Too late for the Microsoft Government Gateway... #2
I posted recently on another thread about Microsoft's cavalier approach to open standards with its implementation of the (Microsoft) Government Gateway, but I will post it again here, just as a reminder of the sort of attitude Microsoft will have to non-MS product users (effectively, the Open Source world) if we hand identity management to it on a plate... I suppose if Microsoft deems your e-mail address to be "illegal" according to its own "standards" in this way, then you won't HAVE an identity...
--- Original post ---
(as a comment on http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/03/conservative_open_source/ )
"Too late for the Microsoft Government Gateway... "
... in respect of which I've now received an explanation as to why it (and the Self Assessment web site) will NOT accept my RFC2822-compliant e-mail address, which gets rejected with a terse "illegal e-mail address" message.
Basically, the site complies with the GovTalk "standard", and that's it - too bad about *international* open standards. The letter states: "The difference between the GovTalk e-government standard and RFC822 includes variations around allowable characters... you are able to use our online services, but you will need an email address that is compliant with the GovTalk e-government standard..."
So, basically, that means the official HMRC position is:
- Microsoft built our system, so tough if it doesn't work properly;
- Microsoft standards are better than everyone else's international standards, to which we see no good reason to adhere;
- you can use our services, but even if you observe international open standards you will get second-class service and be unable to use all of our services, unless you comply with Microsoft's "standards";
- Microsoft is going to own the Internet anyway, so just get used to it and stop arguing.
Remember, the Government handed over its intellectual property rights to the Government Gateway to Microsoft *for free* so that the latter could market it elsewhere, an astonishing decision over a publicly-funded programme, even if it doesn't comply with open standards.
So, nothing new there then. The worrying thing about this is that this demonstrates official Government endorsement of Microsoft's continuing abuse of its monopoly position, despite the hundreds of millions of Euros Microsoft has recently been fined for doing exactly that. And no-one at HMRC sees any problem with it... I still have an "illegal" email address, even though the whole issue has been debated between us using exactly that address!