An e-Mail from the depths of Novell, the world’s second largest open source company, wings its way to me on the day Microsoft Windows Vista is released; the author has written to a bunch of folks in his department . . .

The BBC is proposing the following and asking the public to fill out an online form to express their opinions.

The proposed new services

The BBC’s Executive has been developing proposals to offer BBC programmes and content ‘on demand’. They made an application last August for the following:

* Seven-day TV catch-up over the internet

* Seven-day TV catch-up over cable

* Simulcast TV over the internet (streaming of live television networks)

* Non-digital rights management (DRM) audio downloads over the internet (podcasting of selected radio programmes)

Question 5 on the survey asks whether the BBC should restrict this programme to Microsoft only users. Please take a few moments and fill out the survey and express that there are non M$ users out there…

Thanks, John

There are plenty reasons for restricting one’s apps to MS-only software. One them is the available IT talent you have at your disposal. I know for a fact that the BBC is MS-centric in the skillset it looks for in its IT staff because it’s MS-centric in the technologies it uses.

The bigger the skillbase grows the harder it becomes to wean yourself off onto non-proprietary standards. The more MS-dependent you become in your technology choice, the easier it becomes to recruit the needed skillbase. While comparisons with drug addiction are over-egging the pudding somewhat, it’s a self-perpetuating circle.

Bill Gates is right when in interviews all this week he reminds us that the promise of Java (actually a proprietary system) hasn’t been fulfilled but the facts are undeniable: there are more folks using open source software. As Digital Rights Management starts to become more pervasive and people finally realise that 90p for a poorly-encoded, low quality music track from iTunes that will never play on any other manufacturer’s device, is in fact a bad deal, they will start to turn to non-Microsoft software.

Naturally, the author of the above e-Mail has a vested interest. The more folks use OSS, the safer the future is for companies like Novell and Red Hat. But the competetive eco-system that is the global software industry needs, and is big enough to support, two competing (but interoperating) software systems.

Windows is already the de-facto proprietary software platform of choice for much of the globe but no CEO I ever listened to liked to make big decisions without sussing out alternatives. It’s their job. But when your alternatives are 1) Windows or 2) more Windows then savvy CEO’s know they are failing their employees, customers and, worst of all, their shareholders. The planet is big enough for OSS and windows. Let’s hope the Beeb makes the right decision.

Like the author of the above e-Mail, I urge you to visit the above link.


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