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December 21, 2004

Microsoft gets one over open source

US software giant Microsoft Corp scored a victory against open source software in India after the Indian state of Karnataka chose its software to power a major e-governance initiative.

By CBR Staff Writer

Local authorities in high-tech capital Bangalore chose to standardize on Microsoft’s networking utilities software as the foundation of a new e-governance project for 55 million people in the southern Indian state.

According to local officials, the project is slated to begin next April and will initially aim to put 24 citizen services online. The government plans to open 15 Internet centers across the city, offering services such as utility payments, personal banking, passport applications and travel booking.

The long term objective is to set up a network of 2,000 centers across the entire state.

Microsoft wooed India during a visit to the country in November 2002 by Bill Gates. At the time Gates promised to slash the cost of its software in India.

According to reports Microsoft sold the software at 45% of its market value to the company in charge of the Karnataka e-governance project.

Indian open source proponents however eyed the discount with suspicion, saying it was a long term ploy by Microsoft to tie the state and its population to proprietary technology over which it has no control.

They argue that open source software comes without the restrictions on use and modification that proprietary systems impose.

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