• carwyn 6 days ago

    This is perhaps the most poignant comment in the article:

    "CERN has enjoyed special conditions for the use of Microsoft products for the last 20 years, by virtue of its status as an “academic institution”. However, recently, the company has decided to revoke CERN’s academic status, a measure that took effect at the end of the previous contract in March 2019, replaced by a new contract based on user numbers, increasing the license costs by more than a factor of ten."

  • BlueTemplar 6 days ago

    Reminds me of the recent Google Maps price increase. My nearly million-people town's public transport route planning software has had frequent outages since...

  • asark 6 days ago

    If there's one widely used Internet or Web service that seems like it really ought to be run by the government, it's mapping and routing. It's kinda infrastructure, governments have or should have the info already, and there's not much benefit to having multiple projects handling it. The data and basic API should at least come from a government source, I'd say. Let companies but whatever sugar they want on top of that (streetview, say).

  • moksly 5 days ago

    It kind of already is, but there isn't a coordinated global effort of any kind. Every GIS department has an unbelievable amount of mapping information. Because we need to, and because a lot of governments, especially in Europe, it's illegal for us to rely on google because they track too much. Some of the data is private, and rightly so, as it contains detailed private informations of properties used for internal BI. In Skanderborg Kommune of Denmark, the GIS department has even started running it's own street-view feature. But again, that's just a tiny piece of the total area of Denmark and neighboring cities might do things completely different.

    We do have national initiatives like opendata.dk, that tries to extend APIs for all this data, but that's still just on a national level.

    I think open street map should really be the "google maps" option exactly because it's both open and global, and I do think the public sector should put as much of it's data into it as possible, but I have no idea how we should fund it.

  • toomuchtodo 5 days ago

    > but I have no idea how we should fund it.

    Grants from government bodies, with governance and stakeholders in the non-profit that operates OSM. Once that is in place, it becomes straightforward for governments and other contributors to treat OSM as the canonical Source Of GIS Truth.

  • nerd7473 5 days ago

    I agree with you there. It's an important service that was orginally created by the military (though I'm not sure which one).

  • jedimastert 6 days ago

    It's not really run IRL though, or at least the US government isn't putting out official atlases (I don't think?)

  • HillRat 5 days ago

    The Census Bureau’s TIGER/Line is the authoritative repository of US streets and features data, regularly updated by municipalities and counties. For-profit mapping services augment the data and use drivers to make sure they’re on top of streets changes, but you can do a great deal of work with just Census and municipal GIS data.

  • Somasis 5 days ago

    TIGER's great, but if you're going to use it you might as well just use OpenStreetMap in the end; a lot of the data in the US is based on TIGER data and then reviewed, as TIGER has had a lot of issues with things like misnamed roads and misalignments of roads.

  • mixmastamyk 5 days ago

    Used Tiger as my first online map in the mid 90s, thanks for the blast from the past. Probably found it thru "Cool site of the day."

  • throwaway2048 5 days ago

    The United States Geological Survey releases tons of mapping data.

  • _pmf_ 5 days ago

    And it piggybacks from an operational standpoint on GPS, so currently the private service leverages the public one.

  • mises 5 days ago

    Do you really want to see your nice, clean google maps application replaced by committee-designed garbage? Besides, where in the Constitution does it say that's allowed? The only reason GPS turned out as well as it did was because it was a military service opened to the public.

  • foota 5 days ago

    What? The constitution doesn't have to explicitly allow something. And your argument for GPS turning out well would seem to be an argument in favor of government controlled systems working well?

  • syshum 5 days ago

    >>>The constitution doesn't have to explicitly allow something

    Yes it actually does, if the Constitution does not Grant the power to the Government then that power is Reserved for the States and the people

    We have forgotten what the constitution is, it is a document outlines what the government is allowed to do, everything else is suppose to be forbidden.

    Instead somehow over the last 200 years a few of the vague parts of the constitution have be misinterpreted (the commerce clause as an exampled) to give the federal government near unlimited power

  • foota 5 days ago

    Honestly? I don't really care what the constitution says, I think it makes way more sense for our government to have a blacklist of laws they can pass rather than a whitelist.

    That said though, I acknowledge that you're right. Fortunately for me, the courts seem to disagree :-)

  • syshum 5 days ago

    It only makes sense if you support Authoritarian governments and oppose liberty for individuals

    Granting the government unlimited authority then "blacklisting" only come things is a recipe for abuse, which is what we have today if you are a person that believes in individualist freedoms

    it is a fundamental difference as to who is the master and who is the servant, you believe the people are subverted to the government. I believe like our founders that We the people are the masters, I believe in self-governance, I believe in Self Ownership, I believe in liberty. it is sad we as a society has lost respect for indivualism and liberty

  • eesmith 5 days ago

    The 10th amendment which you referred to limits federal powers, but not state powers.

    What in the Constitution (before 1865) prevents the US states from each being authoritarian governments?

    For example, the original constitution allowed each state to have an established religion. Up until 1824, Massachusetts residents were required to attend the parish church. That's hardly respect for individualism and liberty.

    And of course the US Constitution didn't respect 'Self Ownership' until at least the 13th Amendment (for black males), nor the 'liberty' of women to vote until least the 19th Amendment.

    When did the Constitution ever respect the individualism and liberty of Native Americans?

    And on the topic of liberty - racists in the 1960s wanted the 'liberty' to reject black customers (just like homophobes want the 'liberty' to reject gay customers) and considered it a Constitutionally protected right.

    Is that part of the respect for liberty you think we have lost?

  • nercht12 5 days ago

    Pardon me for interrupting the debate between you gentlemen. I thought I'd toss in a couple cents.

    The constitution was never fully agreed upon in spirit. It was "these are the rules we agree upon in TEXT", but each man had his own ideas, and they figured it'd be better to let it slide and figure out the meanings later. However, I'm pretty sure, given they were fighting a revolution, the founding fathers had no intention of letting in too much federal government control. They would be appalled by what they see today. Remember that they chose the Articles of Confederation first.

    In short, nobody - even the founding fathers - have ever fully agreed upon the meaning of the Constitution. So to say, "The Constitution only limits federal powers, but not state powers." is just as much opinion as "The 10th amendment limits both state and federal powers".

    However, in response to you're arguments specifically, eesmith: Given that the average demographic on HN tends to oppose government surveillance, it seems rather nonsequitor that they would continue to give the gov power over such necessary things as maps, esp considering what the gov could do with that. The fact is, if you don't draw the line of power somewhere, it'll continue to be pushed back for further loss of liberty for the AVERAGE individual. Also, "Native Americans" were not American citizens, so they weren't entitled to the same treatment under law. No offense, but law isn't "fair to all people".

  • eesmith 5 days ago

    I don't understand your second paragraph. The Treaty of Paris (1783) ended the revolutionary battle. The first draft of the Constitution wasn't until 1787, so none of the framers or signers of the Constitution were fighting a revolution at that time.

    (Also: "Founding Father" is an ambiguous term, and I dont see the relevancy.")

    Nor do I understand your third paragraph. Barron v. Baltimore (1833) established that the Bill of Rights did not apply to the state governments. This wasn't changed until the incorporation of the Bill of Rights starting with the 13th Amendment, in 1865.

    Thus, the pre-1865 interpretation of the Constitution was, from what I understand, almost exactly what I wrote, at least as regards the hypothetical creation of an authoritarian state government.

    Nor do I understand your 4th paragraph vis-a-vis 'power over such necessary things as maps'. My view is that of asark, many levels up: "The data and basic API should at least come from a government source, I'd say. Let companies but whatever sugar they want on top of that". That is, there's NOAA and there are private meteorology companies.

    Regarding Native Americans, I'll point to how the Commerce Clause could have defined Indian Tribes as being foreign states. Instead, in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), the Court decided that the correct Constitution interpretation was as a "domestic dependent nation[s]" ... "Their relation to the United States resembles that of a ward to his guardian."

    So no, they weren't entitled to the same rights as US citizens. But they also weren't entitled to the same rights as foreign countries. How does that result in the sorts of self-governance that syshum desires?

    And it's not like the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 made all of these issues disappear.

  • nercht12 9 hours ago

    > The Treaty of Paris (1783) ended the revolutionary battle.

    You took me literally there. I meant the PAST tense, but it seems I wrote the present active tense of "fight".

    > Nor do I understand your third paragraph

    It's opinion. That's my point. Nothing more.

    > Nor do I understand your 4th paragraph vis-a-vis 'power over such necessary things as maps'. ... "The data and basic API should at least come from a government source, I'd say. Let companies but whatever sugar they want on top of that".

    No, this is a bad idea. Sugar is just sugar, it's not control. When the government has control over access to information or channels to information, they get to manipulate the flow of info.

    For the sake of over simplicity (to make my point VERY clear), we might have an API that looks like this: - getKey() - getWeather(Key) - getNewWeather(Key)

    Now suppose everyone knows function "getWeather" is more accurate than "getNewWeather". Naturally, they want to use "getWeather". But then some bureaucrat decides they need to manipulate the weather forecast to explain the downing of a helicopter (shot down by secret forces) or divert people away from driving near a secret airplane part that landed in the road. In other words, the gov would like to control what kind of weather people receive, so they tell everyone that getNewWeather is now an alias for getWeather and getKey now only returns a valid key for getNewWeather. Congratulations, the gov now controls the weather.

    > Regarding Native Americans.... So no, they weren't entitled to the same rights as US citizens. But they also weren't entitled to the same rights as foreign countries. How does that result in the sorts of self-governance that syshum desires?

    That's not what I was interpreting you arguing for. You said, "When did the Constitution ever respect the individualism and liberty of Native Americans?" Which I was saying, "It doesn't," and which you seem to agree with me by saying "they weren't entitled to the same rights as US citizens". The fact that some judge muddied the waters of "citizen" and "foreigner" is some leftover problem from a bygone era.

    At this point, I think we have different understandings as to what we're arguing. I wanted to reply (as anyone likes to do), but perhaps it's best to stop. My fault for butting in.

  • syshum 4 days ago

    I am not talking about States at all, States are governed by their own constitutions.

    Nor I am talking about the 10th amendment, while ti does play a part so to the Body of the Constitution, which Article one Section 8 provides a list of powers granted to the Federal Government, and the 9th amendment also plays a role, many people forget about the 9th

    Further you are simply proving Madison correct, Madison was opposed to the bill of rights because he believed they were unnessarty and a danger. the first 10 amendments forbid the government from doing things they did not have any power to do in the first place. Madison correctly observed that by including them it would give the appearance of enumerated rights, it would give people like you the idea that if it was not forbidden by the bill of rights then it was fair game.

    >What in the Constitution (before 1865) prevents the US states from each being authoritarian governments?

    Their own individual constitutions, which each state has some better than others, most are not followed as written just like the Federal Constitution is not

    >>And on the topic of liberty - racists in the 1960s wanted the 'liberty' to reject black customers

    Well that is revisionist history, Jim Crow laws where government mandates not voluntary actions by individuals

    >just like homophobes want the 'liberty' to reject gay customers) and considered it a Constitutionally protected right.

    Freedom of Association is an important right. The proper response to those businesses it to boycott and create competing for a business to drive them out, not to force them to transact with you. I have never really understood why people support that. If there is a business that hates me I would rather they were upfront about it so I can give my money to a business that wants me as a customer, I do not need the government to force them to do business with me, which they will likely give me poor service and I will walk away with a product or service I am not satisfied with

    The problem with the Jim Crow area was segregation was mandated by government and no boycotts or competing businesses were possible

    >Is that part of the respect for liberty you think we have lost?

    Entire Books have been written on the liberty we have lost, from the War on Drugs to the War on Terror, to countless other actions by the government to chip chip chip away at liberty in the name of Safety or "For the children" or countless other justifications

  • eesmith 4 days ago

    You write "Nor I am talking about the 10th amendment".

    Earlier you wrote "if the Constitution does not Grant the power to the Government then that power is Reserved for the States and the people".

    That looks very much like the 10th Amendment, so how are you not talking about that amendment?

    You interpret my views as: "it would give people like you the idea that if it was not forbidden by the bill of rights then it was fair game"

    That is not my position. Privacy is not an enumerated right. I think there is an unenumerated right to privacy.

    Since your summary of my views is not my views, I think you do not understand my position.

    You write "Their own individual constitutions" prevented the US states from each being authoritarian governments.

    What specifically of those constitutions prevented authoritarian governments?

    How were many of the US state constitutions not authoritarian governments with respect to the rights of black people? In addition to slavery, I'll point to the Oregon constitution, which stated "No negro, Chinaman or mullato shall have the right of suffrage".

    You write "Well that is revisionist history".

    Pardon? You think the support for racial discrimination in the US was only based on Jim Crow laws, and required the support of the government to enforce?

    I was specifically referring to personal viewpoints - individual liberty. Here's a concrete example, quoting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964#Conti... :

    > There were white business owners who claimed that Congress did not have the constitutional authority to ban segregation in public accommodations. For example, Moreton Rolleston, the owner of a motel in Atlanta, Georgia, said he should not be forced to serve black travelers, saying, "the fundamental question [...] is whether or not Congress has the power to take away the liberty of an individual to run his business as he sees fit in the selection and choice of his customers".

    Should Rolleston have had the liberty to reject black customers?

    You viewpoint seems to be that if there weren't government laws supporting segregation, then there wouldn't have been a problem. But ... there were. The state constitutions allowed it. Hence the ridiculousness of only considering authoritarianism on the federal level.

    You write "Entire Books have been written on the liberty we have lost", but I don't think you've grasped my question. I'll try again.

    Earlier you wrote "it is sad we as a society has lost respect for indivualism and liberty".

    This suggests that there was some point where we had respect for individualism and liberty.

    When was this point?

    Was it when we had slaves? Is it when women didn't have the right to vote? Is it when Native Americans were treated as wards of the government?

    I fully agree that the War on Drugs is one of many things to "chip away at liberty". But we've also added to liberty. Your statement suggests that there was a lost golden era of liberty, which I strongly reject .. unless you were a rich, white, land-owning Protestant man.

    When did we have respect for individualism and liberty?

  • foota 4 days ago

    I disagree on a couple points.

    For starters, our government is elected by the people and so regardless of what we allow them to do, as long as it doesn't affect the ability of people to fairly vote for their representation, they'll ultimately be accountable to the people. You may not agree with what the majority of people want, but that's different than saying "the people" are subservient.

    Additionally, I believe that you can carve out enough forbidden legislation to satisfy almost any desired level of personal freedom by carving out wide categories of things that can't be legislated.

  • syshum 4 days ago

    >> our government is elected by the people and so regardless of what we allow them to do, as long as it doesn't affect the ability of people to fairly vote for their representation

    It is though? I make the case that is not. A large amount of the population is disenfranchised either legally or by virtue of not having any person they feel represents them due to the nature of the 2 party system

    The vast majority of people that do vote today are voting AGAINST someone, i.e "I don't like Trump but I really do not like Clinton" or "I do not like Clinton but I really do not like Trump"

    The way our elections are held is a farce and more people every year are simply opting at believing it is a waste of time, and a few studies show it is a waste of time as the politicians do not really listen to the will of the people anyway

    There are multiple ways to improve the system. Doing away with First Past the post voting would go along way. I also support removing party affiliation from the ballot. People need to vote for individuals not parties

    I have other but none of them will ever be enacted

  • ClassyJacket 5 days ago

    >Besides, where in the Constitution does it say that's allowed?

    Where does it say you're allowed to breathe?

  • syshum 5 days ago

    >Where does it say you're allowed to breathe?

    Besides the Life, Liberty part, the constitution does not apply to individuals, The sole purpose of the body of the Constitution is outlines the powers and responsibilities we the people have granted to the government.

    If the power and responsibility has not been granted to the government is it suppose to be reserved for us the people.

    The Amendments to the constitution expressly forbid government from taking some actions. Or requires the government to behave in some way. Again however the amendments apply to the government not to the people.

    We the people are the masters of the government, the government is not our master

  • 5 days ago
    [deleted]
  • mises 5 days ago

    "right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"

    But more importantly, the question is "where does it say the government can stop be from breathing?".

  • the_why_of_y 5 days ago

    The sentence you quote is from the United States Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution; it is not law.

    As to your question, the Fifth Amendment says:

    No person shall [...] be deprived of life [...] without due process of law

    If this is a concern to you, there are more civilized countries on the globe whose governments do not enjoy such powers.

  • syshum 5 days ago

    IN the US there are multiple government programs that are suppose to Track GIS data including Roads, however like with all things government it is very expensive, inefficient, and of low to poor accuracy.

    There are entire teams of people in the OpenStreetMaps project dedicated to fixing the inaccuracies of these government databases

    This is why google spends m/billions having people physically drive the roads and walk around cities (and to get live photos)

    I never really understand why people want government to take over things, in the history of government there is never been a well run, properly executed, highly efficient service. Government by it very nature is incapable of producing good services

  • mattkrause 5 days ago

    Nonsense.

    The CDC does a fantastic job keeping tabs on diseases. The FAA has made air travel ridiculously safe. NOAA and NASA produce accurate forecasts of weather and tides. The National Parks are gems. GPS is absolutely amazing.

  • maxerickson 5 days ago

    OpenStreetMap imported a bunch of US data while Census was in the middle of a project to improve the quality of their data. The stuff that had been improved is pretty good. The stuff that hadn't been improved isn't tracking the current version of the government data, it's from 2007 or whatever.

  • 5 days ago
    [deleted]
  • pianoben 6 days ago

    Two thoughts come to my mind.

    One, this article and the project it covers will be good negotiating leverage against Microsoft's fee increases. I wouldn't be surprised if they end up winning back lower license fees and sticking with MS in the long run.

    Two, what a boneheaded move on Microsoft's part, PR-wise. CERN is an internationally-respected research institution which is widely admired by the kinds of people who make purchasing decisions. Why poke the bear, especially when business is going so well?

  • rat9988 6 days ago

    From a different point of view, I don't see using PR to have lower fees very ethical. It looks to me like "lower our fees, or we are gonna trash you in our PR, and you know we have a good reputation".

  • dv_dt 5 days ago

    That seems something of a double standard, companies are encouraged to use any legal means possible to improve profits, but customers need to stay silent about poor terms?

  • kretor 5 days ago

    The parent didn't encourage companies to use any legal means necessary. You can't know their stance about this.

  • chucksmash 5 days ago

    What's unethical about "if you do something we don't like, we're going to talk about it"?

    What would the more ethical alternative be? To just take the deal on offer or silently move on?

  • gonzo41 5 days ago

    I don't think that really holds water. The ethical thing for the researchers is to drive down costs everywhere they can to get the most money spent on research. M$oft wants to maximize it's profits and is negotiating from a position of strength knowing that big enterprise integrations can't just say "f-this, were off to use ubuntu".

  • bbarn 5 days ago

    Funny how advice on this site is always "Charge what it's worth!" or "Don't be afraid to charge for your product!", unless of course, it's someone who's already made it, like Microsoft, and then it's the tired 20 year old "M$" meme again.

  • jgoodhcg 5 days ago

    There is a difference between advice for a lifestyle business and critique of a fortune 50 company.

  • carwyn 6 days ago

    High end tech procurement is more like your average market stall haggling than you might imagine. It tends to be the middle ground that's most stable.

  • tyingq 5 days ago

    I didn't read any trashing. Just a general note that the current commercial terms aren't sustainable for them.

  • Spooky23 6 days ago

    Have you ever negotiated in a contested deal with a big company?

    They get way nastier than PR pieces.

  • rootsofallevil 6 days ago

    I guess it depends on whether CERN merits academic status or not. If it does, then this is fine. If it doesn't then I agree.

    It seems to me that CERN is a research institute but whether that is counted as an academic institution, from a licensing POV, is a different question

  • jhbadger 6 days ago

    As somebody who has worked at research institutes in the US, this comes up a lot. Some companies say that an academic user must have an e-mail address ending in ".edu" (which in the US means a school or university), but others define it more broadly to include non-profit research institutes as well. It gets murky because many research institutes actually have grad students doing their projects there (even if they are officially enrolled at a university elsewhere).

  • carwyn 6 days ago

    The first of these certainly does happen, in this case though I suspect it may be a bit of both. When it comes to negotiation this will likely go both ways, the prestige and association of a project like CERN is worth something to large tech companies, as is being involved with the people and projects.

    It's unlikely that they will be able to quickly or even ever move everything to new platforms, but with time there's a good chance they can move much of it. It will come down to the economics and time pressures of buy-in vs build-in.

  • downrightmike 6 days ago

    Short term investment's need for ever growing revenue/profits. If they raise everyone's license costs 23% this year, investors will be happy. Then MSFT will have to raise their rates again next year.

  • Spooky23 6 days ago

    Usually the salespeople get a quota that can only be met by either moving Azure or hitting some impossible software target.

  • pkaye 5 days ago

    The court of public opinion is the way to get companies to do things these days.

  • nercht12 5 days ago

    Wish that was the case with Mozilla.

  • notimetorelax 6 days ago

    It’s the usual, Oracle did something similar to CERN a few years back. Lock in and profit!

  • tomxor 6 days ago

    Did CERN manage to migrate away?

  • notimetorelax 6 days ago

    Back then we just paid, don’t know if this changed. Oracle and PL/SQL was deeply embedded, I don’t think this would be feasible. There were terabytes of beam data in Oracle DBs and lots of software relying on the dialect.

  • cookiecaper 6 days ago

    This project sounds awesome, but apparently one has to be a CERN employee/affiliate/something to see the referenced project page with all the details? Clicking the links to http://cern.ch/malt just takes one to a login page. Used the Google auth option and get forwarded to a page that says I'm not authorized.

  • batbomb 6 days ago

    This is endemic to many CERN projects, even things that are often open source are behind a login. Or - the source (or export of it from CERN's GitLab) will be available, but documentation is behind a login page.

  • dessant 6 days ago

    Reminds me of Mozilla issues on GitHub and Bugzilla. You'll find important discussions that reference Google Docs documents with plans for architectural changes, roadmaps, or other details pertaining to the issue, but the documents are restricted to Mozilla employees.

    This is especially frustrating if you want to learn more about the issue, or you'd like to contribute to the project.

    https://github.com/search?q=org%3Amozilla+docs.google.com&ty...

  • kumarharsh 6 days ago

    It's the same with several Facebook projects.

  • XenophileJKO 5 days ago

    That is an interesting point. If they "default" to private seems a little like wanting their cake and eating it too.

  • gen3 6 days ago

    I'm honestly pretty happy about this. I'm hoping that by aiming to replace the commercial products they use with opensource alternatives, the alternatives leave with a better polish and user experience. I also see CERN as an institution that is willing to hire the devs needed to maintain / support a project.

  • 300bps 6 days ago

    I also see CERN as an institution that is willing to hire the devs needed to maintain / support a project.

    I didn't see where CERN said how much the licensing costs were per year but they did say that their MAlt project is a cost-saving initiative. Developers are pretty expensive right now.

  • ForHackernews 6 days ago

    I'd do work on a CERN-led libre software project for free. If CERN can put together the right management structure, I suspect they'd have plenty of devs willing to volunteer. Of course, organizing a large distributed free software effort is its own challenge.

  • m0zg 6 days ago

    They are nowhere near as expensive in Europe, where CERN operates. Yes, even in Switzerland.

  • 12345675456tyg 4 days ago

    Really? I'm a Swiss citizen who works in an international team with colleagues in the U.S.A., and I don't see any difference between my income and theirs.

    Could you elaborate? I'm genuinely interested.

  • PretzelFisch 6 days ago

    They will need to hire more then just developers to run a successful software project

  • berti 6 days ago

    KiCad is an excellent example of CERN doing exactly that. I’m cautiously optimistic about this project!

  • lanevorockz 5 days ago

    Excellent effort, my business runs completely open source since 2000s and it’s always constantly improving. Closed source has so many downsides that it only means that companies that adopt are nothing more than lazy.

  • PretzelFisch 6 days ago

    Even at 10x the price commercial software, could be cheaper than building/maintaining their own replacement products.

  • c487bd62 6 days ago

    And when they raise the price to 20x or start doing something shady you can just move everything to a cheaper and more ethical competitor. Except that you can't.

  • imglorp 5 days ago

    There are many, many other advantages to open source than price.

  • mr_toad 5 days ago

    If they can do for email & telephony what they did for the web, they wont need to maintain it themselves.

  • la_barba 4 days ago

    I remember being shocked after reading in the MS lawsuit that IE cost 100 million dollars to develop in like the 90s. What!?

    I wonder how much Google has spent on Chrome..

  • remir 6 days ago

    This could be interesting if other institutions and perhaps even public administrations are willing to participate in this effort and pool resources to make this a sustainable thing.

    That being said, it's difficult to know what this project is targeting since it is behind a login page.

  • hereme888 5 days ago

    So... does anyone have access to the CERN postal and is willing to post non-confidential info on the software alternatives? Otherwise I'll try to get access to the project and post it here.

  • ChuckMcM 6 days ago

    TL;DR version: CERN used Microsoft software under academic licencing terms, Microsoft revoked the terms and created a 10x cost increase (and budget hole). CERN is going to replace the software with something else.

    This is such a beautiful, real life, example of the Piracy Paradox that I've kept a copy in my Evernote database.

    The Piracy Paradox is this; Vendor A counts the number of copies of their software that are running in a region/venue/company, multiplies by the list price of that software, then subtracts the revenue received and comes up with a number they are "losing due to piracy."

    The assumption, which the media often simply buys into, is that if the software were impossible to obtain without paying list price, the vendor would receive much more more money. However, the reality is that if you could make the software impossible to obtain, then the revenue received would simply be zero. It wouldn't be purchased because it is priced above the market value of its utility to the customer.

    The result is that the "piracy numbers" that are bandied about, whether it is for CAD software, DVD movies, or Computer Games, is overstated by three or even four orders of magnitude.

    Validation that this effect was a real effect has been proven multiple times, the two most famous examples have been the "99 cent single" price of iTunes and the watch all you want video subscription service of NetFlix. In both cases, the arrival of a pricing system that more accurately reflected the value perception of the consumer, whether it was that albums/CDs were too expensive to buy for the one or two songs you really cared about, or that DVDs were over priced for the occasional viewing, better pricing schemes reduced the amount of digital content that was used outside the terms of a use license dramatically.

    The challenge for vendors is that the products they sell just aren't worth the same amount to every possible consumer. There are tools available to evaluate the elastic cost value of a fungible service but implementing them is challenging.

    I am really surprised that Microsoft didn't negotiate something that would give them some revenue, as it stands the success of this effort will reduce revenue from CERN from what it was to nearly zero it seems. I'm guessing there was a cost increase between 2x and maybe 5x that would have not kicked off this effort. And of course a number of large laboratories will see the success of CERN and then they too will eliminate Microsoft as a cost item in their budget (ideally to spend more on the science, but sadly that isn't always the case).

  • hoseja 5 days ago

    I'd wager a guess that overall, Microsoft has gotten more value out of CERN research (cough www cough) than CERN has gotten out of using Microsoft products.

  • notimetorelax 5 days ago

    Heh, www is what blindsided Microsoft and they had to catch up.

  • zaphirplane 6 days ago

    Strange that I need to sign in to see the project page

  • ajxs 5 days ago

    I always have a bit of a grim chuckle when I think back to the days when Microsoft was the boss villain of enterprise software. I even still have a 'KMFMS' T-Shirt in the closet.

  • IloveHN84 5 days ago

    It would be interesting also to have an Apple Alternatives version, especially for system apps (iOS and Mac OS)

  • sgt101 5 days ago

    Android and Linux?

  • mxuribe 6 days ago

    Cheers to Cern! I'm not above paying for quality software/service...but games like what MS and others play in the name of capitalism, get annoying quickly.

    Awww, man...The relevant project website is behind a login[0]. Would have loved to see it. In any case, would be cool if big (or at least well-known) orgs. like CERN begin to adopt more open source offerings, and positively stir up vendors who support such OSS offerings. NextCloud comes to mind...now that is a model that i'd like to support at the enterprise level. Software is free, support is paid for - this seems reasonable and fair to me.

    Once again, kudos to CERN!

    [0] = http://cern.ch/malt

  • fbartels 5 days ago

    > NextCloud comes to mind...

    Cern is actually for some time already using Owncloud for this. https://owncloud.com/cern-smashbox-and-owncloud-collaboratio...

  • Proven 6 days ago

    Taking control of what?

    It's a simplistic view. Not that it's necessarily wrong, but in some cases you may gain control of your software but lose control over your time (lower productivity) or income. It's a blanket judgment to say everyone would gain from switching to libre alternatives.

    I don't have an opinion about the choice they made. I only believe it doesn't work for every user out there. For example personally I'd rather let MS control the software and pay them market price for it, than take on the burden of trying to control everything (impossible).

  • mattnewport 6 days ago

    They seem to be primarily concerned with the free as in beer rather than the free as in speech aspects of open source and in "taking back control" of their software licensing costs. Nothing wrong with that but it doesn't seem like the most important battle in today's world of surveillance capitalism to me.

  • Create 6 days ago

    Because CERN is pretty much active in the global surveillance effort (recruiting and training), hence the authwall people are discussing above. The previous DG openly despised anonymity.

  • swebs 6 days ago

    Are you confusing reality with Steins;Gate?

  • sneakernets 6 days ago

    Pff, everyone knows all you need is an old IBM computer, a hot pocket, and a circuit-bent microwave to outsmart CERN.

  • jononor 6 days ago

    How exactly is CERN involved with that?

  • Theodores 6 days ago

    The Microsoft products are probably mostly being used by admin staff rather than Nobel Prize winners at CERN. They probably have the canteen menu typed up in Word and the receptionists using Microsoft Outlook. Then in the visitor centre some automated Powerpoint presentations for passing five year olds to learn about the atom.

    The point of an educational discount is that it is for the core educational stuff. I doubt that they are running Microsoft Access on any of those supercomputers and I doubt that 49 Petabytes of data goes onto NTFS formatted storage.

    They probably got sold an enterprise educational deal decades ago when Microsoft were trying to indoctrinate all students to learn their products. I mean, why use LaTeX when you can do it in half the time in Word? It was good at the time.

    CERN were well placed to do everything with the WWW and have a culture of it, to be doing things the Chromebook way where you don't have desktop software any more. Maybe Microsoft have given the kick they need and maybe peripheral admin things should be paying for Microsoft software since these subsidiary operations are not hardcore research.

  • eesmith 4 days ago

    Your description doesn't seem relevant. Most universities don't have Nobel Prize winners, so the ratio of winners to support staff is 0.

    Most universities also do have canteens and receptions .. and yes, many even have visitor centres. As https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/academics-minority... points out, "Academics in the minority at more than two-thirds of UK universities"

    Support staff, btw, might include a glass blower for the chemistry department .. who does no teaching but may also print up a price list in Word.

    So the educational discount cannot be meant for only "the core educational staff" as that's simply not the observed policy at universities.

  • tyingq 5 days ago

    It sounds like the first two products being moved off of are Outlook/Exchange and Skype, and that use of those is fairly widespread.