Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Microsoft Patents Apple Politics

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Lobbyists Attack UK Open Standards Policy

Comments Filter:
  • by Pricetx (1986510) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:35PM (#35352160)
    I'm personally full supporting a move away from proprietary software in government, it can only be a move for the good.
  • Logical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:38PM (#35352198)

    Leave it to lobbyists to come up with their own unique and twisted logic....

    Proprietary = choice
    Openness = restricted
    Freedom = anti-competitive
    Free cost = expensive
    Closed = innovation

    I am sure the governments will do the "right" thing, and do whatever the lobbyist push on them, as has been seen time and time again.

  • IOW, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:39PM (#35352210)

    the otherwise good policy means some of the BSA's members will lose their monopolies, and opportunities to create new ones in the future.

    We can't have the public interest taking precedence over someone's profits, can we?

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:54PM (#35352340)

    It has been tried in a few South American countries, with some success and some failure.

    The problem is all about training people on how to use the new software. Using OO Writer instead of Word for example. Sure, sounds simple, the nerds can probably fgure it out without blinking, but it is all the NON-NERDS who make it a very expensive idea to test. They all have to be trained, they lose some productivity for a while, they have to learn how to do new tricks that might be application specific and the like.

    The problem with government is that they rarely want to engage in a project that has a longer return on investment than the next election date. They don't want to be the government that lost 20% productivity during a financially difficult time for the net benefit of saving the next government a bunch of cash. Sad, but true.

  • Re:Logical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:01PM (#35352400)

    Note that they didn't actually say that. You have interpreted it that way, but this is slashdot. Microsoft open sourcing windows would be met with "it's a trap!".

    They said the policy would reduce choice and hinder innovation, because it *does* place restrictions on choice. "Open only" is more restrictive than "Open or Closed, whatever works best for the task at hand".

    Ideally for all public-accessible document and interchange formats, open is clearly strongly preferred, but whatever happened to "best tool for the job"?

    Disclaimer: playing devil's advocate here but saying anything perceived to be "against" open software or supporting an "enemy" is dangerous around here.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:15PM (#35352496)

    The problem is all about training people on how to use the new software. Using OO Writer instead of Word for example. Sure, sounds simple, the nerds can probably fgure it out without blinking, but it is all the NON-NERDS who make it a very expensive idea to test. They all have to be trained, they lose some productivity for a while, they have to learn how to do new tricks that might be application specific and the like.

    How do you think the cost of cross-training from Word 2003 to OpenOffice.Org (or LibreOffice) Writer would compare to cross-training from Word 2003 to Word 2007?

  • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:16PM (#35352498)

    >The problem is all about training people on how to use the new software. Using OO Writer instead of Word for example. Sure, sounds simple, the nerds can probably fgure it out without blinking, but it is all the NON-NERDS who make it a very expensive idea to test.

    It's a freakin' word processor. That's all it is. A word processor isn't some esoteric specialized piece of software.

    If you can't figure out a random word processor and use it, you should just be given an old Underwood manual typewriter and an OCR document scanner instead (do I hear cheers for this from some people?).

    It's not rocket surgery, people. Word is not the be-all/end-all of document creation software. And the people who claim "but Writer doesn't have $ESOTERICFEATURE" don't realize (or deliberately ignore the fact) that 99 percent of people who use word processors use them as glorified typewriters with spell and grammar check and $ESOTERICFEATURE gets used *maybe* once a year, if that. (I asked people at work how often they used pivot tables, and the answer was "twice a year, maybe" and pivot tables was supposed to be /the/ defining feature of Word97)

    People today aren't any different from people 25 years ago using DOS based Word Perfect without any GUI whatsoever. We didn't have all this bitching and moaning about training when companies migrated from WP to Word. They just did it. Sure the WP users bitched, but that's because Word is (and shall always be) inferior to WP, but "training" was never an issue.

    What a bunch of crybabies the anti-OO people are.

    --
    BMO

  • Keyword speak !! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:18PM (#35352522) Homepage Journal
    Notice how keywords appear in corporations' or their lobbyists', or their lackey politicians speeches : "jobs, innovation, choice, market, consumer, economy"

    sprinkle a few keywords in roundspeak, and you can issue a corporate statement portraying you as the innovator, despite you are doing everything in your power to feudalize intellectual activity on the planet through patents and make everyone pay to you as overlords.

    gotta love roundspeak.

    it is possible to crap in the middle of your granny's living room and then defend the action as an act of choice, liberty and act of cleanliness. (because you didnt crap in the fridge, instead of crapping in the middle of living room. that could be much worse - so, see, your better off !! )
  • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:26PM (#35352606)
    Learn your terminology. An advocate is somebody who speaks in favor of something. A lobbyist is somebody who bribes politicians so they vote in favor of something.
  • Re:Minority? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:26PM (#35352608)

    Including lie?

    You assume your clients are, and always will be, uninformed. But if this isn't the case, you'll just poison the relationship and most likely lose future business that you could have had.

  • Yeah, right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:37PM (#35352722)

    The BSA said this would "inadvertently reduce choice [and] hinder innovation",

    You mean the choice for big companies to gouge others on the price of royalties? You mean like hinder the innovative ways that big companies come up with ways to gouge others on the price of royalties?

  • Re:To be fair... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:41PM (#35352752)

    Are open-source advocates somehow NOT "lobbyists"?

    Let's not pretend there's not money to be made by open source supporters. Windows admins might be replaced by Linux admins, but the money would still be spent. It's just going to someone else, and I'm not going to accept for one second that Linux admins somehow "deserve" to have a job more than Windows admins. As for licensing... just about any IT department can tell you that the license cost of a major software system is by no means the biggest cost of deploying and maintaining that software, particularly when scaled to the levels being discussed.

    I'm not saying open source is "better" or "worse"... there are completely valid philosophical arguments in both directions, as well as completely valid financial arguments. What I am saying is that the automatic knee-jerk demonizing of any and all proprietary commercial software has no place in policy-making, particularly when the money you're trying to tell people how to spend is taken by threat of force from everyone around you. You do what works best, not what feels fuzziest.

    But, why should I have to purchase Office 2010 because my state government is now sending out informational requests in docx format? I believe that is what the UK is wanting to prevent on that side of the pond. To use government services, you should not be forced to purchase commercial products. If my bank requires me to have Windows for online banking, I can chose another bank. If my government requires it, it's kind of hard to switch that.

  • by ancientt (569920) * <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @08:28PM (#35353032) Homepage Journal

    I did read the article, but I haven't read much more on the subject, still, I think there may be a misunderstanding here. If we're talking about open standards, we're not necessarily talking about training people to use different software, just different standards. You don't have to use Writer, just make sure that your people are saving their Word documents in ODT, XML, HTML or RTF. I know there is some argument over some forms of that and differing success rates, but when you move large numbers of people to an open standard, it makes the implementation tend to be better.

    We have some of this in our own office, though without the government push, which I am grateful for even if it does make my job a little harder. We are currently allowing people to submit documentation only through the primary CMS system, but supporting files include HTML, XLS and PDF because it makes it easy to expect anybody in the future to be able to access them. It has been against the grain for some people but with the flood of emails being resent because they sent the first one with a DOCX attachment, the case has gotten easier with the passing of time. Nothing makes it easier to sell "use a format everyone can use" than Microsoft Word not being able to open something somebody else created with Microsoft Word.

    I love my Linux distro's free software that I can use to do nearly anything, but I can sympathize with people who just want to keep doing the job they've been doing. It would simplify my life tremendously if Microsoft started offering an option to set the default file format to an open one, something that could come out of discussions like this.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @11:06PM (#35353912) Journal

    The problem is all about training people on how to use the new software.

    The issue is NOT cost of the software, cost or difficulty of the training, or difficulty of operation.

    The issue is whether bureaucrats, for their own convenience (or pocket-lining), can be allowed to lock up government documents and government interactions in the proprietary format of a US corporation.

    Doing so puts the government and the people, from then on, at the mercy of the corporation. The entire population is faced with the choice of paying ongoing tribute to the corporation or suffering a severe impediment and competitive disadvantage when dealing with their own government or attempting to access its records. (They call certain licensing fees "royalties" for a reason.)

    With open formats and FOSS tools there might be a learning curve and (if the corporations are to be believed) some reduced functionality or slightly increased difficulty of operation. But nobody is excluded or unnecessarily handicapped and all records stay accessible to all forever.

There's a whole WORLD in a mud puddle! -- Doug Clifford

Working...