M.P. John Pugh warned that the government was in danger of sleepwalking into relationship of total dependence on the products of Bill Gates' Microsoft Company in a House of Commons debate on e-government. Fewer omputers were being sold ,he told the Commons, and so the big companies were trying to guarantee themselves a new income stream from governments and consumers.
Local residents will know that they now have to phone Microsoft for permission to use software they have paid a lot of money for. I believe Microsoft would like to see governments dependent on leasing computer programs from them which work only with other programs they approve on and on equipment they specify.
Already we have seen many of the big firms that produce printers make it impossible for us to use replacement catridges other than the expensive ones they make. We are being led into buying and rebuying on their terms. You cannot any longer buy a fax machine now in Southport that simply requires paper rather than ink cartridges.
John Pugh pointed that millions had already been spent by the government and the public services on equipment that was now obsolete and in skips. "The public sector has always been a soft target for the computer salesman and its going to get softer".
The government minister responding in the debate said that the they wanted to encourage competition. but Microsoft designed the government's own e-government site in a way which made it difficult for those not using Microsoft products to access. "You couldn't fill in your tax returns easily if you don't use Windows.. Thats not a good sign for the future !"
Editors note :
A senior IT executive at the Inland Revenue said last year that there are no plans to upgrade to newer versions of Windows, such as 2000 or XP.
They had also held high-level talks with Sun Microsystems about plans for its 70,000 desktops.
Chief executive Scott McNealy claimed that, compared with Windows, the Linux-based PC would be "half the cost at acquisition and maybe less than half the operating costs".
The Revenue announced in July 2002 that it plans to buy 30,000 PCs this year, which would provide an opportunity to phase in a new desktop environment.
Open source for an open government.