Microsofts implementation of democracy

Software developers already know the tendency of Microsoft to have its own implementation of everything — which is generally and on purpose incompatible with the standard to allow Microsoft to force its desktop monopoly into other areas. That is essentially what the workgroup server issue in the European Union antitrust case against Microsoft is about.

That they also have their own implementation of democracy was new to me.

ZDnet UK features an article about the Vienna Manipulation under the title "Microsoft: Linux is anti-commercial". In this article, Thomas Lutz, the manager of public affairs at Microsoft Austria, is quoted saying:

"The Vienna Conclusions document was created through a democratic feedback process as requested by the committee and stated on the committee blog. Each and every participant of the conference was invited to publish contributions, share feedback and offer changes which facilitated discussion and an open exchange of positions," he told ZDNet UK. "All of our change requests were approved by the committee." 


Calling comments to a blog that apparently noone but Microsoft, IFPI and a few other selected individuals (including the committee) knew about "democratic feedback" shows an interesting understanding of democracy.

Saying that all participants were invited to give feedback in this setting vaguely reminds me of Douglas Adams: Why do you complain? You could have protested against earths’ destruction, the documents were publicly available on Alpha Centauri — if you got past the alligator pit in the dark cellar where the light is broken.

If Microsoft was so interested in dialog I wonder why they deliberately avoided talking to me at the conference, avoided participating in the panel the findings of which they had later modified, and (apparently) tried to prevent my speaking at the conference.

And yes. We already knew that the committee approved all the changes Microsoft wanted. That is precisely the problem.



As the whole story is getting bigger and bigger, here is a wrap-up of links to the different parts that together make up the whole story:

The best overall analysis and description of the situation so far was written by Germanys largest IT news provider, the Heise Verlag. They have the story online in both English and German.

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About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is CEO and President of the Board at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV for collaboration and communication, also available as Swiss hosted service Kolab Now. During his 20+ year career in Free and Open Source Software he has been author of the Brave GNU World, one of the most widely spread columns on the subject, founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and provided input to various governmental and inter-governmental organisations. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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