Open source supporters criticize European govts for favouring MS

By EDRi · June 3, 2009

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Deutsch: [Open Source-Verfechter kritisieren Europäische Regierungen für die Bevorzugung von MS |]
Macedonian: [Поборниците за слободен софтвер ги.. |]

Recent governmental plans in several European countries to buy proprietary
software for public administration or education have caused concerns over
the methods used and the lack of public discussion over the decisions.

18 open source companies (including Red Hat) have challenged successfully in
the Federal court a three-year contract between the Swiss Federal Bureau for
Building and Logistics (BBL) and Microsoft for the provisions of Windows
desktops and applications, including support and maintenance. The total
value of the contract was estimated at about 27.8 million euro.

The preliminary ruling of the Federal court from 28 May 2009 was based on
the fact that the BBL disregarded the procurement rules and did not issue a
call for tender. A future final positive decision of the court could mean
that the contract will be canceled and a public auction call needs to be

Just a few days before the court decision, another similar case was raised
by the Swiss open source advocacy group ch/open. They have presented the
situation in the Bern canton, where a 18 million euro contract was
attributed directly for Microsoft software licences, without a public

Ch/open criticized the lack of transparency of the deal and explained the
current action: “Without any public process, contracts are awarded to a
proprietary software vendor. This makes public administration increasingly
dependent on Microsoft, giving it again no other option in eight years

This deal will be debated in the canton’s Parliament by the parliamentary
group on digital sustainability that has the main scope to increase the use
of open source by Swiss public bodies.

Another government-related project that created rumors was the Spain
government decision to install Microsoft software on the 420 000 laptops for
students. After the Spanish Socialist Party supported the idea that laptops
should be equipped with Open Source software, the Microsoft’s chaiman Bill
Gates and Spain’s Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero met on 26 May
2009 to decide on the new software for this project.

The project was criticized even earlier this year by open source
organisations such as Hispalinux that pointed out that there was no public
tender on this topic.

Similarly, in a different corner of Europe, the Romanian Government has
announced that it has mandated the Ministry of Communications to buy
Microsoft licences of 100 million euros for the Ministries and
Governmental Agencies in the period 2009-2012. Although the government
press release talks about obtaining these licences through a possible
auction, there is a clear-cut signal on who will be the winner.

“The Romanian Government seems out of touch with reality” has been the harsh
comment by Lucian Savluc, the organizer of the third national open source
conference eLiberatica that took place in Bucharest in the second part of
May 2009.

Georg Greve, the president of Free Software Foundation Europe and a speaker
at the same event, commented on the situation:
“Microsoft’s deals in new EU member states have raised concerns over
corruption before, e.g. in Bulgaria. But while Microsoft seems to raise such
questions more often than others, it should be noted that the problem of
illegal procurement is larger and not limited to Microsoft. Nor is the
problem limited to the new EU member states, as the recent irregularities
and resulting antitrust complaint filed in Switzerland demonstrate. (…)
It seems ironic that the European Commission has to fine Microsoft
repeatedly over sustained monopoly abuse, then transfers part of that money
to Romania, which enjoyed the highest level of financial support ever
granted to a candidate country in the history of the European Union, and the
Romanian government then decides to return part of that money to Microsoft
with close to no tangible benefit for Romania.”

CH: Court scraps federal no-bid software licence deal (28.05.2009)

CH: Protests over no-bid software contract in Bern (28.05.2009)

Bill Gates, pleased with the announcement of Zapatero of giving laptops to
students (only in Spanish, 26.05.2009)

Hispalinux censorship financial costs and technological dependence of the
“solution” for Microsoft Education (only in Spanish, 27.04.2009)

ES: Gates and Zapatero weigh in on debate over school laptops (29.05.2009)

My official position – The Romanian government is about to spend millions of
euro on proprietary software (27.05.2009)

Minister of Communications – mandated to pay 100 million euro for Microsoft
licences (only in Romanian, 1.06.2009)