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The Independent (UK): Now it's France vs Bill Gates

Jul 17, 2000, 07:18 (15 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eva Pascoe)

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"In a radical move, France is close to passing a law that will make open-source code obligatory for applications used by all of its government computer systems. Since the French government spans numerous industries from telecoms to utilities, railways, publishing and health, it means that there is not very much going on in the country that is not related at some level to government-regulated software purchasing. If the new law is passed and government agencies are required to use only free, open-source software, that means game, set and match for Linux, while Microsoft can pretty much pack up and go home."

"A new body will be set up in the baguette country to oversee compliance with the open-source law. This body will mean business: when the French set up a compliance committee they really mean it. They will typically put serious big cheeses on such a committee, and give them teeth, along with enough money to make a difference. It's a way of working that comes naturally to the French - bureaucracy is after all a French word, and they have always claimed mastery of the domain."

"All in all, the move promises quite an upheaval, and will lend a surprise helping hand to the US Attorney-General, Janet Reno, in her fight against Microsoft. I suspect that in her deepest dreams she had not hoped for help from such an unlikely source, as the French do not in general see the US government as anything even remotely worth supporting. In this context, the sudden turnaround by the French has raised a number of questions on both sides of the Atlantic."

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