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article imageMicrosoft threatened UK government over open source plans

By James Walker     May 22, 2015 in Technology
Microsoft reportedly threatened the UK government over its plans to promote more open-source software standards instead of the company's products last year. Microsoft apparently even went so far as to consider closing its UK research facilities.
The Conservative UK government first announced plans to use and promote more open-source software products last year. The party is concerned about the monopoly software giants like Microsoft and Google currently hold on the market.
According to a new report by Bloomberg, Microsoft wasn't too pleased by this move and began to threaten members of Parliament. David Cameron's director of strategy until 2012, Steve Hilton, is said to have told an event hosted in London yesterday that Microsoft began to lobby members of Parliament as the government announced plans to move from Microsoft's proprietary ".docx" document format to the open-source ".ocf" file type.
Bloomberg says Hilton told the conference: "Microsoft phoned Conservative MPs with Microsoft R&D [Microsoft research centres] in their constituencies and said we will close them down in your constituencies if this goes through." Microsoft is known to have strongly opposed the government's move to open-source software — now effective and in use — but it was previously unknown that the company had acted aggressively against members of Parliament.
It is easy to see why Microsoft would want large bodies like the UK government to be using its high-profile products but by lobbying party candidates it appears only to be proving their point that the company holds a monopoly on the office software market.
The Inquirer notes Microsoft suggested that the move to open source standards will negatively impact businesses in a blog post last year. It warned "These decisions will likely impact you, either as a citizen of the UK, a UK business or a company doing or wanting to do business with the government."
Microsoft has not yet responded to press requests for comment on Hilton's allegations but either way the company's aggression failed to prevent the government going ahead with their plans. Hilton explained that "We just resisted. You have to be brave."
More about Microsoft, United Kingdom, Goverment, Threat, Software
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