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Surviving UCITA Present

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 new format.

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 march on...

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 your move.

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 lunch.

Next: Just Say No to Greedware

Copyright (C) 1999 by Steve Litt