Micro$oft Monitor

Published by NetAction Issue No. 20 December 9, 1997
Repost where appropriate. See copyright information at end of message.

IN THIS ISSUE:

Action Alert: Stop CETI!
Background
About Micro$oft Monitor


ACTION ALERT: Stop CETI

For more info, send email to:
http://www.netaction.org.

Microsoft and Corporate Allies Want to Control California State University's Technology System

-- CETI plan will set up a for-profit corporation with $3.12 billion in projected revenue

In an unprecedented grab to privatize technology at a public university, the California State University (CSU) system is moving to hand control of its inter-campus computer and telecommunications system to a private consortia managed by Microsoft and its hardware allies, GTE, Hughes and Fujitsu.

The proposed consortia, called the California Education Technology Initiative (CETI), will be a for-profit partnership expected to generate over $3.12 billion in revenues over the next ten years, largely by creating a captive market for technology purchases by an estimated half million students students, faculty and staff annually.

For details on the CETI plan, see: http://www.csuhayward.edu/ics/admin/ceti.htm.

Help Stop This Corporate Grab of Technology at a Public University!

Hearings are scheduled in the state Assembly on January 6, 1998. Send a fax to the leadership of the Assembly's Higher Education Committee and Education Appropriations Committee.

NetAction has set up an automatic fax server at: http://www.netaction.org/fax/

You can also call the chairmen of these committees to make your concerns heard:

Assembly Higher Education Chairman Ted LempertPh: 916-445-7632Fx: 916-324-6974
Assembly Education Budget ChairmanJack Scott Ph: 916-322-4323Fx: 916-323-9420

We also urge you to call the leadership of the state Senate committees responsible for higher education:

Senate Education Budget ChairmanJack O'Connell916-445-5405
Senate Education Committee ChairmanLeroy Greene916-445-7807

While email is less effective, you can send messages to:

Ted Lempert
Jack Scott
Jack O'Connell
Leroy Green

NetAction is aking the state Legislature to block the CETI proposal and establish a computer and telecommunications policy for the state university system based on the following principles:

  1. There should be no corporate management of educational institutions by companies with a direct financial interest in the products purchased by the campuses or students.

  2. Any outside management support should be committed to training students in a diversity of technologies and be committed to supporting open computer standards across the board.

  3. Any proposal must include an explicit commitment to full and equal access to technology on campus regardless of economic ability to pay.

  4. Educational curriculum should be designed by educators dedicated to the long-term interests of their students, not corporations looking to lock in "customers" to proprietary software.

  5. No proposal should be approved without a thorough analysis of its possible impact on technology standards and monopolies outside the university.

To add your organization's endorsement to NetAction's StopCETI! campaign, please send your organization's name and contact info to:

Background

NetAction, along with staff, faculty and students across the state, are opposing the CETI proposal as an undemocratic and disastrous corporate takeover of technology at a public university.

  1. CETI locks campuses into proprietary technology. This ill-serves education which should be based on open access to a range of technology.

  2. CETI is a dangerous commercialization of the University that will cost students, staff and faculty over the long-run and threatens to increase inequality between richer and poorer students.

  3. Given the size and importance of the California State University system, CETI's monopoly nature will give Microsoft a massive strategic advantage in its ongoing effort to monopolize global software and Internet standards.

The California State University (CSU) will serve over 500,000 students annually in its 22 campus system within ten years. Microsoft and its corporate partners intend to use that captive market and the endorsement of the CSU system to market products from the enterprise to CSU students, faculty and alumni, and sell its products to university and business organizations across the country. The Business Plan for CETI explicitly notes that "the education market is a strategically important market for each of the partners," marking the corporate advantage they will each gain over competitors through the CETI contract.

For Microsoft, control of the central servers and software standards for the largest university system in the country will give it an unprecedented opportunity to expand its control of computing standards. Microsoft's monopoly goals are clear in the CETI's plan's statement. The proposal states that:

"The software recommendation is for the operating system to be Windows NT and general applications to utilize the Microsoft Office suite of products. Microsoft Exchange is the recommended server solution. Microsoft has indicated that Windows NT will become the standard operating system in the near future. We propose supporting Windows95, it's successor and WindowsNT...Eventually, we expect to only be supporting WindowsNT as our primary operating system."

By supporting only Microsoft's spreadsheets, databases and word processors, Microsoft will make sure that the only integrated approach to computing on campuses with technical support will be through Microsoft products.

This means that the future engineers, programmers and clerical staff of California graduating from the California State University system will have been trained in a Microsoft-only environment. The state of California should not be turning its university system into the private training program for Microsoft.

The CETI proposal is being sold on the promise of $365 million in infrastructure investments over ten years by the corporate partners involved. Because the state of California is unwilling to spend those funds itself, they are handing a monopoly to these corporations worth many times that amount. The "self-funding" of the CETI proposal is largely based on locking students, faculty and staff into monopoly product purchases from the consortia, and locking out alternative purchasing options. Additionally, the plan calls for commercial advertising on campus computer systems to pay for the system, an unacceptable commercialization of the education environment.

The proposal is also a danger to equal access to technology among students. The CETI proposal gives these corporations control of technology decisions about marketing a range of services to students that would have once been considered part of tuition at the University. We can expect economic stratification between economic haves and have-nots within the University as some students can afford these "enhanced" services and others are left out.

This proposal for Microsoft and its allies to administer technology implementation at the CSU system, including developing classroom curriculum and training programs for students and staff, comes in the context of the ongoing privatization of technical education in the country. The lack of public funding for technical education and its ongoing privatization has allowed Microsoft to attain an anti-competitive control of technical training in the United States. This has allowed Microsoft to shape that education in ways that serve its individual corporate interests rather than the public good of open computing standards. See NetAction's own White Paper on Microsoft's overall monopoly strategy at http://www.netaction.org/msoft/world/.

Already, Microsoft-approved curriculum taught by Microsoft-approved instructors and audited by the Microsoft Corporation is taught at over 300 college campuses across the country, including over 30 campuses in California. These Microsoft "Authorized Academic Training Program" participants are pulled into the Microsoft orbit through offers of free software and training for technical programs left underfunded by state governments and therefore vulnerable to Microsoft's corporate bribery.

Looked at comprehensively, Microsoft is using its involvement in technical education and infrastructure to further reinforce its control of computing. It is an unfortunate fact that our country's whole system of technical education is being distorted as it becomes one more tool for Microsoft's monopolistic goals.

The danger is that as Microsoft controls education training, it controls the "mind share" of the potential workforce for technology companies across the country. In its ongoing campaign to control Internet standards and electronic commerce, Microsoft will use the CETI proposal to further its increasing monopoly control of technology development in this country.

For more info, contact Nathan Newman, NetAction Project Director, at:
Phone: (510) 452-1820
E-mail:

About The Micro$oft Monitor

The Micro$oft Monitor is a free electronic newsletter, published as part of the Consumer Choice Campaign http://www.netaction.org/msoft/ccc.html. NetAction is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public, policy makers, and the media about technology-based social and political issues, and to teaching activists how to use the Internet for organizing, outreach, and advocacy.

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