments should be required to use open formats where open formats exist. It's far past the time governments should be held hostage with proprietary formats.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Daengbo (523424)

      I agree that should be the number one short-term goal for governments of the world. The only problem is, what do you do about issues like OOXML, which is a standard, and which MS supports in name, but which isn't actually supported by anyone? Gaming the standards system has become too easy and corrupting standards has no penalty.

      What ever happened to the good ol' days when you put up an RFC and a reference implementation and everyone tried to make sure new stuff worked with the old stuff? If there had been

      • Re:Open Formats (Score:4, Informative)

        by Narpak (961733) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:40AM (#28094239)

        I agree that should be the number one short-term goal for governments of the world. The only problem is, what do you do about issues like OOXML, which is a standard, and which MS supports in name, but which isn't actually supported by anyone? Gaming the standards system has become too easy and corrupting standards has no penalty.

        I know I have posted something similar like this before. However I believe it bears repeating.

        The Norwegian Government, in a moment of clarity, decided to embrace open standards. From January 1 2009 all departments, institutions, schools and public sites; should deliver and accept all documents that are ODF, PDF or HTML (which ever is appropriate for the information in question). This doesn't bare those sites and institutions from putting up, or accepting, Microsoft document formats; but at everything have to be there in Open Standards first and foremost.

        • by jimicus (737525)

          The Norwegian Government, in a moment of clarity, decided to embrace open standards. From January 1 2009 all departments, institutions, schools and public sites; should deliver and accept all documents that are ODF, PDF or HTML (which ever is appropriate for the information in question). This doesn't bare those sites and institutions from putting up, or accepting, Microsoft document formats; but at everything have to be there in Open Standards first and foremost.

          You'll forgive my cynicism, I trust, but does that actually happen or is it on the statute books but neither followed nor enforced? I'd be particularly interested to know if they make a lot of things available in ODF format.

          • by catman (1412)
            To quote the press release:
            ODF (ISO/IEC 26300) is to be used to publish documents to which the user should be able to make changes after downloading, e.g. public forms to be filled out by the user. This format is also made obligatory.

            The government's web site in English is at http://www.regjeringen.no/en.html?id=4 [regjeringen.no]

            I didn't dig much, but all I could find was either html or pdf. There's a hearing document out mandating open standard formats for communication between local governments as well. And more

      • by belmolis (702863)

        If the purchaser is actually serious about open standards, then it will reject OOXML for three reasons: (a) it is not an open standard; (b) there is no conforming implementation, even by Microsoft; (c) in spite of the bizarre stance taken by ISO, it isn't a standard of any sort since no complete specification exists, much less has been voted on by ISO. Microsoft may well be able to trot out OOXML for organizations that want to go with Microsoft and just need an excuse, but this won't work with any organiza

        • Interesting.
          a) it is an open standard
          b) there can be no conforming implementation because the standard has not been finalised. You can bitch about this once the standard has been released, but until then there is no way to conform
          c) by the same token we should also reject ODF, since the specification is both vague and incomplete (formulas anyone?)

    • It's far past the time citizens should be held hostage with proprietary formats.

      Why should I be force to fork out for MS products to work with the government?
  • We'll see.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Daemonax (1204296) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:14AM (#28093327)
    I'd be happily surprised if a National government was the one to embrace Free software and start the process of eventually seeing it used in schools, which then flows to the work place and homes... But we'll see... I would be very surprised if the government picked open source.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Umangme (1337019)

      Well, just so you know, not very far from home (for me at least) there is this semi-Utopian place [wordpress.com] where people say "Windows? What's that?".

      But everyone is still going to fuss because it is communist... and Linux is now being seen as a communist thing... and only Obama can change things... yes I know. It is still a ray of hope in a world of darkness. It should be worth mentioning, though, that this state elects a communist government every five years, and have the option not to and had the world's first elec

  • by freedom_india (780002) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:16AM (#28093343) Homepage Journal

    Before you all rejoice in hallelujah glory please remember that:
    1) MS is a powerful marketing organisation with a single control center. It has millions to spend on lobbying. Instead of one central purchasing order they will go after each state/county and government organisation parallely and independently.
    2) To take advantage of this situation the FOSS/Open Source has NO marketing budget or marketing plan except for some backdoor geeks.
    3) Lobbyists that MS hires far outmatch the abilities of what FOSS can bring up....
    Let's face facts ok?
    We have been a good, in fact excellent opening in a battle. The enemy has taken a big kick in its balls and is down for a few moments.
    But, we lack the control center and resources of taking advantage of it.
    If i were Red Hat or Ubuntu (in a corporate sense), i would be in NZ now talking to the main permanent secretaries and other pukes down there to hammer down an initial PoC for Linux/Open office.
    And yes i would offer a central help center staffed by real people who can train the department's IT staff and/or assist them in installing, fixing bugs, training staff, etc all the things Microsoft will do.
    And yes, i would sign a one-year contract with them offering them a FREE software with paid support.
    But, as FOSS supporter do i have a centralized marketing budget, people, resources to make it happen?
    NOOOO.
    Its likea Sniper going against an entire armoured division. Yeah it sounds gung-ho, but that does not win a war gentlemen. We need the three C's of marketing. Command, Control and a Corporate willing to take risks and Money.
    Once we have that in form of Red Hat or corporate Ubuntu we can talk about a Master Plan on taking down MS...
    Until then shut up the vodka bottles. Its too early to celebrate.

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      Instead of one central purchasing order they will go after each state/county and government organisation parallely and independently.

      And they'll say "Whoa, you're thinking of using what filthy hippy app? You know that it's AIR-QUOTE compatible with Office, right? All the cool counties are going to go Office - do you want to talk to them or not?"

      I think all that's up for discussion is whether they actually make air-quotes, or just say it out loud.

    • I think it would take an established IT organisation to get behind FOSS for it to be accepted in the market place. The only such organisation I have experience with won't have a bar of it. All their people are trained on windows.
      • That's the problem.
        That's EXACTLY the problem.
        Open Source is owned by none giving it NO respect in corporate sense.
        IT departments have been saying this for many years.
        To be considered for real, open source must be "adopted" by a corporate entity which has the financial muscle acumen and the willingness to take risks.
        This is exactly what our Company Law allows us to do: taking risks without risking our pensions!
        Why hasn't anyone created a for-profit corporation which can "adopt" open source and whose charter

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Pure FUD. There are a number of companies which will offer you support on your Open Source software, including redhate. The availability of the support contract was enough to fill your requirements. The problem now is vendor lock-in.

          • ...yet none of them are on the bid in NZ. Surprising isn't it?
            Visibility my friend, is the first lesson in marketing.
            You gotta be out there selling yourself. You can't wait here and expect NZ to find and come to you.
            I bought Diskeeper instead of the better/free/competitor products when it came to defragging my drives. Why? Marketing.
            Which is why i think an iPhone is better than a Nokia E95. Even you maybe.
            Why?

    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:57AM (#28093657) Homepage Journal

      1) MS is a powerful marketing organisation with a single control center. It has millions to spend on lobbying. Instead of one central purchasing order they will go after each state/county and government organisation parallely and independently

      I agree to a point: I personally don't think that Microsoft has the domain knowledge to after individual provinces or localities in New Zealand, but then I may be underestimating Microsoft's presence in NZ.

      2) To take advantage of this situation the FOSS/Open Source has NO marketing budget or marketing plan except for some backdoor geeks.

      Red Hat, Novell, Canonical, Mandriva, Sun, IBM, etc. all have marketing budgets. With the sole exception of IBM, none have as large a marketing budget as Microsoft, at least not by themselves.

      3) Lobbyists that MS hires far outmatch the abilities of what FOSS can bring up....

      There is no "open source lobbying" organization. ("FOSS" and "FLOSS" are ugly terms, IMHO). But certainly there are individual groups that, together, are extremely power, each from different angles. From the "online freedom" aspect, you have the EFF. From the "Linux is good" dept., we have The Linux Foundation. There are several organizations pushing open standards. IBM pushes open standards and open source. And there are tons of other examples. Together, these organizations outweigh Microsoft's lobbying efforts.

      And there is no "we": Open source represents a bunch of diverse elements with diverse agendas. That's why open source is winning (yes, I said it: we are winning!). Many individuals and organizations with many agendas easily outweigh the one agenda and one organization, no matter how big or how much money said agenda and organization are.

      • Think about guerilla warfare. They cannot win this as long as there are enough attacks which require wasteful counter-action resources. Microsoft can't win all the time but has to. Otherwise open source gets a bridgehead. Fighting open source makes open source stronger.

        • You are basing your opinion on emotions. Facts state otherwise.
          Guerilla warfare has never, ever won a regular army on regular terms.
          Its a mosquito that bites a fly. Yes it can annoy the lion, but the lion eventually develops a thicker skin.
          Please don't start by saying partisan warfare in Russia drew the Nazis out. Because they did't. And neither did the french. All they did was to betray jews.
          Historically, regular armies have won with massive resurces.
          Partisan warfare can annoy but can't compete with a r

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Seriousity (1441391)
        Microsoft is quite present here in New Zealand. On a few occasions I have mentioned that I run linux on my desktop PC to IT tutors / teachers; the responses have varied from "what's that?" to "isn't linux just for servers?"(that one was today)

        In fact, barely anybody else that I know is familiar with linux; everybody assumes it's Microsoft as far as the eye can see - how can there be possibly something better out there if everybody still uses MS?

        There was one person I tried to introduce to linux, and to my
        • by yuna49 (905461)

          There was one person I tried to introduce to linux, and to my distress the result wasn't exactly glamorous - after spending half a day figuratively breaking through brick walls with my forehead to configure PulseAudio with his 5.1 surround system

          People working in government offices (or most businesses for that matter) don't have any need for technologies like these. What may present issues for consumers have little relevance to professional usage situations. Millions of people are sitting in front of vani

      • by Petrushka (815171)

        I agree to a point: I personally don't think that Microsoft has the domain knowledge to after individual provinces or localities in New Zealand, but then I may be underestimating Microsoft's presence in NZ.

        Microsoft NZ is pretty strong, and knows which side its bread is buttered. They're not going away anytime soon. I presume they'll be moving their attention to the next big target: the government of the new "super-city" of Auckland, as there's a big synoecism of separate boroughs going on right now. Small by international standards, but the new city will have about a third of the country's population, so it will most certainly matter to Microsoft NZ.

        Red Hat, Novell, Canonical, Mandriva, Sun, IBM, etc. all have marketing budgets. With the sole exception of IBM, none have as large a marketing budget as Microsoft, at least not by themselves.

        I suspect the main reason that Red Hat, Mandriva, etc. are

    • Lets also realize that Open Source isn't the only alternative to Microsoft.

      You got IBM. Yea Yea IBM is a big supporter of Open Source Software (Enough to influence the FSF to add verbiage in GPL 3 to add the commercial use exception, to its anti-TiVoization clause), However not all their products are Open Source and they may not push the open source projects for the need that New Zealand needs. Perhaps a Nice AIX, Lotus, Informix combination. Or how about Oracle solution Solaris, Oracle and Star Office (Th

      • IBM is strong on servers / mainframes. That's their bread and butter. Unfortunately, Websphere Studio Application Developer and Rational Software Architect can't be used to write the daily memos and do mathematical worksheets.
        Star Office is closed. Shut down. So forget it.

    • Ever heard of partisan and guerilla warfare?

      • Ever heard of partisan warfare defeating a regular army in a regular battlefield?

        • by donaldm (919619)

          Ever heard of partisan warfare defeating a regular army in a regular battlefield?

          No but I have heard that partisan warfare rarely if ever fights on a regular battle field but they can cause so much disruption that the enemy eventually is forced to admit defeat.

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      If i were Red Hat or Ubuntu (in a corporate sense), i would be in NZ now talking to the main permanent secretaries and other pukes down there to hammer down an initial PoC for Linux/Open office.

      And who's saying they're not?

      If I were Red Hat, Canonical, et al, I'd do exactly the same as you suggest- go and talk to the potential customers. In fact, if I were any vendor of any software (FOSS or otherwise), I'd be down their trying to sell my wares to them, because that's what software vendors do.

      Neither Linux nor OpenOffice are developed by just hobbyists and startup companies. They're both backed by a number of very large businesses, with vested interests in selling their products. They'll be sendin

    • That eventually will beat any group of lobbyists, no matter how big.

  • by dov_0 (1438253) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:16AM (#28093349)
    So the NZ gov will not make a contract with MS centrally, leaving individual dept's to tender individually. Well, it just means that the central States Service Commission with it's liking of FOSS will no longer have as much influence on software purchases, leaving possibly less open-minded dept CIO's to make contracts. At a higher price due to lower volume? No great loss for Microsoft there. It may even be a winner for them.
    • by noundi (1044080)
      FYI we don't care about Microsofts loss, we only care about the gain of FOSS. :)
      • by dov_0 (1438253)
        FYI neither do I care for Microsoft, but if you carefully read what I said, you will find that I was pointing to the possibility of MS actually GAINING from the loss of the central contract.
        • by noundi (1044080)
          I did, and I'm not attacking you so chill. I'm merely pointing out that we shouldn't care if Microsoft is losing or "GAINING" anything, but instead focusing on the gain for FOSS. :)
  • by paziek (1329929) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:31AM (#28093453)
    I bet they just want better deal, and think this will help. Who knows, they are probably right about that.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @09:10AM (#28094637)
    NZ will still buy all software from MS, just at much more inflated prices. Buying OSS from a zoo of little guys is just too much hassle for IT and the buyers.
  • Everyone here only ever talks about Linux in business, but this is as much a chance for any of the BSDs to gain in government, as well. FreeBSD [freebsd.org] can be used anywhere Linux can, and also has some advantages:-

    1. Potentially much simpler per-host configuration. The three files in question are /etc/rc.conf, /etc/sysctl.conf, and /boot/loader.conf. Sysvinit isn't used, and custom kernel recompilation is a lot easier than with Linux as well.

    2. The ability to fully emulate the Ubuntu "user friendly," desktop;

  • There was a bit on our National Radio programme about this today, downloadable here: http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20090527-0908-Government_reliance_on_Microsoft.ogg [radionz.co.nz] (Vorbis, 13Mb)

    It starts with an interview with the head of the NZ Open Source Society, and follows with an interview with a local Microsoft guy.

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