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Lobbyists Attack UK Open Standards Policy 168

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the big-surprise-there dept.
superglaze writes "The Business Software Alliance, a lobbying organisation representing the likes of Microsoft, Adobe and Apple, has laid into the UK's recently-adopted policy of mandating the use of open standards wherever possible in government IT systems.The policy describes open standards as being "publicly available at zero or low cost" and having "intellectual property made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis" The BSA said this would "inadvertently reduce choice [and] hinder innovation", and even went so far as to claim open standards would lead to higher e-government costs, but open-source advocates say the policy reflects how much the European Interoperability Framework is weighted in favour of the proprietary software companies."
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Lobbyists Attack UK Open Standards Policy

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  • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:40PM (#35352212)

    So what happens then if a particular "open" standard is abandoned and the existing viewers for the content grow insecure?

    The same thing that happens when a proprietary standard is abandoned, except that the source code is freely available so the government can hire someone to maintain it.

  • Re:Logical (Score:5, Informative)

    by pieterh (196118) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:44PM (#35352252) Homepage

    The fight over what this goes back ages and is intensely political, given the sums of money involved. Internet, open standards. GSM, captive standards. No argument which generated more value, but which was more profitable for the people controlling the technology?

    Here is an analysis [digistan.org] of why firms like those the BSA represents want to capture computing standards, and how they do it.

  • Re:Logical (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @08:27PM (#35353422)

    but whatever happened to "best tool for the job"?

    Standards aren't tools. Standards are what tools are built upon. If the restriction was "open-sourced software only," then that would indeed be a restriction on choice. Governments would be forbidden from using Word with such a policy in place. However, the policy only requires documents adhere to an open standard. This can only result in more choice as an open standard can, by definition, be implemented by anyone. If we standardize to the .DOCX format we can only use Microsoft Word because it is the only product that can guarantee full compliance to the standard. If we standardize to the .ODF format we can still use Microsoft Word provided that they release a version of Word with .ODF support. Since that standard is open Microsoft can guarantee full compliance in their implementation. The difference, of course, is that we could also use OpenOffice, LibreOffice, or Joe Blow's Document Editor.

    Conflating "open source" and "open standard" is exactly what Microsoft and company are trying to do, but they are very different things.

  • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @09:10PM (#35353662)

    No-one uses .odt in the real world, except for perhaps a newer company who uses Open/LibreOffice and can use the format for internal documents which aren't designed to be sent to MS Office users.

    Yeah, that little upstart IBM is a nobody that exists in the fake-world.

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