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Association Francophone des Utilisateurs de Logiciels Libres

French speaking Libre Software Users' Association

Promouvoir les logiciels libres ainsi que l'utilisation de standards ouverts.

Letter from Microsoft to Perú congressman Villanueva Nuñez - English translation 2

San Isidro, March 21st 2002

Mr. Edgar Villanueva Nuñez
Congressman of the Republic of Perú

Dear sir:

First of all, we want to thank you for the chance you gave us to inform you about our work in the Republic to the benefit of the public sector. We are always looking for the best way to implement programs to complete the State's initiatives of modernization and transparency. Thanks to our meeting, today you are aware of our achievements at the international level in the design of new services for the citizen, and the framework of a model State that respects and protects intellectual property.

These programs, which we discussed, are part of a global initiative. We have experience collaborating with states and communities in the adoption of technology as an strategic element to improve all citizens' lives.

As we arranged in our meeting, we attended the forum organized in the Congress of the Republic on March 6th, regarding the law that you have proposed. There we got the chance to listen to several presentations on the subject. We would now like to present our position so that you have a better view of the real situation.

  1. Your proposal mandates that every public organization exclusively use free software, also known as open-source software. This is something which trangresses the principles of equality before the law, of no discrimination, of free private initiative, and of freedom of industry and contracting, which are protected by the Constitution.

  2. Your proposal, by making mandatory the use of open source software, establishes discriminatory and non-competitive treatment in contracting and acquisitions by public organizations, violating the basic principles of the "Law of State Contracting and Acquisitions" (Number 26850).

  3. By forcing the State to favor a business model supporting exclusively open source software, your proposal will discourage local and international software manufacturers who make real and important investments in the country, create a significant number of direct and indirect jobs, and thus contribute to the national income. In contrast, open source software development always has a lesser benefit to the economy, since it mainly creates jobs in the service sector.

  4. Your proposal imposes the use of open source software without considering the risks this carries to security, warranty, and possible violation of the intellectual property rights of third parties.

  5. It erroneously assumes that open source software is free software, that is, without cost, and therefore arrives at incorrect conclusions about money saved by the State. It has no cost-benefit analysis to back up this assumption.

  6. It is wrong to think that open source software is free. Research by the Gartner Group (an important market researcher in the technology world, well-known worldwide) has shown that the cost of software acquisition (operating system and applications) is only 8% of the total cost of ownership that enterprises and organizations must face as a consequence of the rational and productive use of technology. The other 92% is costs of installation, training, support, maintenance, management, and repairs after failures.

  7. One of the arguments supporting your proposal is the supposed cheapness of open source software when compared to commercial software, without considering the possibility of volume licensing models [for commercial software]. The State can really benefit from these, as other countries have.

  8. Additionally, the approach chosen by your project (i) is clearly more expensive because of the high costs of migration; (ii) risks loss of interoperability among information systems, both inside the State and between the State and the public sector, due to the many different distributions of open source software on the market.

  9. In most cases, open source software does not offer adequate levels of service to achieve better productivity by its users, nor does it offer warranties from well-known manufacturers. These things have caused many public entities to go back on their decisions to use open source software; they are now using commercial software [again] in its place.

  10. This project discourages creativity in the Peruvian software industry, which sells US$40 million worth of goods every year, $4 million of that exported (10th place in the ranking of Peruvian exports, more than handcrafted goods) and is a source of highly skilled jobs. With a law encouraging the use of open source software, programmers lose their intellectual property rights and their most important source of remuneration.

  11. Since open source software can be freely distributed, it cannot make any money for its developers by exportation. In this way, it weakens the multiplier effect of software sales to other countries and stunts the growth of this local industry, which the State should be stimulating.

  12. In the forum, the importance of the use of open source software in education was discussed, without commenting on the complete failure of this initiative in countries like Mexico. There, the same State officials who supported the project now say that open source software did not provide a learning experience to children in the schools [that participated]. Adequate levels of training [for the teachers?] was not available nationwide, inadequate support for the platform was provided, and the software was not integrated well enough with existing school computer systems.

  13. If opensource software fullfils all the requirements of State entities, why should a law be needed to adopt its use? Shouldn't the market freely choose which products provide more benefits and value?

I want to thank you for your attention to this letter. We would like to reiterate our interest in meeting you again, to present in more detail our position with regard to your project. We are at your complete disposition to share experience and information, which we are sure can help with planning and implementation of a better initiative for the modernization and transparency of the State to the benefit of its citizens.


Juan Alberto González

General Manager
Microsoft Perú

Revision 2002.05.07.05:37:21GMT

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