Preparing for UCITA
It's pretty grim. The next time the big proprietary software vendors change
their software, UCITA gives them a US backed monopoly. In the cases of
data formats such as .doc, UCITA allows the vendor to kidnap your data
and hold it for ransom (ever higher prices and ever less quality). Because
now it's illegal to do the necessary reverse engineering to import the
Do Not Upgrade!
Above all, do not upgrade your proprietary software. Not Windows, not Word,
nor Excel nor Powerpoint. The present versions interoperate quite nicely
with Samba, Star Office, WordPerfect Office, etc, giving your data an escape
hatch. As long as you do not upgrade, you're safe.
Perhaps Microsoft and the other proprietary vendors will tell you that
the present versions are not Y2K compliant, and that you need to upgrade.
It's your choice, but be aware that the next version will probably lock
you in forever. In fact, I just edited a rather large Word file on my Win98
machine, set to January 3, 2000.
This is not to say you don't need an upgrade path. Time and technology
Begin Transitioning to Open Source
By definition, you can't reverse-engineer open source, since by the license
the source must be included and changable. Open Source software makes you
immune to UCITA. Begin collecting open source alternatives to your proprietary
products. Run parallel for awhile. Things might be rocky for awhile. But
if you want your business to live more than three years, you'd better make
Leave Proprietary Software Behind
At the end of the transition period you'll be left with a 100% open source
business. Now make it policy that only open source software will be purchased
(excluding ERP, enterprise accounting, etc.). Sure, it's tough. Sure, proprietary
software is sometimes superior to open source. But while your competitors
are paying ever higher prices for ever buggier software, and maybe getting
it shut down by the vendor every once in a while, you'll be eating their
Next: Just Say No to Greedware
Copyright (C) 1999 by Steve Litt