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The Dutch government has pushed through a new open source and open standards policy which will leave Redmond with smoke coming out of its ears. The Netherlands economic affairs ministry said last week that parliament had approved a plan that will mandate the use of open standards and open source software government-wide. It has …

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Wither marketplace competition?

WTF is a matter with most of you that you oppose mandated open file formats? What's the downside? How can people buy software on merit when they're locked into meritless proprietary file formats? And why are so many of you obfuscating the issue with Linux and Open Source? You sound like Ballmerettes fear-mongering on the web.

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Paris Hilton

@ Webster Phreaky

"...you don't seem to understand the concept of a STANDARD and the difficulty and amount of work that goes into developing e.g. an advanced word processor"

But most office drones do NOT need an advanced word processor. Very simple word processors work just fine for the vast majority of documents generated.

On reflection, it is worth commenting that all the effort MS has put into version after version of Wurd is, as far as the customer is concerned, wasted effort because they have made no effort to maintain a stable file format. This is no accident, being a strategy devised by low-born marketing wonks to lock customers in and force upgrades.

In the long run, it's going to be format stability that counts, esp. in government where some programs last well over a century.

War pension programs are a notorious example of such longevity because young widows of aged veterans often inherit pension rights. A few veterans will receive pensions for upwards of 80 years (15 y.o. during war, death at aet. 95, say). Those who marry women 50 years younger (say) can cause the pension scheme to last considerably longer than a century, as indeed happened with both the Crimean War and the War Between the States.

It will be amusing to see so-called paperless offices trying to decipher electronic documents generated by programs that disappeared a century earlier. The steady growth in document file complexity merely aggravates a long-standing problem.

[Paris because she represents the eternal feminine.]

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Anonymous Coward

Training? What training?

The cost of user training --- irrelevant argument.

How much training in Windows and MS Office apps have most users had so far? Mostly, none. They just work it out as they go along.

I don't know Open Office: but if it requires training to write an every day letter, or prepare an every-day spreadsheet, I'd be surprised.

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@Malcolm

"There are some quirky differences, but nothing to stop deployment."

Text to Columns in Excel. That is the reason we cannot switch to any other program. Something so simple, that has been around forever, is ignored in open source. Well, there is a lame, clunky and next to useless plugin for OO that when it's not crashing or doing random formatting, it's slow as hell.

We could be happy with full Office 97 feature compatibility. But as with most open source group efforts, nobody looks at the whole picture. Like Linux, everyone is chasing the latest and greatest without finishing the base first. (and no, I'm NOT a fanboy of that POS called Windows)

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wim

@webster Phreaky

We do just fine without doing business with Cuba, and you're no different

see how long you will be doing fine without doing business with China.

FYI (for your information) China is also communist

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Linux

M$ is free isn't it

I really can't see why everybody is fussing about this. Sign an EA with Microsoft for your heavy, slow overated OS and your overpopulated office suite that has 99% more features in it that apply to less than 5% of the business community that are likely to ever need them, and get the entire Microsoft stack of software free or so the very savvy M$ sales team will tell you. (beware of deploying any of this "free" software in most cases you are already paying for it in the EA.)..

I digress paying for it or not 3 years later see what you get for your annual payments.. Nothing.. basically for the majority of pundits all you have done is paid Microsoft to fix the bugs and security holes in the software that is costing you a packet in maintaining . many large organisations have already cancelled their Enterprise agreements with Microsoft and are on the path to an alternative world with no vendor lock in, and they are finding the freedom to be less expensive, require less training, they now have competent staff that are technically savyy not application savvy. and a development team that can create applications that will abide by the standards and deliver services long after the Microsoft office suite has gone the way of OS/2 and wordpro..

The Gov'y here just wishes to evaluate alternatives has seen that vendor lockdown is not good for anybody , that M$ really isn't the way to go and that by having non standardised document formats is going to be problem in the future.

Also if you read the editorial they are not just evaluating M$ this is any vendor software , it's just that M$ are the ones whinging because they can see their cashcow bleeding to death.

Open source by the way is not free, open standards are...

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Jobs Halo

@ Webster Phreaky

Anything wrong with EMACS and vi?

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Unhappy

Re: @ Malcom, by foof

"Text to Columns in Excel."

What, seriously? Open Office can't do text to columns?

That's incredible. I was considering trying OO after hearing people bang on about it so much. I really don't think I'll bother now - I mean, what else can't it do?

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M$ Office Rules!

When I was an IT teacher (recently retired) I found that M$ Office was required by A-level exam. boards. For example, students might be asked to customise Word menus, create macros or use VBA in Excel, or use related tables, forms and menus in Access. I don't think Open Office would have been up to it. Also, Media Studies (and perhaps IT) need to edit video using some fairly user-friendly software like Pinnacle Studio (some prefer to go Apple). Those requirements would make an open-source solution unfeasible, I think, in such situations.

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Freedom from monopoly...

The Government has every right to select whatever software they see fit & hopefully other governments will see sense in their decision & bin Microsoft

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Linux

Do I want my taxes to go to M$?

As far as I'm concerned it's not so much about cost. It's about transparency of government.

Is it TheRightThing(tm) to spend tax money on software with proprietary secret source code whose workings cannot be determined without special NDA's (which would still leave the taxpayer in the dark) or a lot of work possibly in violation of DMCA or somesuch?

Would be sort of cool if they could pull it off.

I have my doubts about that though.

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Coat

I love the comments..

I must say it's very amusing to read comments from people "oh, but it works badly" or "oh, but I won't try if OO doesn't do x or y" (I'll get to the Linux thing later).

Let me give you a hint: Openoffice.org is FREE. As in: you can try it, for as long as you want, without paying a fee - ever. No problems with limited expiry trials, no problem with spending money on licenses before you're even able to work out if It Works For You - nada. Ditto for Linux. Try before you open your mouth, and, even more importantly, be serious about it. You didn't get used to the new version of Office or Windows over lunch, neither should you demand this to be the case with Linux.

As for the "Linux is harder/more expensive (etc)" - most of the comments clearly are hearsay or regurgitated FUD rather than based on real live trials and proper TCO calculations.

There is no black and white answer, but both the usability argument and the TCO part is edging towards Linux in a big way, but not for the obvious cost reasons: it's more stable usability. People talking about the need to retrain for Linux appear to have a blind spot for the retraining required for every new version of Windows, and every new version of Office (MS tends to casually omit this little but significant detail). The alleged gains in productivity are never really offset against the loss of productivity trying to get used to the new product in the first place. The "where has that option gone" problem had gone so bad in Vista they had to implement a -time consuming- search function..

If you take into account that the Linux GUI (KDE/GNOME) as well as that of OpenOffice have very FEW changes from one version to the next (because they're based on improvement rather than driven by sales), the "training" part of the TCO equation becomes suddenly a lot more interesting.

And I haven't even talked about the costs of license management (which is not just manpower but also insurance in case FAST/BSA pay you a visit) and anti-virus software - all that crap you need to engage in because Redmond cannot release a new OS without deficiences (or you'd not buy the next version as they're mainly selling hope). New virus here, new trojan there - always a nervous time for sys admins. Not with Linux, the few attacks there are tend to be limited in scope, and not quite on the "it will nuke your system/network" level as we've seen frequently with Windows. That's why they have to be creative with figures - a Windows Update is seen as one (1) fix instead of the series that it really represents.

Lastly, it depends on how confidential your information is, but we have now formally banned the use of Windows on any system handling client information or financial transactions. There is too little control over what does what in Windows, in Linux we can examine every service and even look at the code and compile from scratch if we're really worried. No such luck with Windows.

BTW, if you're really worried about your gran/friend needing support, get them a Mac. Still safer, and NeoOffice works. Just keep them off Vista.

To bring in the Paris Hilton angle, anyone who trusts Microsoft to act in their interest instead of Redmonds is about as bright as Paris in her choice of boyfriends. But at least the side effects of the latter are more interesting, it beats a vid of a sweaty Ballmer yelling "developers, developers, developers"..

Coat, hat (it's -8C here)..

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Today: NORWAY !!!!

After Belgium, The Netherlands, Finland and other nations, Norway is an other European country to move to mandatory government use of Open Formats ( ODF, PDF and HTML ).

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Justify IT spending???

Note that the article states that non-open source is not banned - its use just has to be justified. So, if someone can justify the use of eg. MS Office instead of eg. Open Office...

In reality, it means IT departments have to justify the money spent!!!

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Happy

Never forget you have a choice.

Alternatives are available:

http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9007884

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