Kroess comes out as open source advocate

When Kroes was competition commissioner she had to offer an appearance of non-partisanship on the question of open source vs. proprietary software. Now, with her promotion, the gloves are apparently off.

Now that former EU antitrust chief Neelie Kroes (right) has moved up to a post as vice president of the European Commission, she has become a fierce advocate for open source.

Some of that fire was on display today at Open Source Europe, where she lit into Microsoft and other proprietary companies with an almost Stallman-like fervor.

She charged that governments waste the public's money with proprietary standards, and can get locked in for many years by even specifying a browser.

As the EU's Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Kroes is now very influential in setting procurement policies across Europe, and her complete support for open source and open standards can now be stated plainly.

Today's speech, however, was not a surprise. She published a six point Digital Agenda in March focused on interoperability, a single digital market across Europe, better technology training, faster Internet links, more research dollars, and greater trust of technology.

All this was framed as a way out of the current recession. She also offered a little European "nationalism":

People in China and Brazil and Mexico and Australia are not assuming anything. Instead they are reforming and innovating and pushing their limits. We have to do the same.

When Kroes was competition commissioner she had to offer an appearance of non-partisanship on the question of open source vs. proprietary software. Now, with her promotion, the gloves are apparently off.

Is this a good thing for open source, and if Europe does move government procurement and investment toward open standards in the next few years, how should the U.S. respond?

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