"Government lock-in by Microsoft is alarming"

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"Government lock-in by Microsoft is alarming"

Postby henke54 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 1:08 pm

Adrian Offerman at Joinup on April 14, 2017 wrote:Investigative journalists: "Government lock-in by Microsoft is alarming"

IT infrastructures at government administrations all over Europe are largely based on proprietary, closed software from Microsoft. With digital systems constantly growing in size as well as importance, countries are becoming increasingly dependent on this single American corporation. Investigate Europe, an international group of journalists, has investigated the current situation and the consequences of this vendor lock-in. The results, they say, are alarming.

For this research project, journalists from Investigate Europe interviewed economists, computer scientists, IT managers, security experts and politicians from twelve European countries, as well as the European Commission and the European Parliament. They conclude that the dependence on Microsoft:

causes costs to rise continuously, and blocks technical progress in government organisations;
systematically undermines European procurement and competition laws;
gives Microsoft overwhelming political influence, culminating in personal interdependence as well as penetration of schools and universities; and
puts government IT systems, together with their citizens' personal information, at high risk both technologically and politically.

A digital colony

In an article in the newspaper Tagesspiegel, one of the investigative journalists addresses several severe problems:

current and former Microsoft lobbyists, managers and consultants are working directly in government ministries at both technical and political levels;
at all government levels, EU tender law is often broken to buy proprietary licences; and
this vendor deliberately creates a monoculture in the use and teaching of computer software at schools and universities.

Some of the researchers interviewed are quoted as saying: "The European states are in danger of losing control of their own infrastructures, and they need to invest heavily in migrating to an independent IT architecture." "The use of Microsoft products in government organisations is no longer compatible with the constitutional state; we must change this, or we will degrade Europe into a digital colony."

For a solution, Europe should organise its own software industry based on open source, the researchers say. According to the investigation team, China with its "de-Windows-ing" and open-source strategy can show us the way.

Statt auf Open-Source-Software setzen Verwaltungen auf den Quasi-Monopolisten Microsoft. Die wirtschaftlichen Folgen haben unabhängige Journalisten untersucht. watson hat in der Schweiz nachgehakt.
:roll: :roll:
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Re: "Government lock-in by Microsoft is alarming"

Postby henke54 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:04 pm

Mark Ballard at computerweekly.com on 28 August 2012 wrote:How Europe did 20 years of backroom deals with Microsoft - 2003: Turn on, lock-in, clean out

Europe admitted it had developed an unhealthy dependency on Microsoft in 2003, ten years after it first installed Microsoft software on its computers. It vowed to do something about it. But it couldn’t kick the habit.

This is no surprise when you look at the way the European Commission said in 2003 it would break free from Microsoft: we can reduce our dependence on Microsoft software, it said, by buying more Microsoft software.

This trippy reasoning was what European Commission’s Directorate-General for Informatics (Digit) used in 2003 to justify doing yet another backroom deal with Microsoft, reveal documents disclosed to Computer Weekly.

The “purpose of the operation” was, said Digit, “The need to mitigate the [European Institutions’] dependence оn Microsoft software products”.

European administrations, led by the Commission, had been buying Microsoft software without an open competition for a decade, in contracts known as negotiated procedures: deals done without informing tax payers and Microsoft competitors. It could only do such backroom deals with good justification.

Digit used one other ludicrous claim to justify the 2003 deal. It would promote the use of open source software in the European administrations, it said. In other words, buying Microsoft products in secret, without any competitive tendering, would promote the use of competing open source software.

Specifically, it said, the Microsoft deal would: “Prepare the ground for a scenario in which other technical solutions – particularly those based on Open Source Software (OSS) – may emerge as viable alternatives, not least because the Commission is actively promoting the use of OSS-based solutions in several policy areas,” said the Evaluation Report in which Digit justified the fourth Microsoft deal on 8 December 2003.

It was absurd, junkie logic. And Digit, its official papers addled by its dependence on Microsoft, was making the same hopeless claims of reform: it would kick the habit if it could just get one more fix.

Closed minds

Digit’s anticipation of open source alternatives echoed the caveats it made when it first moved its IT to Microsoft in 1992. It was done then in anticipation of the creation of open standards of software communication, which would prevent it becoming locked-in to Microsoft software using Microsoft standards.

The 2003 ambition was shown to be as fruitless as the 1992 ambition when nearly 10 years later again, on 21 October 2011, the Commission’s Information Resources Managers for Infrastructure decided to upgrade to a Microsoft suite based on Windows 7 and Office 2010.

EU law permitted these backroom deals, but they were only permitted for three years. Digit in 2003 signed its fourth successive backroom deal with Microsoft since 1993. It would refresh Microsoft software infrastructure for 31,400 PCs and 850 servers, helping cement Microsoft’s monopoly by endorsing it with the weakest of justifications.

There had in 2003 been a clamour for public administrations to consider open source software as an alternative to the Microsoft monopoly. Let aside that Digit claimed open source software was not mature enough to be taken seriously. Not only were national administrations demonstrating it was, but open source was not the only alternative to Microsoft. The appearance of open source in Digit’s justifications for doing more backroom deals with Microsoft implied the only real choice was Microsoft or nothing: we’ve looked at this open source thing that people are talking about, but its not what its cracked up to be – hence we’ve got no choice but to do another backroom deal with Microsoft.

It gave the suggestion that Digit was taking software competition seriously. But it betrayed how Digit either did not understand or did not care that the conditions for competition in business were not enough to ensure competition in software. Software platforms had to be kept open just like EU rules said markets have to be kept open. But EU procurement rules didn’t say Digit had to use open standards, only open procurement procedures. If the European Commission really wanted a competitive software market, it would have at least to back open standards as it said it did in 1992.

Open wallets

Digit instead became so complacent about its Microsoft deals that it didn’t even bother opening backroom negotiations for its 2003 deal until four months before the last contract expired. When it did start talking to Microsoft it learned that Microsoft had changed the rules. It had changed its licence terms to lock customers in to a strict upgrade cycle, and to ensure its sales were more consistent.

This was perhaps the monopolist’s prerogative. There was no evidence that Digit had really factored such disadvantages into its deliberations. Its negotiations over its renewal of Microsoft’s contract dragged on unexpectedly because the new terms were so unfavourable. The new terms would make the EC pay in advance for future upgrades, making decisions like whether to adopt Windows 7 a done deal.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqJrBusLzww
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Re: "Government lock-in by Microsoft is alarming"

Postby henke54 » Wed May 03, 2017 1:14 pm

computerweekly.com on May 2017 wrote:Locked in by choice: How European governments are handling their Microsoft addiction ;
If open source software becomes the norm across government organisations, every innovation could be used automatically by other municipalities without incurring additional costs.
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Re: "Government lock-in by Microsoft is alarming"

Postby henke54 » Fri May 19, 2017 2:11 pm

Már Másson Maack at thenextweb.com wrote:It’s estimated that Microsoft makes around two billion euros in Europe every year, just from its business with the public sector. In 2012 the European Commission released a report that stated that 1.1 billion euros were unnecessarily lost by the European public sector due to being locked-in in business with IT system providers.
................................................
Gendarmerie Nationale (GN), one of two national police forces in France, started moving to open source in 2001 in order to save money. GN has already gone completely open source and now the department’s 72,000 computers run on individually adapted Linux OS (some on GendBuntu) and have LibreOffice as the main application. According to the police force’s officials, the move has already saved around 20 million euros.

What’s perhaps most interesting about GN’s forward-thinking plan is that it was done in secret. According to an internal memo that IE obtained, GN officials were worried that changing to Linux could be seen as a threat to Microsoft’s monopoly — which could lead to certain parties trying to undermine GN’s policy. Therefore it was decided to carry out the switch in secrecy and only reveal it once the changes would be irreversible.

It seems that GN’s policy makers were correct in assuming there would be backlash, because even though the change has been completed and proven to be successful, there’s still great pressure on the police force to revert back to Microsoft.

GN is a branch of the French Armed Forces and reports to the Ministry of Interior. IE gained access to an internal note from the ministry, dated April 14 2016, asking GN to change back to Windows 10. The reason the ministry gave was that it would guard the agency against security flaws in open source that hackers could exploit.

The note was not a one-off thing, as the leadership of GN is under permanent pressure to turn back to Microsoft. GN hasn’t responded to the ministry’s request to change to Windows 10 and deny commenting on the memo. However, they’ve pointed out that switching to open source has made the police force “more cost-efficient and ultimately independent”.



Kat Hall at theregister.co.uk on 11 Apr 2017 wrote:Exclusive The UK government has inked a deal with Microsoft to prevent Whitehall from paying an extra £15m in licence fees due to a post-Brexit price hike.

After the referendum, Microsoft said it would increase on-premise licensing by 13 per cent and cloud licensing and services by 22 per cent. It blamed "sustained currency changes" which led to a "price misalignment" of the pound.

As of last year, Microsoft is reported to have around £400m in public sector licences.

The government already had a pricing deal in place with Microsoft until June 2017, under a Memorandum of Understanding. However, sources say a deal has been agreed with the Cabinet Office's Common Technology Services to extend that agreement by another year.


fsf.org wrote:
- Windows' 10's privacy policy asserts the privilege to sell almost any information it wants about users, even creating a unique advertising ID for each user to sweeten the deal.

- Microsoft announced that, starting with Windows 10, it will begin forcing lower-paying users to test less-secure new updates before giving higher-paying users the option of whether or not to adopt them.

- Microsoft is reported to give the NSA special security tip-offs that it could use to crack into Windows computers.


Microsoft uses draconian law to put Windows, the world's most-used operating system, completely outside the control of its users. Neither Windows users nor independent experts can view the system's source code, make modifications or fixes, or copy the system. This puts Microsoft in a dominant position over its customers, which it takes advantage of to treat them as a product.

By contrast, free software like the GNU/Linux operating system is developed by professional and volunteer communities working transparently, freely sharing their work with each other and the world. Users have meaningful influence over the software development process and complete choice over what code they run. This means the software usually treats them with respect. Even if a free software developer took a page from Microsoft's book and began abusing its users, it would have no way to keep them locked in -- when this happens, independent experts copy the source code, remove the offending bits and help people switch to the user-respecting version.

:twisted:
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Re: "Government lock-in by Microsoft is alarming"

Postby henke54 » Mon May 22, 2017 6:00 pm

Gijs Hillenius at JOINUP on May 22, 2017 wrote:
Swedish policy makers want end to IT vendor lock-in

Swedish public administrations have to get rid of IT vendor lock-in, members of parliament and key government representatives agreed at a meeting last week. Public administrations must gain the expertise to deal with lock-in and the government should do more to promote open IT standards, they said.

The meeting at the Swedish parliament was organised by Members of Parliament Monica Green, Fredrik Christensson, and Björn Lundell, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Skövde.

Lundell, a specialist in open standards, presented the research carried out for the Swedish Competition Authority, which includes seven strategies for sustainable digitisation.
“The event involved representatives from many different authorities”, MP Green told OSOR, “and we all share the view that it must be easier to get rid of IT vendor lock-in.” Speaking to Skövde’s local newspaper Skaraborg Läns Tidning, MP Green said that public administrations must demand open standards when procuring IT solutions.

“Local, national and European politicians need to take the lead on open source and open data”, MP Fredrik Christensson told OSOR.

Lundell said that attendees expressed frustration over the lack of government leadership. “For public administrations, lock-in is a real problem. The organisations should improve their own skills on how to deal with it, but government policies would help”, he said.

Alexander Wall, special adviser on Digital Government at the Ministry of Finance, told OSOR that open standards were essential to guarantee access to government data preserved in digital archives. “In Sweden the National Government Service Centre has been commissioned to provide a digital archive service to the public sector. Open standards are to be promoted in providing this service.”

Government IT procurement specialist Daniel Melin said that the public sector should realise that it is not just a victim, but part of the problem. “Public administrations create a lot of documents, and it is really bad if these are locked-in to one specific software solution.”
More information:

Problems with closed standards for IT procurement - report for Swedish Competition Authority (in Swedish)
KIVOS news item (in Swedish)
Press release by the University of Skovde (in Swedish)
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Re: "Government lock-in by Microsoft is alarming"

Postby henke54 » Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:44 pm

Amit Chowdhry at forbes.com on May 15, 2017 wrote:As you may remember from last week, the Windows 10 S operating system will only allow apps downloaded from the Windows Store to run. This means that the Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers cannot be used on Windows 10 S.


Simon Sharwood at theregister.co.uk on 29 May 2017 wrote:Microsoft's Azure Portal has become hostile to some clients, especially the Firefox browser.
The issue emerged at around 0900 GMT on Monday and meant that Firefox-wielding Azure users who wanted to manage their cloudy stuff with their preferred browser couldn't do so.
..................................................
There's no evidence this is anything other than a cock-up: Satya Nadella's Microsoft has almost completely lost interest in petty swings at rivals.

:twisted:
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Re: "Government lock-in by Microsoft is alarming"

Postby henke54 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:45 pm

Nicole Perlroth at nytimes.com on july 6, 2017 wrote:
Hackers Are Targeting Nuclear Facilities, Homeland Security Dept. and F.B.I. Say
..................
The fake résumés were Microsoft Word documents that were laced with malicious code. Once the recipients clicked on those documents, attackers could steal their credentials and proceed to other machines on a network..............

:roll:
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