In recent months, the state of Massachusetts and several government agencies worldwide including some in Israel, the United Kingdom, Germany and China have pronounced plans to adopt or consider adopting open source procurement policies.
Some of those policies could mandate migrations away from Microsoft's proprietary Windows and Office software.
Simon Phipps, chief technology evangelist from Sun, which recently announced wins for its Enterprise Java Desktop with several government agencies, said open source procurement policies reflect that "people worldwide are putting more of a value on freedom and choice," not "artificially mandating" policies that discriminate against any one vendor.
Phipps said politics have played some role but only to the extent that citizens and companies outside the U.S. are less beholden to Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft. Sun also develops and sells proprietary Unix operating systems software known as Solaris.
"This country is in the thrall of a monopoly," said Phipps, during a brief interview with CRN before the panel.
Red Hat's Chief Technology Officer Michael Tiemann said the advance of such procurement policies favoring open source are based on economics, not politics, since it is far easier, and "far less costly" for a customer to switch between different open source offerings than from Windows to an alternative.
"It is far less serious and immoral than the United States' willingness to export democracy by force," Tiemann said before a crowd at Cyberposium 2004.
In a recent interview with CRN, Martin Taylor, general manager for Platform Strategies at Microsoft, claimed several of Sun's recent desktop Linux wins were driven by politics, not technology or price.
And Microsoft's representative at Cyberposium, Jason Matusow, said the governments of Germany, Japan, Denmark and Italy have not formally adopted open source policies and those governments, as well as most U.S. government agencies, continue to do business with Microsoft.
In response to one panelist's suggestion that open source enables users to avoid being locked into one vendor's operating system, Matusow said all vendors - including U.S. computer giants and European software companies favoring Linux - all try to win over customer accounts for the long haul.
"I question that open source removes the same intent for vendors to be in a long term relationship with their customers," said Matusow, who is manager of Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative.