Jonathan Kozol Hates Microsoft!

Via Dave Cormier comes the absolutely scandalous story of how a small West African school was forced to reverse its decision to drop Windows in favour of free and open source software.

…due to numerous recommendations forthcoming from the US Embassy, the State Department, and technology professionals involved in providing services to international schools worldwide, it has been decided that the switch to open source software on such a large scale is premature, and has therefore been reversed.

It is no wonder they are not popular.

6 thoughts on “Jonathan Kozol Hates Microsoft!”

  1. A bunch of folks made a decision they were not empowered to carry out, they were overruled. What’s the problem? Where’s the scandal?

    I’ve never met a customer who doesn’t ultimately act in what they see as their own best interests, so if Microsoft somehow sweetened the pot to ensure they weren’t booted out then that’s just business.

  2. I don’t think the Amembassies provide tech support to host nations so it might be that the consultants employed to deliver the technology didn’t feel qualified to support an Open Source solution.

  3. It should be noted that the US government standard currently is Windows & Office. (Though Macs with Office for Mac are used by some branches of the DoD and Homeland Security.)

    If a US government representative was asked for a recommendation they’d follow current policy, and unless it can be proven that the US government picked up the phone and told them to dump the penguin or else then there’s nothing to be indignant about.

    He pitched FOSS, it was accepted at the bottom level by those who don’t write the cheques and rejected at the top by those who do. Case closed. If he seriously wanted to go the FOSS route he should have dragged a distro vendor into the fray and knocked down the “But who will support us?” argument.

    This is yet another case of GNU guy doesn’t get his own way so he calls the whaaaambulance. 🙂

  4. Mark says:

    It should be noted that the US government standard currently is […]

    Why? The school I work for is not an Embassy school. Our tech policies are not in any way connected to what US government organizations do. What the government standard is is not relevant.

    and unless it can be proven that the US government picked up the phone and told them to dump

    No, nothing can be proven as those who influenced the decision are not coming forward to engage in an honest dialog.

    he should have dragged a distro vendor into the fray and knocked down the “But who will support us?� argument.

    No need. Every argument outlined was addressed in the presentation and discussed by the committee who made the original decision. I’m well aware of all significant arguments against free software. As for “support”, we are currently staffed with technologists who are competent > expert in their level of expertise with free software. Support is not an issue in our case. Besides, support for free software is much more readily available – the web provides a solution to virtually any significant problem that arises.

    This is yet another case of GNU guy doesn’t get his own way so he calls the whaaaambulance.

    If I was arguing for, say, Mac over Windows, your comment would have validity. I proposed and planned for a move to free sofware because I value freedom. I think it is important that individuals be empowered to use their technology as they wish. To whittle the issue of freedom down to some “GNU guy” who “doesn’t get his own way” shows either complete ignorance as to the societal implications and promise of free software – or absolute callousness. I support free sofware because it provides US (that’s you, me, and every other computer user on this planet) with freedom. Perhaps you’d like to tell the African who is fortunate enough to inherit a working machine but who can’t afford the year of salary to buy MS Windows/Office about me whining about not getting “my way”? Perhaps you’d like to tell the African communities who could use free software to support a sustainable, malleable, and localized code economy that those “GNU guys” are just whiners? Free software isn’t about “my way” or your way or any one particular person’s way.

    if Microsoft somehow sweetened the pot to ensure they weren’t booted out then that’s just business

    I am a teacher at a non-profit school. I don’t see the students’ education as “just business”. I’m interested in doing what is best for the community of stakeholders, not maximizing profit for some megacorporation’s shareholders.

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