Microsoft tells UK govt – moving to Open Source will cause dissatisfaction

The UK government is all set to move away from vendor-locked proprietary to Open Source, Open standard solutions. Microsoft is, obviously, scared and is trying to spread incorrect and misleading information about Open Source/vendor-free technologies.

In a blog post the company ‘warns UK citizens and businesses, “You may not be aware, but the UK government is currently in the process of making important selections about which open standards to mandate the use of in future. These decisions WILL likely impact you; either as a citizen of the UK, a UK business or as a company doing or wanting to do business with government.”

Moving to Open Standard will definitely have an impact on people

Yes, there is no doubt Microsoft it is going to have an impact on people and that is going to be a positive impact. The move to Open Source and Open Standard technologies will ensure that UK citizens and businesses won’t be held hostage to one company. It would mean that instead of locked into Microsoft solutions, citizens and businesses will be able to use ‘standard’ based solutions which can be provided by any competent player.

The MS blog further adds, “An important current proposal relates to sharing and collaborating with government documents. The government proposes to mandate Open Document format (ODF) and exclude the most widely supported and used open standard for document formats, Open XML (OOXML). We believe this will cause problems for citizens and businesses who use office suites which don’t support ODF, including many people who do not use a recent version of Microsoft Office or, for example, Pages on iOS and even Google Docs.”

Not really, as soon as ODF becomes the mandatory standards companies like Apple and Google (it’s really disturbing to see Google’s extremely poor support ODF) will immediately start supporting ODF.

Microsoft’s OOXML is just a smoke screen

The the company starts talking about its controversial OOXML. “Microsoft Office has supported ODF since 2007, but adoption of OOXML has been more widespread amongst other products than ODF. This move has the potential to impact businesses selling to government, who may be forced to comply. It also sets a worrying precedent because government is, in effect, refusing to support another internationally recognized open standard and may do so for other similar popular standards in the future, potentially impacting anyone who wishes to sell to Government.”

The market is not adopting ODF for the very reason that Microsoft is NOT letting ODF adoption – this blog post is an example of it. Funny that first Microsoft will do everything to block adoption of ODF and then use is as an argument that ODF is not very well supported.

As far as OOXML is concerned, Microsoft bribed, played nasty tricks and bought votes to get their OOXML approved as an ISO standard. There was already an document standard approved so what was the point of having two standards? The whole point of standard is there should be one Standard which everyone can follow. Ironically Microsoft doesn’t fully support ODF and it doesn’t supports it’s own controversially approved OOXML format. It’s a mess to work with Microsoft formats with 3rd party solutions and you are locked into buying Microsoft products to use that format. Whereas with ODF – it’s open standard and Open Source – which not only just works but people and companies can save millions by using Open Source (and free of cost) solutions like LibreOffice.

Moving to open standard will cut cost, Microsoft!

Then comes the FUD, “We believe very strongly that the current proposal is likely to increase costs, cause dissatisfaction amongst citizens and businesses, add complexity to the process of dealing with government and negatively impact some suppliers to government.”

The cost Microsoft is talking about is unfounded. There are so many case-studies (most recent one being those of Munich government and French Police where they saved millions of dollars by moving out of Microsoft’s vendor lock). There are so many other examples where companies and governments are saving millions of dollars by moving away from Microsoft technologies and adoption Open Source and Open Standard technologies.

The complexity that Microsoft is talking about is ‘created’ by Microsoft and the more we continue to use Microsoft products, the more things will continue to get complicated. Microsoft would love to make it even more complicated and harder for people to migrate to Open Standard and Open Source technologies so they stay locked into Microsoft products and every time someone wants to move away Microsoft can posts such blogs warning them of complications.

The best solution is to get out of Microsoft ecosystem as soon as possible.

About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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