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Microsoft

Norwegian Government Expires Microsoft Contract 396

Jeppe Salvesen writes "The Norwegian sites are bristling with the news, and hopefully this will leak worldwide. The Norwegian Government has dropped their contract with Microsoft. Microsoft had an exclusive deal with national and regional government. Administration Secretary Victor D. Norman states that 'we feel that our contract with Microsoft in reality has given Microsoft a monopoly in a field where competition would serve us better.'. My translation. The race is on."
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Norwegian Government Expires Microsoft Contract

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  • against (Score:2, Flamebait)

    why would governments be against microsoft. Which itself is very usefull software and a easy to use operating system. I mean a government ending a relationship with software that most of its workers use at home seems like a large expense.
    • Re:against (Score:2, Informative)

      by BabyDave ( 575083 )

      They're not against Microsoft, they're just dropping the exclusive deal with them - i.e. whereas previously they might have had to use the Microsoft product, they can now choose what they think is the best software for the job.

      • Re:against (Score:2, Informative)

        by JPriest ( 547211 )
        True, they canceled the contract because MSFTs offering was "sub-optimal and too expensive". the inquirer covered this a couple days ago here [theinquirer.net]
    • Re:against (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mchappee ( 22897 )
      > ...with software that most of its workers use
      > at home seems like a large expense.

      I agree with this, but someone has got to break the chain. When you think "government" you usually associate that with office buildings and bureaucracy. However, government means schools as well. The reason people use Windows at home is because they use Windows at work, because they used Windows in college, because they used Windows in high school. If the government went with Linux in grade school/high schools then more colleges would be Linux-based. More colleges means more businesses (that's what the grads know). The chain can finally be used to Linux's (and everyone's) advantage.

      Matthew
      • Uhm.. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Knoxvill3 ( 578169 )
        You must have grown up in a really nice and technology inclined area of the world, cause even here in Southern California, where I've lived my entire life, is just not placing computers with Windows in their classrooms and labs.

        I remember using Mac's in school for the majority of my time (from grade school on up through High School). If this chain were true, why am I not a Mac user? If I had any experience w/ DOS and/or Windows, or PC's for that matter, it was because of outside influences and/or work.

        Though this 'Chain' will be correct in select areas, it's not the reason that linux can't get a break, nor breaking this 'chain' will cause Linux to spring forward and become the new fad that everyone must have. It's still missing a lot of things that windows offers, and it's not just going to become everyones OS's of choice just cause Governments want to switch over to it.

        Unless Linux wants to push toward cloning the Windows Interface and have it react as windows does (From how a user can just turn the machine on, and 20 seconds later they can sign onto AOL, to just double clicking to install updates to the system itself.), it will never break the chain.

        Linux's real problem lies in the people, and unless it can provide an environment that will allow even the most illiterate user to be able to function as they would within a windows environment, all linux will continue to get is elitest's, rebels and us uber-geeks that are willing to learn something new. And contrary to popular belief, we aren't as large in numbers compared to the amount of people in the world who just prefer to read their email than know how that email travelled to them.
        • Re:Uhm.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by platypus ( 18156 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @03:45PM (#3888673) Homepage
          I remember using Mac's in school for the majority of my time (from grade school on up through High School). If this chain were true, why am I not a Mac user?

          Because of the OS/Windows Environment advances.
          Ok, either you went to school in a time when the first and most intensive exposure to PCs (or Macs in your case) was in school, or you are wrong, because today nearly everybody at least knows someone being a "peecee"-guru, therefore school isn't as important as it once was in said "chain".

          If you went to school in those old days, when MS Win (>= 95) came out, it was really advantage, at least Win 95 vs. MacOS 7 (8?) - software wise, because of the price and (maybe most importantly?) because of warezing.
          So this advantage would break the chain also.

          But today, it's really hard to get a strong enough advantage to "break the chain". Even MS has trouble to raise the bar, in order to get people to desire - and therefore buy - newer versions of their software.

          So, Open Source (or whatever possible MS competitor, I just doubt there's someone else out there) finally has a good chance to level the field, to catch up. We can discuss all day if KDE/Gnome + Linux/BSD are "as good as" or "better than" as Windows XP, the truth is that people have decided, and - seemingly - they (still) prefer the latter.

          But people believe, and I'm also inclined to, that this is it, today, where the "chain" comes into action. And I also belive that in many places familiarity with an user interface just wouldn't matter much, and therefore not lead to high (re-)training costs, and that at these places "alternatives" could be used and one could rapidly see the benefits.

          So, perhaps Norway has some of those places, schools, public authorities, whatever. All I want is a small fracture in this wall of "just MS", so that people who would otherwise would never have gotten the chance to even *see* an alternative will now have a real choice.

          Really, give it some time, and *nix distibutions will be easier to install, much more liberal in usage conditions and much more trustable concerning privacy - btw. most of this is true now, but people will then have realized that.
          Fortunately, MS does what it can to strengthen these advanteges for open source.

    • Re:against (Score:4, Informative)

      by netphilter ( 549954 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @02:17PM (#3887764) Homepage Journal
      A point that seems to have been missed here is cost. I work for a pseudo-government agency that runs Windows almost exclusively, and I can tell you that it constantly irks me to watch us spend thousands of dollars to upgrade licenses for what I consider to be an inferior operating system. When you're talking about taxpayer dollers, a responsible government entity will review the more cost-effective possibilites when considering an operating system. If I can deploy Linux for free and spend $75.95/copy for Star Office 6.0 [sun.com] as opposed to $299/copy for Windows XP [microsoft.com] and $579/copy for Office XP [microsoft.com], the as a government entity I should save my taxpayers money and do it. Sure, it may take a bit more work, but it's the responsible thing to do IMO.
      • Re:against (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lrichardson ( 220639 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @02:37PM (#3887980) Homepage
        With you on that! A friend did ~300 PCs for a couple of hundred using Linux (RedHat), along with the servers. Compared to the $100,000 + doing it the M$ way would have cost.

        However, I think M$ has done one thing that is really starting to backfire in the corporate world ... intrusive software. XP, with it's online licensing was barely tolerable for most, and completely intolerable for some (you try connecting to the internet when in the Arctic doing geological work ... it involves sitting down and taking ~15 - 20 minutes to hook up the sattelite link, assuming you lugged the gear into the field. Heard similar horror stories from others who work in truly remote locations (Amazon, and huge parts of Africa). But now their software is coming with 'call into microsoft' features, which violate virtually every corporate security standard. In the security world, this is called a BACK DOOR and is something to be dreaded and/or blocked by anti-virus software. And now Microsoft is putting it in their products and claiming it as a feature?!?!

        At one place, we ran a little test using IP hijacking, with a server outside the corporate firewall. Win XP, Office XP, and the standard suite of apps ... and managed to hack the network in less than 20 minutes. Couldn't have done it without the PC automagically dialling out for 'updates'. Which, when you consider this company (which shall remain nameless) has assets over half a trillion, and the toughest security setup possible (under M$ products), is damn scary.

        We won't even get into the hassles people are running into when their software tells them it's expired, and to contact their nearest M$ rep ... especially when it hasn't.

        Sure, Word et. at are slick, but the cost of running them - in terms of money, security, and hassles - are pushing people to other OS.

        • Re:against (Score:2, Informative)

          by questionlp ( 58365 )
          If you use the media available for Volume License customers, you do not need to activate each license, product key and machine via the Internet, only the retail (and possibly Academic versions) require online activation. Instead, you get a product key and media to install on machines.

          I have used the product key and media from our Select agreement to install XP Professional on about a dozen test machines without having to go online except for updates.
      • Re:against (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jason Earl ( 1894 )

        It's actually considerably worse than that. You see with Linux you can actually move to a workable thin client solution like the folks in Largo Florida. With Linux you can easily support hundreds of users with one commodity Intel-based server. For about the same price as an upgrade to your current Windows OS and office suite you could move your entire office to thin clients and never have to worry about client side problems ever again. Imagine how much easier your life would be with one machine to configure and a whole pile of thin clients that you could simply throw away if something broke.

        Talk about low TCO.

    • Against stupidity ... ... the gods themselves ... ... contend in vain?
  • Localization and language support are going to be an issue here.
    • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @01:46PM (#3887453)
      Localization and language support are going to be an issue here.

      Not really. I don't know how good Windows Norweigan support is (pretty good I'd imagine) but KDE has been translated into over 40 languages iirc, and many other Linux apps also have Norweigan translations.

      You would never be able to tell normally as GNU gettext hides it all from the user.... in fact I just checked, and I have almost 30 norweigan translations on my machine, and I haven't installed any special language packages or anything.

      • Also, one would imagine that for what Norway was paying the Evil Empire, they could hire more than enough engineers to perform whatever modifications need to be performed to bring Linux up to their requirements.
      • by Jobe_br ( 27348 ) <bdruth.gmail@com> on Monday July 15, 2002 @02:11PM (#3887685)
        Interesting how here on /., when discussing an alternative to MS, the first (and usually only) alternative to be discussed is Linux. As far as a desktop OS is concerned, Apple's Mac OS X may be far better suited to the task. Since the subsystem is very closely based on Open/FreeBSD and hence supports all the "information wants to be free" technologies that Linux does, the real comparison is the user interface.

        Now, I have a whole lot of respect for the GNOME and KDE efforts (I have Ximian on my laptop and KDE on one of my desktops), but they've got a ways to go to reach OS X's level of ease-of-use. I believe OS X is also localized in Norwegian, but I could be wrong on this count (if I am wrong, then that's a good reason to discount OS X :)).

        Apple's no longer *just* for creatives, designers, writers, etc. It is (at its core) a highly productive and functional operating system built on a highly stable and powerful subsystem. With OS X, you can *get things done*. For the novice computer user, OS X can be a good deal more intuitive than either Windows OR any of the Linux UIs.

        *sigh* ... this isn't a flame or a troll, just a commentary.

        Cheers.
        • Yes, but Macs have one big problem - they are proprietary hardware (and software, but the hardware is what is relevant).

          Let's assume that the Norweigan government want to junk Windows, and have 1000 machines that they wish to junk it from. The average price of a Mac (taking the mean of all the different models) is about £1000. I don't know what that is in Kroner (?), but that comes to a cool million quid. For what? New hardware, that they don't need.

          A million pounds! That's about 1.5 million US dollars I think. That's a lot of taxpayers cash.

          And before somebody rants off about how it'd cost a million dollars to support Linux, I'd like to dispell this myth that somehow nobody needs to support or administer Macs. People say "they are so easy to configure, Linux is hard". But you don't want users reconfiguring network terminals anyway, so that isn't an issue. "Software installation is hard". Ditto. All the stuff that they need, ie writing office documents, browsing the net, checking email etc Linux does just fine, and more importantly, does it without the HUGE cost of rebuying Microsoft Office (I read $500 somewhere, which is also crazy). For organisations that already have computers, Macs are uneconomic, and no amount of guesswork based on TCO will change that. Period.

        • That's one of the first things I thought of when reading the article. Why not Macs? The Norwegians seem more interested in competiveness, quality, and price than open standards or free software. This simply leaves them open to mixed environments and the ability to buy and use whatever software they please.

          Concievably they could still be 100% MS. Though something tells me MS licensing fees are probably a good reason to ditch MS servers.
        • Switching to Apple's Mac OS X normally doesn't get you an alternative to MS, though. You'll get MSIE, probably pick up MS Office so you'll get MS Word, Excel, etc. So really, Apply is not an alternative to MS.

          Now, that said I am not sure what other office suites currently work in Mac OS/X, perhaps there really are some good alternatives. Also, i'm not criticising Apple here, from what I've seen I quite like their OS.

        • Interesting how here on /., when discussing an alternative to MS, the first (and usually only) alternative to be discussed is Linux. As far as a desktop OS is concerned, Apple's Mac OS X may be far better suited to the task.

          This is not meant as a personal attack, nor is it meant to imply that you personally belong to what appears to have become the Slashdot Division of Apple. It is intended to point out what appears to be a recent trend of Apple astroturfing, consisting of numerous posts which yours resembles to some degree. You are by no means the worst offendor in this regards ... you simply had the good luck to be the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak.

          This is a free software/open source forum. Why on earth would you expect people who are concerned not only with technical superiority, but also freedom to advocate the substitution of one master (Apple) for another (Microsoft), when their are alternatives like FreeBSD and GNU/Linux that offer both freedom and technical superiority?

          With all these "don't talk about Linux, talk about Apple OS X" posts I've seen recently I'm beginning to suspect that the Microsoft Slashdot Division another post alluded to has been joined by the Apple Slashdot Division. Frankly, astroturfing by both sides is insulting to the intelligence of any critical thinking mind, not to mention irritating as hell. And I say that as someone who will recommend Apple over Microsoft to those of my friends who are really technically illiterate (to the semi-literate I will recommend GNU/Linux ... usually in its easy-to-install Mandrake incarnation).
        • As far as a desktop OS is concerned, Apple's Mac OS X may be far better suited to the task.

          Not really. You combine the disadvantage of Windows (being dependent on a ignorant, incompetent and foreign corporation, primitive GUI (Yes, everything that has only one desktop is primitive. Don't get me started on only one mouse-button. And it's slow, too. And the dock is optimized for demoability, not usability. [liquid.org])) and Linux (having to port many Win32-applications) plus you add in costs for exchanging all hardware which is also a lot more expensive.

          If you can come up with real examples what KDE/Linux does wrong, post it, but the arrogant, ignorant statement "they've got a ways to go to reach OS X's level of ease-of-use." just doesn't cut it.

          I really get the impression that it doesn't matter what Apple does, just anything will be declared to be user-friendly.

          P.S.: Yes, I have a Mac.

        • Interesting how here on /., when discussing an alternative to MS, the first (and usually only) alternative to be discussed is Linux. As far as a desktop OS is concerned, Apple's Mac OS X may be far better suited to the task.

          Hey, I'd love to give OS-X a try. And if it were $200-300 to try it out and write some exploratory apps for it, I'd snap it up in a heartbeat.

          But trying it out doesn't cost two or three hundred dollars. It costs two or three thousand. Yeah, I know, the eMac is inexpensive hovering around $800, but it's far too slow, comes with a monitor that's too small, a keyboard that I can't seem to make friends with, and a mouse with one-third the number of buttons it should have. Apple also seems to provide only set bundles: This machine comes with these accessories, period. I'd like to make the cost/performance tradeoff decisions myself and pick my own combination of components.

          In short, there doesn't seem to be a way to give OS-X a fair shake without spending a farkload of money.

          Schwab

        • Interesting how ... when discussing an alternative to MS, the first ... alternative to be discussed is Linux. ... Apple's Mac OS X may be far better suited to the task.

          Oh? When did Apple announce MacOS X availability for the x86 architecture? Considering that all those desktops are running Windows, replacing them with Linux is minimal cost, but replacing with MacOS would require replacing all the hardware, too.

          I agree, Apple's approach to the UI layered on top of a Unix makes for a very nice desktop. Too bad it's only available on very proprietary hardware. Locking one's self into Apple may not be quite as bad as locking in to Microsoft -- but it's still locking yourself in. Mink-lined handcuffs are still handcuffs.

      • Actually, Windows-support for Norwegian is not good. In Norway there are three official written languages, two forms of Norwegian (bokmål and nynorsk) and sami which a few people in the far north speak.

        Of these three, Windows (and MS-Office) supports only one - namely Bokmål. True this is used by 80% of the people or something, but that still leaves 20%. KDE in contrast supports both nynorsk and bokmål, and thereby it supports 98% or more of the people (sami is spoken by quite few)

        Especially in schools this is important -- there are laws that say you have in primary school the rigth to get all teaching-material in your language, as this law is today interpreted, this means only books, so Windows is allowed. However, in my opinion it would not be unreasonable to count the programs used on the computers (and the helpfiles) as part of "teaching materials". Afterall, the students are commonly required to use many of these programs, and I don't see what relevance it has that the text is on a screen instead of in a book.

    • Localization and language support are going to be an issue here.

      I don't know -- most Norwegians speak English better than we do [cmdrtaco.net].

      Having said that, KDE at least is pretty well internationalized.

      Steve
    • Language support is not going to be an issue. Norwegian uses the same 8-bit character set that English and German do, Latin-1. All software in Debian has been 8-bit clean since Hamm's release in 1998, so they can all handle Latin-1. To the best of my knowledge, there's no Un*x system on the market that can't handle Latin-1.
    • Norway is a small country (4 million people), and not very much is translated into Norwegian. For instance, you will rarely find dubbed movies here (just subtitled).

      As a result, most norwegians understand english fairly well (even if they dont speak/write it very often).

      The characterset used to be a problem (like 7-8 years ago), but isnt any problem today (For the special interested, norwegian have three special characters: æøå).

      Most people I know like to use english versions of programs (instead of risking new bugs/misunderstanding resulting from low budged translations).

      Internationalization is always important, but it is actually of less importance in Norway, than in most other european countries.

    • Interesting you should mention this. Language could actually be a factor in FAVOUR of dropping Windows. Norway actually have TWO written forms, Windows only comes in one of them (as far as I know, someone might correct me on this one). Whereas both GNOME/KDE is well on their way into be translated into both of them.

      And if this wasn't enough, we have a lappish minority in the north of Norway, and I bet it'd be quite hard to convince Microsoft into making a version for THAT.

      For Linux, situation might be a little different. It's much simpler for the norwegian government to hire someone to do translations of Linux softwate, much of it which uses gettext, and is easily translatable. Not to mention that a project, Skolelinux (Linux for schools, see http://www.skolelinux.no/) has that as one of their stated goals, and are working on exactly that.

      So, language might be an argument against Windows and FOR free software.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 15, 2002 @01:40PM (#3887381)
    De kommer krypende tilbake..

    Translation: They'll come crawling back.
  • Not exactly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jaymzter ( 452402 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @01:41PM (#3887389) Homepage
    This came out a few days ago. It's not so much that Microsoft is out of the loop, it's just that now there can be some real competition here. Government is one area where I think RMS and the Peruvian [slashdot.org] legislator has it right. There is no excuse for access to government documents to be at the whim of a single company. Information does need to be free (as in speech) when it comes to public matters. I just wish the USA would figure this out.
    • As the article at the link below mentions, Gates is set to fly down and meet with the Pres of Peru at the signing of education accords incorporating an 'internet for schools' project. You can bet what kind of OS is going to be on those machines.

      http://biz.yahoo.com/ri/020712/tech_peru_microso ft _1.html

      LEXX
    • I wonder if there is more to this - perhaps this isn't just a case of wanting choice and competition, but a case of wanting a choice for a non-US product, or wanting non-US competition.

      If you think about it - each country will want its own technology capability, not controlled by another nation. Just as the US wants to subsidize the steel industry to ensure we have the ability to produce our own steel, maybe other nations want the ability to produce their own software, or at least have the ability to access an EU juggernaught of software might that can compete against the US should relations ever go sour. I know there are non-US choices of software for Norway and Peru to use...but do they have home-grown software? I think the basic answer is no, and perhaps they want to develop that, and the best way to do so is to throw off Microsoft (US technology) and start from scratch under the guise of choice and anti-monopoly.

      Then again, maybe I'm reading too much into this, in that this isn't about politics and internal technology capabilities. Maybe Microsoft just pissed off the Norway for the last time, and Norway will get its software needs answered elsewhere.

      With all things, I figure there is more to this story than was reported here.
      • Re:Not exactly (Score:2, Informative)

        by pere ( 23710 )
        I wish you were right, but you are actually reading too much into it.

        This is about coice, pro-competition and anti-monopoly.

        Some of the left-wing political parties in Norway is both pro-open-source and anti-US. Other political movements would love to make any decision strengtening the national indutry. (...not unlike other european countries)

        None of these are in charge though. The guy quoted here is a conservative. Just a week ago he was on the news because the government dropped a deal with Scandinavian Airlines (almost holding a monopoly in the air), favouring a small low-price airline company. Same arguments. This isnt about not wanting Microsoft, it is about not wanting monopolies.

        And another small correction: To say that Norway has no software industry is slightly inaccurate. It is a very small country, with only 4 million people. Trolltech, Opera, Fast and Fun Com (Anarchy Online) is Norwegian software companies that is known to many Slashdot readers.
  • This adds momentum (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stevenbee ( 227371 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @01:43PM (#3887414)
    It will be interesting to see if countries which have turned their backs on MSFT "solutions" will pool their knowledge of the alternatives.
    It would be cool to see a multinational "Knowledge Base" to be used by smaller countries wanting to go this route.

    Not as an anti-Microsoft movement, but as a pro-alternative movement.

  • The race is on... in Norway.
    • Re:My translation: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 4of12 ( 97621 )

      I think the proper translation from Norwegian for this announcement is:

      We don't like paying as much as we do for your products.
      pretty simply.

      The open source, liberty, GPL, anti-MS folks can get into a lather all we like, but it's really about money.

      If you've seen Service Agreement 6 terms, then you'd make an announcement like this, too. It's win-win: zealots off my back and MS might give us a price break on our crackware.

  • by nizo ( 81281 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @01:43PM (#3887419) Homepage Journal
    The latest patch to IE no longer allows users to connect to any websites ending in .no for "security reasons". Also, future versions of M$ products will no longer support Norwegian due to "lack of market interest". So how many Linux migrations specialists will Norway be needing in the near future? :-)
    • by dattaway ( 3088 )
      Thought you all might like this little gem I found in my apache logs:

      tide117.microsoft.com - - [11/Jul/2002:20:21:15 -0500] "GET /signs/porktheone.jpg HTTP/1.0" 200 16076 "http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLin k=233989" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.0.0) Gecko/20020530"

      Look at the last part identifying the browser.
  • by Dr_Marvin_Monroe ( 550052 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @01:46PM (#3887450)
    ...Of course, that's the best way...you know, you don't want all of the PR flacks from MS having a chance to spin this in the wrong direction.....or give them a bunch of time to start blackmailing you over license violations....

    Remember all the fuss about the German government?....How about Peru? Making such a decision without letting the sales force get involved is prob. a good thing. I imagine that they (MS) would dig up every thing they could find in order to keep everyone in "lock-step" with their goals.....

    I hope that this does get played up....now that the decision is made, let the chips fall where they may. I expect that there will be a lot of "surprise" defections and I imagine that they will happen pretty fast.
  • by Rupert ( 28001 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @01:47PM (#3887454) Homepage Journal
    If it's accurate, Norwegian is an extremely verbose language. The article looked like it had about 250 words to me.
  • Competition ?? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tmark ( 230091 )
    Microsoft dropping an exclusive contract with Microsoft is going to do little to increase competition, for desktops, anyways, because there's nothing out there to compete with their desktop software. KDE and GNOME are poor substitutes for the Windows desktop, which is not saying much at all. What alternatives are there for Office ? StarOffice, KOffice, and OpenOffice are still miles away. And let's not forget the many sites that won't be viewable under Netscape/Mozilla/Konqueror/Opera.

    I'm not saying I'm happy with this, and nobody would be happier to see Windows eradicated from the desktop, but that's our present unhappy state, and Norway's move isn't going to do anything to fix a problem that has been 10 years brewing. Heck, Microsoft has had a near hegemony in desktop software for AT LEAST 7 years, and it's only getting stronger.
    • Re:Competition ?? (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by dvdeug ( 5033 )
      KDE and GNOME are poor substitutes for the Windows desktop

      Really? I know they still are missing the lock-up when there's browser problems feature, but what else are you having trouble with? All the features are there, with fewer bugs, in my experience.

      And let's not forget the many sites that won't be viewable under Netscape/Mozilla/Konqueror/Opera.

      I can't say I've run into them (especially as considering Flash isn't a real concern for a government computer.) And when you're the government of Norway, the First Bank of Norway has huge incentives to fix whatever problems you may have with their site.

      StarOffice, KOffice, and OpenOffice are still miles away

      Miles away from what? Sure, they don't handle Hindi as well as Microsoft Word does, but they certianly cover the needs of modern word-processing.
    • Re:Competition ?? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dlh ( 592854 )
      ...there's nothing out there to compete with their desktop software.

      Not entirely true. Linux is not the only alternative to Microsoft. Apple springs to mind. Yes, there will be significant costs associated with change. That is unavoidable, and almost certainly already discussed by the Norwegian officals who made this decision.

      On a related note, it is not said that they are leaving Microsoft entirely, but that their exclusive contract is at an end. It is entirely possible that may try to negotiate a new, non-exclusive contract with Microsoft. DisclaimerI can't read Norwegian, so I may be missing relevant data.

    • Re:Competition ?? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by scott1853 ( 194884 )
      You don't like KDE and Gnome? They both look nicer than Windows and both behave very similar to Windows, of course each has their own little quirks. After using Mozilla at home on Mandrake 8.2 I haven't found a site that won't work. Of course manually installing a flash plugin isn't for the average windows user, it's not a big deal to do. The only thing I noticed that didn't work were the DHTML menus certain sites implemented. Not a bid deal either, usually just means 2 clicks instead of one.
    • Re:Competition ?? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MeNeXT ( 200840 )
      Can you please explain what these employees would need that is not available on other OS's.

      Miles away? from what? What does MSO do that is required by all. You would be quite surprised what people think they need and what they truly need.

  • I will not buy this record, it is scratched!
  • New slogan (Score:5, Funny)

    by micje ( 302653 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @01:51PM (#3887512) Homepage
    Just Say .no
  • Rough Translation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by enigma971 ( 593043 )
    This is a computerized translation so I can't promise anything ... plus I don't speak Norwegian :) Commonwealth said up Microsoft - agree Commonwealth has said up agreement along with Microsoft as donated dataselskapet ace at to contribute shareware at computers at statlige offices. Debattcentralen: Neat and IT work and Ad administrasjonsminister Overcome D. Norman H ) considers contract of sale along with Microsoft has been adverse. He believing bigger competition able afford cheaper dataløsninger both for commonwealth and consumer. We fancy that it agreement we have had along with Microsoft in actuality rendered Microsoft a monopoly of a ambit how we're served along with to a few competition , say Norman at NRK. Norman believing denunciation at agreement along with Microsoft not only that shall afford cheaper dataløsninger , but also qualitative better solutions. (NTB)
  • by andreaha ( 593114 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @01:54PM (#3887530)
    You know, sometimes I think that Microsoft might have their own "Slashdot division" for l33t Microsoft haX0rs who post to stories like this in Microsoft's defense. No, the opposite of Microsoft is not "Linux". And no, there is no logic in claiming that "people will just use Windows anyway" or what you're saying. What just happened is not necessarily a defeat for Microsoft or a win for Linux. It's just that government employees in Norway have the right to choose Pegasus or Eudora or Opera, instead of the God Forsakened Outlook. It about a freedom of choice, which encourages competition. Yes, maybe someone will still use Microsoft products. Heck, most will! But they can choose not to, and that's IMO a big step in the right direction. Andy
  • You know EXACTLY what will happen. Microsoft will offer "incentives" to the govt for signing a new contract. Basically, they will pay them up-front (software, hardware donations, etc) to sign a new contract (which will probably have even worst "fine print" that the previous, ensuring Microsoft gets a nice return on their investment).

    Of course, norway is a fairly prosperous nation so maybe they can resist the temptation. This would be a good opportunity for Red Hat or someone to offer a nice support contract for Linux.

  • It seems to me that most governments would do more for furthering the independence from proprietary software by increasing dependence on open standards. For instance, if I were President for a day (mwahaha!), the first thing I woudl do is issue an executive order stating that no agency, department or NGO may use .doc formatted texts. Where documents are purely text, they must be sent in plain ASCII or rtf formats. Suddenly the "need" for Word is lessened considerably. Need spreadsheets? Send tab-delimited files everywhere. I don't have all the details worked out but it seems to me the reason why governments and the like are so dependent on MSFT is because they are dependent on what the software produces not how the software performs.
    • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @02:11PM (#3887686)
      Nah, I'd use my new godlike powers to force MS to document the formats properly. There's nothing intrinisically wrong with the .doc format as far as I know, certainly forcing the use of ASCII or RTF (even xhtml) would be a step backwards in some respects. The problem isn't Microsoft technologies some of which are good, the problem is that people get locked in to them
      • Actually, FWIU there *is* something wrong with .doc. Again, this is all gleanings, but to sally forth into the darkness:

        "Good" protocols are things like telnet, smtp, etc. They are simple, straightforward, and discoverable. It seems that .doc has none of those three attributes. If it did, someone would have created really good .doc import/export filters by now, not just almost-decent ones. There are some stories about that .doc is not even documented inside Microsoft, rather that there is a 'reference implementation' of source code.

        A "good" file format, from a technical perspective, would have offered much better compatibility between revisions. The .doc format appears to be engineered largely to force users to upgrade.

        I'd say that there are some intrinsic problems with .doc.
      • There's nothing intrinisically wrong with the .doc format as far as I know

        Sure there is. Any decent format should be both reverse & forward compatable. If you take a version 4 file and load it into the version 3 program, then any new features should be ignored (probably with a warning). This allows people who haven't yet upgraded to handle files which have been saved by those who have. Going the other way should be totally transparent, except perhaps if you try to save the new version - Have you tried to open a Word 2.0 document in the latest version of Word?

        I'd also say that a good file format for text heavy data (word processors, spreadsheets, presentations etc) should be text based. This makes convertors easy to write. I wrote a program to convert Wordstar documents to HTML. A very easy program to write, because the wordstar format was basically plain text with extra formatting information. It would be impossible to write a similar program for Word in reasonable time.

    • Good idea, bad implementation. RTF and TSV are not the best formats. What happens to the formulas, graphs, drawings, and formatting (yes formatting matters) in an Excel document when you save it as .TSV? They disappear.

      There need to be open, documented formats for this stuff, that open source apps use [mostly] correctly, for such a switch to work. Otherwise you're left with proprietary = productivity vs. open = time waster. Guess which one makes more business sense in the short term (which is all that bean counters ever look at anyway)?

  • Translation (Score:5, Informative)

    by enigma971 ( 593043 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @02:00PM (#3887586)
    The article is translated at desktoplinux. http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS6576907451.html [desktoplinux.com]
  • Bork! Bork! (Score:3, Funny)

    by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <r_j_prahad@hotma ... m minus math_god> on Monday July 15, 2002 @02:00PM (#3887587)
    Vell, dey got de lyingMonopoly outta de gobernmint, now if dey cud only get de lye outta de fish.
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi@nospAm.yahoo.com> on Monday July 15, 2002 @02:10PM (#3887676) Homepage Journal
    One Degree of Separation!
  • norway? (Score:2, Informative)

    I figured it would have been Finland (link) [helsinki.fi] cutting the Microsoft handcuffs first! Home of Linus Torvalds, no?
  • As a norwegian, I know that we are as lost when it comes to computing as everywhere else. People can't tell the computer from the operating system, and as such won't be able to remotely understand what switching to for example Linux means. They know that they click the Start button in the lower left "of the computer", move the mouse up to Programs, and click Excel to open up a spreadsheet. They often have post-its if it involves more step than this. If they see an icon they don't recognise, they'll call for assistance and claim they didn't touch anything.
    Pretty standard really.

    Microsoft however probably doesn't want to loose their monopoly (even if we're just four million people). Norwegian translations of Windows have been ...questionable... at times, especially for "New Norwegian", an officially recogniced dialect counted as a second language (though I've been out of the windows league for a while, haven't checked recent conditions). Therefore, I think Microsoft will boost support for Norwegian software out of fear of loosing a nation (which would be a bad example for the rest of their world), and businesses/departments will keep using Windows out of fear of retraining their workforce.

    I will, off course, continue my subtle penguin missionaries... Maybe some day

  • I'm waiting for MS to retaliate and have a headline come out saying "Norwegian Government Expires."
  • In other news, Microsoft Lawyers initiated a hostile corporate take-over of the Norwegian government. "I guess we will continue running Windows", was the only comment from the Norwegian Prime Minister. Microsoft declined comment when asked about their "Embrace and Extend" strategies.
  • People here seems really narrowminded. Just because Norwegian government drops the exclusive MS contract doesn't mean that they are going to wholesale convert to Linux.

    It just means putting the best solution for a specific job, like an Oracle db on Sun servers, or Apache as the webserver etc. And yes, maybe even Linux or *BSD on their fileservers. Maybe standardize on Opera as their browser (since it is a Norwegian company)

    I seriously doubt the desktop will change much.
  • "SkoleLinux" ( = SchoolLinux ) is a project with volunteers making a distribution for schools in Norway. It is based on the Debian platform, and the developers have translated documentation and more than 300 programms to Norwegian. All this is put together in the distro they've called "SkoleLinux"

    The idea is to replace Microsoft Windows and Office in Norwegian schools
    Read further on LinuxLaboratory.org: SchoolLinux [linuxlaboratory.org]
  • So they're about to negotiate a new huge deal and want a little leverage..

    "You want how much money for a full government xp-upgrade?"
    "You know, there's no way we can spend that much and, btw., we are strongly considering alternative os's too. Just look at all the media talk about it!"
    "Please give us your revised offer."
  • Your can of beans expires. Because it becomes stale. Because it can't be eaten. Your license expires. Because you stop paying.

    Your contract is "terminated". "Norwegian Government Terminates Microsoft Contract".

    Sheez.
  • People are missing a major point.

    What is more important is that the techies may now chose server software. Like file servers, database servers, web servers, terminal servers, print servers. Things on the client side will probably not change...

    Take for instance MS Terminal Server. The actual software is cheep. Then one has to buy a license for each user connected simultaneously. Then for each ip address that connects. The licensing server will count all ip's that view the logon screen... one does not have to log in... :-) And these licenses have to be bought each year. And for thousands of computers multiplied by number of services that is rather expensive...

    Digitus2001 - a norwegian :-)
  • by hta ( 7593 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @08:28PM (#3891111) Homepage Journal
    this is the same minister who bought a million dollars' worth of airline tickets from an airline that hasn't started yet, just to make sure he had an alternative to the (partly government-owned) semi-monopoly called Scandinavian.
    It'll be fun to see what happens next.

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