FSFE On EC Foot-dragging

While the European Commission has decided to investigate use of FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software), according to the Free Software Foundation Europe,“In April, the Commission signed two contracts with Microsoft: An agreement for "high-level services" worth 44 million Euro, and a framework agreement on software licensing conditions. The actual licenses are provided by Hewlett-Packard under a separate contract from 2012, worth 50 million euro. The contracts cover the Commission itself, and 54 other EU organisations.” they have not done enough to escape lock-in by M$ and “partners”. The EC has gone as far as publicly acknowledging they are locked in and can’t find alternatives.

Lock-in is largely a matter of mindset. M$ made sure of that. They have spent almost as much effort on establishing that mindset as they have on developing their OS and applications. Quoting their “Technological Evangelism” programme: “Evangelism’s goal is to put the final nail into the competing technology’s coffin, and bury it in the burning depths of the earth. Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, “he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2.” Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time. “

Whatever effort is required to escape lock-in is worthwhile because lock-in is forever, an infinite sum of costs, hidden and explicit, restrictions on use of IT and literally fees payable for permission to operate the hardware owned by the user. Escaping lock-in is a one-time cost. As time goes on the cost of escaping lock-in is dwarfed by the cost of staying with lock-in. Simple organizations like schools get instant break-even by a sharp drop in the cost of operation or capital cost of new acquisitions. Complex organizations have to rationalize the applications that they use and replace them with FLOSS. It’s not that hard. It’s the capability/limitations of the hardware that matters, not what some application allows the users to do. FLOSS can do anything. It’s just a list of instructions for the hardware.

Want a quick recipe for escaping lock-in? Put everything but the office suite and browser on the server unless you use thin clients. Then put everything on the server… The result is that browsers and other networking will interface to all applications FLOSS or not and the client OS can be GNU/Linux. If any application denies this mode of operation, just quit using it and replace it with suitable web applications. If necessary, write your own or collaborate with others to do that. It costs less to develop an application than paying for lock-in forever.

The EC should be ashamed. They’ve done so much to spread the good word about FLOSS around the world yet they haven’t eaten their own dog-food. That’s hypocrisy. If they want others to use FLOSS, they should use it themselves.

See EC distorts market by refusing to break free from lock-in.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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One Response to FSFE On EC Foot-dragging

  1. wolfgang says:

    microsoft lock in not so important problem for eu and so on back burner. real problem lock in is gas from papa bear putin needed to heat haus and cook schnitzel.

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