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Taiwanese Parliament votes Against Microsoft 139

Posted by Hemos
from the most-likely-not-binding dept.
linumax writes "Taiwan's parliament has voted to end its dependence on Microsoft software, demanding that the government reduce purchases from the software giant by 25 percent this year. The resolution, passed on Friday, is an attempt by the island's law-making body to end the near monopoly Microsoft has with local government offices, a legislative aide said. Local newspaper Commercial Times said however that the resolution may not be binding because it runs against fair trade regulations in Taiwan. Officials at Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission declined to comment."
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Taiwanese Parliament votes Against Microsoft

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  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:04AM (#14481033)
    Microsoft offers China software for their missile guiding systems and naval fleet.
    • by Black Parrot (19622) *
      > Microsoft offers China software for their missile guiding systems and naval fleet.

      And, along with a number of other big name US companies, helps China censor the internet.
    • Which will show a BSOD just when used during the *real* firing.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:16AM (#14481091)
      After Microsoft fits them with software, the standard procedure includes:

      - Boot up missile command system.
      - First thing you do is install latest security patches, or else some kid in San Jose, California is going to take control of your missile.
      - Log in to Hotmail.com to get the target coordinates from your superior officer. You will find it buried somewhere in the middle of 80 or so M3NSGR0WTH spams.
      - After your clear the pop-up messages blocking the launch widget, launch the missile.
      - Restart whole prodecure after missile crashes in the blue ocean of death well short of its target.
    • by ThaFooz (900535) on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:46AM (#14481246)
      Microsoft offers China software for their missile guiding systems and naval fleet.

      Wow, lucky break for Taiwan. They might just stand a chance now if China choses to use force.
    • Microsoft offers China software for their missile guiding systems and naval fleet.

      Then Taiwan's anti-missile plan is working.

    • More importantly microsoft offers china the source code to windows, seriously it is really rather suprising that taiwanese government hasn't moved much more quickly to protect itself from the implied risk to it's economy of sustained cyber warefare.

      It makes you stop and think about the number of exploitable bugs that the chinese security angencies have discovered and produced software exploits for (unpublished of course, well at least for the time being).

  • Timing? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Device666 (901563) on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:08AM (#14481050)
    The refered article says: "Local newspaper Commercial Times said however that the resolution may not be binding because it runs against fair trade regulations in Taiwan. Officials at Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission declined to comment." Why now then, and not 10 years ago? What's the drip of water that flooded the bucket? (Dutch saying translated to bad english).
    • The dutch version is "De druppel die de emmer deed overlopen" or translated "The drop that caused the bucket to overflow".

      The dutch saying however is superior, naturally being dutch, as it neatly combines with the other saying "a drop in a bucket". Wich is used often to show something having little to no effect. True or not, enough drops and the bucket still overflows. I think the english version is a crack in the armor? One crack doesn't matter but they add up until your standing naked on a battlefield.

      A

      • English version would be 'Straw that broke the camels back' as you put in your comment title. As a camel is being loaded with more and more stuff, there is some point that it cannot take anymore.

        The other saying you mention is a 'A chink in the armor'.

    • (Just to clarify the idiom) I believe a good US/English replacement would be "The straw on the camel's back," but I do enjoy the drop flooding the bucket imagery.

      -jbevren
    • Re:Timing? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OwlWhacker (758974)
      the resolution may not be binding because it runs against fair trade regulations in Taiwan

      They should change it to 'reduce purchases of software that uses proprietary file formats, APIs and protocols - to prevent lock-in.'

      There's nothing wrong with that, and it would achieve the same result.
    • It's not MS that was against fair trade regulations, they're saying that a resolution aimed specifically at MS may be against the regulations. As for why they're doing it now, my guess is they've decided linux has become good enough to replace windows.
  • by 99luftballon (838486) on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:08AM (#14481055)
    If past form is anything to go by Ballmer or another senior executive will be booking their flights to head down and do a deal. Expect a large discount to be forthcoming that would allow the government to continue with its purchasing and still meet the 25 per cent target. It's happened before but the question is how long Microsoft can continue along that route. Discounting is all very well but once more governments get in on the game it's going to start costing. Why is it one supposes that Microsoft seems to move faster when a government threatens to stop sales than when they threaten it with an enquiry? This tells you a lot about the effectiveness of competition regulations in a WTO world.
    • by Black Parrot (19622) * on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:13AM (#14481077)
      Hmmm. Ballmer... monkey... flying...

      Taiwan might give up Microsoft, and monkies might come flying out of Bill Gates' butt?
    • Yes I expect this is probably true.

      The question is whether their target for this year is to reduce Microsoft products by 25%, measured in dollars, or in userbase/systems-installed. If it's in dollars, then MS could discount their products by 25%, and business would go on as usual. Obviously I'm sure that would not be Microsoft's preferred outcome, but given that the marginal cost of each install is essentially zero (assuming that they're using the same media over and over) they're still making a ridiculous
    • by Crayon Kid (700279) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:13AM (#14481358)
      It's happened before but the question is how long Microsoft can continue along that route. Discounting is all very well but once more governments get in on the game it's going to start costing.

      Costing what!? It's not like they didn't cover the cost of producing Windows hundreds of times over by now. If you mean "lower profits" then yeah, but to Microsoft it's probably worth it. Lower profits is better than nothing.

      No, I'd be more worried about other governments starting to get pissed. It's not nice to pay premium price for Windows and see that others get it for much less.

      The way Microsoft affords to juggle with the pricing on their products is unique to both software and selling in general. They practically have a special price for any market, as long as it sells for something, anything. Kinda reminds me of certain illegal substances...
    • What's he gonna do? Throw a chair at them?

      I wonder how many other business execs really take that guy seriously anymore. I'd just ask to deal with someone else.

    • Is the Gates Foundation, which provides software to need schools, etc., buys primarily Miscrosoft products (about 90% of their software budget) and always pays list price. There's a nice built in profit margin for Microsoft!
    • >It's happened before but the question is how long Microsoft can continue along that route

      Short answer, For ever.

      Think about it, with their creation/distribution costs they could probably sell each copy of windows for a few dollars--maybe ten, the rest is profit.

      In fact, I'm pretty damn sure they have already made back all the money they invested into every product they have created so far, so if they were to charge $1.50 per download for all their current products, they would still make money.

      Monopolies
    • If I recall correctly they are already getting a super deal. Something like 50 dollars for windows and office combined.
  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:08AM (#14481056) Homepage Journal
    Way to go Taiwan! I expect many more Countries to move their Government IT infrastructures over to OSS in the year ahead.

    I'm sure I am not the only one snickering at the irony at the comment about potential Fair Trade violation -- against MS, which is an Internationally convicted Monopolist.

    Which begs the question, are Taiwanese Lawmakers so stupid to make laws that prevent their Governemnt from having a real choice for purchases, or are MS's lobbyists also very active over at the WTO?
    • are Taiwanese Lawmakers so stupid to make laws that prevent their Governemnt from having a real choice for purchases

      Definitely not. Yesterday they have read this [slashdot.org] on slashdot and today they have acted.

    • Convicted monopolist? Hahaha! Seriously dude, learn the facts... like what they were really convicted of.

      Seriously though... let me get this straight... you would rather have OSS gain through legal maneuvers and laws rather than open and outright competition?

      Quite a shame really as such subsidizing of OSS tends to show that it is too weak to stand on it's own against Microsoft and the other big players and instead needs to be subsidized by governments in order to give it a chance.
      • by The Cisco Kid (31490) * on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:53AM (#14482143)
        --
        From http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f4900/4909.htm [usdoj.gov] (Microsoft Conclusions of Law and Final Order, May 98)

        "The Court having entered judgment in accordance with the Findings of Fact and the Conclusions of Law on April 3, 2000, that Microsoft has violated 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C., as well ... "

        --
        From http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode15/us c_sup_01_15_10_1.html [cornell.edu] (USC, TITLE 15 > CHAPTER 1, aka 'Sherman Act')

          1. Trusts, etc., in restraint of trade illegal; penalty

          2. Monopolizing trade a felony; penalty

        --

        So under what set of FUD is it that you beleive MS is *not* a convicted monopolist? Pay close attention to #2 there of the Sherman Act.

        I dunno about the OP, but I would prefer to have free and open competition for OS. Unfortunately, we havent had that for at least a decade now - MS has and continues to see to that by its use of monopolistic lock-in strategies that prevent potential customers from objectively evaluating multiple options - since their data is in secret-proprietary MS format, and/or their business partners are only willing/able to communicate using secret proprietary MS formats, they have no choice but to use MS, even if it is a royal suck-ass POS. Add in that MS has and continues to force OEM PC vendors to choose between offering only MS on most systems, paying probably ten times what they are now per machine to only offer it on some, or offering it on none, and you get a recipe for a market as far away from 'free and open competition' as is possible.

    • What? This article, and this news story, really has nothing to do with OSS. So before you start touting that "OSS is gaining momentum", recognize that this government is only reducing purchases made between themselves and Microsoft by 25%. It does not imply that OSS will be used as a replacement, because you could substitute "OSS" for "OSX" and come to the same conclusion if you were as fanatic about OSX as you are about OSS.

      This story has nothing to do with OSS. This should be very clear.

    • Way to go Taiwan! I expect many more Countries to move their Government IT infrastructures over to OSS in the year ahead.

      Or maybe they're allocating the 25% savings to buying all Apple products.

      I'm sure I am not the only one snickering at the irony at the comment about potential Fair Trade violation -- against MS, which is an Internationally convicted Monopolist. Which begs the question, are Taiwanese Lawmakers so stupid to make laws that prevent their Governemnt from having a real choice for purchases...

      R
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:09AM (#14481063)
    This sounds like the common strategy to deal with the Microsoft problem:

    1) Draw a box around all existing Microsoft software infesting the government or company in question. Forbid the growth of any Microsoft software outside this box.

    2) Once the Microsoft infestation has been contained and growth halted, slowly start purging the existing Microsoft software and formats with clean and open solutions like OpenOffice, OpenDocument, Apache, Linux, BSD, XML, etc...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I agree with the two points, however there is an important third component to ridding a company or government of Microsoft products.

      3. Purge any and all employees who are loyal to Microsoft and not the organization for which they work.

      This is one area that seems to get overlooked too often when discussing organizations that are struggling to rid themselves of Microsoft products. In my experience it is not the actual document formats or application retraining that is the stumbling block to migrating to open
      • In my experience it is not the actual document formats or application retraining that is the stumbling block to migrating to open systems, but very often one rogue IT manager or employee who can best described as a "Microsoft guy."

        Ain't this the truth. When I was contracting I ran into this time and again - some prick who didn't give a shit about the organization he worked for, but practically had an altar to Bill Gates in his bedroom. For him it was Microsoft, and everything else was a tool of the Great
  • by Elektroschock (659467) on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:20AM (#14481103)
    MS has serious corporate affairs problems and its lobbying strategies are part of the game.

    E.g. in Europe: When MS gets the scum of US lobbying to Europe and they are unable to adapt to Europe, no wonder parliament rejects them. Even EU-Commissioner Wallström spoke negatively about Microsoft:
    "And I was very disappointed to learn that Microsoft has agreed to block Chinese blog entries that use words like democracy, freedom, human rights and demonstration." It seems like Microsoft is not alone in "bad company"." -- which implies the Commissioner openly called MS a "bad company".

    Guess Taiwan will also be excited about those MS-"relations" to China.
    --

    I mean, look at political radicals like DCI/TechCentralStation, or persons like Jonathan Zuck or Hugo Lueders which served Microsoft's interests in lobbying. No wonder they lose.

    Whenever Ms is in trouble they hire a whole universe of unsound lobbyists which poisons their reputation in Parliament. Like the tobacco industry.

    Media hates Microsoft, loves anti-MS stories. Everybody knows Microsoft and its products. Good for nasty stories.

    Microsoft lobbyists usually do serious mistakes which fire back on Microsoft.

    What will those idiots do now? Hire everybody they can get and further ruin their reputation in Taiwan. Hire lobbyists which will execute the strategy the public expects. What will civil society do? Gratulate MS for the great aid to their lobbying efforts.
    • Local newspaper Commercial Times said however that the resolution may not be binding because it runs against fair trade regulations in Taiwan.

      Well that's OK, 'coz Microsoft run a monopoly and they don't like fair trade...
  • This is Taiwan we're talking about.

    When they say they'll reduce purchases on Microsoft-related products, they actually mean that 25% more IT-related money will go into various politicians' pockets.
  • Hardware companies? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TeknoHog (164938) on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:29AM (#14481134) Homepage Journal
    I wonder what this means for Taiwanese hardware makers that, until now, have only provided Windows drivers.
  • by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <tim@almond.gmail@com> on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:45AM (#14481234) Homepage
    A chair with the words "Made in Taiwan" is being thrown.
  • by layer3switch (783864) on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:46AM (#14481242)
    http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ tw.html [cia.gov]

    22,894,384 (2005) in population, 13+ million people are online. Making legislative body to make policy against a major player in computing industry (Microsoft in this case), may create one of the most damaging ripple for Microsoft.

    Although that 13.8 million internet users won't turn off their Windows machines over night, but it's plausable to tinker with the idea that Taiwanese government may legislate a similar policy to goverment contractors and corporations dealing business with Taiwanese government to enforce private sectors to depend less on Microsoft product. And knowning China and her relationship with Microsoft, this may be interesting to see how Chinese government will react to this plausable senario.
    • Is this the china that is behind Red Flag Linux or is this the China that buy from international companies soft/hardware and services to help keep their citizens inline?

      China's politics on their own are already screwed up enough. Frankly it seems to suffer from an advanced case of split personality. This is nothing unusual, many "goverments" do things that seem to be at odds with each other but china just does it to the extreme. How can you really combine capatlism and communism in one country? By not look

      • "Exactly why does America still boycot cuba?"
        IMHO, Cuba now is a strategic enemy of state. Cuba is no more threat to US than Canada is to US, but the idea that Cuba one time in history pointed nuclear warhead toward US still can be viewed as recent history.

        "So your suggestion of anything happening is absurd. if anything considerings china push of red flag linux this could be seen by the insane as a move by taiwan to please China."
        First, I merely suggested that it would be an interesting outcome. Even you
      • Name one country in the world that has not killed peacefull protestors since the end of WW2.
        My first guess would be the Netherlands.
    • And knowning China and her relationship with Microsoft, this may be interesting to see how Chinese government will react to this plausable senario.

      China may dislike the RoC's government more than most nations, but I doubt they'll be handing over all lucrative contracts over to Microsoft when they have more than enough home grown solutions.
  • What's the ratio (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pvera (250260)
    Of legal licenses, at least within government use? 25% sounds like a lot, but if 75% of their desktops are running unlicensed MS software then MS is not really taking a hit with this 25% reduction.
    • Oh sure it won't cause MS to go bankrupt. Not directly anyway. However I would say that a reduction of your share of the desktop market from almost 100% to 75% would cause a bit of a panic in any sensible company.

      The worst bit is that someone apparently broke the connection Computer == Windows. This is bad. Kinda like thinking in america Democracy == Capatalism. They got a place in Cuba for people like that.

      To many people even the suggestion of running another OS runs into a brick wall as computers is Wi

      • It very much could be a snowball. For each application added to Linux or Mac that raises the market share, so it makes it more viable for other applications producers to commit. Replace "application" with "hardware device" and do the same.

        Then there's the issue that applications are becoming more and more web based. There are web-based project management solutions now, webmail, web-based CRM, web services for data etc etc.

        I also think that Microsoft are going to find it harder and harder to sell OS. PCs

      • I think you missed the point.

        The point being, that Taiwan doesn't pay for most of their software to begin with due to lax to nonexistant copyright laws. If they aren't paying for it in the first place it doesn't matter if they cut the budget for it by 25%.

        If they now only puchase 3 new copies instead of 4, but 4,000 are pirated it's not really a 25% impact.

        He wasn't saying that 25% of Taiwanese governemtn sales aren't a big deal, he was saying that 25% of Taiwainese governemnt sales aren't really 2
        • It ain't the money, MS is filthy fucking rich and will continue to be so for a long time. It is that their absolute control of the desktop is crumbling.

          There are some nasty people who have suggested that MS has benefitted greatly from pre-XP version of its software being so easy to copy. OS/2 was harder and copying Apples OS is pointless since it is tied to the hardware. How many people had MS Office at home because that was the CD they could borrow from work?

          MS has neatly ensured that IT is the desktop a

      • Now 25% of all goverment desktops switching?

        This is slashdot, so I didn't RTFA, but TFS says:

        demanding that the government reduce purchases from the software giant by 25 percent this year

        Note that this doesn't say install Windows on 25% less of the desktops. It says to spend 25% less on Microsoft software. Unlike others, I'm not going to imply that the Government is intending to pirate more copies, but instead suggest that initially they'll probably cut from other areas. Things like not purchasing Offic

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:58AM (#14481296)
    Who'd a thunk it! Next they'll be a story about the Chinese negotiating with Hollywood to drive down the prices on DVDs.

    It's a Whole New World!
  • by erbmjw (903229) on Monday January 16, 2006 @10:30AM (#14481480)
    The article doesn't say that the govenrment must reduce the use of the Windows OSes; just Microsoft software, so Taiwan could just use different databases, office suites, etc
    • In case you hadn't noticed, Windows is MS Software. I'll grant that they probably meant '25% overall', so if they can reduce total expenditure by 25% just by reducing MS applications, then that would satisfy the requirement. But that certainly doesnt prohibit them from choosing non-MS opatering systems, either.
      • In case you hadn't noticed ... the title of the subject is "Microsoft software is not just Windows". So yes, I was and am aware that Windows is Microsot software, but it's not the only Microsoft software available.

        In other words Taiwan could decide to keep the Windows operating systems and use other products on top of them instead of Microsoft office suites, databases, etc.
        I'm not saying that is what they will do but it is still an option with what little information we can get from the article.

        I
      • The parliament does not want to reduce expenditures by 25% overall! They want to reduce the overall percentage of purchases of Microsoft software for government usage. So total expendiure could even go up, as long as the overall percentage of purchases from Microsoft goes down by 25%.

        From the article "Taiwan's parliament has voted to end its dependence on Microsoft software, demanding that the government reduce purchases from the software giant by 25 percent this year."

  • So Taiwan is willing to stand up to both Microsoft and China! Way to go! I wish other industrialized nations had that kind of courage!
  • by cpu_fusion (705735) on Monday January 16, 2006 @11:37AM (#14482019)
    When choosing an operating system for government use, particularly in areas such as law enforcement, taxation, military, or legislative administration, the choice between open and closed source operating systems boils down to national security.

    By choosing an open source system such as Linux, a nation has the power to audit and fix holes in the operating system which leave the government open to espionage. Choose Windows, and you will have to count on an American company to keep your computers secure from such glaring problems as the WMF bug. Choose Windows, and you will have to hope that American intelligence agencies and Microsoft billionaires and their buddies are honest enough to proactively discover problems, inform you of them, and fix them. Choose Windows, and you bank on Microsoft spending its money towards improving its existing products, (through, for example, exhaustive security audits), as opposed to earmarking that money towards ridiculous expansionistic endeavors into other business markets (too many to list here), and polishing up the next versions of their cash cows: Office and Windows.

    Now, interestingly enough, this argument can be expanded to encompass concerns about corporate espionage. Do you trust your corporate secrets to Bill Gates?

    If I was a MP in Taiwan, I'd introduce legislation to BAN government use of proprietary, closed-source operating systems. It's a matter of national security.
  • ...Microsoft will help China upgrade their ICBM-installations using Windows-CE and Windows-Vista.
    In a comment, Bill Gates was quoted as saying: "We will help China bring clarity to the world (tm), especially to insignificant provinces on the south of their border."
  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:43PM (#14482601) Homepage Journal
    But not because of licencing. Because of national interest. Recently a union threatened to shut down the power plants and oil refinery infrastrure via programming and the government was terrified at the prospect of not being able to get their software running, or, if something was done to damage it, fixed.
    • ...threatened to shut down the power plants and oil refinery infrastrure via programming...

      It's just amazing that it takes governments so long to learn this lesson. Any proprietry software is effectively hidden, and so is effectively a key that can be used by the company who has the source code. Billions and billions of taxpayer dollars could have been saved by using open, standard and commodity systems (IMO), instead of spending it on wasted client side CPU cycles, expensive windows licenses etc..
  • by Danzigism (881294)
    As much as I want to say, "HELL YEA TAIWAN" I won't... But I will say that if the Taiwanese people ever get a major country-spread disease such as Malaria, Bill Gates will probably not help them..
  • demanding that the government reduce purchases from the software giant by 25 percent this year..... said however that the resolution may not be binding because it runs against fair trade regulations in Taiwan.

    Rather than dictate a reduction which may trigger a legal mess, why not create an "encuragement" program, such as returning into a department's budget the cost savings from altneratives. Thus, if an office uses MySQL instead of MS-SQL, then let them keep the money that would go for MS-SQL rather than
    • It's not "dictating" they are customer and they are choosing to buy other products. They are not forcing the public to use one thing or another.

      This is no different then a corporation "dictating" the use of windows on their desktops or "dictating" that everybody use oracle databases.
  • I would say this news is totally BS.

    Taiwan is still in its early stage of democracy. The opposite party have controled taiwan over 50 years. Six years ago, they losed presidential election. Now, the opposite party is trying its best to get the power back. They are willing do anything.

    Last friday, parliament in taiwan was in a mass. They cut off 25% annual budget (of everything) just trying to stop current leading party to do anything. That is why you see this news. The f*ckers in Parliament do not care any
    • The 25% budget cut may have seemed to trigger the switch to OSS. But the same parliament that voted for the 25% budget cut also voted for OSS. It's not parliament vote -> government react, but rather parliament vote -> parliament realises its own stupidity and tries to patch things up. Given the unpredictibility of Taiwanese politics, they'd just as soon reverse themselves after a few fistfights.

      While it's true that Taiwan, with its strong presidency, is a US-style democracy on the surface, its i

    • Someone shooting the president the night before the re-election in 2004 doesn't make Taiwan look to stable, either.
  • If they can cut 25% with no problems, then there's no "monopoly" at all. This is grandstanding. It's also stupid policy. They should try to get the best value for their money. If Microsoft offers the best value for their money, then they should go with it. If not, then they should go with something else. But arbitrarily eliminating a company's products from consideration only allows the competing products to charge more and/or get away with offering less functional products.
    • It is not arbitrary if it increases value.
      Value depends on many factors, of which cost is only one.
      It is not stupid to increase value.
      We have yet to see if Microsoft can have Taiwanese officals eliminated, as they can in the US. It is too early to suggest "no problems".

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