I just heard from Mike Reynolds, a state representative from Oklahoma, whose run-in with Microsoft I first wrote about last September. Mike is a former software executive who last year introduced a bill that would have required companies that develop custom applications for the state to turn over the source code so that Oklahoma can maintain the application itself (the measure only applied to custom applications, not pre-existing packages).
Mike’s bill easily passed the House, but was tabled in the Senate after Microsoft decided to lobby against the bill. Mike introduced it again the other day and once more Microsoft (more accurately, the ironically named Initiative for Software Choice, an organization whose close ties to Microsoft I outlined in the September article) has decided to lobby against it. In a letter to Reynolds the ISC writes that requiring the developers of custom software to turn over their code “could be construed as a mandate for the procurement of open source software,” which Microsoft is obviously against.
Having talked to Mike a handful of times I know that this is not his intention. For me at least, concluding that this bill sets up a preference for open source requires a few conceptual leaps. And why does Microsoft, which doesn’t make custom software, care anyway? What do you think? Is the ISC just spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt)? Or is the concern legitimate?