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United States

Oregon's Open Source Bill Stalled by Microsoft 256

Wanker writes "Previously on Slashdot we read about an Oregon bill that would require government agencies to consider Open Source software in addition to whichever software they would normally consider. Unfortunately, House Bill 2892 is getting stalled by "stiff opposition" from such unsurprising places as Microsoft. All you Oregon Slashdotters, it's time to call or write your representatives."
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Oregon's Open Source Bill Stalled by Microsoft

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  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by donutello ( 88309 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:58AM (#5763817) Homepage
    The consideration for open source should already be included in the basic law that all state departments should spend taxpayer resources in a way that would benefit the taxpayer most.

    The individual departments should already be considering the most appropriate software that meets requirements, buying the best software at the best price for the job. This should be covered by existing laws.

    We don't need additional laws promoting one kind v/s the other.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:00AM (#5763823)
      But most of the people making the buying decisions in the private sector are idiots who don't know what they're buying. They buy MS because they're following the pack, not because they think it's good.

      Jason
      ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <chris.travers@nOsPAm.gmail.com> on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:03AM (#5763837) Homepage Journal
      If the law only mandates that open source must be considered, I don't see how this is a bad thing. It means that proprietary software may be considered too.

      But, IMHO, I think that the law is -1 redundant. The press coverage which has lead to the consideration fo the law has already meant that departments are going to think twice about Microsoft software and seriously consider open source. I think that in this case, the law would not change anything, and would probably increase the paperwork of such considerations. So, I agree, this law is irrelevant, and should not be passed, and Microsoft is probably doing themselves more damage by opposing it...
      • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:58AM (#5763987) Journal
        "I think that the law is -1 redundant."

        And I think your post is a reply to a redundant post! Here's my suggestion to give some real TEETH to the law.. Closed Source software must be considered IF and ONLY IF open-source alternatives which satisfy the stated needs of the govt. agencies don't exist. Any agency in wilful violation of this legislation will be penalised... and the penalty terms could be laid down.

        The fact of the matter is that Open Source is a special category of software and needs legislation. It's like an endangered species - it cannot sustain itself without public awareness and legal protection. It is highly useful though.
        • For the past 42 minutes, the number of posts to this article stood at "66 out of 90". I got logged out automatically, and couldn't post or do anything during this period.

          I did something crazy - went to news.google.com and tried to search for "Microsoft Slashdot Oregon" and got this:

          Oregon Bill Would Require Open Source Consideration
          Slashdot - 1 hour ago ... hear quite a bit about the horrible shape Oregon ... fact that this pending bill gets
          attention on Slashdot will only force Microsoft ... The open sour
        • Huh??? If open source is really the compelling choice, than it _should_ be selected. If not, then the governement should go with closed source. I think laying down a law restricing the choice to one side or the other will be counterproductive, and ultimately hurtful to the open source cause. Imagine the backlash when people in government have things like OpenOffice forced on them when they are used to WordPerfect or MS Office? On the flip-side, wouldn't they be more receptive to change if they tried somethi
      • by skillet-thief ( 622320 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @03:22AM (#5764068) Homepage Journal
        But, IMHO, I think that the law is -1 redundant.

        Maybe from a purely practical standpoint, a law like this doesn't change much. Someone who really, really wants to buy Windows can say: I'm closing my eyes, I'm considering OSS...I count to ten, OK... now we can go buy Windows!

        But that's all right!

        The point of a law like this is making a statement and proving that there is a will on the part of the State government to have an agressive OSS approache.

        A law like this also lets The People (tm) have a role in deciding what kind of software their gov't uses. Without tying the hands of state agencies, it sends a message.

        The bottom line is the message getting sent. That is why MS is worried. It is more symbolic than anything, because it is another step towards widespread acceptance of OSS. And I think that MS is just as much worried about the symbolism of this law than about actually losing x Windows licences in Oregon.

        Go Ducks! Good job on this one.

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

        by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai@nospAm.gmail.com> on Saturday April 19, 2003 @03:35AM (#5764085) Homepage
        The law is not -1 redundant, unfortunately. There are several state agencies that can only aquire software from selected, approved vendors. If the vendor doesn't carry open source, you have to go proprietary.

        This makes for a real pain in the ass when you have to get a solution in place now and you have a budget of $0 for aquiring the necessary software from the approved vendor. This, sadly, is the case in a lot of state agencies.

        • Re:Good (Score:3, Insightful)

          The law is not -1 redundant, unfortunately. There are several state agencies that can only aquire software from selected, approved vendors. If the vendor doesn't carry open source, you have to go proprietary.

          Ironically enough, I think Microsoft's own spokeswoman called this one right. From the end of the article:

          "We believe that procurement decisions should be based on the overall merits and value of the software under consideration," said Alex Mercer, a Microsoft spokeswoman.

          Laws shouldn't take si

      • Re:Good (Score:4, Informative)

        by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @04:18PM (#5765444)
        Having read the law, the specific wording is such that if you don't use open source software you have to justify why. That means paperwork.

        How many people who just want to create a small database for their department is going to want to write up a 40 page paper justifying the use of Microsoft Access? They won't, so they'll find something which takes less work to acquire even if it is actually more expensive to setup and use.

        The people sponsoring this bill obviously understand how government bureacracies work, and they have setup wording that sounds reasonable on the surface, but would have devastating impact. It's manipulative, but that's frequently how you get bad laws passed.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by davidstrauss ( 544062 ) <david@@@davidstrauss...net> on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:09AM (#5763855)
      The consideration for open source should already be included in the basic law that all state departments should spend taxpayer resources in a way that would benefit the taxpayer most.

      Many existing laws require certain "certifications" that only exist for commercial packages or are so expensive that only for-profit corporations can foot the bill. If the government has baseline standards that eliminate open source as a choice, change is necessary.

      • change is necessary

        Agreed. But this is the wrong change. If there's a regulation that mandates proprietary solutions for whatever reason, that regulation should be removed. Adding another law or regulation to fix it gives you two bad regulations, instead of zero, which is what you want.
    • The paperwork for any purchase by the government is incredible. I would not be supprised if it favors microsoft based solutions getting the least paperwork or the most points for any purchasing decision. The whole reason infact that NT has a possix layer is because of government paperwork requiring possix compatiblity for government contracts.

      Now its possible that win32 is the new requirment for any purchase and Microsoft would like it to stay this way.

    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:21AM (#5763891) Homepage Journal
      The consideration for open source should already be included in the basic law that all state departments should spend taxpayer resources in a way that would benefit the taxpayer most.

      I don't want to see any law enacted that dictates any tools with which to perform a job. The best tool for the job should be decided upon by the individual(s) performing the work or defining the work. For instance, several years ago, the IT department attempted to tell me that I could not use a Macintosh to perform my work and that furthermore, I had to purchase a Windows machine. I informed them that there was no way that some IT knucklehead (no offence to Slashdot IT folks) was going to dicate to me the tools with which to perform my job and that I in fact was going to purchase a Macintosh from my grant.

      I would however be in favor of laws (and I suspect they already exist) that indicate government contracts have to be bid out and decided upon by 1) The best solution and 2) the lowest bid.

      • I don't want to see any law enacted that dictates any tools with which to perform a job. The best tool for the job should be decided upon by the individual(s) performing the work or defining the work.

        This could be true in business, but we are talking about gov't here. Like it or not, the OSS vs. proprietary debate has become political. I expect to see more proposals like this Oregon law.

        • It is a political decision. What I'd like to see is a purchase ban on proprietary AND GPL'd software. GPL, while great in it's own way, is not a good liscense for government software because it is too restrictive, and the fruits of development are not shared in an unrestricted manner (see also: to the proprietary software companies).

          So, I'd like to see it all liscensed under a liscense that permits those who modify it to change the terms of the liscense. Kernel Hacker Bob could liscense his changes to i
          • GPL, while great in it's own way, is not a good liscense for government software because it is too restrictive, and the fruits of development are not shared in an unrestricted manner

            The GPL isn't restrictive for anybody, as long as you don't distribute it. You can change the code and lock it up, and as long as you don't distribute anything no one will say a word. Perfect for gov't, which is not supposed to be in the software business anyway.

            Kernel Hacker Bob could liscense his changes to it under the

          • So, I'd like to see it all liscensed under a liscense that permits those who modify it to change the terms of the liscense. Kernel Hacker Bob could liscense his changes to it under the GPL, and big bad software company MS could just incorporate it into Windows.

            The problem with this approach is the taxpayers end up paying for the software twice: once for the government to develop it, and again when they purchase Microsoft software.

            Sure, we're arguing ideology here but Microsoft has in fact taken open

      • decided upon by 1) The best solution and 2) the lowest bid.

        It might be more prudent to look at the average bid, as the ones at the extremes of the scale are likely to be bogus. Too low usually means they're smoking some sort of crack about their ability to deliver. Too high is probably old tech trying to stay relevant. Just a thought.

        • It might be more prudent to look at the average bid

          Actually, I'd buy that argument as you typically get what you pay for.

          • Re:Good (Score:2, Insightful)

            by jdray ( 645332 )
            "Actually, I'd buy that argument as you typically get what you pay for. "

            Not true in the world of small vendor-based software. If a vendor (consulting group with a software product) has a software package that is in use by three or four government or big industry (or, in the case of my experience, utility) entities, they have to charge outrageous licensing and maintenance fees to keep their staff of programmers employed. Annual maintenance fees on the order of US$500,000 are not too far out of the ordin

      • I would however be in favor of laws (and I suspect they already exist) that indicate government contracts have to be bid out and decided upon by 1) The best solution and 2) the lowest bid. This would likely eliminate OSS in the process. After all who is going to do the bidding with OSS when the software is all that is needed, such as a web server? While I don't think that laws should be passed demanding that OSS always be used, I think that it should be considered before the purchase of any software.
        • This would likely eliminate OSS in the process.

          Not necessarily. After all, someone needs to get paid to implement said system and those funds could be counted into the bid price.

    • Re:Good? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jkrise ( 535370 )
      " The consideration for open source should already be included in the basic law that all state departments should spend taxpayer resources in a way that would benefit the taxpayer most."

      Exactly how will this help in benefitting the taxpayer? In the matter of H1Bs, the legislation was specifically phrased "foreigners may be employed ONLY WHERE such talent is not locally avbl". Only a similar strong wording can promote Open Source.

      I'd like a legislation which states "Agencies which consider software purchas
    • Re:Good (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phroggy ( 441 )
      The consideration for open source should already be included...

      Should be. Wish it worked that way. ;-)
    • Re:Good (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've worked on a couple State of Oregon development projects (hence the posting as AC). The open-source vs. closed-source debate is a bit more complex than it would seem here. A few relevant points:
      • The vast majority of people using computers in government are not techies. They are just people trying to do their jobs and they want familiar and easy-to-use tools to get those jobs done. For most non-tech-savvy users, the simple and familiar closed-source apps are going to be much easier to use.
      • The state
  • Huge lobby (Score:5, Insightful)

    by absurdhero ( 614828 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:00AM (#5763826) Homepage
    Considering that Microsoft has one of the biggest lobbying groups,if not the biggest (I don't remember), it really is no surprise. It will take persistance and a unified front to keep MS from blocking it. Unfortunately, politics isn't about what makes sense or what is best for the people. But if enough citizens complain to their representative, they have a better chance of listening.

    Good luck Oregon.
    • Re:Huge lobby (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ziekke ( 553197 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:15AM (#5763870)
      Its kind of sad that Microsoft bothers with lobbying these types of things, even with a law that states consideration is mandatory, that doesn't mean they wont still go the way of the higher cost. You need to keep in mind, you are given budgets for things, if you do not spend the money in the budget it looks like you don't need all that money. As much as that makes sense and is true, departments that don't spend the full budget lose that extra money. So they find ways to spend the leftover cash. I think its silly that they bothered to instate such a pointless law, all they have to do is say "Yea, we considered it BUT we're still going Microsoft". That will just feed MS adverts "We were chosen even when they were forced to consider open source!" No matter what they spend the money on, the money is still going to them. Gov't knows how to spend their budgets ;)
      • Re:Huge lobby (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Gonzoman ( 39290 )
        It appears to me that what this law is trying to do is to create an open market. Because of Microsoft's huge presence and aggressive posture in the software marketplace, laws like this are necessary to bring open source solutions to the attention of the purchasers.

        In a truly open market open source has many advantages over closed source. However, open source cannot compete against the massive amounts of cash Microsoft is able to put into their marketing (propoganda) campaigns.
    • Re:Huge lobby (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nija ( 667087 )
      you are forgetting one other thing that will be needed to shove Microsoft aside, and that is money. The grassroots campaign may have numbers, but Microsoft has what politicians care about.. money.
    • Maybe if they add a line that says they must ask Clippy's opinion on all new software purchases then Microsoft will stop blocking the bill.
    • Maybe if they add a line that says that they must ask Clippy's opinion on all new software purchases then Microsoft will stop blocking the bill.

      "It looks like you're trying to buy $2 million of software..."
  • Required by law? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m0i ( 192134 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:01AM (#5763829) Homepage
    "Oregon bill that would require government agencies to consider Open Source software"
    Ain't that a bit worrying? You've got to make laws to prevent government to waste your tax dollars by giving them to rich software companies, without even thinking that there are free alternatives. Duh!
    • by Meshach ( 578918 )
      If we really believe in open source we should trust it to be able to stand on it's own two feet. My local school district uses open source extensivly and we have no law requiring it. They just use it because it is a better, not because there is a law

      Is the next step to pass a law that non-open source must also be considered? Let open source stand on its own two feet
    • Ain't that a bit worrying? You've got to make laws to prevent government to waste your tax dollars by giving them to rich software companies, without even thinking that there are free alternatives. Duh!

      I slightly agree with Microsoft on this. Software should be used based on it's merits and it's support. If there were real open source support contracts out there, and it was competitive, people would use it without it being mandated.

      I think it's bullshit that this bill is, in effect, forcing people to c

  • In my opinion, the forces of government corruption are strong in Oregon: Complicated methods corrupt Oregon government. [futurepower.net]
  • A good admin will try to install the best software for the job, sometimes windows, sometimes oss. A bad admin will just install what they are used to. forcing them to "chose" wont change anything.
    • Re:big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Phroggy ( 441 ) <slashdot3@NoSPaM.phroggy.com> on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:32AM (#5763917) Homepage
      Admins trying to install the best software for the job isn't the problem - the problem is non-technical department heads choosing the software with the best-sounding sales pitch, and then hiring admins who can install that.

      The bill would mean that instead of just buying MS Office, they'd have to look at StarOffice and decide which would be better. Then they can still go ahead and buy MS Office anyway, if that's really what they need.
    • Re:big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

      "sometimes windows, sometimes oss"

      No-no-no - For organizations with very limited budgets, such as schools, a better admin would also consider the most economical solution:

      windows (which ever version is already installed) AND oss (Open Office)

      And that's probably what's got Microsoft's panties all tied in a knot.

  • House Bill 2892 (Score:2, Informative)

    by rsklnkv ( 532866 )
    72nd OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2003 Regular Session

    NOTE: Matter within { + braces and plus signs + } in an
    amended section is new. Matter within { - braces and minus
    signs - } is existing law to be omitted. New sections are within
    { + braces and plus signs + } .

    LC 2937

    House Bill 2892

    Sponsored by Representative BARNHART (at the request of Ken
    Barber)

    SUMMARY

    The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the
    measure and is not a p
  • I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by justin_speers ( 631757 ) <jaspeers AT comcast DOT net> on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:23AM (#5763901)
    Okay, so I'm an Oregonian, and I see absolutely ZERO point to this bill...

    This bill says Oregon should have to consider open-source software when upgrading systems... Where is the law that says Oregon CAN'T do that already? What a stupid waste of legislation, no matter how big you are on open source. Are politicians so stupid they need a law to tell them they can consider obvious options?

    Uhmm... wait... don't answer that last question. I figured it out on my own.
    • Re:I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Slowping ( 63788 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:35AM (#5763930) Homepage Journal

      Uhmm... wait... don't answer that last question. I figured it out on my own.


      This is exactly why we need this bill.
      Because by your argument, we shouldn't have the DMCA. All those things are better covered by existing laws. But the DMCA exists. We need to be a little more realistic and support laws like this to gain some ground.

      Yes, laws Should make sense, but they don't; so we need to play the political game.
      • Re:I'm confused (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yes, laws Should make sense, but they don't; so we need to play the political game

        Sorry, but I don't share that attitude... Somebody needs to stop this insanity!

        Everything is so over-legislated nowadays. There are zillions of laws saying you can't do this, you have to do that, congress "shall" do this.. etc.

        You're never going to make it better by playing the political game and heaping on "good laws" as band-aid fixes for all the bad ones.

        Honestly the only way we're going anywhere but dow
        • I'd rather be a naive idealist than someone who is perpetuating the horrid status quo...

          It would be nice if this attitude worked. In fact, it does do some good to have a lunatic-fringe out there, being naive.

          Unfortunately, if you actually want to the world to be a better place, you have to play the political game. That is just the way it is. Politics isn't perfect, but that is the way stuff works. If people hadn't voted for Nader, Gore would be president right now.

        • Honestly the only way we're going anywhere but down the drain is if people can someday stand up and vote for some candidates who will actually reduce the size of government and bring some efficiency to the table. I may sound a little too idealist, but there are alternatives to democrats and republicans out there.

          And they'll never get into office in any substantial way (I know New Hampshire (or Vermont?) has some libertarians in office, and Jesse Ventura was from a third party as well).

          Why? Because

  • by AdamBa ( 64128 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:32AM (#5763919) Homepage
    As the bill states, one of the goals of this is to allow data to be preserved by not storing it in a standard format. That is correct. Requiring open source software makes it too political and makes it easy for Microsoft to complain that the bill is directed against it. All that should be required is that data be stored in an open, published format. The software itself can be as proprietary as you want. This leaves Microsoft much less wiggle room in trying to claim that legislation would be a bad thing.

    The cost issue is there, but people buying software already consider cost as an issue. They probably don't think about the opaqueness of data, which is a much more important issue.

    - adam

    • I think the idea of requiring open formats is a good one, and well-intentioned, but I think the chances of getting it legislated and obeyed are pretty slim. Whilst it may give Microsoft less 'wiggle room', it would give them a HELL of a big reason to pour cash into congress ('lobby') for it simply not to be implemented. And with money like Microsoft, they probably could pull it off. Because this bill only says that open source software has to be 'considered', it's likely to attract less opposition (altho
      • I think this will attract plenty of opposition (already has). Politically, these "consider" bills are often considered to be trial balloons for later "require" bills. So Microsoft knows what it has to do here. The problem is, making it about open source, which shuts out Microsoft or requires it to make fundamental changes to its business model, makes it too easy for Microsoft to paint it as open source loonies trying to hurt Microsoft.

        So I think the first bill also has to say "consider", but it should be

  • There should be no government mandate that subverts the free market for software. Now while you may offer that lobbyists for corporations already subvert this market, remember that there are corporations (IBM, HP, Oracle) who are lobbying just as hard for linux-oriented solutions.
    • The problem is when there isn't a free market for software. The way decisions sometimes get made in government aren't really the result of market forces - they may be the result of outright bribery and market manipulation. In other words, the best product that would benefit the taxpayers the most doesn't necessarily win because the more expensive bid came from a company that wined and dined the hell outta some state gov't IT bureaucrat. This law didn't manipulate the free market, because as far as I can
  • by Colonel Panic ( 15235 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @01:49AM (#5763962)
    It appears that the Oregonian read a little too much into the fact that the bill wasn't discussed in the General Committee today. Here's part of a post that showed up on the Portland Linux User's Group this evening (Note: Representative Drummel is a committee member and supporter of the bill):

    "Behold! Representative Jerry Drummel, at 16:52PDT, calls me back.

    I spoke with him for about 10 minutes. To summarize:

    * He scratched out the discussion of the bill in the general committee because he wasn't happy with the amendments. Two issues:
    - Issue with the "where as" clauses. I didn't know what this meant.
    - Issue with parts of section 2, did not go into details

    * He has been working with Barnhart and and Ken Barber [co-sponsors of the bill] since the bills creation.

    * He is the one who invited Riverdale and the MESD down to testify.

    * Once the bill is finalized and approved through the General committee,
    he would be a yes vote. ....
    So, I don't think the bill is dead, just standard government bureaucracy. I've never had a representative call me back though, which
    was impressive. Then again, maybe I'm easily impressed when it comes to
    legislature. "

    So it would appear that The Oregonian was a bit premature in declaring the death of this bill. It looks like it will go through some more revision, though.
  • "We believe that procurement decisions should be based on the overall merits and value of the software under consideration," said Alex Mercer, a Microsoft spokeswoman.

    In other words, it should be based on how well that software is Marketed, not on how well it performs.

    Would they not discover the "overal merits and value" by evaluating software instead of ONLY listening to the production of one of the most aggressive marketing engines in the world, and online opinion?
  • by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @02:56AM (#5764026)
    the problem with OSS as far as gov't/schools are concerned is that when you have a company that makes the software, hardware, buildings, etc., you have somebody a) at the other end of the phone line and b) someone to sue. if you don't think that is important, you're mistaken. governmnets and schools do not want accountability. since i am a public school teacher, i can attest to this. these people want to be able to blame someone, for something. they don't want the responsibility. with OSS, even say red hat or suse, what, you gonna sue them or call them when something goes wrong. yes, i know you get support contracts. but it ain't the same.

    using OSS requires taking risk. these people won't do it. it is so much easier to "just use microsoft". you can't be faulted for making a "bad decision". but you choose to go with OSS, and it has even 1/10 the problems that microsoft's "solutions", you get your ass fried. please remember, some of the problems with public procurement:

    1) if you get $100, and spend $105, you demonstrated a need
    2) if you get $100, and spend $85, next year you get $75, since yoiuy don't ned it, and guess what, the schmuck who overspent, get's your chunk
    3) it isn't you're money, you don't care
    4) typically your purchasing decisions will reflect on your higher ups, whose recommendations you need to advance
    5) cheaper is better, most of the time. if you get 20 of item A for $100 and 25 of item B for $100, B is better choice. but, if you get 30 OSS items for $0, see rule #1

    my father spent thirty years selling, and schools and gov'ts were among his clients. they were most notorious for doing this: they'd see his competitors crap, buy it, and when it broke, he'd sell them a better system. so the purchasing agent got to:1) buy more for less, 2) blame company for product problem, 3) got credit for solving problem, 4) get's bigger budget next year

    you think i'm full of shit? how i wish i was. if you have never spent much time in schools (i have) or government, you are missing quite a learning experience. so, it is no surprise that OSS is not widely adopted in public service. but, call and write your elected officials. remember, THEY care about public dollars.
    • by catfood ( 40112 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @05:21PM (#5765715) Homepage
      the problem with OSS as far as gov't/schools are concerned is that when you have a company that makes the software, hardware, buildings, etc., you have somebody a) at the other end of the phone line and b) someone to sue.

      That old chestnut! I wish this was Plastic so I could mod you "-1 disingenuous." Every time there's an OSS vs. commercial software debate, someone brings up the "someone to sue" line as if it had never been thought of before.

      Now go read a commercial software license. Any commercial software license. You don't have someone to sue. MS Office could wipe out your backups and take your children hostage, but Microsoft isn't liable, because you agreed to their EULA. You don't have someone to sue. You might possibly get your purchase price back in an extreme case.

      if you don't think that is important, you're mistaken.

      <sarcasm>Oh, never mind. Now you've set me straight.</sarcasm>

      Say, why is it that the most clueless, argumentative posts include a self-referential line that ostensibly clears up that sort of confusion? How thoughtful.

      This is an old, old criticism of institutional use of OSS and it has never been valid.

  • For the past 42 minutes, the number of posts to this article stood at "66 out of 90". I got logged out automatically, and couldn't post or do anything during this period.

    I did something crazy - went to news.google.com and tried to search for "Microsoft Slashdot Oregon" and got this:

    Oregon Bill Would Require Open Source Consideration
    Slashdot - 1 hour ago ... hear quite a bit about the horrible shape Oregon ... fact that this pending bill gets
    attention on Slashdot will only force Microsoft ... The open sour
  • Facts about HB 2892 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by po8 ( 187055 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @03:37AM (#5764091)

    As someone who has done actual research on Oregon HB 2892 (reading the bill and talking to its sponsor), I'd like to try to clear up some misconceptions with a short FAQ:

    Q: What did HB 2892 do?
    A: Two things: Require state agencies to (1) consider open source in procurement, and (2) procure only software that supports open formats for data storage and interchange.

    Q: Why the past tense in the previous question?
    A: Because it appears that the language of the bill has been compromised to increase its chance of passage. I haven't yet looked for the revised wording.

    Q: Why is (1) necessary---can't state agencies consider open source anyhow?
    A: According to the bill's sponsor, the nature of state procurement rules makes open source procurement difficult. Because there is no sponsoring organization that will bid contracts for typical open source alternatives, agencies may be bound by law or regulation to ignore them. (1) changes that.

    Q: Doesn't the language of (1) force open software on state agencies?
    A: No, it forces them to consider it. In a plain reading of the rules, a state agency should be prepared to explain why it selected a particular package over open source alternatives. HB 2892 has no detailed description of the criteria or methods of consideration.

    Q: Do state agencies use a lot of open source anyhow?
    A: Yes. Agencies that already use open source software generally support the bill: see above.

    Q: Is (1) the most important part of the bill?
    A: No, both provisions (1) and (2) are important. Perhaps the chief concern of the bill's sponsor, Rep. Barnhart, is legacy systems and lock-in. (1) addresses this issue by encouraging continuously-maintainable systems. (2) addresses the issue by allowing seamless replacement of systems.

    Hope this helps.
    • this helps alot. while (1) is nice (2) is essential in my mind.

      the lockin created by proprietary file formats is where monopolies lie. it is critical that government organizations move to file formats which will allow them to choose software based on preformance and cost instead of legacy issues.

      if (1) gives organizations the option to use opensource software in cases where this option did not previously exsist, then i can see the need for it.
    • A: According to the bill's sponsor, the nature of state procurement rules makes open source procurement difficult. Because there is no sponsoring organization that will bid contracts for typical open source alternatives, agencies may be bound by law or regulation to ignore them. (1) changes that.

      This is the key. And yet, when I listened to the arguments given in the General Committee, not one person mentioned this! NO ONE! They all talked about how great open source software is and how it works so much
  • by sdibb ( 630075 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @03:59AM (#5764114)
    I agree with Microsoft COMPLETELY on this stand:

    "We believe that procurement decisions should be based on the overall merits and value of the software under consideration," said Alex Mercer, a Microsoft spokeswoman.

    In other words, go with open source.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 19, 2003 @04:17AM (#5764143)
    "Microsoft stalling bill that would require consideration of OSS"

    In other late-breaking news, the sky is blue and computer chips contain silicon. Film at 11.
  • This has to get in the main news media. Anyone have ties to CNN?? :) It will be the only way microsoft will have to live up to their lobbying. Lets tell the world what they are doing. Lets demostrate that they are only intrested in preserving their market place and not intrested in what is best for the country or world.

    I tell everyone I meed in the IT field even my VP that is very Pro-Microsoft. You have to educate people.

    atto
  • Missing the point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:22PM (#5764574)
    Anyone ever hear these.

    We'd Like to use PC's but we need IBM otherwise we will look foolish

    Nobody ever got fired for using IBM

    Now updated to: Nobody got fired for using Microsoft

    This bill gives OSS legitimacy. It means when someone suggests an OSS solution it has to be considered and can't be dismissed as that shareware crap.

    Remember most IT directors are political creatures. They are people that are much more adept at managing organization political games than they are at producing software, network infrastructure, or technology of any kind. They appreciate a situation where they one acceptable choice and the rest are no brainer rejects, It saves on the thinking that way.

    The law forces IT people that otherwise wouldn't give a second look to OSS to do so. Thats what Microsoft doesn't want. They are fighting the battle of mindshare.
  • If all they have to do today is send out a RFQ (Request For Quotation) and pick one, well guess what... no OSS program will usually get or respond to that. That somebody even have to look at it to dismiss it can be a step up in many cases...

    Kjella
  • It's one thing to call and write. It's something else entirely to volunteer and/or donate money. Of course, you would first have to have a conversation with their volunteer coordinator about just what kind of legislation that the political critter supports/opposes. If what they support isn't what you like, then find someone else to support -- and let them know that that's what you'll be doing.

    If you find that your congress-critter is borderline/bad, but the best of what's available, you may want to dona

  • That's the best policy...
    So if, as Microsoft says, their software is the best, why should they need to lobby against other software?

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