This is a letter to the editor, in response to a June 10, 2002 commentary by Bob Evan, in Informationweek.com, Business Technology: Truth, Justice, And...Ralph?.
June 11, 2002
Letter to the Editor:
Ok, Bob Evans doesn't like Ralph Nader. And I didn't care much for his
commentary either. I was the co-author of the letter to OMB on procurement
policy. We asked that federal purchases address concerns over both security
and monopolistic practices. DOD is already looking at the security issues
in terms of the server market, comparing open source and NT alternatives, a
point Mr. Evans did not mention in his diatribe.
Under FAR 6.202, the US government can and often does exclude some vendors
from some purchases, for "Establishing or maintaining alternative sources"
for a product or service. There is no obvious reason why Microsoft should
not be subject to provisions that apply in other cases where actual or
potential monopolies create problems.
I was surprised to read Mr. Evans wonder "whether . . . other companies have
products that, in place of Microsoft's, would do what the federal government
needs to get done." Does Mr. Evans truly believe people buy new copies of
Microsoft Word for the features? As an editor of a magazine that reviews
software, he should realize that Microsoft's main selling point is the lack
of compatibility, not only with competitor's products, but even with older
versions of Microsoft's own software. Mr. Evans could have discussed the
specifics of our letter, such as our request that firms be required to
disclose information on file formats for word-processing software, to
enhance competition and reduce federal government data lock-in to a single
Mr. Evans slams Mr. Nader as if the Microsoft issue is a passing interest.
We have been following the Microsoft antitrust issues for years, having
lobbied DOJ to bring the browser case in 1997, and sponsored both the first
conference on Microsoft and antitrust in 1997, and the first conference on
antitrust remedies in 1999. (http://www.appraising-microsoft.org). We have
written and filed a stream of substantive comments on the antitrust
proceeding, such as our January 28, 2002 filing in the review of the
proposed settlement. (http://www.cptech.org/ms/nader-doj01282002.html).
We have also been raising the federal procurement issue since 1997.
Mr. Evans should also be aware that the procurement issues have received
considerable attention from governments outside the United States. More
information about this is available here: http://www.cptech.org/ecom/gp.html
James Love, Director, CPTech