Monday, December 14th, 2009 at 4:06pm

Peru to Microsoft – No thank you, and here’s why

Posted by Jordan Erickson

This in-depth response from Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nunez (Congressman of the Republica of Peru) to Juan Alberto Gonzalez (General Manager of Microsoft in Peru) is a very interesting read. It is in regards to a law mandating the use of open source software and data formats, versus proprietary software and formats in the government of Peru. Dr. Nunez gives point-by-point reference to the original letter from Mr. Gonzalez, stating inaccuracies and faults within the letter itself, and why, in each case, using open source software is clearly the only way to guarantee openness of government to its citizens.

To the open source evangelist, this letter will bring tears to your eyes. For the rest of us, it will give a very good insight as to how the open source software ecosystem works on a fundamental and philosophical level (if you can get through the long read, that is).

A very important (and often overlooked) point Dr. Nunez makes is that the monetary price of proprietary software vs. “free” (open source) software is not the main factor in the decision, rather the fact that open source software guarantees that the user is not locked in to a proprietary system; their data is guaranteed to be accessible and compatible with other systems, either existing or to be created in the future.

From the letter:

“…the aim of the Bill we are discussing is not directly related to the amount of direct savings that can by made by using free software in state institutions. That is in any case a marginal aggregate value, but in no way is it the chief focus of the Bill. The basic principles which inspire the Bill are linked to the basic guarantees of a state of law, such as:

Free access to public information by the citizen.

Permanence of public data.

Security of the State and citizens.

To guarantee the free access of citizens to public information, it is indespensable that the encoding of data is not tied to a single provider. The use of standard and open formats gives a guarantee of this free access, if necessary through the creation of compatible free software.”

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