The Register: MS ‘Software Choice’ Scheme a Clever Fraud

“Microsoft is worried about Peruvian Congressman Edgar
Villanueva’s proposal for his nation’s government agencies to
standardize on Free Software for their own internal use. But
Villanueva makes an important point: everybody has to deal with the
government. If a government uses proprietary software, its citizens
will probably have to use the same software to communicate with it.
A government web site that only supports Internet Explorer would
lock citizens into that Microsoft product. In contrast, a
government site using open standards and avoiding patented software
would allow citizens to choose between many different kinds of
software to access the site. Free Software, also called Open
Source, is itself a kind of open standard – its source code is its
own reference. Developers of proprietary software can use that
reference to create interoperating programs, without infringing on
the actual Open Source code. Thus, when a government uses Open
Source, it assures its citizens a choice to purchase both
proprietary and Open Source software for communicating with their
government. The people’s choice will be based on factors like
functionality, quality, and convenience, rather than on customer

“Villanueva also wants the government and people of Peru to have
a software infrastructure that they can afford – to pull themselves
out of poverty and bootstrap an e-commerce economy. Free Software’s
low total-cost-of-ownership is attractive to them, and the ability
for Peruvians to support Free Software themselves, because they
have source code and the right to redistribute it, means economic
independence. This could provide them with the foundation for many
e-commerce-enabled businesses based on the labor of the Peruvian
people and the natural resources of their nation. But there’s one
sort of business that Free Software won’t facilitate in
Peru–lock-in of customers to a proprietary software


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