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Norway and Ukraine and FOSS

June 30th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

The Norwegian Minister of Modernization Morten Andreas Meyer at a press conference in Oslo declared “Proprietary formats will no longer be acceptable in communication between citizens and government.”

The Minister, as part of the plan, has charged all government institutions, both at the national and local level, to by the end of 2005 have worked out a recommendation for the use of open source code in the public sector. Further by the end of 2006 every body of the public sector in Norway must have in place a plan for the use of open source code and open standards.

The plan clearly favors Open Source communities and solutions, and Linux, but will also favor Apple Computer where increasingly open source technologies and open standards are finding their way into the historically proprietary Mac OS.

Just a few days earlier, in Ukraine:
“A battle for software supremacy within the public and private sectors of Ukraine has begun. Recently, the Ukrainian Parliament registered a “project of law” (the equivalent of a bill in U.S. terms) that may radically alter the manner in which the Ukrainian government procures software. If adopted, it will require government agencies, along with all state-owned or state-controlled companies, to give preference to open source software.

However, the proposed legislation still offers ample opportunity for competition by legitimate proprietary software. It requires giving preference to an open source product only when the open source feature set is analogous to that of a commercial product, and justifies using proprietary products if the open source counterparts are more expensive.

Monopolies and Market Shifts

June 29th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

A Computerworld article about Novell suing Microsoft brings to light the text of a 1997 email from Microsoft Office division chief Jeff Raikes to investor Warren Buffet.

Raikes wrote, “If we own the key ‘franchises’ built on top of the operating system, we dramatically widen the ‘moat’ that protects the operating system business. We hope to make a lot of money off these franchises, but even more important is that they should protect our Windows royalty per PC. … And success in those businesses will help increase the opportunity for future pricing discretion.”

Pricing discretion, of course, means price increases with the end goal of ‘monopoly rents,’ which explains why Windows and MS Office cost so much today.

Fortunately, these prices will be brought back to earth because of the competition provided by Linux, OpenOffice, et al. When the market switches from one software to another, it can happen very fast. Novell’s experience from 1994 to 1996 (quote below) will be Microsoft’s experience in the near future.

“Novell merged with WordPerfect Corp. in June 1994. In a related transaction at the same time, Novell purchased Quattro Pro from Borland International. The combined value of WordPerfect and Quattro Pro at the time of the transactions was more than $1 billion, according to Novell. Less than two years later, Novell sold WordPerfect and Quattro Pro to Corel for approximately $170 million.”

Warren Buffet was investing in Microsoft in 1997, but it’s unlikely that he’s doing so now!

3.5 Million OpenOffice CDs in Hindi

June 27th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Carrying on its open source CD distribution project, the government of India has created 3.5 million open source CDs in the Hindi language. (The main applications included are OpenOffice, Firefox, GAIM, and Columba.) The previous CD, in Tamil, also reached 3.5 million copies, up from the 3 million earlier reported. In August, a Punjabi version is scheduled to be launched.

ZDNet UK reports.

Technetra covers the launch ceremony.

Byfield Compares Writer to Word

June 24th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Bruce Byfield writes “ Writer vs. Microsoft Word” for Newsforge.

“Now that OOo is starting to be used in business, a more detailed look seems overdue. Accordingly, I compared the beta of OOo Writer 2.0 with Microsoft Word 2003. Both are adequate for most users’ purposes, so I focused on functions that power users are likely to want: Styles, Templates, Outlining, Bulleted and numbered lists, Tables, Headers and footers, Indexes and tables of content, Cross-references, Conditional text, Master documents, Drawing tools, and Unique features.”

“At the end of each category, I give my verdict about which program has the best combination of features and usability. While hardly surprising, the results offer a concrete example of how open source tools are not only equalling but starting to surpass proprietary ones.”

I’m not one for suspense, so here’s Byfield’s conclusion:

“Several years ago I concluded “Opening Up to” by saying, “OOo Writer outperforms Microsoft Word in almost every way.” With the release of the version 2.0 beta, that statement is truer than ever. At its worst, OOo Writer is an adequate alternative for Microsoft Word. Most of the time, it is a superior one. And the greater your need for page design features or long document handling, the greater that superiority becomes.”

NeoOffice/J 1.1 Released

June 23rd, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Yesterday saw the release of NeoOffice/J 1.1! Get it now (for Mac OS X).

“June 22, 2005: NeoOffice/J 1.1 is released. This release, which is the first official release of NeoOffice/J, includes all of the features in the NeoOffice/J 1.1 Release Candidate release plus many bug fixes.”

Meanwhile, for Linux, KOffice 1.4 has been released. KOffice now uses the OpenDocument format, so it is fully compatible with and NeoOffice/J.

NewsForge on OSS for India

June 22nd, 2005 Benjamin Horst

India continues to make headlines with its distribution of millions of OpenOffice CDs in multiple languages. At the same time, open source business leaders are looking to the future of OSS in India. For NewsForge, Mayank Sharma interviews David Axmark and Brian Behlendorf “to understand the benefits of an open source IT economy for a country such as India.”

“Tutorials for OpenOffice” Site

June 21st, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Tutorials for OpenOffice is a collection of learning resources for

8daysaweek is another good collection of news and links regarding and its community of users.

IBM Adopting OSS Methods

June 20th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

For internal software production, IBM is beginning to adopt the project management methods typically used in large open source projects. BetaNews interviews Doug Heintzman, IBM Software Group’s VP of Strategy and Technology, “to discuss the adoption of a hybrid development model called Community Source that combines the best elements of the open source model with decades of IBM programming practice.”

HackerTeen Brazil

June 17th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

In Brazil, HackerTeen was launched “to encourage teens to develop their entrepreneurial spirit, prevent them from becoming crackers and channel part of the energy they spend in virtual games toward learning Linux and Computer Security. Our goal is to prepare teens to use this powerful tool.”

Governmental and cultural encouragement of Linux and FOSS will help propel Brazil much more quickly into the high-tech, internet world.

State, Local Governments to Leverage Open Source

June 15th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

InformationWeek reports: “No longer the taboo alternative, open-source technology is garnering more attention and consideration by states and local municipalities that want to save money and secure the availability of data, according to a recent study by Input, a Reston, Va.-based government research firm.”