Switzerland – 0wn3d by Microsoft

[NOTE – this is my PERSONAL opinion and not the official opinion of my employer]

Source in german

Background on the case: Asking Switzerland for more Neutrality

The court has decided. A tender would be disruptive to the Microsoft-only world of the swiss public. One of five judges disagrees and mentions that this effectively means there is no alternative to Microsoft and that this might not be what a free market is about.

I can only say “Congratulations” to Microsoft. Feel free to cash in the 47 million SFR of swiss taxpayers money and look forward to a perpetuum mobile. You now own the swiss public sector. This is what competition and free market is about?

The trick used here was to say that the BBL wanted to buy a defined “technology”. The “technology” however was the Microsoft range of products. By using this interpretation it was obvious that Open Source solutions cannot compete and therefore a tender was not needed.

This argumentation disrespects a fundamental fact IMHO – this “technology” is not available in a market – it is *only* available from a *single* vendor who sets the price, the features and the scope. With this fundamentally flawed argument Microsoft now effectively is even free to ask *any* price for its “technology”. A single-vendor market is typically not seen as a free market. But I guess in Switzerland they have a different definition in place. Is this a wise use of taxpayers money? I respectfully disagree.

In all european countries there is a concept called vendor-neutral procurement for public authorities. This court decision is a HOWTO on disabling that requirement in Switzerland. And THAT is the dangerous precedent set here.

I am shocked but I do respect the courts decision. Feel free to add your comments here. I will post a more indepth article as soon as I have received more information.

CC BY 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

24 thoughts on “Switzerland – 0wn3d by Microsoft”

  1. AFAIR there is a concept called vendor-neutral procurement for public authorities. This court decision is a HOWTO on disabling that requirement. And THAT is the dangerous precedent set here.


  2. I warmly applause this decision

    When you look at the Spanish town Extremadura that made a shift to Open Source, it has just completely collapsed

    An army of software developers and IT engineers works there to build applications that can be made by few clicks using Microsoft Software’s ;>))

    How much it cost ? Nobody want to know…

    Look in Munich; they spend so many years to migrate few computers to Linux, and it still not finished at all…

    Swiss people are clever: They now that it is not the business of the Government to build apps; it is the business of professional company like Microsoft or Oracle

    How much tax do you want to pay? Linux is just too expensive for real world


  3. Calm down dude, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s not like people in Switzerland can’t get alternatives.

    Though why this had to go to court is beyond me, bureaucrats at their best, serving the people who elected them. Cheers!

    1. People can get alternatives but they will be denied government services because of this. Government use of non free software puts everyone under the thumb of a software owner. Microsoft has proven themselves willing and able to spy on Windows users, so government and public privacy is a foregone conclusion and this is an issue of national sovereignty. Citizens can look forward to purchasing Vista 7 and a new copy of Office to be able to read the OOXML docs their government will start publishing. Microsoft’s business model is corruption.

  4. Microsoft can charge as much as they want UNTIL there is a taxpayer revolt.

  5. I’m amazed, but not surprised. Microsoft is very clever at exploiting the law to its own ends, and since Switzerland is not part of the EU, many competitions laws do not apply there.

    What does surprise me is that many other institutions do use FOSS software, thereby proving that alternatives do exist in the Swiss government. How the courts could ignore this (even with Microsoft’s help) amazes me.

    Still, we must consider that Switzerland is a very capitalist country, and are always likely to favour private, international business.

    1. Well, Red Hat is also a private international business 😉 But I agree – the reasoning put forward yesterday by the four judges shows a disturbing lack of knowledge on the subject matter. Examples like “If I need new tires for a car I don’t have to buy a complete new car, so DISMISSED” fundamentally misses the point. The case started with BBL claiming that a migration from Windows XP to Windows Vista and introduction of Sharepoint is exactly NOT a migration. That is where we started. By pointing out that it is not a simple upgrade – it is a full-blown migration.

      But the court has decided that BBL fundamentally choose to use a certain “technology” called Microsoft. And as Red Hat is not able to deliver that “technology”, they cannot ask for a public tender. This is so weird that words fail to describe my feelings.

  6. Living in Switzerland I am not happy. But your blog is slightly misleading.

    First of all the contract was given to MS without a public tender.

    Second 18 open source vendors complained to the federal administrative court where the complaint was not accepted to even be heard.

    The lawyer for the plaintives are considering going to the swiss supreme court, but have not decided as of yet.

    The supporting (for the complaint) judge argued that the plaintives have an alternative, competitive technology thus offering a alternative instead of a replacement.

    The rest of the judges argued that the open source vendors were not eligible and thus could not take part in a public tender.

    There is more but I can’t translate the whole article here.

    Anyway, the last word has not been said in the matter.

  7. @Fred where am I misleading? Did you read my linked blog entry that explains the background?

  8. wow, microsoft shills come out strong here. I hope this goes to your supreme court and gets fixed 🙁

  9. it was very interesting to read.
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

    1. All my content is CC-BY licensed, so feel free to quote. You can find me on twitter and identi.ca as jwildeboer

  10. The Swiss should look or talk to other governments. Apparently, others have tested the alternatives, and they found at least four. Such as the Government of South Australia. Besides Microsoft, they found that Red Hat, Apple, Sun and IBM have offers for suitable client/server licenses, applications and 3rd level support. They now have and purchasing agreements with all of them.

  11. Let them use Exchange for emailing etc. So what. For really important stuff they are using Linux. I’m involved in two projects with the Swiss government. One of them is running on RHEL5, clustered and load balanced, the second one will be set up with RHEL6. The second project is very security sensitive as well as availability must be at highest level. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to tell more about this projects.

  12. This decision and how it was reached resembles that of the National Socialists and their incestuous ties to big business. Could it be that we are a witnessing a resurgence in their influence?

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