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Swiss Court Halts Non-Competitive Contract With Microsoft

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the order-and-law dept.

The Courts 95

Ade writes "Looks like the challenge to the Swiss Administrative Court concerning the government contract given to Microsoft without any public bidding was successful: The court has issued a temporary injunction (note: article in German) against the Federal Office of Buildings and Logistics (BBL), effectively stopping the CHF 14M (£8M; $15M)-contract to deliver licenses and support for software used on government computers for the next three years. According to Swiss Government practices, any contract over CHF 50'000 has to undergo a public call for offers. The BBL cited 'no serious alternatives' as the reason which this contract never did."

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First (shill) post! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28128851)

Why don't you just leave Microsoft alone, after everything it's been through!

Re:First (shill) post! (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28128911)

Why don't you just leave Microsoft alone, after everything it's been through!

They're still convicted on anti-trust laws and they're still in business, that's why.

Well of course there were no serious alternatives (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28128943)

Linux just isn't ready for the desktop yet. It may be ready for the web servers that you nerds use to distribute your TRON fanzines and personal Dungeons and Dragons web-sights across the world wide web, but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can get a workable graphic interface to check their mail with, especially not when they already have a Windows machine that does its job perfectly well and is backed by a major corporation, as opposed to Linux which is only supported by a few unemployed nerds living in their mother's basement somewhere. The last thing I want is a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my OS.

Re:Well of course there were no serious alternativ (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129243)

too slow today slimshady

Re:Well of course there were no serious alternativ (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130147)

Sounds like somebody tried to use Gentoo.

Re:Well of course there were no serious alternativ (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28131579)

I don't usually feed the trolls, but I'm feeling generous today.

1. Many servers run on Linux, and have done so for a decade.
2. Every Linux distro I've installed since 2000 has installed using a GUI, and then booted into a GUI, and needed no compilation or tricks to get to my mail. I just clicked on the Thunderbird icon, entered my POP information and mail was flowing.
3. Linux is supported by major corporations. Unless you consider IBM to be some type of small-fry company.
4. Races don't have levels, professions have levels. Thus there is no such thing as a "level 5 dwarf". But there is such thing as a "level one slashdot troll"

Oh, and you are showing your age there gramps... not many people under 30 have even heard of Tron, let alone know what the word "fanzine" means. Oh, and it's not referred to as the "world wide web" anymore, people just call it the internet or the web.

One final word... this story is about a government contract. Governments networks are run by industry professionals, not "average users" and even if they end up with Windows, the admins will almost certainly know plenty about how to use Unix and Linux, as well as other OS's.

Re:Well of course there were no serious alternativ (2, Informative)

Insanity Defense (1232008) | more than 5 years ago | (#28132993)

Thus there is no such thing as a "level 5 dwarf". But there is such thing as a "level one slashdot troll"

Basic Dungeons and Dragons did have advancement within race for non humans so you could have a level 5 dwarf or elf (but not human). That changed within Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

Re:Well of course there were no serious alternativ (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28133113)

In the original D&D (as opposed to AD&D), dwarves were a class; i.e. all dwarves were basically fighters with racial abilities and modifiers and a d8 (?) instead of a d10 for HP. I think maybe they got some limited hide-in-(cave)-shadows ability or something too. I don't remember.

Hey, pedantry and trolling go together like a PC and a 10' pole.

Re:Well of course there were no serious alternativ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28140461)

Is there a -1 Woosh! mod?

But they may (sadly) have been right (3, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28128935)

If your requirement is to be able to run Windows software, then there may in fact be "no serious alternatives". Now, clearly they should step back and look at the bigger picture.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (2, Insightful)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 5 years ago | (#28128991)

If your requirement is to be able to run Windows software, then there may in fact be "no serious alternatives".

A realistic goal for the agency would have been more like "run whatever software gets the job done". For every job, there's a non-Microsoft product that is at least worth consideration.

I suspect this is simply a case of non-technical bureaucrats getting in over their heads making purchasing decisions when they should've handed it off to their IT folks (if they even have any).

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28129229)

Not every job, but some jobs. Rim jobs and blow jobs for example. Linux users have superior technique (especially the ones with missing teeth). If you want someone to lick your asshole clean, go Linux!

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129765)

Yeah Linux users lick really good.... but they become bitchy once you start mentioning 64 bit processors.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130931)

> ..but they become bitchy once you start mentioning 64 bit processors.

I know you are trying to troll, but good grief you need to kick yer skills up a notch. You ain't going to get the coveted -1 Troll with such weak ass efforts. Slag Apple or Obama a bit if you want to see Karma burst into flames.

The first port of Linux from x86 was to the 64 bit Alpha. And x86_64 on an RPM based system 'just works.' Things are a little more backwards on Debian/Ubuntu but still on par with Win64.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (2, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#28131239)

Linux on 64 bit is *beyond* Win64. I've been using 64 bit Ubuntu on my home computer for a while and have had relatively few issues. So far, the only issues have been with compiling old unmaintained software.

Vista 64 Home Premium has been an altogether disappointing experience. I had to wait nearly a year for new Canon drivers and was just told by Texas Instruments my shiny new TI84 is incompatible with Vista 64 as are all other TI graphing calculators.

Funny I have to use Linux to get past software incompatibility with Windows. I'd considered just taking back the calculator but the closest runner-up in functionality is the Casio ClassPad 330 which is also Vista 64 incompatible.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28135833)

my shiny new TI84

How is the TI84 new? The TI89 Titanium has been out for ages, and the TI-NSpire just came out.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#28137533)

I got the TI84 Plus, which is new to me. It has USB connectivity now, so no more special cables. I'm not sure exactly how the TI84 Plus of today differs from older models in any other respect.

Upon reflection, I really wish I would have gotten the TI-NSpire. It's better in every respect-especially with memory. I think my TI84 has 400k of memory or something whereas the TI-NSpire has like 16MB.

Those are off the top of my head, but they should be in the ballpark.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (4, Interesting)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129231)

It is ALWAYS the non-technical bureaucrats making the purchasing decisions, since they have the money. But it is the job of the IT/Computer Techs/Nerds under their command to show them the alternatives and, clearly, state why X is better than Y.

Sure, sometimes that non-technical bureaucrat will still go with an option that most tech-savvy people wouldn't (such as going open source), more times than not "free" + "works almost the same" is enough to get the higher-ups on board. Although the cost of retraining an entire user-base of employees on how to use Linux effectively is a much bigger step than switching from, say, MS Office to OpenOffice.

Case and point, I did contract work for a company that had switched completely over to OpenOffice, and saved themselves a CRAP load of $, which is significant in this troubled economy. I'd be surprised if more companies didn't start doing this, especially if the economy stays in the crapper like it has been. But that same company still runs Windows XP/2000 because the cost of retraining people would outweigh the short-term turnaround. Illogical, but in these tough times it is hard to blame moves like that.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (5, Insightful)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129839)

Sure, sometimes that non-technical bureaucrat will still go with an option that most tech-savvy people wouldn't (such as going open source), more times than not "free" + "works almost the same" is enough to get the higher-ups on board.

"Works almost the same" just doesn't cut it in the real world most of the time.

I work in IT, and I would *LOVE* to deploy Linux/OO/etc as a way to dramatically kill my budget.

The problem is, my accounting software is propriatary and does not run on Linux - Windows Only (and I've tried WINE, no dice on this one).

So fine, I'm stuck on Windows, but bring in OO.

Again, no dice...my same accounting package hooks into Office itself for reporting functions, and will not work without Office.

And I can't make it work with MySQL, so I'm stuck with SQL Server, which means I'm stuck with Windows Server as my backend. Sure, I could migrate my other server services to Linux, but for all the Microsoft that I'm absolutely stuck with there's absolutely no reason to not just have it all on Windows.

And I know what the child poster is going to say...ditch the sad propriatary accounting package and find an open license alternative. Well, we're a specalized enough industry that there is no way in hell I can get an open alternative that does more than 25% of what I'm doing today with my propriatary system.

So I'm stuck with my crappy windows application which keeps me on windows and office for the frontend, and microsoft on the back end of my network.

So its all fine and good to rally the Linux troops, and try to make inroads into the mainstream, but until they convince "real" vendors with "real" products to support Linux, its all just a fucking pipe dream.

You do know what will happen in this specific case, don't you? The Swiss will now do an open bidding process, and all the linux/open community will bid on it, and they'll be rejected regardless of the fact that it will be WAY cheaper than the Micorosoft bid, on the sole basis that some application that timmy from accounting requires won't work on Linux, and rather than wait through 3 new sourceforge projects with 11 forks over 3 years, they'll buy Microsoft.

I hate Microsoft as much as the next geek, I really do...but the Open community has a LONG LONG way to go before they becaome an accepted player at the table for any company/organization that can't afford to spend the time, energy, resources, and dollars to get programmers building them their "open" applications.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (0)

seifried (12921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130219)

The problem is, my accounting software is propriatary and does not run on Linux - Windows Only (and I've tried WINE, no dice on this one). One word: Citrix.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (2, Insightful)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130793)

Correct my licensing thoughs if I'm wrong, but doesn't Citrix in this case, since it has to run a true Windows environment, require a Windows license for every connecting PC?

So in this case, I can deploy Linux to the desktop, and pay the MS Tax at the Citrix level, as well as Citrix licenses, so I can do what I'm already doing with Windows on the desktop.

I love Citrix, I've used it in the past, but I don't think I'm gaining a damn thing with this one.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 5 years ago | (#28132269)

SeamlessRDP. Install your application on one Windows server and push it to all your Linux desktops.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28130281)

It is people like you who are half the problem. You need to press companies that you buy from to port their applications. Failing to do that only limits your choices. And there are good reasons to switch some of your services off Microsoft. It shows companies that despite it all people are switching and that they better get with the program.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (2, Insightful)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130873)

As if I hadn't already asked/pressed for this :)

You know what? Outside of the pure IT crowd (like us here on /.), nobody gives two shits about Linux yet. I'm one of mabye 10 voices in a group of 20,000 installed locations asking for Linux for this application.

Do you really believe, in this economic climate, they're going to waste their efforts to port the application for 0.05% of their installed base? Never going to happen.

And yes, I've exaggerated, I have a couple of Linux boxes floating in my environment for doing some tasks (most notably: Spam Filtering), so I'm not pure Microsoft. And yes, I love Linux. But, bottom line, despite all our wishes, it just ain't ready for alot of businesses yet.

I hope that changes, and I'm doing what I can to add my voice to the chorus...but to restate again, unless the companies out there that make real solutions that businesses use every day that finally run on Linux, we're never going to ditch Microsoft.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28132887)

Do you really believe, in this economic climate, they're going to waste their efforts to port the application for 0.05% of their installed base? Never going to happen.

Better to be a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond. Works for games [wolfire.com] .

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28133137)

But if you push your boss too much, you'll just be a dead fish outside the pond.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (4, Insightful)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130409)

An awe-inspiring exemplification of the term 'lock-in.'

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28131967)

Don't be ridiculous - there are a lot of alternatives to Windows. Just ask any of the armchair libertarians on here who keep pretending that there are drop-in replacements for Windows just because Open Office can open .DOC and .XLS files.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28136295)

An awe-inspiring exemplification of the term 'lock-in.'

Believe it or not, but a lot of people actually LIKE lock-in, whether it be software or formats. The reasoning is simple - it reduces choices because everyone else is using it.

That and the fact most people haven't actually experienced many disadvantages. Everyone uses .doc remember, nobody uses anything else (for very large values of "nobody" of course). Everyone uses Office, and they either pay for it, get a discount through their business, or just pirate it. It's only Slashdot geeks who can't comprehend why their stance hasn't taken ground.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 5 years ago | (#28136427)

Your point is "people are stupid"?

We knew that. That's an identified problem.


((and quit with the 'slashdot geeks lol' bullshit. You post here, you're ONE OF US))

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28130687)

Have you ever tried calculating the real price that your company pays for that accounting application?

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28130707)

I've tried WINE, no dice on this one

Have you talked to Codeweavers? There's no guarantee that having Wine fixed would be cost-effective, but you never know unless you ask.

And I know what the child poster is going to say...ditch the sad propriatary accounting package and find an open license alternative.

No need to insist on open licensing. Even a proprietary replacement, running on Windows, that was not locked into MS Office, would be an improvement.

Well, we're a specalized enough industry that there is no way in hell I can get an open alternative that does more than 25% of what I'm doing today with my propriatary system.

At this kind of stage it's always worth asking yourself how much of that remaining 75% is actually useful, or could be done more efficiently some other way. You might be surprised.

its all fine and good to rally the Linux troops, and try to make inroads into the mainstream, but until they convince "real" vendors with "real" products to support Linux, its all just a fucking pipe dream.

Damn, and here I was thinking that Oracle was a real vendor with real products. Shows how wrong you can be, eh?

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (2, Insightful)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 5 years ago | (#28132121)

For what you are paying* for that proprietary accounting package, and all that MS software to support it, you could probably hire a team of programmers to make an open source accounting package meet your needs more precisely than your current package does.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#28136245)

And how long is that reimplementation to your requirements likely to take, even with an existing package as the base? Thats the problem.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 5 years ago | (#28147857)

Say it takes a whole year. If your current budget for the software is X, then set aside an extra X this year to pay the development team. Recoup your investment in 1-2 years (depending on how you do the accounting), profit with a smaller dev team thereafter.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (0)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28132625)

I hate Microsoft as much as the next geek, I really do...

This part confuses me. I used to "hate" Microsoft too, until I realized this was due to me hanging around Slashdot too much. In reality, I concluded that I would have so much pent-up hate for one company it would be very damaging to me, since Microsoft ain't going anywhere. Plus, what's the point? The alternatives suck in my opinion - OpenOffice is clumsy to use, Ubuntu is useless since no matter what kernel version/Intel graphics drivers I use, it's slower than VISTA for goodness sake and develops graphics corruption over time (a major regression, but since there's no financial incentive to provide quality code, this will keep on happening I expect.)

I give up hating Microsoft because their software just works, and works well with what everyone else in the world is using, at least compared to Linux. I WISH this wasn't the case, but putting my hands over my eyes isn't helping anymore.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28139137)

I continue to hate Microsoft because of their business practices and the fact that their software simply fails to earn my regard. Being a developer working closely with their OS and database products, one realizes that Microsoft programmers aren't geniuses, they have dumb-asses just like every programming shop. The hate comes from that being proven year after year with no change in behaviour from M$ (haha, I know that pisses some of you off... eat it), because they're still raking in billions, so why would they change? If I were a shareholder, I'd want them to pursue profit, which is what they do. It's very profitable to cut corners, but a labour of love tends to be thorough. Don't forget that.

PS I do not use open source despite being an MS hater. There really is no whole package alternative to Windows, sorry all you Torvalds fans.

It cuts both ways (2, Interesting)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28133071)

Our proprietary accounting software was built from the get go on open source OSes (starting with IBM EDX - obscure, but open source - though not in the GPL sense). Originally written for a green screen environment, it was abandoned for prettier Windows bases systems by a few clients. All the companies that left functional for pretty either went under or came back. We now have a pretty web front end, and a growing number of EDI, Web Service, and Java interfaces to integrate with other software - even Windows software integrates via SOAP (when there is source available for a Windows programmer to customize).

As far as highly functional open source enterprise accounting software goes, have you looked at Adempiere? I have been playing with it, and it is good enough that my long term goal is to migrate our stuff to its framework.

Storm's a Brewing. (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28134033)

The problem is, my accounting software is propriatary and does not run on Linux - Windows Only (and I've tried WINE, no dice on this one).

Your problem is bigger than "open source vs. proprietary" I'm afraid.

It should matter whether the accounting software is proprietary or not, because the data itself ought to be in as flat an plain of a file as possible. Encrypted, perhaps, and even compressed (a la open document), but the actual data should be in a plain format like human-readable ascii, or easily parsed binary, where the file header holds a description of the format in human readable form.

You're talking about ever-important financial data. Its storage ought to be even more robust than mere solar data or ice-core sample data.

Open source might give you that, and it might even be the easiest route to that, but if you're stuck with a proprietary format you don't know how to read yourself, how do you know it's not going to screw up (or worse, screw up silently) on the first errant bit-flip?

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28136125)

Looks like the only way to do it right would be to start the business from the beginning on open software. There will be lots of opportunity for 'starting off on the right foot' when the economy starts turning around and more people start new businesses.

Complain about converting existing businesses? Or start new competative businesses to put the old ones out?

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129907)

In my experience, its the non-technical bureaucrats making the purchasing decisions who typically follow the purchasing rules, and count the beans.

It usually ends up being the IT tech nerds that try the end-run around the purchasing regs to satisfy their own pet preferences.

And the "no SERIOUS alternative" phrase does not sound like a purchasing droid to me.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

sponga (739683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130351)

I would really like to see some numbers and facts of how you saved them money by doing a complete retraining.

My accountant would probably get a good laugh at that.
Also my accountant would probably laugh that he wouldn't be able to use his software on Linux.

In tough times like these, I cannnot see how the prices of training can save you money by paying the MS tax.

Numbers, Numbers, we need to see some numbers or else it is just hot air being blown around in the argument and jumping the gun to say Linux is ready for the desktop. "Crap load of $" doesn't sound very creible to me, sorry but I just don't swallow what people say around here right away before going bankrupt trying to do it.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28131497)

Threatening to switch will often get Microsoft coming to your door with promises of cheap licensing.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28133677)

I think you will be surprised how many seasoned IT guys will go with Windows other then Linux or Unix (Even if they are quite skilled with those OS's)

Factor 1: Change may be good, but you are going to take a lot of heat from it. Say you move from MS Office to OpenOffice and they get that 1 document that doesn't load in Open Office correctly, it is your fault, and business will stop until they can get that file. If they have Office 2003 and Get an Office 2007 files that they can't open. Then it is just the fact they are out of date, it is not your fault. And will ask the author to resend it in a different format.

Factor 2: Hiring staff. Sure there are tons of Linux and Unix guys who are willing to work for a good price, but they also know windows to a good extent, and there are the windows people too. Skills are only part of the picture when hiring. So s;taying on a windows environment when your company grows, means you have a better work force to choose from.

Factor 3: License Costs are really not a big deal, support costs are. Lets say a 500 person company. Now windows license will come with their PCs, and the cost of going linux preinstalled isn't proportionally smaller yet. Then say $300 for office per seat OK that is $150,000 and lets double that to $300,000 in software licenses for an average lifespan of 3 years. So license fees are an average of $100,000 a year. Going with an unfamiliar (to the general users) option over the period of time will have the following effect. 500 people paid an average of say $15 and hour, and say these people will need a minimum 40 hours of training/practicing time, to get use to the new systems (In real life this isn't unreasonable, even for the easiest to use Linux, as people will get hung up on every little difference) that makes it $300,000 then you need more resources to support all these people with problems, and requests for incompatible software (I NEED MICROSOFT PROJECT!) or whatever. So it really adds up. Yes their may be a cost savings over time. However the higher learning curve combined with turnover will always be a bit painful. Besides License Costs for software are really easy for the accountants to work with. The hidden costs are much more tricky.

Factor 4: As I eluded in Factor 3. Additional Software, these are specialty software that someone needs that the rest of the company doesn't. Microsoft Project, Adobe Photoshop (GIMP Will not cut it), Crystal Reports, GoToMeeting, or some video conference tool that your biggest client uses. Are you willing to fight for Open Source all day long against your company who pays you. Probably not.

Now you can win in some areas perhaps moving your web server to Linux (assuming you don't have ASP.NET developers), or even if you do move some of your Servers to Linux. You may be able to push Virtual Machines and Terminal Services. or even SaaS so your primary OS doesn't matter much. You can lax rules so it is OK for other people to install Linux if they want to, however they shouldn't be forced into it as it will give you a lot of headaches.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

lovesignal (705870) | more than 5 years ago | (#28161249)

It is ALWAYS the non-technical bureaucrats making the purchasing decisions, since they have the money. But it is the job of the IT/Computer Techs/Nerds under their command to show them the alternatives and, clearly, state why X is better than Y.

Did you ever ask yourself why THEY have the money? Why THEY are in charge? Because your technical bureaucrats/nerds are unable to keep an overview of the situation. Because they get lost in technical details instead of balancing various facts in their argumentation.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28236051)

I was told in preparing a desktop management solution specifically not to recommend Novell Zenworks or provide this as an option over SMS or Altiris even though it filled every category because management did not want any Netware servers even though my design would have had all the software on windows or Linux servers.
The reason - loosing preferred pricing for office to be deployed to a thousand desktops if non ms solution pitched.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28131941)

Unless they have a load of in-house systems that only work on Windows. Like a Word document generator written in Excel VBA to pick a rather horrible example.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28133369)

While true, there's costs to be considered if their current system is all running under Windows or Win-compat.-only software. OS software might be free, but it still costs money to switch wide-scale from windows to something free -- even if that cost is just retraining for general office folk on how to use the new system, that cost is present, and has to be taken into account on any bids they receive.
Of course, the bid for free software would read "$0", but the cost to switch could still be greater than remaining on a windows system. Especially if they have software developed specifically to their needs that only runs under Windows -- if that's the case, you would also need to include the cost to purchase new software that meets the standards of the old software, and the cost to transfer whatever they used the old software for onto the new, open-source friendly software.

Switching to open source for an individual user is simple. All it takes is a bit of your time. When you're talking about any kind of business, commercial government nonprofit religious.. doesn't matter, when they switch to open source it does still cost them money.

So as far as open source software is concerned.. there's no reason to take bids on it. It's free, and only you can determine what your own internal costs might be if you were to convert over. That still does leave OS X I guess, but I don't recall Apple being too keen on it running on non-Apple hardware.. so unless they're running windows on macs currently, or are planning on replacing all their hardware, OS X is pretty much out of the question too.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (4, Insightful)

Frequency Domain (601421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129079)

Too many idiots write specifications in terms of products vs protocols.

So what? They're not idiots (1)

narftrek (549077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130135)

The GPs specification was a perfectly valid specification. If, for instance, you've bought a bunch of lab equipment such a spectrometers, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, etc, and the only software that runs them is made for Windows then guess what? The specification is must run Windows software. And as a side req, I'd say it must run it AS GOOD OR BETTER than the factory just in case someone comes up with the idea of virtualizing it with Wine or one of the Mac variants. My software and myself isn't ready for any kind of Linux, we can't stand Macs, and don't even want Vista. That's a struggle I'm trying to work around now. My gov contractor is being forced by the military to upgrade the entire lab with Vista. I hate it. I run a little side business fixing PCs and if the customer has Vista I won't even touch it. I've given it a whirl on several occasions and it's just crap. And what do you mean writing with protocols? What protocol evens covers the general operating systems of a computer? The requests are task driven entities. You provide a list of tasks and/or requirements and engineering finds something that fits them all. Specifying a brand of product that fits those needs is no more idiotic than asking for a car that runs gas instead of diesel when, by your view, the req should have said "gets me from point A to point B" (had to throw an obligatory auto analogy in there, sorry). If I need to get to point A and B and you give me a bike when I wanted an auto then I'm gonna be pissed just as bad as if you gave me Calc when I wanted Excel.

Why do you hate your users so much?

Re:So what? They're not idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28130921)

The requests are task driven entities. You provide a list of tasks and/or requirements and engineering finds something that fits them all.

Exactly correct.

Specifying a brand of product that fits those needs is no more idiotic than asking for a car that runs gas instead of diesel when, by your view, the req should have said "gets me from point A to point B" (had to throw an obligatory auto analogy in there, sorry)

This, on the other hand, is nonsense.

If you want to get from A to B, even if you have a requirement to do so by car (which is reasonable), why the hell would you care if the car runs on gas or diesel? Are you allergic to diesel fumes or something? It's a fucking car. Get over yourself.

And we're talking about brands here. Specifying Microsoft software is the equivalent of demanding a Ford car. If the requirement is to sum up tables of figures, you need a spreadsheet; you do not necessarily need Microsoft Excel.

But then, I knew you were talking nonsense when you started hating on Vista. If you're so blinkered and set in your ways that you can't even cope with Vista, which is actually a perfectly good operating system, then there's no way you're competent to talk about IT in any way, shape, or form. Please do the world a favor and find yourself a job that doesn't involve making decisions about computers.

Requirement to interoperate with an existing DB (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28131651)

Specifying Microsoft software is the equivalent of demanding a Ford car. If the requirement is to sum up tables of figures, you need a spreadsheet; you do not necessarily need Microsoft Excel.

So what happens if the requirement is "interoperate with the database of the existing accounting and order management package that we use, which was written as a set of VBA scripts that run on top of Microsoft Access 2007"?

Then you're boned. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28134181)

You write that as your requirement, and you get the MS-based system.

Before the next upgrade cycle though, you probably ought to do something about getting your balls out of that vice, even if you're going to decide to go with MS then as well. You don't exactly have a very strong negotiating position now, do you.

Re:So what? They're not idiots (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28132125)

You lost me. Maybe if you put together a PowerPoint I would be able to follow your complex logic. ;)

Re:So what? They're not idiots (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28131619)

And what do you mean writing with protocols? What protocol evens covers the general operating systems of a computer?

POSIX. Win32.

Specifying a brand of product that fits those needs is no more idiotic than asking for a car that runs gas instead of diesel when, by your view, the req should have said "gets me from point A to point B" (had to throw an obligatory auto analogy in there, sorry).

Then the spec is really "gets me to from point A to point B while minimizing fuel cost", and bidding takes fuel cost into account. Diesel vehicles get more MPG than gasoline vehicles, and right now, the price of diesel vs. gas in the USA tips the scale in favor of diesel

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1, Insightful)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129095)

I bet/hope that they are using this opportunity to call into question the validity of "be able to run Windows software" requirement.

And to what degree does the software need to run? I have been able to run Office 2003 in Wine on Ubuntu 8.04. Some of the 'features' do not work. Like VBA. IMHO, not being able to run VBA is a feature, not a liablilty. Screw that IMHO.

If you run this particular product... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28131675)

IMHO, not being able to run VBA is a feature, not a liablilty.

Unless your existing business operation software is a commercial off-the-shelf product written in VBA. Then the requirement becomes something like "run Stone Edge Order Manager Enterprise Edition", and the only thing I've seen do that is Windows + Microsoft Office Access + SQL Server Express.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (4, Interesting)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129133)

Even if the requirement is to run Windows software, there may be alternatives. How will they know if they don't put it up for bid? (E.g, someone might bid a system based on Linux and Wine. That may or may not actually do the job, depending on the specific software and how much work the bidder is willing to put in to tweak things.)

But yeah, the requirements ought to be based on functionality, not a specific software package.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28130815)

Or someone else may provide the software + support for a lower price than Microsoft. Even at full retail price you could probably beat $15M, depending on what "support" means. (With Microsoft it often means "we maybe fix your bug in the next version", pay extra if you want it fixed now)

...no serious alternatives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28131067)

Even if the requirement is to run Windows software, there may be alternatives. How will they know if they don't put it up for bid? (E.g, someone might bid a system based on Linux and Wine. That may or may not actually do the job, depending on the specific software and how much work the bidder is willing to put in to tweak things.)

Presumably that's what the BBL meant by 'no serious alternatives' and sadly they are right. In my experience Wine in any of it's manifestations is highly unlikely to provide the kind of stability they would get with MS software for all kinds of high availability enterprise software. This whole mess just underlines:

  • Why I am firmly convinced the *NIX type systems are a superior choice to Windows. Not necessarily because they are inherently better than Windows but because moving your software to a different OS vendor's product is a viable proposition with Linux/Unix but obviously not with Windows.
  • Why the Microsoft monopoly is harmful to the IT industry and why that monopoly should be broken up or Microsoft somehow forced into competition in a way that would loosen the strangle hold like vendor lock Microsoft has on many companies. One could for example force Microsoft to license it's API's to third parties so as to provide a choice of deployment platforms from different vendors that can run Windows software which would basically open the door on creating legal, up-to-date and stable Wine or Wine like products.

Normally I'm not in favor of forcing the hand of companies like this but Microsoft's strangle hold is really harmful, competition killing and generally wrong. I'd like to know how many people would stand up and cheer if Ford had a 90% market share on the automobile markets and somebody stood up and claimed like the MS fanboys do: "O.K. so it's a monopoly but that has all sorts of advantages like: no matter what car you get in everything is so familiar, no matter where you are in the world never a problem with spares ... blah, blah ... long list ... and besides who needs cars in colors other than black?"

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129617)

Well, it's possible that another vendor may be a subcontractor of MS and capable of getting a lower price. They may make the argument that the specific task specification is incorrect and what they want to do can be achieved with non-MS platforms.

Wow (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130827)

Way to think inside the box.

Re:But they may (sadly) have been right (1)

lovesignal (705870) | more than 5 years ago | (#28161231)

Ok, so take that step back indeed and look at it: For a very low price, you get access to the largest and most complete software ecosystem in the world. Well documented software. Large availability of human resources trained in using this particular OS. Linux has its place. But not as the desktop of complex large scale companies.

Probably Saved a lot of money (5, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129085)

Having done work for the State of NY, I am sure this happens else where.
Fair and Competitive bidding work like this...
You need a job to be done.
You call the guys who you want to do it.
They do some "Free" analysis of the problem.
They give you the requirements as they would do it.
They also attach the Resume of the people who they want to do the work.
They make the bids to match the requirements and fit the resume of the people.
They take in all the bid.
Then they find the winning bid (which isn't the cheapest) but is a perfect match to the requirements. (which happens to be the company that did the free analysis)

Re:Probably Saved a lot of money (2, Interesting)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129181)

HEH

That reminds me of my early days of obtaining desktops, circa 1986. Anything over $500 had to go for bid, so we got bids on the parts. They assembled it for 'free'. That worked for close to two years.

Re:Probably Saved a lot of money (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129341)

Then they find the winning bid (which isn't the cheapest) but is a perfect match to the requirements.

In Hungary, the winning bid is usually the one who contributes the most back to the party in power.

Re:Probably Saved a lot of money (2, Insightful)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129489)

Yes, that is the correct everyone follows. In this case, they simply forgot to pretend to open the bidding process...

Re:Probably Saved a lot of money (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129755)

Thanks for filling in the "???" before "Profit!". Really wish that I had mod points to give you...

Re:Probably Saved a lot of money (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130781)

Hey, if it is a detailed specification you at least have that document left over.

Someone could use that as a means to determine if some other option would work
or if some other option could be easily adapted. So even if you game the system,
you at least have something left over that you can work with.

Plus you kind of at least appear to want to follow the rules and appear to be
something other than completely corrupt. "Going through the motions" at least
beats the Mad Max sort of alternative.

Re:Probably Saved a lot of money (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#28131921)

Well, as is always the case in these matters, you have to consider what would need be done to fix the problem. The solution is simple: you hire enough talent of sufficient quality that you can do your own requirements analysis.

The problem is that inflates head count. There are people who *hate* anybody who has the temerity to work for them as a public employee, and they'll go beserk when they see state government ballooning. They have some sound points as well. A larger headcount means that it is more complex and painful to tighten the fiscal belt during hard times. Rather than not letting as many contracts, you've got to let *people* go.

The other thing is that you've got to grade the positions you hire very high if you want to hire *experienced* people. One of the things you give up, if you are a public employee drawing a pension, is the right to collect Social Security. You don't even get your contributions back. So if you hire a guy who's been paying into Social Security for fifteen years, you've got to pay him enough to make up for his future retirement losses. Or, you have to restrict yourselves to inexperienced hires, or hires that have worked their entire career in public service, which makes growing the corps of experienced IT people difficult.

So all told, this might be better than the alternative. You pay more than low bid, but you get free systems analysis. The alternative to is to increase head count in a way that will be extremely disruptive to deal with if you want to reduce it later. You can shit on the public employees later, of course, but that doesn't get you *efficient* government. It gets you government run by employees looking to get some of their own back. I've seen this in the most rabidly anti-public employee states. They have the most corrupt an inefficient governments.

Re:Probably Saved a lot of money (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28132601)

I just happened to go through "Government contracts" training nd what you describe is illegal, punishable by up to 5 years in prison for the official giving the info to would be contractors and whoever got the info + up to 50.000 in fines from persons and up to 500.000 from the corporation that improperly obtained such contract + damages and stuff.

The rule is if you write specs, you cannot bid.
If you leak exact specs or bid details to participating bidders you get fined and go to jail.
(there are total of 5 rules or so).

Re:Probably Saved a lot of money (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28133381)

So they don't "write" the specs. The problem is described in an informal meeting or telephone call. And a simple solution with an estimated time frame is given.
Bob: Well we have this Old Legacy System that we need to migrate to the Web.
Bill: Well I think you probably would need someone who has experience with the legacy system and a new technology to make it web based, for the greatest success. You know Max who works for me has these skill sets, let me send you his resume just so you can understand what I am talking about.
Bob: Thanks that will be very helpful for writing the bid.

Linux may not be ready for the desktop... (5, Funny)

halivar (535827) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129111)

...but it's close enough for government work!

*ducks*
*runs*

Re:Linux may not be ready for the desktop... (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129251)

...but it's close enough for government work!

*ducks*
*runs*

You might want to also *hide* :-)

J/K really, that's one of my favorite jokes! (The government part, not the Linux part).

Re:Linux may not be ready for the desktop... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129929)

Or, as we in the contracting business say...

Close Government, Enough Work!

That exchange rate is wrong. (1)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129125)

The Swiss Franc has been consistently weaker than the dollar. Right now Google says CHF 14M = USD 12.9M.

no serious alternatives (2)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129547)

"no serious alternatives" is purchase order speak for "too lazy to look, what we have works" or "renewing contract the easy way". Many times its easier to continue with the software you have, rather than force a regime change, especially when the Microsoft Software is already factored into the annual budget. It's hard to blame them in this case.

Re:no serious alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28130573)

"It's hard to blame them in this case."

No it's easy to blame them since a law was passed by the Swiss government requiring departments to review OSS as a viable option. Not only were they lazy, but they tried to skirt the law.

Re:no serious alternatives (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#28132241)

See my reply to the other reply on this subject. That's pretty much what I was getting at. In the near term (2-4 years) continuing with Microsoft is going to be a lot cheaper than a transition to open source. No doubt it'll probably switch over to open source down the road, but there's no reason to drag this guy through the coals/throw him under the bus for making a decision most responsible Admins would do. You don't pick operating systems like you do plumbers. You can switch plumbers later - you're stuck with your upgrade path for years.

Re:no serious alternatives (1)

KevMar (471257) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130979)

Sometimes it is just not that simple.

We have one software package that we have tried to phase out for several years. We do not support it, but a hand full of users still demand it. We do not have the power to not let them have it. We tried, but it is out of our hands.

We replaced a system that was central to the business we do 4 years ago. There were at most 5 options to choose from, only 2 were realistic options, and none of them ran on Linux or were OSS. The vender did give us a choice on database backend though. Pick SQL or ORACLE. The option we passed on did not give us that option.

In one area we do lots of specialized digital imaging. We use several different venders for different items and Linux support is not a feature they provide. In one case we cannot even get the software they provide to integrate into our central image store.

We have another software package that is central to another department that integrates features of office into and require office to be on the system. This is one such system where the users picked the features that they wanted and we picked from the limited selection of available software.

The IT we have are under staffed and over extended. There is a cost to retraining people to new products. There is a cost to replacing an existing product with something new. There is a cost to the amount of new help IT would have to provide. While you transition from one product to another, you have to support and know both. In most of these examples the product may be free but the time to do it has a huge price. More so when it currently works, users already know it, and you have bigger issues to deal with.

It may not be that simple for us to switch, I do think Microsoft recently created a window for others to make the jump. Office 2007 was a major change from 2003. The UI is so different, that it requires retraining of staff and a few days of lost productivity to make the change. Why not go open office, you have to retrain either way. Vista did the same thing. People that are on XP should be looking at OSX or Linux as an option to Windows 7. You already have to reinstall, get new drivers, get updated software. For the average user, it will make little difference what OS they are running. I can search the web and check my email from any one of them just as easy.

For as much as I would love to make the jump, I have nothing driving me to do it and only resistance preventing me from doing it.

Re:no serious alternatives (0, Flamebait)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#28132221)

The IT we have are under staffed and over extended. There is a cost to retraining people to new products. There is a cost to replacing an existing product with something new. There is a cost to the amount of new help IT would have to provide. While you transition from one product to another, you have to support and know both. In most of these examples the product may be free but the time to do it has a huge price. More so when it currently works, users already know it, and you have bigger issues to deal with.

This is pretty much what I'm guessing the IT admin determined, and although he didn't document it, is what his decision was based off of. If you're a 10, 20 or maybe even 50 man shop, you can probably transition on 60 days if you're truly determined. Supporting both for 12 months is just not worth the logistics unless your boss' boss tells you open source is the only way to go. There's just too much else to do, so you sign the Microsoft software contract, which was already budgeted for, and move on. Because 100% open source apps aren't directly drop in replacements yet. Or at least I wouldn't risk my job over it. The fact that this was sensationalized is just another slow media day and I think the Linux Zealots should cut this guy some slack.

For as much as I would love to make the jump, I have nothing driving me to do it and only resistance preventing me from doing it.

Yup.

There is possible competition (2, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 5 years ago | (#28129613)

OK: I have be benefit of not knowing exactly what the tender was for, but it appears to include ''support and maintenance''. Assuming that MS s/ware is provided could not this support be provided by a local Swiss company rather than directly with MS ?

''Applications'' is horribly vague.

Part of the problem with this sort of thing is that the people who write the specifications tend to think in terms of solutions, thus ''Word Processing'' is ''MS Word''. These people need to think in terms of what they are trying to achieve and to draft the specifications in those terms. This will allow different/innovative tenders.

Re:There is possible competition (1)

ausekilis (1513635) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130169)

OK: I have be benefit of not knowing exactly what the tender was for, but it appears to include ''support and maintenance''. Assuming that MS s/ware is provided could not this support be provided by a local Swiss company rather than directly with MS ?

''Applications'' is horribly vague.

Likewise they *could* go with RHEL and get support from Redhat directly, among various other "commercial" Linux distros. They *could* have also hired a small team of college students with their Ubuntu CD's. Hell, for $15, I'd drive around installing a free OS.

Re:There is possible competition (2, Funny)

ausekilis (1513635) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130193)

I meant $15 million :-/, though given the US economy, $15 might not be half bad...

Hmm..what a bold move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28129629)

I wonder what the outcome of this will be. Lets see, they have the money approved, they want an "install it, and if there's a problem, it should be fixed by the manufacturer" approach, they want compatibility with standard file formats used throughout the business and government world except for technical/scientific/HPC based workplaces...

What are the consequences of this? (3, Interesting)

Ghost Hedgehog (814914) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130067)

Does anyone knows how the Swiss law handles a wrongly done bidding? In the Netherlands and probably the rest of the EU, when a bidding was done against the law, the company that won the bidding may not enter the new bidding. At my old university they had this situation with the coffee machines, there was only one company that had a machine that produced decent coffee and so they won the contract. However a mistake was made in the bidding (the bidding was nationally, instead of European, contracts worth more then a ceratin amount get a European bidding procedure) and the bidding had to be done again, however the only company that could produce decent coffee was excluded and the university got stuck with terrible coffee machines.

Re:What are the consequences of this? (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130287)

Well, if a Swiss temporary injunction works like a U.S. temporary injunction, nothing at all has been decided yet. The court just says, "Okay, we're going to put things on hold until we've actually tried the case." It's quite possible that the eventual outcome of the case will be that the courts says there was nothing improper and allows the contract to move forward. So it's a little premature to ask if Microsoft is going to be able to re-bid, because there may not be a re-bid at all.

Re:What are the consequences of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28137681)

Switzerland != USA, law generally works in Switzerland!

The court has already decided that the government agency in question was wrong and that they have to organize a public bid. Microsoft can win the contract, though.

Re:What are the consequences of this? (3, Insightful)

huckamania (533052) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130895)

What a horrible system. Unless the company that originally won the bid was the wrong-doer, why should they be excluded? Sounds like something a lawyer could sue over and a bureaucrat could manipulate to game the system.

Re:What are the consequences of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28136965)

Sounds like a way of trying to prevent companies from paying to get the contract. It may be the government representative who made the mistake that led company X to get the contract, but you never know how much company X paid him for making the mistake.

Re:What are the consequences of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28137577)

We do not have such a law in Switzerland, Microsoft can still bid.

The thing is that there was no wrongly done bidding because there was no bidding at all. The government needed to renew its license and support contract. The government agency responsible for the renewal stated that there are no competitors for this specific task and they thus decided against a public bidding.

"no serious alternatives"??? (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 5 years ago | (#28130419)

What are they implying here? Linux is funny? Are they calling us comedians?

Re:"no serious alternatives"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28133223)

You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?

Re:"no serious alternatives"??? (1)

Haley's Comet (897242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28135967)

A lot of people are to damn short sighted. Ok here goes:
You spend $500,000 to retrain your staff and install linux, (but only $300,000 to upgrade MS for three years). You put in the job description "general knowledge of Linux use" (if the fuck-off's filling out the job app want the job they can learn it from a FREE live cd). After 5~6 years, all the bugs in the system are ironed out, no more IT costs other than IT staff and hardware. EVER.

After 6~7 years, you just cut IT needs by $100,000/yr! (according to some GGG.....GP) Take that money and invest in open source software (not likely due to greed) or OMG - back into the business. A real IT or bean counter can see the long run too, it's the CEO's and such with the need NOW for their yacht/Maserati/hookers. And now look, all the software that you now use will be available forever due to licensing. Not to mention that if you even thought of going back to vendor-lock-in for OS, the same tools and software are still available!

Tell me, what's wrong with that picture other than "Too fucking lazy"? (Answered my own question - yacht/Maserati/hookers!)

There lies the problem (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28137453)

It might just be the person who decides there are no viable option other then windows needs to be replaced
with a more up to date (technology wise) person with aptitude for the tech department!!!

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