CyberTech Rambler

June 2, 2009

Not a victory over Microsoft, but is it a victory for government accountability?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:25 am

The H-Open is reporting that a Swiss court rules a government procurement procedure for Microsoft licensing extension without putting it out to public tender. The headline is Microsoft partially lose. My problem? I cannot see how.

Any government will need licenses from Microsoft for their software use. So, more procedural barrier, but Microsoft will still see the majority of the money.

The question: At the volume the Swiss government is purchasing, can any Microsoft licensing deal with a reseller cheaper than getting from the beast itself? I doubt that.

Initially, I thought it is a win for government accountability. Basically it means no open tender, no contract. Unfortunately, it does not stand up to closer scrutiny. If the government had decided to use Microsoft product, given that Microsoft is likely to be the cheapest deal and the license provider of choice for not only Swiss government but a lot of other reputatble governments, what is the point of an open tender? It is a waste of time.

Unless, of course, the challenge is actually about the decision to use Microsoft product in the first place. If it is a license extension, the argument for questioning this decision diminishes. If you need a license to use existing software, then regardless of the moral question of why should I get a license again, you simply have to. Unfortunately, as usual, things are not  that straight forward. Here is where the procurement backdoor comes in. During the license extension period, newer version of the software will be installed, and this  will be covered by the license extension in question. If this is the case, for the newer version of software, it is technically new procurement and the standard open tender process will have to take place.

Is this good enough to call it a victory for government accountability? Your choice.

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