Announcement: Citizens Have the Right to Choose
FOSS alternatives, such as OpenOffice.org and Abi Word provide the same functionality as the office software announced by the government, and also provide the following clear benefits, especially in the context of the current economic situation:
- Free dissemination, without the need to purchase licences to use it
- Lowering the piracy rate, and lowering the criminalization of IT users
- Using open standards-based document formats, enabling accessibility to content regardless of currently used technology (ISO/IEC 26300:2006)
- Ability to localize and upgrade the software according to local needs, without the need to pay anyone for the right to do it. Most important office FOSS applications are already localized in Macedonian and Albanian languages.
- Avoiding vendor lock in, i.e. promotion of the principles of protection of competition.
- Enabling true ownership, not de facto renting of the software for both work and private use.
- The use of FOSS as public good is recommended by the National Strategy for Information Society Development, accepted by consensus by the Parliament of RM.
- European Commission considers FOSS is key for ICT competitiveness, and development of digital industry in the EU.
FOSS use would drastically lower the price for the computers the Government announced to purchase in the framework of the project “A computer for every student.” For instance, “One Laptop Per Child,” the most famous project of that kind in the world, uses exclusively FOSS solutions, because they are the only suitable alternative covering both the financial and the hardware requirements.
Macedonian citizens continue to show great interest in FOSS use. The latest example is the support they collectively provided by partially covering the expenses for publishing the CD “Get Your Job Done,” distributed in 5.000 copies.