‘Microsoft lobbyist criticises Amsterdam’

7 May 2009

Recently, Microsoft was sharply criticised by the Amsterdam city council. It appears that Microsoft is now hitting back by running Amsterdam down in the corridors of the European Parliament. Or is it?

Amsterdam wants to lead the way in the introduction of so-called open source software in order to become less dependent on large corporations such as Microsoft. Recently, the company caused irritation by reportedly forcing an unneeded software subscription worth 800,000 euro on the municipality.

Last weekend, het Parool published an article by journalist Patrick Meershoek on MEP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who is also number two on the VVD list of candidates for the European election on 4 June. The article mentions a conversation with a Microsoft lobbyist, who complains about the hostile treatment the company is getting.

As a result of fines imposed on the company by EC member Neelie Kroes, European countries - especially the Netherlands and Denmark - would give preferential treatment to Microsoft’s competitors. “The lobbyist mentions Amsterdam as an example of a city where Microsoft has hardly any chance of success anymore. ‘There is no level playing field’, he grumbles.”

Asked for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson says that the company is critical of governments that only want open source software, but that it does not agree with the way in which het Parool described the conversation with the lobbyist. Before publication, the company has seen a version of the article in which the lobbyist did not specifically mention Amsterdam. “We agree with that version”.

Hennis-Plasschaert has seen the het Parool article before publication. It appears that she has made changes in it, sent the adapted version of the article to the lobbyist for approval and then sent the changes to het Parool.

Meershoek says that she had changed the description of the conversation with the lobbyist beyond recognition. He decided to stick with the original version - a ‘truthful description of the conversation’ - if only because the lobbyist would have known that Meershoek was attending the meeting as a journalist.

Incidentally, Hennis-Plasschaert, being a liberal, is sensitive to Microsoft’s criticism. She asked for further information, but insisted that it be to the point. “I want facts, no fiction. And as concrete as possible. A few pages at most. The rest I won’t read.”

Hennis-Plasschaert could not be reached for comment. Photo: TPCOM

Source: nua | Categories: Geen