Despite its apparent new found love of Linux, Microsoft has joined a lobbying effort aimed at cutting government support for open source software.
The Redmond giant has joined the Initiative for Software Choice, which launched quietly in May, and is chaired by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).
The Software Choice group is acting partly in response to moves by countries like France, Germany and Peru that have passed legislation to make open source mandatory for government use.
CompTIA spokesman Mike Wendy said: "We do not want governments to adopt a perceived preference for one model over another. Our position recognises the importance of a variety of models. No single model is better than the other."
According to Wendy, the initiative has no problem with open source and free products. He maintained that the free products, like proprietary and hybrid offerings, serve the public admirably.
"CompTIA itself sells a Linux + ICT certification," he said. "Our concerns centre on government policies that automatically remove merit from the process without regard to the job at hand.
"Any model should be used if it can do the job. Governments do not need mandated preferences to choose the appropriate software product."
Microsoft and CompTIA argue that an open source licence means that software cannot be commercialised, while open source advocates claim that companies such as IBM have successfully integrated open source software into commercial products.
Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group, said: "Anything that prevents Microsoft software from selling would be a bad thing.
"So it has come up with this idea that open source is discriminatory and, since it discriminates against Microsoft, it is very clear that it doesn't want the US government to make it policy."
Other Software Choice members include Adonix, Intel, IXOS, Open Solutions, Paradigma, Peru Software Association, Procwork, Software Innovation, Update.com and VSI.
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