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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 Pricetx (1986510) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:35PM (#35352160)
    I'm personally full supporting a move away from proprietary software in government, it can only be a move for the good.
    • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:54PM (#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.

      • by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:15PM (#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 gandhi_2 (1108023) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:39PM (#35352734) Homepage

          In my experience, no one trains anyone on shit, which may be your point.

          New computer, new OS, new office suite. It looks different? Tough shit, get back to work. Whether it was XP to Vista or 7. Or from Office03 to Office07 or Office2010... It may as well be OpenOffice, the same grumbling about menu items and behaviors that gradually subsides as people get back to work.

          Hell, I deployed a bunch of ubuntu boxes in elementary schools for student use and purposely didn't tell anyone anything more than the logins just to see what would happen. They just figured it out, teachers and students alike. Not like they are doing VBA programming or something.

          The "training" thing is a red herring MOST of the time.

          • by tsm_sf (545316)

            The "training" thing is a red herring MOST of the time.

            Now we may never receive HTML email with fancy borders.

          • In my experience, no one trains anyone on shit, which may be your point.

            Whether of not there is an official training course, there are still training costs associated with any change in the UI - you lose productivity while those staff are "training themselves". Of course, this applies whether you move to a new version of MS Office with a fundamentally different UI, or to Open Office.

          • by gbjbaanb (229885)

            for you and me maybe, but for the likes of Doris, Sharon and Kylie in the administration call centre its a completely different story.

            Ever wonder why companies are still running XP? This is the reason - training all thouse thousands of staff is a big deal.

            After all, if training was something that no-one did, the training companies would all be out of business by now, wouldn't they.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          This is about open STANDARDS, not open software. The whole point is that by using open standards you can actually CHOOSE the best software for the circumstances, instead of being locked to one product.

          What do you do when the development of a proprietary product stagnates and all your data is in non-open proprietary format? You pay whatever the vendor asks for, and hope for a miracle. At least with open standards you have the choice to do something about it.

        • by morgauxo (974071)
          When I saw how much 2007 was laid out different from everything that came before it I hoped there would be a switch to OO, which actually IS more like what a 2003 user would be used to. But it didn't happen. They just made the switch to 2007. And yet, the switch to OO would be too much trouble?
      • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:16PM (#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

        • by Compaqt (1758360)

          Hear, hear. Somebody mod this up.

          For all the crying and moaning about features, 90% of the people in most offices just use Word for writing dead simple letters or 2 or 3-page "strategy papers" if they can manage that.

          Back in the day, they'd hand it off to the typing pool, but now companies give everyone a computer and expect them to come up with their own documents.

          And if you're using Word for brochures, or books: Come on, people. Use a desktop publishing program (Adobe's, or at least MS Publisher), or Fram

      • retraining is inevitable with proprietary software, too, only it`s perceived as inevitable. Office07 and vista needed retraining. Changing laptop brand means a different crop of preinstalled utilities. win8 has an announced new GUI.
        Once in FOSS land, the personalization of user experience is almost never a goal.

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        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.

        That is the problem with migrating to any new software, regardless of whether it's open or proprietary.

        Unless we're really suggesting that UK government (and the rest) should never consider changing to a new software package, even a far cheaper and superior one, ever again (which I'm guessing is not what a business lobby group like the BSA wants) then that line of argument is moot.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        It can be even simpler than this. Ie, store documents in PDF format for instance instead of Word format. You can still use proprietary tools if you want to create them. It doesn't cut Adobe or Microsoft out of the picture as long as they use open and interoperable standards.

      • by ancientt (569920) * <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:28PM (#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 @10:06PM (#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.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Governments have longer time frames than industry. And certainly longer than consumers. They aren't so bad on this criteria.

      • 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.

        Not sure I fully agree, while as an office worker for a temping agency I saw a lot of different office environments and came to realise that the vast majority of Office users know only a few basic functions and a well written excel document could easily replace a few unnecessary staff (usually my own role) if only someone there knew how to use it. It really wouldn't take long to transfer those staggeringly limited skills to another very similar platform.

        I mostly read the headline as "Beer Company Allianc

      • The problem is all about training people on how to use the new software. Using OO Writer instead of Word for example

        Applause for choosing the worst possible example. You don't really believe that yourself, do you? I have been writing documents for well over 30 years, using text editors, BRIEF, WordPerfect and practically every version of Word. These days I prefer to use OpenOffice for 3 reasons:

        - it just works. It's slow to start, but it keeps working.

        - it can handle corruption. I use OOo as a recover

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Fact is; the UK decision in no way hinders proprietary software (since they're all free and capable of supporting the open standards) and in no way benefits open source software (since many use non-standardized file formats). If anything, open standards level the playing field for both old and new companies.

      This basically shows the true nature of the BSA. They don't represent "business software"; they represent "a few large companies". The BSA corporation should go back to fighting copyright infringement fo

  • Logical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:38PM (#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.

    • 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.

      • by _merlin (160982)

        I don't know what you're trying to say there. From my perspective, GSM has been awesome. It meant that I could use one mobile handset in most of the world. There are standard codes for controlling network features (call waiting, forwarding, call restrictions, etc.). Roaming and swapping in a local SIM are both simple. GSM was a huge success for consumers.

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      Closed = innovation

      That's about the only one that kind of makes sense on some level, i mean it's much easier to secure funding to develop IP when that IP itself has value.

      • by markdavis (642305)

        And yet, you can build innovative products that still incorporate open standards and even open code.

        And you can build innovative closed products that run on open systems.

        And you can build profitable support and customization businesses on completely open products.

        And you can incorporate open concepts and interoperability into closed products.

        There are lots of options in today's world that can bring openness and standards into play. But one wouldn't know that listening to only what big corporations and lobb

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          And yet, you can build innovative products that still incorporate open standards and even open code.

          So what's your point?

        • That's right. There's no reason you couldn't have a hundred word processors that write ODF files. I mean, there must be thousands of text editors out there that all right ASCII or Unicode. Advanced programming IDEs are filled with tons of extra features, but they all puke out text files.

          The industry wants government to protect their proprietary business models, and, probably, the UK government will back down, because a) politicians by and large are fucking retards and b) are easily bought off by the indu

      • But ogg theora, a clean room implementation of a video codec, is just 10-20% less efficient than the closed h264. Are we sure that the barriers erected with excessive IP protection (silly patents) are worth the differential in innovation?
        Internet explorer was good when fighting netscape, frozen when dominant, better adhering to standards when competition started defeating it...

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          But ogg theora, a clean room implementation of a video codec, is just 10-20% less efficient than the closed h264. Are we sure that the barriers erected with excessive IP protection (silly patents) are worth the differential in innovation?

          I don't know, in terms of time-to-market i would say probably yes. The main problem as i see it is that technological patents seem to have too long of a life.

      • That's about the only one that kind of makes sense on some level, i mean it's much easier to secure funding to develop IP when that IP itself has value.

        Your implicit assumption is that open source software has no value. Which is, of course, false.

        Plus, it's easier to create something better than what exists when you don't have to start from scratch, e.g. LibreOffice from OpenOffice, Firefox from Netscape, Chromium from WebKit, all the various BSDs from the original Berkeley version, all the various Linux distributions plus Android from the underlying platform, etc.

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          Your implicit assumption is that open source software has no value. Which is, of course, false.

          Wrong, that's not at all what i implied, in fact i didn't mention open source software in there implicitly or explicitly. Go back and read what i wrote since it's obvious you have derived something that clearly is not there.

          Plus, it's easier to create something better than what exists when you don't have to start from scratch

          Of course, i didn't say nor imply that it wasn't.

    • They are simply very good at implementing the open standard "ISO-1984: Newspeak terminology".
    • Re:Logical (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:59PM (#35352382) Homepage

      It's really very simple. Any lobbyist for a business or industry has one message for their politician targets: "We want more money, and we'll make it worth your while to give us more money."

      Any other message coming from lobbyists or corporate spokespeople is basically nonsense used to create a false explanation for the politician's actions which just so happen to benefit the lobbyist's industries.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        It's really very simple. Any lobbyist for a business or industry has one message for their politician targets: "We want more money, and we'll make it worth your while to give us more money."

        Any other message coming from lobbyists or corporate spokespeople is basically nonsense used to create a false explanation for the politician's actions which just so happen to benefit the lobbyist's industries.

        That's not true at all. There's at least one other kind of message that comes from, in particular, media companies: "Do what we want or we'll publish unfavorable things about you to media consumers in your constituency."

    • Re:Logical (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:01PM (#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 gmueckl (950314)

        If the processes involved are similar to what they are here (different country, so not sure), it is entirely possible to circumvent such guidelines by postulating requirements that only a single preferred vendor can meet. It's just the art of being specific enough. So if there is a "best tool for the job" it must have some properties that other don't and that you can simply require without alternative and even without decent explanation.

        Simple example: want to buy only nVidia GPUs for some reason? Just stat

      • The whole point of open formats is to assure the long-term access to file formats. If you allowed proprietary data formats through, the whole point of assuring the longevity of a viable file is discarded, all in the name of short-term profit.

        Any government that had the public good at heart would tell these bastards to go fuck off. If they want to do proprietary formats, they don't get to sell to the government, period.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 p

      • Pssst .... Open Standards != Open Source Software.

        Governments are obligated to hold a long term view on documents, public or internal. Think decades and centuries, not years. The means by which documents are produced is immaterial in such a long view: MSO / OOo will - if either entity survives - be very different software in 50 years than they appear now. But the documents produced by either will still need to be accessible. Portable Document Format, OASIS / Open Document - these (and their open successor

      • by richlv (778496)

        "best tool" should be evaluated by taking into account long term expenses, flexibility, fostering competition in the marketplace (we're talking about public bodies), maximising the benefit to citizens and sooooo on.

        so essentially, nothing happened to the "best tool for the job", it's just that some people have started to look at the job at hand and figured out that "moving papers around" might not be all there is.

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

        From TFS: ...mandating the use of open standards wherever possible in government IT systems.

        They leave a loophole right there. Wherever possible. I'd imagine You could demonstrate that a closed solution is far superior to an open one, and be able to use it.

    • by youngone (975102)
      You forgot the most important one Bribes = Political Donations
    • Or worse they may switch from close to open and back every few years, for the vendors` and consultants` joy.
      The argument about choice is the coolest: you want a wider choice of targets so you shoot yourself in the foot, right?

    • by srobert (4099)

      Now you're getting it: War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. Welcome to the party brother.

    • by Ltap (1572175)
      I'm not sure if this was said before, but...

      WAR IS PEACE
      FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
      IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

      Is that really so different?
  • IOW, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:39PM (#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?

    • This is the UK. In about 1960, the infamous Christine Keeler explained it all with the simple expression "They would say that, wouldn't they!" A legend.
  • Extended warranties (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:45PM (#35352256)
    Sounds a bit like extended warranties on consumer electronics. If the deal is really a benefit to you and not some money-grubbing scheme, then why do they try SOO hard to sell them to you?
    • by mjwx (966435)

      Sounds a bit like extended warranties on consumer electronics. If the deal is really a benefit to you and not some money-grubbing scheme, then why do they try SOO hard to sell them to you?

      Depends if it's first of third party.

      First party warranties, even extended warranties are worth their weight in gold, at least in Oz where it they cant give the court the run-around.

      However 3rd party warranties are only useful as very expensive toilet paper and it's not very soft or adsorbent either. Unlike a firs

  • by DaMattster (977781) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @05:52PM (#35352322)
    Ultimately, the BSA should just STFU and go away. Open Source reduces costs to the tax payer because the software plus licenses do not have to be purchased. In these economic times, it makes sense to cut costs in this way. Additionally, open source takes fewer people to support because it is generally more reliable. If Windows XP and Server families are any indication, it takes a veritable army of support personnel to keep it operational. Save money, ditch Microsoft!
    • by Yaa 101 (664725)

      While I support you in ideological sense, the problem is that politicians are not judged on how many money they can save by slicing but by how many jobs they are able to generate.
      Slicing money and jobs is not being perceived as a positive trait by the general public, also these unsafe Windows XP and Server families do generate an army of support personnel, which is seen as something positive.
      I hope you see that reality in politics is often counter intuitive to what ideological makes sense.

      b.t.w. I am a long

  • Maybe I'm a little bit in the minority here, but can you blame them?

    If you owned a company, and one of your major clients was thinking about moving to another company, would you not try everything in your power to keep them?

    • Can I blame them for blatantly lying?

      Yup.

      Can I charge them for ethics violations?

      no.. :(
    • Re:Minority? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PPH (736903) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:26PM (#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.

    • But they don't try everything in their power. They don't try to make their product the best possible thing for the consumer at the most appropriate price. If they did, very few people would have ever considered to choose the FOSS path. They tried with FUD and who knows what other deals, instead.

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Because actually competing is far less profitable, they would need to invest a lot of money into updating (their codebase is years old and probably very difficult to maintain), take big hits on pricing...
        Meanwhile, open source competitors would still be improving at a gradual pace, and sooner or later will reach "good enough" status if not feature parity, at which point it all comes down to price and you cannot compete with free.

        Don't underestimate the power of "Good enough", when the product is much cheape

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Maybe I'm a little bit in the minority here, but can you blame them?

      On the same moral stands they use to spread FUD, I am allowed to (thus I can) blame them: it is called freedom of speech.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      its not quite like that - if your customer was thinking of leaving, you'd ask them why and try to resolve the problem they had. If their problem was that they wanted to use open standards, then you'd probably start by telling them how much better your formats were, and if that didn't work, change your software to use the desired ones or tell them they could leave.

      This is more like sending "Bonecrusher" and "Knuckles" round to tell them it wouldn't be in their best interests to change the status quo.

      Still, I

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

    by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:18PM (#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 !! )
  • by Palestrina (715471) * on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:19PM (#35352536) Homepage

    This is standard operating procedure for Microsoft. They use BSA or CompTIA to attack any open standards policy that is worthy of the name "open".

    One way to point out the absurdity of their logic is to replace the reference to standards with references to any other useful technology that a government might adopt, like electrical standards.

    For example:

    http://www.robweir.com/blog/2008/04/embrace-reality-and-logic-of-choice.html [robweir.com]

  • by Caerdwyn (829058) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:21PM (#35352550) Journal

    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.

    • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by canajin56 (660655) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:26PM (#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.
      • by Tim C (15259)

        In that case, how much has the BSA contributed to UK political parties?

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      In government FREE and open are needed so I the citizen is not forced to spend money I may not have just to interact with my government.

      You should do what is cheapest, and what is best for your country.

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

      by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:41PM (#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 exomondo (1725132)

        But, why should I have to purchase Office 2010 because my state government is now sending out informational requests in docx format?

        Is there a government doing that? I don't think any government body could mandate such a thing, there would always have to be another option.

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          Our state standardized on MS Office years ago. Now, everything comes out in docx format (used to be doc). Do they specify that you must use Office, no. But if you want to do business with the state, you must have full docx capability and that requires MS Office.

          • by exomondo (1725132)

            Our state standardized on MS Office years ago. Now, everything comes out in docx format (used to be doc). Do they specify that you must use Office, no. But if you want to do business with the state, you must have full docx capability and that requires MS Office.

            Which state?

      • by ljw1004 (764174)

        But, why should I have to purchase Office 2010 because my state government is now sending out informational requests in docx format?

        You shouldn't! If you're on Windows, then use Microsoft's free Word Viewer to view the docx file. If you're on Linux, install the addin for OpenOffice to read the docx. if you're on a Mac, use one of the many online converters from docx format.

        (The point that "no one implements docx with 100% fidelity" is irrelevant here. When your state govt sends out informational requests in docx format, they're not relying on subtleties of Word2003-style kerning vs Word2010-style kerning, or the other inadequately docum

  • Yeah, right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @06:37PM (#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?

  • Corporate C*O welfare lobbyist creating the global corporate-socialism state. Eliminate the unknowns of innovation and competition from the economy to provide a market with greater corporate-stability. May the godddds help them, not US or EU.

  • by kwolf22 (825499) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:02PM (#35352880)
    Sure Apple's consumer software is all closed up & proprietary, but come on most of OS X is Open Source & relies on open standards - that's one of the reasons that my government employer bought into Apple's enterprise offerings. Heck, even the text editor that is built into OS X supports the OpenDocument Text format (.odt).

    Considering all of the other BSA members, this seems to me like it should have been posted in a different category...
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Sure Apple's consumer software is all closed up & proprietary, but come on most of OS X is Open Source

      Outside of webkit, the BSD toolchain, bits of the kernel and a few daemons... Not really that opensource, when the applications, libraries and frameworks that make the majority of applications "work" on OS X isn't available. It's a missleading form of lock in.

      & relies on open standards

      Considering what is going on with POSIX, OpenGL, IPv6 and so on in the OS, I'd more likely say it relies on broken i

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      Apple software may be proprietary, but they are generally pretty good at implementing open standards...

      The iPhone is another good example, they let you sync your email using imap, your calendar using caldav, your contacts using ldap... Most phones support imap, but does even android support caldav/ldap?

      People should be free to choose proprietary tools, providing any point at which those tools interacts with others is based on open standards - ie choose what you want, but don't force that choice on me.

  • 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."

    The BSA inadvertently choose the right letters for Bull Shit Association. Was it on purpose or just a coincidence? You decide!

  • This actually shows [bsa.org] the hypocrisy of the Business Software Alliance who also "police" software licensing in UK businesses also.

    Surely they should be *supporting* and *publicising* Open Source software as a legal alternative to software piracy?

  • Perhaps the wording has been changed, but preferring open standards has been part of eGif [wikipedia.org] for as long as I've been aware of it (which has to be at least 6 years now).

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