December 16, 2003

In defense of proprietary software

The International Telecommunications Union's World Summit on the Information Society (or WSIS for short, because we
need more acronyms in the world) was last week. The conference was intended as a forum to discuss the information technology revolution, and more
specifically, the growing "digital divide" between rich and poor nations.

In practice, this resulted in a rather diverse set of talking points, as interest groups strove to link their pet issue to the central theme with
varying degrees of success (among them a group that went by the name of The Geneva03 Collective, who was most notable for filling my inbox with "out
of office" replies from every person registered as a member of the press).

Of particular interest, however, was a moderated debate on the issue of preferential treatment for open source products in government procurement, a
topic I have discussed in the past. Four of the panelists were pro-preference, and represented Malaysia, Cuba, Peru and Kenya. The lone voice opposing
such preferences was Bob Kramer, Vice President for Public Policy from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a group upon which
Bruce Perens has trained his ever-present "Microsoft is the source of everything bad that happens" machine gun.


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