[Linux-aus] (NOIE) `Microsoft schmoozes governments'

Con Zymaris conz at cyber.com.au
Thu Feb 20 07:48:02 UTC 2003

On Thu, Feb 20, 2003 at 07:34:45AM +1030, David Lloyd wrote:
> Leon,
> >     IN town for NOIE's open source seminar, Microsoft's most senior
> >     female executive said government would be the big "schmooze" area
> >     for the software giant going forward.
> Apart from not saying anything and containing a flash plugin, just what
> does gender have to do with? If this were, for example, someone like
> Steve Ballmer [spelling], would we see "Microsoft's most senior male
> exective"...I think not. And we certainly wouldn't see something like
> "Microsoft's most senior black American executive"...
> I'm not being politically correct--I'm sure that the executive is very
> competent and got her job by merit--but it's amusing that the reporter
> chose to emphasise this aspect.

Quite correct about her competence. Wilderotter was by far the best
presenter on the day, and one can see why Microsoft decided to ferry her
out from the US for the occasion.

NOIE asked that no journalists be present to report in detail about the
symposium, so in keeping with the spirit of this request, I'm not able to
give away too much. However, here is an attendee-level perspective on what

NOIE officials (including John Rimmer, the head of NOIE) did an excellent 
job in opening and chairing the day.

IBM's Linux strategist (Mary Ann Fisher) was the first speaker, and
deliver a solid performance. Her material was most impressive. It
vindicated our (AUUG's) decision to run with little or minimal
pro-Linux/FOSS content, as Mary Ann had so moch of it. In fact, her
presentation content would make an excellent management-level presentation
to any organisation seriously looking at deploying Linux/FOSS in the
enterprise. Anything AUUG or Linux Australia would have added to this
relentlously positive message would have been superfluous and would have
smelt of overhype.

Microsoft's Wilderotter was up next, and her content was like nothing 
you'd seen from Microsoft before now. Let me para-phrase:

o Governments are not commercial entities
o Governments need transparancy of information
o Governments need accuracy of record keeping (i.e historical documents)
o Governments need source code access (!)
o Governments need open data formats (!!)
o Services provided to all citizens
o Presented a description of how closed-source works 
o Presented a description of how open-source works
o Commercial software fuels 'in-country' growth
o Microsoft makes tons of money. This is good for governments
o Open Source cannot be sustained on GPL alone
o Microsoft has learnt from Linux/FOSS
o Benefits to .gov of closed-source: ease-of-use. interoperable. secure. 
  low TCO. transparent (!!!)
o Lots of talk about Shared Source Initiative (SSI)
o SSI can be distributed with mods (non-profit) to Windows, CE, .NET
o Government Security Program. Full access to source (!)
o Governments should encourage open standards (!!)
o Governments should encourage interoperability  (!!!)
o Governments should encourage procurement choice (!!!!)

Yes, this is only part of the message Wilderotter delivered, but the 
remainder is along similar lines. Now, please take the time to re-read 
this, and tick off all that you agree with. Amazing, isn't it?

During Wilderotter's Q & A, I asked the following question:

 "Maggie, it's wonderful to see that Microsoft is recommending open 
 standards, interoperability and open document formats. When can we expect 
 to see the full protocols and formats for the proprietary MS Exchange 
 RPC calls and for MS Office XP published openly?"

Her response was that she wasn't sure, and that Micosoft Australia's 
managing director, Steve Vamos (sitting a few seats away from me) would 
find out and let me know. I subsequently had a chat with Steve, and 
we exchanged cards. I'll let you know how this pans out (I would suggest 
you don't hold your breath...)

AUUG followed next, and our presentation will be made available online in 
the near future. Also, I have collected a significant bundle of material 
which wasn't included in the AUUG official presentation, which I will make 
available as an ancillary tool for pro-FOSS-in-government evangelism. I 
believe that our presentation was well received, but it's difficult to 
make that call from the podium. Can others who were there in the 
audience comment?

Next came some in-detail presentations from federal government people who 
had deployed or were deploying Linux and were happy thus far.

Another interesting presentation was from Gartner's Robin Simpson, who 
delivered a 85% positive analysis of Linux/FOSS in the enterprise 
server-space and 35% positive for the desktop.

More views:


(the following collated by AUUG OCG's Gordon Hubbard.

"Government looks to Linux"
"Open Source gets a hearing in Canberra"

"Government is open to open source"

"No open source mandate: Aust govt"


"Australia at Linux leading edge"


"AUUG launches Open Computing Directory"

- - - 


Con Zymaris

Con Zymaris <conz at cyber.com.au> Level 4, 10 Queen St, Melbourne 03 9621 2377 
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