MANILA -- Familiar battle lines are being drawn over pending legslation mandating free and open source (FOSS) software for government and educational use in the Philippines.
While Microsoft and the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) are opposing the controversial free and open source software (FOSS) act (House Bill 1716) filed in the Philippine Congress, Sun Microsystems Inc. plans to support the bill.
In an exclusive interview with Computerworld Philippines, Matt Thompson, Sun's senior director for Technology Outreach & Sun Developer Network group, announced plans to support the pending FOSS bill in Congress, as part of Sun's commitment to drive network participation through open source.
"I would certainly work with our local field (SunPhil) here to put some support behind something like this. There is no reason we wouldn't. I'm just wasn't aware of it before," Thompson said, referring to the FOSS bill filed in congress last September 2006 by Rep. Teodoro Casiño, which mandates the use of FOSS in government and educational institutions. "Any software company that looks at this as close-minded is looking at last century and not this century," Thompson said.
Describing the Philippine FOSS bill as "fantastic," Thompson said that Sun actually worked with the Malaysian government to establish a similar policy supporting all open source technology for all government work. However, unlike Casiño's bill, the one in Malaysia does not include the adoption of open source among schools.
Thompson added the approval of open source laws in countries will also help build local IT economies versus a net importer of IT technologies because it simply allows a country's expertise in technology to be built in-house. "We're extremely supportive of these kinds of policies. We think it makes a lot of sense, it helps investment," the Sun executive said.
Thompson said he expects Microsoft to also oppose the open source policy in Malaysia but reminded that open source is not something to be confronted with.
"The reality is open source is not something you can fight. It is something that you learn to adopt and extend and adapt to," he explained, noting even Microsoft has recently started to include open source as part of its development performance.
Citing reports from the Microsoft Software Technology News (MSTN), Thompson said the software firm now has open source experts within their organization and is now talking to different developers on how the latter could be allowed access to Microsoft's source code under different licenses than the licenses it offers for sale.
"For Sun's part, we've gone the open source route," Thompson said. "Every piece of software Sun produces is, or will be open source. For us it's a simple argument that the more people who get access to our software, the better off we are. It makes economic sense."