At least case raised awareness: IT managers

IT managers aren't surprised by the Commerce Commission's decision not to investigate a complaint of illegal behaviour against Microsoft.

IT managers aren’t surprised by the Commerce Commission’s decision not to investigate a complaint of illegal behaviour against Microsoft.

The commission rejected Auckland law firm Clendon Feeney’s complaint, saying Microsoft had not breached section 36 of the Commerce Act, which covers anticompetitive actions, through the introduction of its Software Assurance licensing scheme.

NZI IT services manager David Fletcher says he isn’t surprised, but at least the case has made everyone aware of the situation. NZI won’t be signing up to Software Assurance in New Zealand, but will probably come under a global agreement hammered out by its parent company in the UK and Europe.

Fletcher was outraged when Microsoft first announced in May last year that customers would have to switch to the new licensing programme by October 1, a move which meant an unbudgeted six-figure upgrade bill for NZI. Microsoft then extended the deadline for compliance to February 28 this year, and has now stretched the transition period out to July 31. But Fletcher says his confidence in Microsoft has been irretrievably damaged.

Ministry of Social Development information systems co-ordinator Neil Miranda says he hasn’t followed the Clendon Feeney case in depth, but says it’s the responsibility of IT managers to go into dealings with vendors with their eyes open.

“Every vendor has issues. Microsoft has good products but there are certain issues that you buy into such as viruses, cost and support. That is something that you need to weigh up and understand, and then ensure that you work with the good points of that organisation to ensure that it plays to your benefit.”

Miranda’s ministry is part of a joint bargaining initiative of government departments who will negotiate with Microsoft. He is also assessing Sun’s StarOffice 6, but believes the spreadsheet is not the equivalent of Excel.

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