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How To Hijack an EU Open Source Strategy Paper 112

Glyn Moody writes "Thanks to the indispensable Wikileaks, we have the opportunity to see how an organization close to Microsoft is attempting to re-write — and hijack — an important European Union open source strategy paper, currently being drawn up. Analyzing before and after versions visible in the document demonstrates how the Association for Competitive Technology, a lobbying group partially funded by Microsoft, is trying to widen the scope of open source to include 'mixed solutions blending open and proprietary code.'" And reader Elektroschock adds some detail on EU processes: "The European Commission lets ACT and CompTIA participate in all working groups of the European Open Source Strategy, which defines Europe's future open source approach. A blue editor questions the objectives: 'Regarding the "Europe Digital Independence" our [working] group thinks it is, in general, not an issue.' 'European digital independence' is a phrase coined by EU Commissioner V. Reding, that is what her European Software Strategy was supposed to be about. She didn't reveal that lobbyists or vendors with vested interests would write the strategy for the Commission."
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How To Hijack an EU Open Source Strategy Paper

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  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:34PM (#27013969) Journal
    It should be obvious by now that proprietary, off-the-shelf, software is on its way out. Off-the-shelf software only amounts for around 10% of the total software production, and the bespoke market has always avoided proprietary solutions where possible, to avoid vendor lock-in. Microsoft, with its huge armies of developers and vast collections of existing tools could easily own a huge chunk of the bespoke market, so why are they fighting the transition so hard? Is there some kind of long-term plan, or are they just hoping to turn back the clock?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:47PM (#27014171)

    No because then there wouldn't be a monopoly and it never would have reached the EU's attention in the first place.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thermian ( 1267986 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:54PM (#27014227)

    It should be obvious by now that proprietary, off-the-shelf, software is on its way out. Off-the-shelf software only amounts for around 10% of the total software production

    Um, what? proprietary software is nowhere near being on its last elbows my friend. Ok the old model of sale of software as a product is getting, well, old, and software as a service is taking off.

    Open source is suited for that, but companies providing such services are managing quite well with proprietary code too. I know of several that mix open source and closed source in their product quite happily. Its not a problem, provided no licence terms are broken, and to be frank its not hard to manage that.

    As for Microsoft? Anyone who thinks they'll just say 'oh, we lost, time to pack up and go home' is out of their tiny mind. A company with a turnover and product range like theirs isn't going away any time soon.

  • More yet, if you protect your market, you make your people poorer (except for the owners of protected companies). But that is valid only for protectionism... If you protect your markets from Microsoft (or any other kind of fraud) you'll make our people richer and will increase the competitiveness of your exports (except for items that bundle with Windows).

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @01:59PM (#27014295) Journal

    The fact of the matter is that open source, at least in the eyes of European policy makers, is about kicking the Americans out of the software business in Europe.

    The name "European Digital Independence" would seem to indicate that, yes. Which makes it especially dumb for them to accept input from Microsoft.

    Definitely, am supporting protectionist candidates in the United States.

    Because it's always good for the US to cut its own throat just because the Europeans are cutting theirs.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Friday February 27, 2009 @02:15PM (#27014497) Homepage Journal

    This may come as a shock to you, but real governments (i.e., governments unlike the US government of the last eight years) don't just make sweetheart deals with private contractors. They actually do a lot of work themselves, and very often, software is involved in the process. When it comes to wise use of citizens' tax dollars (or euros, as the case may be) finding OSS solutions which can replace expensive proprietary software is pretty high on the list.

  • by Gorath99 ( 746654 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @02:33PM (#27014777)

    Oh come on, you're blowing this way out of proportion.

    Right now, the EU is highly dependent on proprietary software from the US. Is it really so strange that they don't like this? No country likes to be dependent on another country for essential goods. It's not much different from the US disliking their dependence on foreign oil.

    And rather than demanding non-US software, the EU just wants guarantees in the form of less restrictive licensing (open source). Does this make it easier for other countries to compete? Yes, it does. Does it mean that the US is disadvantaged? No, it doesn't. As long as the US produces quality software for a reasonable price, the EU will keep buying.

    Oh, and for the record: I'm an EU citizen who is employed by a major US software house.

  • by Shin-LaC ( 1333529 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @02:38PM (#27014843)
    I thought there were open source based companies in America too. I also thought there were plans to increase adoption of open source in public administrations in America too. Finally, I thought America already had a host of protectionist measures in place for several economic sectors.

    Basically, what the hell are you talking about?
  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday February 27, 2009 @02:55PM (#27015099) Homepage Journal

    People round here fail to see, for reasons unbeknown to me, that Microsoft is not exceptionally evil as corporations go.

    Well, there's Union Carbide, who killed thousands of Indians and whose CEO is still on India's most wanted fugitive list.

    There's Haliburton.

    There's Sony and their XCP rootkit.

    There's Purina, who was too cheap to put doors on an elevator and my grandfather went four stories down without an elevator car, carrying two 100 lb sacks of grain. I absolutely HATE them, as you might possibly understand (and it was 50 years ago this year).

    There's that chicken company that burned up all those minimum wage workers because they chained the fire doors shut.

    There's the peanut place that killed a few people and sickened thousands.

    Then there's the oil industry.

    There's the banks, giving million dollar bonuses to the people who are running them into the ground. All of these are more evil than Microsoft.

    And the fact that few corporations pay any US Federal Income tax at all is pretty evil, too. Does MS pay Federal Income Tax?

    But just because everyone else if evil doen't give you an escuse to be, too. Waht did your mother say about all your friends jumping off a bridge?

  • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @03:05PM (#27015233) Homepage Journal

    The U.S. economy was built on protectionist policies. It's funny how they would get there if protectionist actually was all that harmful. Or take England, as another example: previously protectionist. Is it possible that selective protectionism may be good for a developing economy and bad for a developed economy, as empirical evidence would suggest? And that free markets would be good for -- wait for it! -- the proponents of free markets, i.e. rich nations?

  • by vrt3 ( 62368 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @03:40PM (#27015761) Homepage

    Outside of Ireland the the UK, Microsoft is simply not as big in Europe as it is in the states. Time and again I have heard the same story. Linux shops and linux systems are simply more common in mainland Europe than Microsoft systems.

    What Europe are you speaking of?? I live in Western Europe (in Belgium); people, businesses and organizations use *much* more Microsoft systems than Linux systems. If you go to the store and buy a PC, it comes with Windows preinstalled. At work, our file/database/mail server runs Linux, but all the desktops run Windows. I know that many small businesses are like that, and that there are also a lot that are 100% Microsoft. Many people still don't realize that the computing world is larger than Microsoft alone (that is starting to change now, but more because of Apple than because of Linux).

  • by alexborges ( 313924 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @04:07PM (#27016165)

    Senseless: it doesnt work this way because america COULD if she WANTED be the biggest FOSS engine in the world and still kick into the european market.

    You confuse microsoft with your country: What a shame.

  • by bconway ( 63464 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @04:39PM (#27016589) Homepage

    If you protect your markets you destroy your exports.

    Japan seems to be doing just fine with it. Compare who made your TV and their TVs. Your phone and their phones (yeah yeah, excluding iPhones).

  • by Patch86 ( 1465427 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @04:53PM (#27016743)

    The fact that a huge number of the big players in open source (Novell, Sun, Red Hat, Xandros, IBM, the Free Software Foundation, Google, Mozilla, et al) are American or America-based should be the first big sign that protectionism would be a daft name for it.

    You could see it as a stimulus for Europe, seeing as many of the best proprietary companies are American or Japanese. But ultimately FOSS is completely anti-protectionist; if the intellectual property is impossible to control (thanks to the licensing), how can you use it to lock out foreign competitors?

    Ultimately, it's just the EU not liking being at the mercy of a foreign monopoly. Makes just as much sense as the US trying to ween itself off of foreign oil.

  • by V!NCENT ( 1105021 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @05:12PM (#27016977)

    The EU does what the US should have done: encourage competition and punnisch illegal actions taken by dominant companies. Period. Good riddance. I'd rather have a choice between a Windows and a Linux and a whatever PC than only to have the choice to buy "Made for Vista" crap.

    Fsck DRM. Fsck DirectInput. Fsck Direct3D. Fsck closed formats and protocols. Fsck lock-in. Fsck backdoors. Fsck x86 dominance (where's my 200 dollar/euro 64 threads CPU with a 1000% performance increase, huh?). Etc...

  • by lucas_picador ( 862520 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @05:34PM (#27017223)

    So maybe soon we'll have "100% Open Source" (as supported by Mr Stallman) vs the new "Open Source" with proprietary lock-ware in it.

    As you point out, this was exactly Stallman's main beef with "open source": once you start talking about "openness" instead of "freedom", you open yourself up to all kinds of redefinitions and goalpost-moving. If I hold the standard at one that preserves "freedom", then all the Microsoft-style "open code" nonsense is quickly revealed as the trap that it is.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter