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Hot Water for Danish Prime Minister Because of Visit to MS
Wednesday, June 28 2006 @ 11:18 AM EDT

Groklaw member Karl Jorgensen sends us an interesting article from Denmark. Actually three of them, from ComputerWorld Denmark. Of course, all three are in Danish. For those of us who can't read them, then, he provides this information and some translation help.

Do you remember the visit the Danish Prime Minister made to Bill Gates and Microsoft, right after the Danish Parliament decided to introduce open standards? It seems there is some unhappiness at the visit, which happened immediately afterward. The matter was raised in Parliament, with some asking the PM to tell what was discussed at the meeting.

A second article has the headline, "Is Denmark a Microsoft Protectorate, Fogh?" It's an editorial by ComputerWorld's editor-in-chief, Mikael R. Lindholm. Here's a bit of it, and as you'll see, he's unhappy about the visit too:

Prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's visit this week to Bill Gates in Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond was surprising, unfortunate and raises a number of questions about the framefor for Denmark as a digital economy.

Apparantly, Fogh's visit to a not-too-interested Gates was caused by a well-meaning wish to strengthen Microsoft's already-strong position in Denmark....

But it is a very unfortunate signal that Denmark sends to the rest of the world, when our prime minister makes a friendly visit to a foreign business man who in his home country has been convicted for abusing his dominant position.... The signal is that money is more imporant than law. ...

But IF (that this is a *big* IF) we are going to become a pure Microsoft country, then we need to negotiate the terms for the loss of independence this implies.

What Fogh is doing now does not look like negotiations, but rather an unconditional surrender. This is neither good diplomacy nor is it good business.

And finally, here's an article on ODF, in which an analyst, one of Denmark's leading analysts, Per Andersen of IDC, says Microsoft is isolating itself by refusing to support ODF:

Microsoft is about to overestimate their significance in the IT market place. This is how one of Denmark's leading IT analysts bluntly puts it, executive director in the analyst house IDC, Per Andersen. He believes that Microsoft is isolating itself by its support of the Open XML format... "Obviously Microsoft will certainly not support a format driven by the open source movement. It would rather isolate itself and bet their money on their ability to convince the rest of the world that the Microsoft standard is just as good and open as the standard used by the other significant vendors," says Per Andersen.

This is doomed to failure, opines the director, who remains critical of Microsoft's strategy. "The biggest threat to a successfull IT company is arrogance and ignoring new market trends and the resulting attitudes in the market" he says. "If Microsoft closes it's eyes to the developments and isolates itself, it will be left behind. And just as to many others before Microsoft, this means big strategic challenges in the long term -- and even survival itself" says Per Andersen.

You may find it instructive to watch this video (MP3) (or listen to this audio - Ogg or MP3 of the Q&A only) of Federico Heinz, president of Free Software Foundation Latin America, speaking in Ireland in April on the subject, "The Imperative for Free Software in Government & Public Administration." Heinz was involved in the effort by Peru to adopt Free Software in government, which ended up with a somewhat watered down resolution. If you wanted to know the inside story of what happened, you'll find it instructive, and yes, I see a connection. He speaks about it at the end of the talk, during the question-and-answer session.

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