European IT Chief Slams Proprietary Software

Neelie Kroes is no lightweight when it comes to open v. closed software. She spent six years as Europe's head trust-buster, and in that time, collected billions from proprietary software makers who sought to corner the market with their closed-source wares. When she spoke, big software — and everybody else — listened.

In February, Ms. Kroes moved on from chasing down monopolists, becoming the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda — the EU's lead regulator of all things information technology. If her recent comments are any indication, she intends to continue her staunch opposition to proprietary software in her new position.

Kroes has never been one to mince words, and she certainly didn't last week while speaking to an Open Forum Europe-sponsored conference. She blasted proprietary software, saying that choosing it over Open Source alternatives can leave nations "unintentionally locked into proprietary technology for decades", and went on to note that even if Open Source options are later implemented, they "risk being systematically ignored."

She told attendees that she intends to promulgate guidelines intended to promote options including Open Source, saying that any government that chooses closed over open should have "clear justification" for doing so. She described the choice between Open Source and proprietary software as being between:

"[T]he one that you can download from the Website and that you can implement without restrictions or the other one which you have to buy which is restricted to certain fields and which requires royalty payments for embedded intellectual property rights -- and the answer is obvious."

She didn't stop there, however. The vendor lock-in that proprietary software causes, she said, is "a waste of public money that most public bodies can no longer afford." By all indications, her time at the Directorate-General for Information Society and Media will be a wild ride, not least for the proprietary manufacturers who have no clue what they're in for.

Image © European Union, 2010


Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.


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Suck it, Microshaft.

Anonymous's picture

I really, really, like her. I think the next logical step is to create a cloning machine and place her (and some others) in it.

I always hear Europe and other countries using their collaborative brains and using opensource..well, that and everything else that is better about those countries...

Really makes me want to blow the US off of the map. It's failed, we should all give up and go elsewhere. It's behind on everything and seems to have been since it's birth. Equality in the US, hah. Separation of Religion. Good one. Morons against healthcare..loads of them. Crappy education system. The very best...

Easy for her

Jack Lewis's picture

Since she's basically on well fare it's a pretty easy thing for her to be against proprietary anything. I'd like to see a open-food movement, why should anyone make a living growing fruits and vegetables?


FlowerOS's picture

Dunno where you live but in EU is Open-Food and this means they are forced by law to write all the ingredients they put in. Proprietary-Food or Patented-Food will mean they give you Soylent Green (see the movie) and tell you you don;t need to know and you have no right to audit or modify the product and for every customization you need you pay monopoly prices because nobody else can do it except for the original patent holder.

Openness doesn't mean free-beer but community tested products and if it is possible to get it for free, then you'll be stupid not to do so.

There is not one single good reason in the world why EU or any country/federation/union should pay a monopoly big bucks if we have at least an alternative.

Cool proprietary?

Kroes-deluxe's picture

Imagine a country/continent were citizens interests are more important then multinationals interests!!

When you like to thrown your money into Gates&Co there pockets: go ahead! Even if I had money in spare I would spend it in a very different way but again: go ahead! It's your money(I guess?)

But then, when you get to learn the value of money you might learn that paying tax money that's spend in a immoral way sucks even more.

You know what? Let me fund you with government money to start a open-food distribution!! Wall street people are rich enough!!

What do you think proprietary-boy?

I love her

Ram Sambamurthy's picture

i love neelie kroes. may god give her multiple lives to be reborn and continue screwing the greedy bastards

+1 love :)

FlowerOS's picture

You said it bro. We really needed someone with her common sense up there in the politicians world.

She's just contemporary of the present time

Eduardo's picture

I firmly agree with Ms. Kroes and all of you.
Been realistic, there are no more reason for Public Offices and Departments to waste tons of (people')money to buy software for running common/ordinary tasks as Web, mail, text and worksheets in office's landscape. What about the server side? Every one knows that you not only save money on software, you save a lot of money on hardware, security and whole infrastructure.

Here, we have a public policy to empower the use of Open software, in which all Public Offices and Departments must ponder about the possibility of use of open source software. The very first and visible consequence we can feel nowadays, at least for the majority of servers where web/mail and data are running right now, they are doing over Linux, instead M$ few years ago. BTW, on the office side... the transition seems to be far more slow.

Oh yes! The security branch pays an important role, indeed.


Open versus closed.

Harry's picture

Microsoft owns the best lawyers, judges, and politicians money can buy, so it is going to be an uphill battle to loosen their stranglehold on business, and government. Google did the right thing by banning windows based computers from their organization, maybe others will follow.

She's absolutely true, and I

Ercolinux's picture

She's absolutely true, and I hope that she can reach the results she expect. But M$ has the hand deep in pocket non only in the USA: here in Italy there is already a law that say that the Public Offices and Departments must use open source solution whenever is possible: well the same secretary who had signed the law few months later has close a commercial alliance with Microsoft for the supply of software to the Governement offices...

Not for sale

Martin Grashoff's picture

@ Doug: I understand you want our Neelie. She could certainly 'nail' a few of your big proprietaries. I'm afraid she's not for sale -- and that's probably her strongest point anyway. So... I guess I'm temporarily proud to be Dutch.

I like her

Doug.Roberts's picture

We need someone in this country with her common-sense approach to Open Source software. The difficulty in achieving this in the US is that M$ has enormous deep-pocketed lobbying power. They can buy off any politician whom they perceive to have Open Source sympathies, if they choose to.