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Saving Students from The Latest Microsoft Lock-in (Live @ edu)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Mail, Microsoft at 1:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Let them eat Vista

Two days ago Microsoft issued a press release heralding its plans to take over universities with its Windows-oriented, Live-branded offerings, which typically lock down students and bind them to Microsoft while they still are young. For background about this, see this older post.

We were contacted by a reader who urged us to respond. “With many of Microsoft’s minions surreptitiously pulling the plug on IMAP this summer while people are out it might be good to line up shots for the inevitable backlash,” he writes. “Or, in the best case, for use in preventative action,” he continues, “we should prepare lists.” He is pointing to this new success story of a commercial, closed source option.

He recommends that we start framing Free software alternatives, where applicable, as “the list of products Microsoft is trying to dethrone through feeble imitation and nasty intrithogue.” We were criticised by this reader before, especially for warning about Microsoft’s shots at FOSS without bothering to mention or to link to projects that Microsoft tries to fight, in which case the positive contribution to them is mere.

Here is the list of suggestions, as-is, which he passes on to us (making this a static page would seem too much like advertising). We omit only Scalix because it’s Xandros, which we boycott:

Server Applications


Project homepage

Kolab is an open source, standards-based groupware server. It is a product of a series of contracts for the federal office for Security in the Information Technology in the German Government. Support contracts are available from several sources including ones in Sweden. It is maintained by the Kolab consortium.


Project homepage

Citadel is fully open source with end-to-end GPLv3. It has been production grade for several years.


Project homepage

Descendant of the Hula project.


Project homepage

Zimbra is owned by Yahoo! as of 2007. Though the recent bid against Yahoo! by Zimbra’s main competitor puts the product at risk. If the deal goes through, given the competitor’s history it is likely to be sidelined like FoxPro or broken like HotMail, to name just two examples.


Project homepage
Open-Xchange is available under dual license GPL + proprietary.

Client Applications


Project homepage

Sunbird is very easy to use, open source calendar client. It can handle both stand-alone calendars and shared calendars using SQLlite, CalDAV and the standard iCalendar. Shared calendars can be accessed via the net or via the file system. The interface is written in XUL, JavaScript, and CSS


Project homepage

Thunderbird is a very easy to use, open source mail client. It can handle IMAP and POP, with options like encryption. It is readily extensible and many plug-ins exist to provide essentials like culling duplicate messages or PKI encryption.


Project homepage

Kontact is very easy to use, open source calendar client from. It can handle both stand-alone calendars and shared calendars using SQLlite, CalDAV and the standard iCalendar. Shared calendars can be accessed via the net or via the file system. The interface is written in XUL, JavaScript, and CSS. [correction: the client interface/program is implemented with Qt and C++]

Google Calendar

Project homepage

Google is easy to use and supports data standards, but it is server-based and the server is located on the other side of the Atlantic. KPlato


Project homepage

KPlato is a standalone project management and planning tool. It has many useful functions including Gantt charts, task lists with resource allocations per task, task allocations per resource, cost planning with configurable cut-off date and periodicity, and more.

On Microsoft’s dumping technique to ensure lock-in in schools:

  1. Bill Gates’ Retirement Merely a Political Lock-in Crusade
  2. Microsoft ‘Buys’ Dubai Away from GNU/Linux, Calls it “Charity”; Paris Also?
  3. OOXML Sins and “Charity” Against GNU/Linux
  4. It’s Not Dumping Because They Call it “Charity”
  5. Boosting Windows Vista Sales Using AIDS
  6. “Let Them Eat Vista…”
  7. Mysterious New Moves in the Gates Foundation
  8. Microsoft Carries on Dumping to Make Its Products a ‘Standard’
  9. The Takeaways from the Giveaways
  10. Microsoft Must Be Absolutely Terrified
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Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. Michael said,

    May 30, 2008 at 2:40 am


    No Evolution? Is that just because it’s Novell now? It is GPL afterall, and came from elsewhere originally and is a big part of GNOME. Does it have mono in it perhaps?

    I’m just curious since Hula was originally an internal Novell product, yet that is listed here.

    (and i worked on evo for 6 years too, but i haven’t looked at it for nearly 3 years, so i don’t know if it’s gone down the ‘.net’ route it was contemplating back then)

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 30, 2008 at 2:47 am


    I’ve just pasted the list as it was sent to me. I stripped off Scalix. Evolution seems to be on the slow road to Microsoft patent infection, but that’s probably not the reason it’s left out.

    Actually, let me shed some more light on Monome. I’ll do a post in half an hour.

    As for Bongo, its developer is defending Microsoft and Novell quite relentlessly in this Web site.

  3. Alex H. said,

    May 30, 2008 at 5:04 am


    No, I don’t defend Microsoft.

    I defend free software who you defame because of supposed links. I also disagree that Novell is an “enemy” of free software: while you may not like everything they do, you cannot ignore their substantial contributions to the software that you personally run on your desktop.

    It’s sad that you’re unable to understand, let alone tolerate, different perspectives to your own, and it’s extremely sad that you attack free software projects on the basis of your biased views.

  4. eggs said,

    May 30, 2008 at 10:00 am



    who is paying you?



  5. Heller said,

    May 31, 2008 at 7:45 am


    about Kontact : “The interface is written in XUL, JavaScript, and CSS”

    hmm, Kontact is part of the KDE project and it is written with the KDE (QT / C++) libraries

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 31, 2008 at 10:58 am


    Yes, Heller, you are right. I just posted it as it was sent to me in a rush and didn’t take any time to verify. I’ll correct this now.

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