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Er… MS UK sponsors open source deployment workshop

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A tooth-jarring juxtaposition leaps out from the London Connects site: "Open Source Software - Practical deployment", it says, then leaps straight into "Sponsored by Microsoft" (big type, corporate logo, TM). Microsoft has indeed been starting to show up at Linux events claiming to have become kinder and gentler, but by bankrolling a workshop intended to provide guidance on OSS deployment its surely veering into excess of philanthropy territory.*

And, as you'll see from the bottom of the page, it's exhibiting too, while fellow exhibitor Red Hat seems not to have stumped up sponsorship. Tightwads? Maybe they're counter-sponsoring PDC 2004.

London Connects is the agency responsible for delivering e-government in London, and has been looking at OSS for a while now. London mayor Ken Livingstone also showed signs of being smitten by OSS in his recent Connecting the Capital vision statement, and has told London Connects to investigate its deployment. Mayor Ken reckons "there is a strong case for businesses, Government and the community sector to consider using Open Source software," and has London Connects developing "good practice relating to the costs, benefits and risks relating to the adoption of Open Source software by organisations and individuals in London."

This is quite something for someone responsible for the Congestion Charge, whose IT system was claimed as being the largest, erm, .NET deployment so far. But perhaps the charge delivering less than a third of projected revenues in its first year, leaving London's transportation system in some considerable financial embarrassment, has drawn Ken's eyeballs - somewhat belatedly - towards the bottom line.

You should however be able to grasp the exceeding weirdness of Microsoft's workshop sponsorship from this. And a read through the programme leaves one wondering what, apart from jumping up and down shouting "NOOO!!! It's all LIES!!!" the MS reps will find to do there. The keynote is from OSS promotion body OpenForum Europe, then it's swiftly on to a day largely consisting of how-tos. Not a single why-you-shouldn't-do or you'll-be-sorry-if-you-do-do, as far as we can see. We suppose it's possible they could major on interoperability advice for organisations migrating from Windows to open source, and the use of browser-based applications and thin client systems as an alternative to expensive XP upgrades, but apart from that... ®

* The curse of Reg: Not 24 hours after this story appeared, the Microsoft sponsorship tag vanished. Anyone else needing an OSS event unsponsored by Microsoft should let us know. We're still working on how to get them to stop exhibiting at things as well...

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