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Goverment IT News Open Source

Swiss Government Has Microsoft “Dependency”

Open source advocates claim that a Swiss government department must open its doors to non-proprietary software

An ongoing case brought by Red Hat and other open source vendors against the Swiss government’s decision to award an uncontested IT contract to Microsoft could prove pivotal, according to experts.

Commenting on a recent decision by Swiss courts to reject the group of open source suppliers objections against the Microsoft contract, Mark Taylor of the UK-based Open Source Consortium, said the case shows how some government departments find it extremely difficult to extracate themselves from using Microsoft’s technology.

“In effect the Judge said the Swiss Public Sector is so addicted that it would be damaging to withdraw the dependency right now,” said Taylor.

Taylor added that if the ongoing case finds in favour of Microsoft when it finally concludes, it could set a troubling precedent for open source technology uptake in the public sector.

“I suspect this is a watershed moment and this case will play a pivotal part in the public debate from now on…,” said Taylor.

According to comments sent to eWeek Europe by the Swiss law firm, BCCC AVOCATS, last month the Swiss Administrative Court reportedly rejected the claim filed by 18 open source software providers against the Swiss Confederation’s decision to renew a three-year agreement with Microsoft to supply servers and desktops to the Swiss Federal Bureau for Building and Logistics.

In May this year, the open source group led by Red Hat protested what they claim was a Swiss government contract given to Microsoft without any public bidding. The Red Hat group asked a Swiss federal to overturn a contract issued to Microsoft for 14 million Swiss Franc (£8 million) each year. The contract, for “standardised workstations”, was issued with no public bidding process, Red Hat’s legal team reported in a blog – because the Swiss agency asserted there was no sufficient alternative to Microsoft products.

Also commenting on the ongoing case, Karsten Gerloff from the Free Software Foundation said that the Swiss department concerned should break free from its dependance on one vendor.

“Free Software offers users strategic control over their infrastructure. This problem is by no means limited to Switzerland. Across Europe,
it’s quite common for public bodies to either hand out contracts to proprietary software vendors without a proper public bidding procedure,” he said in a blog posting.

Categories
Mobile & Wireless News Open Source

Symbian 3 Is Ready To Go

The Symbian 3 operating system is ready but Nokia’s N8 smartphone will be a bit late to take on Apple’s iPhone 4

The new version will run on the Nokia N8 phone due to appear shortly, and improves the Symbian operating system – the most widespread smartphone OS in the world – in various ways. Symbian 3 (also called Symbian^3 or S^3) was demonstrated at Mobile World Congress in February, when the second version of Symbian was released as open source.

Functionally complete – but is it an iPhone competitor?

“This is an important milestone for the Symbian Foundation as it marks the first time this point has been reached for a fully open source release and the time at which Symbian 3 is considered ready for community use,” said Rafe Blandford of All About Symbian, following the announcement that Symbian 3 is “functionally complete,” in the Symbian developer newsletter.

“This is an important stage for device creators and developers, but is not of major significance to consumers, other than to indicate that Symbian 3 is well on track for being in devices in the second half of the year,” said Blandford. “The Nokia N8 was the first Symbian 3 device to be announced, but there are many more on the way from multiple manufacturers.”

Symbian 3 having now been declared officially Functionally Complete marks an important milestone in the platform and represents a transition from feature submission and stability into the hardening phase. However, “functionally complete” is not the same as “feature complete,” Symbian officials said.

There could still be some minor changes to the platform – even though the software is slated to begin to appear on devices in the later in the year – following a delay to the original shipping date of the Nokia N8

Symbian 3 features include home screen improvements, next generation graphics, better data networking and a better entertainment experience including HD video, smart remote controls, interactive radio, music store integration and podcasts.

For developers, Symbian 3 delivers support for the Qt application framework version 4.6. Availability of Qt 4.6 for Symbian 3 means developers can start using the power of this new runtime, to plan new applications and to start the migration of their existing applications. Where used, Qt application framework will sit alongside the Avkon UI framework, enabling both forward and backward compatibility. Avkon is the name of the legacy UI framework that Qt replaces.

Nokia is pinning its hopes on Symbian 3, along with a general upgrade and simplification of its phone and smartphones, but has downgraded its sales forecasts

Categories
News Open Source

Vodafone To Sell £80 Android Phone

The 858 Smart will sell for 90 euros, and will feature Android ‘Froyo’ and access to social networking services

Vodafone is to launch a low-cost Android handset in the UK and other European markets this summer – the 858 Smart, which is expected to sell for 90 euros (£80) without a contract.

The device will launch in the UK, Germany and Italy and will run Android 2.2 ‘Froyo’, with Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk and other standard features, as well as integrated access to social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter and Prepay Manager for topping up prepaid accounts.

Specifications

Weighing 100 grams, the Huawei-manufactured device will use a 2.8-inch touchscreen with 320×240 resolution, a 2MP zoom camera, 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It will use a 528MHz Qualcomm processor and comes with 130 MB of memory and a SD card slot supporting up to 32GB memory.

The handset will initially be available in black or white with other colours to come. Vodafone said it plans to offer an online customisation feature allowing users to choose their own colour and add an image to the back cover.

Last month Vodafone announced plans to launch its first own-brand Android smartphone, known as the Vodafone 845.

The device has a 2.8-inch screen and offers Wi-Fi connectivity, a 3 megapixel camera and 500MB of built-in memory. It also provides access to the Android app store and, where available, Vodafone 360 – a suite of services that gathers all of a user’s friends, communities, entertainment and media in one place. the device is not as customised as some users might have feared however.

Android is continuing to take market share away from alternatives such as Apple’s iPhone, in part due to the availability of many different options including low-cost devices. It is shipping many devices including the HTC Sensation.

Android rose to 37 percent US market share, compared with 27 percent for the iPhone through March, according to data gathered by US market researcher Nielsen. That is up eight percent from Nielsen’s 3 March report, accounting for January sales, when the researcher said Android notched 29 percent, breaking a statistical tie with Apple’s iOS and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry platforms.

Nielsen also detected a shift in user perceptions, reflected in Android’s position, which has happened rapidly in the last six months. When Nielsen surveyed mobile consumers from July to September 2010, one-third of the respondents said they wanted an iPhone, compared with 26 percent who said a handset running Android was on their shopping list.

However, when Nielsen conducted the same survey from January through March 2011, 31 percent of consumers who plan to acquire a new smartphone said they were looking to buy an Android device. This gave it a marginal lead over the iPhone which dipped to 30 percent.

Another index of the popularity of Android is the massive increase in the amount of malware circulating for the devices.