View Full Version : Write your elected officials about open source

April 29th, 2007, 11:41 PM
I have become very frustrated with the methods that Microsoft uses to maintain it's dominant market position. I use Ubuntu for everything these days but I have nothing against MS as a product. If they can make a better word processor, OS or platform for other programs they are entitled to their market share. However I feel that they artificially hold on to their market share by using bully tactics.

Most of the reasons I hear for people sticking with Windows has to do with something outside of MicroSoft.

People use Windows because... (among other reasons)

Their favorite program or game doesn't have a Linux version or using DirectX instead of OpenGL
The hardware they use does not supply a Linux driver

Most people in the world know nothing about open Source and Linux and accept having to fork money over to MS as a fact of life. Word needs to spread! I think that if the public knew and understood how they are being exploited there would be a huge backlash in this country/world. Without being annoying, mostly, I always take the opportunity to explain open source to people and you can see their eyes light up.

Another horrible consequence of MS Vista in particular is the needless waste of computer hardware. Most of the discarded computers will find their way into our landfills. These computers are full of lead and acid and toxins and shouldn't be in a landfill. Aside from that as you all know here, they would work well with Linux and could be given to a needy family. Plus, the new comptuers that are "Vista Compatible" will most likely use much more electric. It's a disaster. I am looking into starting a local www.freegeek.org (http://www.freegeek.org) affiliate in my area to help combat this problem but it's a costly and time consuming effort.

Please take the time to talk about these issues with your neighbors and write your elected officials.

I wrote the below note about the ODF to my US Congressman. I will follow-up by sending a similar note to my local government down to the dogcatcher. Who knows if it will help but it's better than doing nothing. [/soapbox]

Congressman Davis,
Thank you for reading this quick note.

Using the .doc (MS Word) and .xls (MS Excel) formats as the default in our government has created a vendor lock-in for Microsoft that they are heavily lobbying to protect. (see attached MarketWatch link http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/state-state-microsoft-responds-assault/story.aspx?guid=%7BC0D943C4%2D4ADC%2D471C%2D8F87%2 D9181A4EC3E7B%7D&siteid=yhoof )

This vendor lock in causes many of the poorest Virginians to spend an enormous amount of money buying the latest MS Office. Some people without the money resort to using illegal copies of Windows and Office. There are some very good windows, mac and linux compatible programs freely available that could solve this problem if they were not locked out of competition with MS based on the governments endorsement of the .doc and .xls format. (example of a free product is http://www.openoffice.org )

Recently the International Standards Organization named the ODF format the international standard. (http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1957321,00.asp Please follow suit and work to do the same here in VA and in the US Congress as well.

Microsoft is also offering it's Open XML format that is open in name only. They should gain customers by making a better product on an open playing field. PLEASE! open the field.

Very Respectfully,

April 30th, 2007, 01:52 AM
I have been thinking about writing to my local member of parliament too...
Here in New Zealand I know that atleast 2 government departments use some Linux (Inland Revenue and Ministry of Health)

I see the benefit in using Linux in all government departments, aswell as schools as huge. The amount of savings to the tax payer will be amazing and can go towards funding for other much needed things. Considering the amount of Govt. employees, this would spread linux far.

Having your govt. dependent on proprietry software is seriously rediculous. To me a govt. should be open and controlled by the people. Allowing a company to dictate govt. proceedure is terrible. Especially since we can not trust what is in that software. (I know a lot of people are very suspicious about the possible spying abilities of Windows).

I have not written anything yet partly because I need to think very hard about the most persuasive, yet objective way to write this and it would probably end up being somewhat of a large essay.

I am being forced to use windows right now, with IE 6 at university. I seriously don't like it.

April 30th, 2007, 02:40 AM
I'd love them to use Linux but Im only asking that they use the Open Document Format. That would work in Windows using OpenOffice and MS would have to allow MS Word to save documents as either .doc or .odf

April 30th, 2007, 02:43 AM
If they can make a better word processor

I haven't seen too many complaints against Microsoft Office. In fact, I'd venture to say it's one of the best products they've come out with.

April 30th, 2007, 03:23 AM
I haven't seen too many complaints against Microsoft Office. In fact, I'd venture to say it's one of the best products they've come out with.

I am not arguing the quality of MS Office. I am saying that if MS Office is much superior to Writer or AbiWord or Google Docs et cetera... then they deserve the market share. However, you must agree that they have at least some of the market shrare they enjoy because of the vendor lock-in with the of the .doc format. Since no other word processor can use the .doc format as well we can't know how many of MS Word's users would use it if ODF was the default format.

OpenSource does the best it can with the .doc format but it's far from seamless.