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Colleges Signing Secret MS License Agreements 400

David Gerard writes "As seen on Yale LawMeme: Microsoft is requiring colleges wanting cheap licenses to keep their license terms secret (e.g. Ohio State, University of Michigan) ... in direct contravention of state public records and Freedom of Information laws." Many FOI laws have loopholes permitting state agencies not to disclose information when it would harm business interests, so what the colleges and Microsoft are doing may not actually be illegal (or could be argued not to be, anyway), but it certainly is shady.
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Colleges Signing Secret MS License Agreements

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  • You mention the FOI law, but that has nothing to do with Microsoft. That's completely the responsibility of the college - if they don't like it or it's not legal they can't sign the contract. End of story.

    Microsoft isn't doing anything wrong, and it sounds like the college isn't either. I've pulled more interesting, and bloody, things out of my nose.
    • That's why (Score:4, Informative)

      by archeopterix ( 594938 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @06:29PM (#4954637) Journal
      That's completely the responsibility of the college - if they don't like it or it's not legal they can't sign the contract.
      Aren't the colleges (at least partially) funded by taxpayers money? Hiding contract details is hiding information on how public money is spent. Visit Transparency International [transparency.org] to find out why this is bad.
      • Yes, we all agree that is why it is illegal. However, what the poster above was saying is that is the university's responsibility and not Microsoft's. This is true, the institution to which the FOI law applies to this case is the university. And before you suspect an overarching conspiracy, realize that Microsoft just wants more bargining power with other universities. They don't want other institutions to be able to say, "Well, you gave $SU a lower price, why can't you give us this deal?"
    • It's bad because MS is using it's unfettered Monopoly power to force (yes, force) publicly funded institutions to hide important contract points, despite legal prohibitions on doing this. MS says sign this agreement and break the law or you and your poor students will not only be buying all this software at retail +, and We and the BSA will also be by to do a full and comprehensive audit of every computer in this institution. And then we'll do another one. We'll let you know when. Or not.
      • Wrong. If all colleges have to deal with this (as MS is a monopoly, as you put forward) then all colleges are in this position and have to pay the same amount.

        Now, if MS tells them to buy the software at greater than retail cost or picks certain colleges to give a price break to (with the same licensing as all the others) then you might have a case.

        And, of course, why can't a college use Linux or Macintosh? These are students, not gamers. I run Windows because I am a gamer and windows programmer but when I was in college I had a Linux partition and it suited me just fine.
  • I don't care (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @06:28PM (#4954621) Homepage Journal
    I really don't care what kind of agreement my college (RIT) has with MS. I got a legal and free copy of Visual Studio.NET. And I don't care what you say about Microsoft's evil business practices. But I don't see any developement environments that are that amazing for linux. I mean KDevelop is good and all, but it doesn't even come close. I already pay my school thousands of dollars every year, and if some shady agreement with MS puts Win2k in the labs and Visual Studio on my PC I got no problem with it.
    • Re:I don't care (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MrEd ( 60684 )
      if some shady agreement with MS puts Win2k in the labs and Visual Studio on my PC I got no problem with it


      You want some bread and circuses too? ;-)

    • Re:I don't care (Score:3, Insightful)

      I really don't care what kind of energy policy Bush has with Iraq. I get legal and cheap oil. And I don't care what you say about capitalism's evil business practices. But I don't see fuels that are amazing in the USA. I mean biodiesel is good and all but it doesn't even come close. I already pay the IRS thousands of dollars every year and if some kind of energy policy with Iraq puts cheap gas in my car I got no problem with it.

      (Naturally the people who see no problem in the original poster's statements will see no problem in mine...sigh. See other less cerebral post.)
      • Loaded phrase (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Loundry ( 4143 )
        And I don't care what you say about capitalism's evil business practices.

        It's the humans, not capitalism, who have evil business practices. Let's place the blame where it is due. There are lots of honest and ethical business owners and employers who are overshadowed by the crummy ones. I pride myself in being honest, fair, and compassionate to my employees and my customers who, without which, my business and livliehood would fail.
      • Re:I don't care (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 5KVGhost ( 208137 )
        Yes, because signing a contract with Microsoft allowing schools and students to buy useful software at prices they can afford is exactly the same as making a (non existent) deal with a genocidal dictator. Right-o.

        Nonsense. And the fact that your post was moderated up only serves to demonstrate the sad lack of perspective in the Slashdot community when anything related to Microsoft is mentioned. Consider, if the schools had signed a similar deal with Red Hat, Sun, or Apple (and I bet some of them have) would this even be an issue?
    • VS.NET obviously won't work on Linux, but SharpDevelop [icsharpcode.net] is on the way...
    • More succinctly:

      "Me no care if thing evil or not if me get thing CHEAP!"
    • if some shady agreement with MS puts Win2k in the labs and Visual Studio on my PC I got no problem with it.

      Be careful at the graduation ceremony - I bet the Microserfs will be there waiting to assimilate you into the Collective... :)
    • Cant wait to become an official corporate lackey, ehh? Can't wait to stomp the face of the poor some more? stomp the face of freedom and right from wrong?
    • I officialy declare this thread to be a legitimate FLAME WAR>>>let the flaming begin.
    • And if RIT didn't have the shady deal with MS, maybe you'd only be paying hundreds every year, and you'd learn all about other amazing development environments that MS has now contractually forbidden you to see (on school time at least).
  • heh (Score:2, Funny)

    by Slashdotess ( 605550 )
    in direct contravention of Someone's been using their word of the day calendar.
  • Antitrust? (Score:2, Informative)

    by cperciva ( 102828 )
    Wasn't this covered by the antitrust settlement? I'm sure there was something about requiring Microsoft to offer the same, public, terms to everyone.

    Or maybe it only applied to OEM contracts... can someone with better memory than I provide the details?
    • Yes, it only applies to OEMs and only applies specifically to the Windows OS. The relevant part of the Final Judgement [microsoft.com] is in Section III, Part B:

      Microsoft's provision of Windows Operating System Products to Covered OEMs shall be pursuant to uniform license agreements with uniform terms and conditions. Without limiting the foregoing, Microsoft shall charge each Covered OEM the applicable royalty for Windows Operating System Products as set forth on a schedule, to be established by Microsoft and published on a web site accessible to the Plaintiffs and all Covered OEMs, that provides for uniform royalties for Windows Operating System Products, except that ...

      The settlement doesn't preclude Microsoft from entering a wide range of special agreements with various kinds of customers. I don't think Microsoft is doing anything shady at all here ... confidential agreements is standard practice in business and schools are no different from any other business. However, if the school signed a confidential agreement that conflicts with its needs as a publicly funded organization, the school is at fault, not Microsoft. I think there are plenty of other ways to pick on Microsoft and this isn't one of them.

      • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @07:41PM (#4954943) Homepage Journal
        schools are no different from any other business
        I think I'm just going to let that statement sit there by itself for a while, without comment, all by its lonesome.
        • Point taken. After I posted, I realized that the statement should have actually read, "schools are no different from any other customer," but the statement is not completely inaccurate or wrong as it stands: schools are treated as businesses by Microsoft. They have people to negotiate with, they pay money, and are liable with contracts. They may be granted price breaks and privileges beyond that of a regular customer, but they are treated as a business first, education institution second.

          I know what you're getting at and I do apologize for misspeaking, but that wasn't my intent.

    • Wasn't this covered by the antitrust settlement?

      That was a joke; didn't you know?

      TWW

  • just doesn't get it.

    I'm not sure I understand why MS would want to keep it quiet. Is it that they don't want others to know how cheap or not cheap they are selling their product for, thinking that they maybe undercut? I honestly don't get what is to be gained by this. By keeping the entire contract a secret are they putting in other stipulations that are in accordance with fair play? If so why would colleges be a part of something that would clearly be illegal? The article doesn't address any of these issues and really seems to be just a lot of FUD. Can anyone help clear this up for me please.
    • I'm not sure I understand why MS would want to keep it quiet. Is it that they don't want others to know how cheap or not cheap they are selling their product for, thinking that they maybe undercut? I honestly don't get what is to be gained by this.

      Because the contract might be along the lines of, "we will give you a 10% discount as long as you promise not to use Linux anywhere in your system". (Before you dismiss this as paranoia - their contracts with OEMs used to be not dissimilar to this). Not technically illegal, but it would be embarrassing if it came to light.

    • heh, this company proudly screws people in the ass:
      forces you to upgrade every year or two,
      charges a "service-based" fee for its OS,
      forbids "unauthorized" (translation: negative)reviews of its products,
      tries to have a say in the licenses of applications you develop using its producsts,
      tries to get the rights to do what and when it likes with your PC (remotely),
      shoves sneaky dirty licenses down your throat during upgrades, and has the most insecure of all systems,
      and
      denies insecurities and lets people suffer.

      This is just to customers. And of course, we haven't even started talking about how it treats competitors and chokes the marketplace, which is much much worse.

      Yet, if people are so stupid as to not go for alternatives, screw them. They deserve it. An "everyday-person" continuing to live with MS, i kinda understand. But campuses, (who have sysadms who have gotta know stuff) taking it in the ass and shoving it on their students, is just incredible.

      coming up with lame reasons:

      Maybe it is the windoze sysadms of campuses and companies who are lame, lazy and coward enough to not explore alternatives ---

      What surprises me to no end are the faithful windows-monkey sysadms that i find in companies, who obnoxiously defend each and every move of microsoft and love this company and its products and keep the companies and its people a slave of this microsloth. And not just that, they genuinely consider windoze superior and more secure, and keep trashing the security of linux, which is the funniest part of all.

      Of course, i have to wonder if these windows-monkeys are winking to themselves while they do all that. Afterall, being winodze sysadms entitles them to free MS products for both their home and office, as well as free participation in those cherished "MCSE" exams, and also allows them to become "Most valued professionals" --- and they then get to help MS newbies on the messageboards ("you will now find that help button has moved to the menu on the right in the new windowe edition") and look el33t.

    • If so why would colleges be a part of something that would clearly be illegal?

      Because Microsoft is a monopoly. Because it can basically dictate any terms it wants. Because if the college doesn't sign, Microsoft and the BSA will come in and force biweekly audits of every computer in the institution. Microsoft can charge anything it wants, and by keeping the contract secret, make it seem like they're giving the colleges a great deal ("The fact that your tuition went up 15% and we won't have heat on alternate days is totally unrelated. Really."). Since MS is a convicted Monopolist and made breaking the law an essential part of contract negotiations, I'm disinclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  • Ummm bad... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MegaHamsterX ( 635632 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @06:32PM (#4954656)
    If these are schools funded by my tax dollars I want to have the right to determine if they are spending my tax dollars in a way that is beneficial to me. If they are signing hidden contacts with Anyone I would like to know why and how that benefits me, especially when there is no need to run MS apps at a school in the first place.

    Yes, graduating well educated people does benefit me.
    • Re:Ummm bad... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ender81b ( 520454 ) <billd AT inebraska DOT com> on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @06:50PM (#4954737) Homepage Journal
      specially when there is no need to run MS apps at a school in the first place.

      Well.. yes there is a need to run MS apps at a major university, just like you need to run *nix/mac apps. The reason my school [unl.edu] signed a Campus Wide liscene agreement is quite simple - they where tired of getting busted by the BSA. THis way they pay a million or so a year and get all the licenses you could desire and not have to worry about the BSA or getting audited.

      An interesting little factoid about our campus-wide liscene is that we pay, literally, an Microsoft Tax on all new computers bought. In addition to the 1$ million or so a year we pay directly to MS we also pay 100$ per computer we buy on top of what the vendor charges us. And - just for fun - if we do a 'substantial upgrade', defined as replacing the motherboard/chip, we also have to pay 100$.

      Then again, the agreement is kindof nice - our copies of win xp don't have to be activated, we don't have to worry about a seperate license for each computer, faculty can have a copy of office/windows to use at home. But yeah, terms of the agreement should be made public.
      • Re:Ummm bad... (Score:3, Interesting)

        This is why I dislike MS in schools, when the BSA fines a school it steals my tax dollars that I have voted and campaigned to go to schools.

        As far as I'm concerned if software does not exist it needs to be written, by schools and put under GNU.

        GNU gives me the most bang for the buck when it comes to my money, and YES I relize almost everyone pays taxes, but then again I'm not fighting for you, if my fight benefits you then great.

      • In addition to the 1$ million or so a year we pay directly to MS we also pay 100$ per computer we buy on top of what the vendor charges us.

        Please correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't per-processor licenses already ruled illegal in an earlier anti-trust decision against Microsoft?
  • by zachlipton ( 448206 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @06:43PM (#4954714)
    Many are saying "well good for them, it doesn't matter if it is secret" or "having a cheap license is the important part." However, the entire purpose of these Public-Disclosure laws is that citizens (who pay for these Universities with tax money) should have the right to know what is being done with their money. A private University can sign whatever contract they want with Microsoft, but a publicly-owner organization has an obligation to _us_ (the people paying the bill) to tell us what they are doing.

    Having secret contracts with a monopoly to use taxpayer-paid dollars in unknown ways is a dangerous business. For all we know, these contracts could ablige these universities to use exchange-server or block access to filesharing networks in exchange for getting and selling their software at a low price. For that matter, it could be a high price, no-one knows!

    The beauty of the public-disclosure laws comes where any citizen can complain about the use of their tax dollars.

    • However, the entire purpose of these Public-Disclosure laws is that citizens (who pay for these Universities with tax money) should have the right to know what is being done with their money.

      How often do you actually check your local university to see how much they spent on:

      • soap
      • towels
      • name tags on doors
      • electricity
      • parking structures
      • salaries
      • perks
      • etc.
    • And in general these License are for a year and have to be renewed at that point. So If Microsoft decides to up the price by 300% after a year or two, its a monopoly so you are stuck.

      If you cancel your licence you can be sure that they will audit you and if you don't have oiginal media for each and every piece of software that you have installed you can bet they will slam your but. doing this once or twice will ensure that Microsoft does not have to do it very often.
    • But you have to admit, this is what tax paying Americans deserve. We don't have any freedom and we're lied to all the time. Why now just accept the truth that they know what's best for us. I think we should be taxed but never given any information about how that money is divided up or handed out, so long as it goes to pay for schools and roads, etc. I wouldn't even mind a little higher tax if they could make the stuff on TV entertaining again. Maybe have the Olympics 2 times a year. And when is Pizza Hut gonna finally put its logo on ISS, they need the money y'know?
      If we really want to live this cheap outsourced commercial lifestyle then I say more power to them. I hope we pay more taxes to these secret closed source deals than we did originally. Personally I want our actions to one day finally bite us in the butt where there's no denying our unethical and/or immoral behaviors. Until we let the system eat itself alive people will go on believing its a perfectly good and healthy system to work in. Given modern technology I think there are better options.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @06:50PM (#4954736)

    I go to one of the universities listed above, so I'll post anonymously on this topic. People here ask "Why does it matter what is in these agreements?" I'll tell you why it matters. My speculation is that courses are being changed as a result of these agreements.

    For example, my school has a "Microsoft.NET laboratory". This literally is an entire room of a building dedicated to working on Microsoft.NET products. A course I am taking next semester that historically has been done in Java all of the sudden is now including C#; without seeing the syllabus, I cannot say which one is being emphasized more.

    Secret agreements may be nice, but it makes me wonder what is going on. I wish I had a good compromise answer here; it's nice to let students get $1,000+ worth of software for less than $200 (which we can then keep after we leave school), but if the curriculums are being compromised in response, academic integrity and independance are going down the drain.

    • So you get MS Whatever 2002 for peanuts. Big deal. Think it'll be useful -- or even compatible -- with MS Whatever 2007? Guess again. But now that they've sucked you in, they'll be sucking on your wallet for a good, long time. Your MS Wallet! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-hahahahahaaaaa!!!
    • ...if the curriculums are being compromised in response, academic integrity and independance are going down the drain.



      Excuse me, what makes you think they haven't already been flushed?

  • To have a team of lawyers looking for loopholes and ways to manipulate the law is by some viewed as competition. Others view it as cheating the intent of the law.
    • To have a team of lawyers looking for loopholes and ways to manipulate the law is by some viewed as competition. Others view it as cheating the intent of the law.

      Oh, you mean the MS marketing department?

  • Yes, it's true (Score:4, Interesting)

    by I Want GNU! ( 556631 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @07:00PM (#4954779) Homepage
    I go to CMU [cmu.edu]. MS Office XP costs $10. MS Windows XP costs $10. MS Visual Studio.NET costs $15. All these are without manuals, in tiny packages with a license for installing it one time (actually, the license is separate, and it claims it's illegal without a license, but the people at the computer store say it's a one time install).

    Anyways, this cuts down on piracy on one hand. On the other hand, I'm seriously bothered by the fact that they are using MY highly priced college tuition to support a convicted felon.

    What's really sad is that there is a Microsoft club at my university called MSImpact, supported by MS (and the girl who runs it is paid by MS to do this, she interned there one summer and has some sort of deal right now).
    • Also, if I didn't make this clear, the reason that the prices are so low is because CMU has a special agreement with Microsoft to provide it at these prices. I mention the prices of the software to people and they say "oh cool, that's cheap" and decide not to pirate it. I don't think they realize that the reason the prices are so low is because the campus is probably paying the other $90 (or however much it is).
      • Re:Yes, it's true (Score:4, Insightful)

        by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @07:23PM (#4954884) Homepage
        Even if MS didn't charge the university at all, and gave every student free copies of all those products, the college and its students would still pay a price in giving away their mindshare to a peddler of proprietary, canned-solution development tools. Especially at an elite university like CMU, this is particularly worrisome.
    • Ohio State has that, but it's called osuNTsig (new technologies student interest group). We also have an open source club, but it doesn't do anything, so I joined NTsig as well. NTsig has a lab that they will allow me to use and have numerous manuals for Office, .NET and other M$ products. I like GCC and all, but .NET is a better environment.

      So if I want to be in a CS club that does something, I don't have much of a choice but to join the MS one.

      O, and I got .NET for free from them.
      • Re:Yes, it's true (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cerlyn ( 202990 )

        Umm... As a member of the Ohio State University open-source group [ohio-state.edu], I can say we do an awful lot! It might all be a matter of opinion, but we definitely already have a number of events planned for next quarter.

        And don't think we're lightweight open source users either; if you haven't noticed, at least OSU OSS one member, Colin Walters, has been mentioned on Slashdot [slashdot.org] twice [slashdot.org]. And he's not the only person in the group with high-level access to a major open-source project; we also have at least one other Debian developer, as well as a Gnome one.

        The problem with OSU clubs in general is finding out what they're up to; I, for instance, don't get any IEEE event information, and hence thought for a long time that they were doing nothing as well.

        If you want to see what the group is up to; subscribe to our mailing list (general [ohio-state.edu] or announcements only [ohio-state.edu]), and/or come to a meeting. We do not list meetings on the web site's front page, but every meeting has been listed in the events section [ohio-state.edu], flyered around Dresse, and sent out to both email lists.

        Granted, NTsig can give you free Microsoft software, so if you're into MS, you're better off with them (although you can join both). Rumor has it that many NTsig members think the opensource group is more into their cause, although that may just be rumor.

        (The preceding was written by an OSU OSS member; not an officer.)

    • Re:Yes, it's true (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcowger ( 456754 )
      A convicted felon?!? Who?

      Microsoft was convicted of abusing its monopoly. Thats not a felony. I dont even think its a criminal case. MS isn't even a person. A felon is someone who does something very bad and goes to jail for it and can no longer vote. You are mixing up your terms.

      Its fine if you dont want to support MS, but at least sound intelligent when you choose to advocate that point of view in public.

    • I'm a grad student at the University of Cincinnati, and we have the exact same deal, as mentioned on the Ohio State link. In addition to the low prices, the software does not employ the same anti piracy methods as the consumer software. No product activation codes on the xp software, and my copy of office x doesn't even require a serial number. (I would link to the UC page with the details, but you can't view it from outside the local network.)

      Also, Microsoft is not the only company doing this sort of thing. Our university recently signed a similar deal with Adobe. Unfortunately, the students are the only group who are NOT eligible to participate. thppppppppt!

      Merry xmas!
    • Re:Yes, it's true (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sheldon ( 2322 )
      "MY highly priced college tuition to support a convicted felon."

      Convicted felon?

      Good thing you aren't going for a law degree... You can't be convicted of a felony under civil law.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @07:02PM (#4954786) Homepage
    Here's who you make a FOIA request to [msu.edu] and here's MSU's FOIA price list. [msu.edu] Here's a summary of Michigan's Public Records Act. [michigan.gov] There's no exemption that would cover a signed contract. Somebody in Michigan should ask.
    • I mean, for chrissake. Anyone else remember the umich Mac freeware/shareware archive? Predated Info-Mac by a bit, but was excellent. Only notable thing I'm aware of about umich, too. :-)

      And now they've made a complete about-face?
  • by sammy.lost-angel.com ( 316593 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @07:04PM (#4954796) Homepage
    >so what the colleges and Microsoft are doing may not actually be illegal (or could be argued not to be, anyway), but it certainly is shady.

    What they might be doing is offering different universities packages at different prices.
  • by bubbha ( 61990 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @07:06PM (#4954808) Homepage
    When the terms of the contract MS was pushing on public schools was brought to everyones attention, there was a pretty big uproar. Remember - MS forced the schools to pay them for licenses for ALL PC's in the district whether they actually ran Windows or not. The effect of this practice is to hinder the ability to buy Mac's for - say the graphic arts department or even use donated PC's to run Linux or anything else. Makes you wonder just what kind of "deal" these schools are getting and if they are possibly anti-competitive.
  • by jtotheh ( 229796 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @07:18PM (#4954862)
    MS's whole business is driven by large-scale EULAs, often cloaked in secrecy. Look at the Windows Laptop Refund people, they went to great efforts to get back the added cost of "bundled" Windows and I don't think anyone has gotten a dime.

    They don't care about Joe Sixpack buying WinXP Home at ChumpUSA, they are after bigger fish. Like the country of India or China. Or every customer of Dell, Gateway, IBM, etc.

    I think the budget items of a state university should be subject to some sort of FOIA inquiry, perhaps using state laws not federal. This is a really bad trend because when it becomes impossible to avoid paying Microsoft the "gratis" / free aspect of open source is nullified. If anyone in the states mentioned has the motivation they should pursue this with their state representative to bring these charges and their amounts to light.

    An added bonus they have with their "free" Front Page copies (at one of the FAQs for the universities) is that they generate bad code for non-IIS servers * . Gee, I'll have to go download IIS for Linux once I'm done with this post.

    http://www.oit.ohio-state.edu/site_license/mslic ense/answers.html*Is FrontPage recommended for use with my environment? Before purchasing or developing your web pages with Microsoft FrontPage, ensure the web server for your pages will be the Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) running on Windows NT. FrontPage embeds proprietary and/or non-protocol-compliant features within HTML code, many of which are incompatible with many non-Microsoft web servers, including those utilized in OSU's OpenVMS and Novell architectures. The implications are twofold: o Web page creators can't just place FrontPage-generated HTML files in their OpenVMS accounts or in their Universal Disk Space and expect the web pages to work correctly. o Even if the pages are served successfully, they may only be fully readable by certain versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) web browser.

  • the real issue (Score:5, Informative)

    by bromoseltzer ( 23292 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @07:21PM (#4954876) Homepage Journal
    Until recently, I was responsible for software licensing for a number of university departments. The facts of life:
    • Nobody is in full compliance without an institutional license (like these) and probably nobody is in compliance even with such a license program.
    • The cost of full (a la carte) compliance would be enormous. How do you track 20,000 licenses among many departments, research groups, students, etc.?
    • Anyone who thinks about legal exposure is running scared.
    License administration is exceedingly unproductive work that everyone hates. So we had a pretty strong reason to pay MS's "protection money" and sign up for the blanket license. Even under the program, there are a lot of onerous provisions, as the FAQs cited at Ohio & Michigan show.

    A courageous administrator (more courageous than I) would add up all the costs and risks and conclude that the rational thing is to go Open Source. Microsoft's strategy seems to be to extract all the cash from universities that the market will bear, without starting a rebellion.

    All this has nothing to do with FOIA and everything to do with monopolists, institutional inertia and risk avoidance.

    • I really think these licesne agreements and their legal implications should be the motivation that propels large orginations to adopt open source software.

      When xyz consulting publishes a study showing that Windows desktop TCO is less than Linux, I seriously doubt that they are calculating the potential liabiliites and costs associated with a raid from the BSA, or the costs associated with administering a license program that would actually pass BSA muster..

  • The terms in the agreement are probably meant to provide Microsoft with information about the students, possibly including things like when they graduate (making them eligible for Microsoft to begin marketing more software products to them). Notice the registration requirements. They may also include a requirement to provide to Microsoft a detailed accounting of all computers on campus and what OS they are running. Almost certainly these terms are intended to give Microsoft some special advantage in the post-academic commercial market, and perhaps to some extent to head off more deployment of Linux on campus, especially in areas exposed to the general student population (e.g. the labs of rows of computers for students to use). Financially, the university will be gaining, not losing. The question is what non-financial issue is lost that the university leadership doesn't care about.

  • Microsoft Paranoia (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dskoll ( 99328 )
    Microsoft had an agreement with Industry Canada's
    Computers for Schools [ic.gc.ca] program. It was also secret. I got a copy under Canada's Access to Information law, though no-one was very cooperative.

    There was nothing particularly disturbing about the agreement, although there was one funny part:

    5. VIRUSES --- you acknowledge that the SOFTWARE may contain viruses and you accept any risks associated with using the SOFTWARE without recourse to Microsoft, Microsoft Canada Co. or the Government of Canada.

    I think M$ is just plain paranoid.

  • I know Lehigh University recently (last year) signed an agreement with MS which granted a liscence of MS office and Windows XP to all the students. I found it completely wrong that I'm forced to pay tons of extra money to buy software I don't even use (as I'm a linux user). Microsoft loves the deals because most of the students either have their own copy of that software already, or would have pirated a copy from the guy down the hall from them. I imagine the main reason the universities agree not to give out the information is they don't want people to see how much they're paying to get copies of MS products. I imagine MS probably uses the threat of "stopping piracy on campus" as part of the reasoning to get the university to cough over the money for the liscencing. I hate it as much as the next guy. Whats particularly ridiculous is that I know people with 3 legitimate windows copies now. The one that came with their computer, the one the school paid for, and the one that they get from the CSE departments subscription to the MSDN (which is a great deal for both the department and MS as we get free software, and they get their software to be used educationally). Hopefully some day our administration will come to its senses regarding this. Philip Garcia Computer Engineer Lehigh University '03/4
  • The Ohio FAQ [ohio-state.edu] has the following section in. I'm not sure if they're warning against Apache, or saying FrontPage is so hopelessly non-standards-compliant you shouldn't use it. A similar clause is in the Michigan Acknowledgement of Conditions and Notices form [umich.edu].

    Is FrontPage recommended for use with my environment?

    Before purchasing or developing your web pages with Microsoft FrontPage, ensure the web server for your pages will be the Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) running on Windows NT. FrontPage embeds proprietary and/or non-protocol-compliant features within HTML code, many of which are incompatible with many non-Microsoft web servers, including those utilized in OSU's OpenVMS and Novell architectures. The implications are twofold:

    Web page creators can't just place FrontPage-generated HTML files in their OpenVMS accounts or in their Universal Disk Space and expect the web pages to work correctly.

    Even if the pages are served successfully, they may only be fully readable by certain versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) web browser.

  • by jfrumkin ( 97854 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @08:35PM (#4955150) Homepage
    Oracle uses the same dir^h^h^h tactic with universities as well (and not just with states named California). At the University of Arizona, we purchased a site license for their product line at an enourmous price - during the process, they would not divulge (nor were we able to find out) their deals with other universities. However, I found out from my Dad, who is a dean at a university in the northwest, that Oracle tried to sell them the very same deal, but they turned it down.
  • Like I said in another post in another thread this morning......

    And?????

    This is news how?

    Like anything would ever be done about it. This doesn't suprise anyone and nothing will ever be done about it.

    We all know that Microsoft does shady deals. We know that they break the law in the open. This has been proven in court.

    Since nothing will ever be done about any of it, why waste time dwelling on it?

    Come on people, just get on with replacing them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @10:00PM (#4955379)
    Since I'm employeed by an institution that has one of these contracts, I'm going to post as an AC. When we signed our Microsoft Campus Agreement, there were (substantiated) rumors that the contract required a certain percentage of our University-owned computing infrastructure to use Microsoft OSs. That doesn't seem too bad, until you realize that they were counting intelligent switches, Cisco firewalls, etc, it as non-MS products for that calculation. Of course, once the IT populace started getting hot about this requirement, the web-site was pulled are replaced with an MS-sanctioned page like those listed in the blurb.
  • by foxtrot ( 14140 ) on Tuesday December 24, 2002 @10:26PM (#4955459)
    commenting on the Microsoft monopoly.

    Microsoft doesn't give good deals to colleges so they can raise the price on them two years later.

    Microsoft gives good deals to colleges (as do Sun Microsystems, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM...) because they want their stuff in front of the people who will be making the decisions in ten years. Microsoft doesn't give software to colleges (or discount the heck out of it) because they want to leverage a monopoly-- they do it because they fear not being a monopoly in 10 years.

    Microsoft often goes one step further: They'll foot the bill for some percentage of PC hardware if the college in question will promise to run Microsoft OSes on it.

    -JDF
  • All State FOI Laws (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @02:49AM (#4956080) Homepage
    I looked around a bit and found this helpful list of all state Freedom of Information laws. [missouri.edu]

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