When I read the NY Times article Balancing Linux and Microsoft about Bruce Perens and his new initiative, Sincere Choice, which is a response to the recent Initiative for Software Choice, which Microsoft sponsors, I came to think of Jack Worthing’s closing words in “The Importance of Being Earnest – A Trivial Comedy for Serious People“, Oscar Wilde’s 1895-classic:
“On the contrary, Aunt Augusta, I’ve now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.”
Microsoft = Earnest ? Hmm.
The Initiative for Software Choice encourage governments to consider the following “neutral principles”:
- Procure software on its merits, not through categorical preferences
- Promote broad availability of government funded research
- Promote interoperability through platform-neutral standards
- Maintain a choice of strong intellectual property protections
The rhetoric is strong. They almost shoot themselves in the foot a couple of times, for example here: “Governments are best served when they can select software from a broad range of products based on such considerations as value, total cost of ownership, feature set, performance and security.” Exactly! So, why put up long-term licencing deals, which by nature takes away the choice?
The Global Software Choice Tracker on their site is useful, but a bit too selective.
Sincere Choice sets up parallel principles:
- Open Standards
- Choice Through Interoperability
- Competition by Merit
- Research Availability
- Range of Copyright Policies
- Freedom to Set Policy
To spot the difference, one must read what they mean. For example, they write: “Intercommunication and file formats should follow standards that are sincerely open for all to implement, without royalty fees or discrimination. […] No user should be required to use a particular product simply because other users do. Competing products should interoperate with each other through open standards.” Naturally, this would not, I assume, apply to Microsoft-policy.
Choice and exit must go hand in hand. Freedom is to be able to choose either, and to have a voice about the choice.
I have invited Bruce Perens to Copenhagen for yet another conference, we’re setting up, on 30 October. I’m still looking for someone from “the other side”, so we can get a counter-part to Perens. Any candidates?