Microsoft pulling dirty tricks in Thailand

I had a bit of a poke about in the newly released Wikileaks diplomatic cables archive looking for interesting stuff and came across a cable from the Chiang Mai Consulate that contains an allegation that the Microsoft Thailand Corporate Affairs Director was explicitly bad mouthing Open Source and being critical of Thailands Creative Economy policy of promoting the use of legal Open Source software instead of using unauthorised copies of proprietary software. The open source community generally doesn’t have this level of access into the heart of government, which is one thing that we have been working to fix in the UK with our friends at Open Forum Europe (who I work for part time). It really is important for the community to support organisations and individuals that can provide a credible voice at a high level and advocate for Open Standards, Free Software (yeah, approximately synonymous with Open Source) and a level playing field through the interoperability of systems and a lack of vendor lock in.
IPR: Concern Over Open Source Software and Data Protection
9. (SBU) Microsoft-Thailand's Corporate Affairs Director
identified software copyrights as a big issue. On the one hand,
he praised the Thai government (RTG) for strengthening its IPR
enforcement and education efforts, and said Microsoft was "very
pleased" that Thailand's software piracy rate has decreased by
two percent a year since 2006. On the other hand, he expressed
concern over the RTG's Creative Economy policy of promoting the
"open source" software model over the "commercial source" model
as a means to curb piracy. (Note: this is an issue for IT
companies worldwide, and not unique to Thailand).

10. (SBU) The Business Software Alliance (BSA) Director for
Software Policy-Asia also urged the RTG not to favor open source
over commercial source. He argued that (1) the open source
model has been shown to have an insignificant impact on reducing
software piracy; and (2) by focusing on an open source policy,
the RTG signals the market to stunt the development of
commercial source software, which in turn undermines Thailand's
ability to fully service market needs.

In case you think this post is Microsoft bashing, I generally don’t pick on Microsoft, they are by no means the only big bad wolf out there. Remember, I didn’t pick Microsoft for this post, they picked the Open Source as the thing they wanted to get rid of in Thailand. There were other proprietary vendors in the meeting, the main anti-open source quote was attributed to Microsoft, but this kind of thing goes on all the time. The anti-FUD message needs to be just as strong and persistent.


  • Well, funny you bring it up, they did the same in Venezuela, Wikileaks revealled Microsoft was invoved in sendind company memos to the US Embassy with regards the presidential decree that promotes free and open source software as the tecnology to be use in public administration…


    again, nothing against microsoft, but they seem to be picking on Open Source software and that bothers me.

    • Alan Bell says:

      yeah, I found that one too, I was going to do a followup article about it, but really we already knew Microsoft were fighting to retain their dominance there. Similar stuff going on in Israel too, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, most of this activity won’t be known about by the embassy or considered worthy of mention.

  • Daeng Bo says:

    It’s not the first time they did this in Thailand. In 2004, there was strong government support for FLOSS, a “computer for the people” (Eua a thorn) project which sold something like a million computers, and even talk of declaring Linuc TLE (Thai Language Extensions) the national OS.

    MS came in, threatened the government over piracy (which was the big reason for it to promote the movement to FLOSS), and offered free license conversion for all unlicensed Win 98 machines (the dominant OS there at the time) in return for an exclusive multi-year contract. The contract killed FLOSS in government. A year later, they EOLed Win98 and forced paid upgrades to XP, since they then had accurate counts.

    Eua a thorn was also the first time MS broke its “one price around the world” rule in order to introduce Windows Starter.

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