The Gates of Interoperability

Some recent bla bla bla by billgates about interoperability (while the all history of micro$oft is all about closed formats that force you to use the buggy micro$oft software). And a good reply by Opera CEO, noting for example that the page of the billgates announcement produces 126 HTML errors (it it not interoperable since it does not conform to standards) [the printer-friendly page is even worst] and that “your server sniff out the Opera browser and send it different style sheets“.
Why did gates speak about interoperability? My guess is that more and more governments are thinking about moving away from M$Office (for the really interoperable OpenOffice) and billgates is trying the last, desperate attempt to say “ehi, governments, we are open too”. Some weeks ago, at the University of Trento there was a day devoted to “Software libero e formati aperti per la Pubblica Amministrazione” (free sofware and open formats for the Public Sector). There was Markus Spring who is in charge to migrate 14.000 computers of Munich’s City Hall from closed-gates software to gnulinux/openoffice/freesoftware. He said many times that the reason for the switch was INDEPENDENCE: they want to be independent from a single vendor and free to read citizens data with different softwares (just in case your vendor closes its activity), especially in the future and free to move to different vendor, if they wish. This is not possible with closed formats (such as .doc): about this I suggest you to read “We Can Put an End to Word Attachments” by Richard M. Stallman. I especially enjoy the presentation of Roberto Di Cosmo that was an astonishingly clear, entertaining and convincing talk about why governments should only use free software and open formats (even if they are much much much more expensing than closed software). Check his talk (PDF in Italian) and all the other talks. If you are organizing a presentation trying to convince a public administration about the reasons for switching to free software and open formats, call him, he will convince even stones (in English, French, Spanish or Italian)!

One thought on “The Gates of Interoperability

  1. Maureen Lister

    David Donald (GCU) mentioned your blog yesterday at his talk in Bologna at a conference (Elearning e Lifelong learning nella Pubblica Amministrazione)a joint effort between CILTA (University of Bologna Language Centre) and the Scuola Superiore della PA…so congratulations I am just checking out your blog which is really interesting.

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