Microsoft UK boss bashes wired Britain

We are destined to become an also-ran of the digital world Svendsen tells conference

The boss of Microsoft UK has delivered a scathing attack on the UK's attitude toward the Internet and ecommerce. In a keynote speech delivered on the opening day of Internet World 99 in London, David Svendsen pounded the government's record on its wired policies and thumped UK business for being complacent and unambitious. In a 35-minute mauling Svendsen said that when it came to ecommerce, the UK was "too cautious and procrastinated too much." Before he even started on his speech he had a go at the number of people in the conference hall. "This should be a highly attended event but I'm disappointed," he said. "I'm staggered. In other countries [the hall would be packed] and there'd be standing room only," he said to a room that was at best three-quarters full. In his outburst, Svendsen... · explained how the UK has been in relative economic decline for the last 100 years · hit out at the government's snail-like approach to the digital world · had a pop at small businesses for not embracing technology · instructed government to leave business alone and let it sort out how the Net should be run · criticised government's slow adoption of the Electronic Commerce Bill · whinged about not enough people being online in the UK · attacked the work government has done already saying that there is too much information around and it's too confusing · told people to use the National Grid for Learning -- not just read about it · denounced the government's plans to deliver all government services electronically by 2008 as being three years too late · jumped on local government for being even slower than central government for adopting digital solutions · outed politicians for not leading by example and not using the Net themselves · lampooned the government for having no obvious champion in the Cabinet for a digital Britain. And in a Millennium bug-type threat he warned delegates that unless something was done now Britain would become an also ran in the emerging digital economy. "Time is running out," he said. "And it may already be too late." ®

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