October 10, 2007 9:11 AM PDT

Lawmaker blasts U.K. government on Microsoft policy

A member of Parliament of the United Kingdom has launched a stinging attack on the U.K. government's IT strategy, saying that it has given Microsoft too much control.

John Pugh, who is a member of Parliament, or MP, for Southport and a member of the Public Accounts Committee, was speaking in an adjournment debate on Tuesday that he had called. The aim of the debate, he said, was to explore the alternatives to using Microsoft software, including open source.

The current U.K. government strategy has left too much in the hands of Microsoft, Pugh argued, and he accused the company of "predatory pricing and stultifying competition."

He said that the U.K. government's policy "is, in part, in breach of European Union regulations" on competition.

The government's strategy hits the poorest hardest, Pugh said. "Why should people on benefits have to use Vista when it costs hundreds of pounds and there are cheaper open-source solutions available?" he asked. "Why should people have to use Vista rather than Apple, for that matter?"

Furthermore, the U.K. government has ceded control to Microsoft, Pugh said, pointing to Connecting for Health, a government health program as an example. "I am happy for Connecting for Health to go to a company like Microsoft," he said. "I am less happy when the details are subject to a confidentiality agreement."

Speaking for the U.K. government, Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey, said that the government's strategy on IT was not governed by a desire to choose any particular vendor, but by the "need to get value and the best possible deal."

Eagle said that there were many benefits of open-source software but, in the end, it was the price to the taxpayer that mattered. "I agree that open-source platforms can help open competition and that we want a free marketplace," she said. "We are using open source in many areas, and we do realize there are benefits."

But while open source can appear to be cheap, there are extra costs in training and support that mean it may not always be the cheapest solution, Eagle said.

Pugh is a frequent critic of the U.K. government's IT strategy. In November 2006, Pugh called for a "level playing-field in software," arguing that the government was favoring Microsoft above other companies.

Colin Barker of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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25 comments

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Training is the Dodge Most Often Used
It's a line straight from the Microsoft FUD Playbook. Training is
almost always the biggest one used in persuading someone not
to consider an alternative to an MS product, citing it as the de
facto standard.

It also assumes that absolutely everyone on the planet has the
same level of familiarity with Windows and Office and will
require no additional training on those to be productive.

Not so. Training usually ranks low on the totem pole in any
organization. It usually is referred to in disparaging fashion and
is considered a huge pain?primarily because it's often
implemented poorly.

Training is the easiest thing in the world to do. But wait, you
argue, no one wants to do it and they never really take anything
away from it.

Wrong. If you have people who a) don't want to learn, or b) are
incapable of learning (sometimes referred to as MBAs or
supervisors) then you have hired incorrectly.

For the most part, the average employee WANTS to learn new
and different things, especially if they perceive it will make them
more informed and productive.
Posted by ppgreat (1128 comments )
Reply Link Flag
With....
... all due respect to "Mr. John Pugh, who is a member of Parliament, or MP, for Southport and a member of the Public Accounts Committee..." Whose fault is it that the "U.K. government" rely on Microsoft for the stated levels of computing technologies; also, what has happened to all the folks who lived in the UK and was involved in computing technologies to aid in the defense of the UK while it was under Hitler's blitz... have they all died of natural death or were they all been killed under suspicious circumstances so much so that companies in the UK cannot come up with their own computing technologies. It is any wonder as to why England and France did not get their Economics 101 correctly with regards to the financial and economic viability of the operations of the Anglo-French CONCORDE!

Just Hurry On Up With Those International Organisation for Standards (ISO) "Sheffield Class" Office Suite Standards - Microsoft. Wow!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Keep on trucking Mr Pugh
Congratulations on Pugh's work. Don't let the monopolists get
away with it.
Posted by Newspeak finder (79 comments )
Link Flag
Sure just ignore history
ignore Charles Babbage and Ada Augusta Lovelace.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.maxmon.com/1830ad.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.maxmon.com/1830ad.htm</a>

"As was previously noted, the first device that might be considered to be a computer in the modern sense of the word was conceived by the eccentric British mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage."

"Working with Babbage was Augusta Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the English poet Lord Byron. Ada, who was a splendid mathematician and one of the few people who fully understood Babbage's vision, created a program for the Analytical Engine."

While the Analytical Engine did not work, it laid the foundation for others to copy and reproduce the results of what could be the start of the modern computer age. Ada developed the binary system and punch cards, but Charles kept tinkering with the Engine.

All of this before IBM was even founded, but yes IBM stood on the shoulders of giants and became a giant later. After all, they did copy Babbage's and Lovelace's work and called it their own. That sounds so much like another company that starts with an M and ends in a icrosoft.

Nevermind that OS/2 Presentation Manager copied the Macintosh look and feel for its GUI. Just business as usual for IBM. NIH! Not Invented Here! But they'll gladly take credit for it.

Nevermind that IBM buried the Sinclair, BBC Acorn, and other systems that the UK made later, which IBM stole from to create their IBM PC, because IBM didn't know how to make Microcomputers like the UK companies did? IBM also stole from Commodore, Atari, Radio Shack, and the entire CP/M line of systems that came from the USA before the PC was even designed. IBM buried them all.
Posted by Troll Hard (182 comments )
Link Flag
Free to choose right now
Legislators across the globe are free to make the choices urged by the MEP without added law or legislative "fixes".

But they don't. Why - because the value proposition remains immensely skewed, and fairly at that, toward MSoft and its line of products/services. Millions of free will choices get made each day which reinforce this fact.

Build a better "mousetrap", and the masses will come.
Posted by mwendy (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not always the case!
"Build a better "mousetrap", and the masses will come". If the company that builds the "mousetrap" did not do homework properly with regards to the financial and economic operations of that that company then the "mousetraps" (CONCORDE, ROLLS-ROYCE...) get "mothballed". Got to have those "computing technologies" that make plenty of sense in your day to day business operations!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
$300-600/hr IBM/Oracle/Sun linux consulting fees are not that high
Come on. Give IBM a "break". Their $300-600/hr x team of 8-10 at a time is not too high for running a "free" linux system. Stop hiring cheaper Microsoft labor pool to run easier to run Microsoft tested solutions :-) and follow the lead of a lawmaker dying to take hard earned customer based decisions away from Microsoft and give it to Sun or IBM now :-)!
Posted by trueseek1 (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
force?
I wish the article would elaborate on Pugh's statements about forcing people to use Microsoft and not letting them use apple. As far as I know it is not against the law to not own a computer much less not onw particular software.
Posted by tgrenier (256 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is not just the UK.
The problem is not just the UK. Microsoft has been allowed to violate consumer laws, anti trust laws and has had way too much say so in American politics. Until the equal time rule is restored, companies that have big pockets will always be able to sway politicions both here and in the UK. Any dirty politician can slander any honest politician, and unless the honest man takes dirty money as well, he cannot even defend his reputation in the media.
Posted by as901 (105 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What...
... politics have got to do with sound decision-making by the Flight Line Engineering workers who ensure passenger safety... just as the financial analysts should be concerned with the generation of accurate economic projections while utilizing the best-of-breed computing tools available. Hey "as901" What ya wannna do - fly on that plane which parts were gotten from an uncertified manufacturer down the street and put in place by untrained and uncertified technicians or recommend (like that learned British MP) those off-the-shelf Apple computer products (or 360 and counting Linux distros) for those financial analysts around the world to focus on the tasks in front of them? Have ya ever heard of an institution called the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)! So, once again - What politics have to do with "technical competence" and "sound judgement" values!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
Hey "as901"!
"Microsoft has been allowed to violate consumer laws...". Are "consumers" and "competitors" the same; and, do the same laws apply to them!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
 

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