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Portugal's Vortalgate — No Microsoft, No Bidding 312

Posted by kdawson
from the bad-for-bidders-and-for-bidness dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Companies using software other than Microsoft's are unable to bid at many Portuguese public tenders. This is due to the use of Silverlight 2.0 technology by the company, Vortal, contracted to build the e-procurement portal. This situation has triggered a complaint to the European Commission by the Portuguese Open Source Business Association; the case is unofficially known in Portugal as 'Vortalgate.'"
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Portugal's Vortalgate — No Microsoft, No Bidding

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  • Macs, moonlight. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @04:12PM (#27055565)

    What about Macs, and Moonlight. Granted Using Silverlight is a stupid move done by STUPID Developers, and braindead PHB. But still if you wanted to do bidding you had ways.

    • Re:Macs, moonlight. (Score:5, Informative)

      by comm2k (961394) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @04:49PM (#27056135)
      Silverlight 2.0 versus Moonlight 1.0 which does not implement any 2.0 features... maybe..?
      • One! Don't you feel dumb.
        Two! Look at you.
        Three! Don't you ever make jokes about me behind my back or else I'll stomp you into the ground

        http://www.mono-project.com/news/archive/2009/Jan-13.html [mono-project.com]

        -Rick

      • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @05:21PM (#27056517)

        Silverlight 2.0 versus Moonlight 1.0 which does not implement any 2.0 features... maybe..?

        And by the time we get Moonlight 2.0, Silverlight will be 3.0. You'd almost think they were doing it on purpose...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by V!NCENT (1105021)

          History, which repeats itself, repetitively shows that Microsoft never does something when they are not going to gain extra profit and/or extra lockin.

          So yes, they are doing it on purpose. First they let everybody think "ah it's ok. It's cross platform and also available on Linux. Let's develop for it people!". And then when everybody does it KABOOM! No more support for the competition.

  • Good (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Good for Portugal. It is about time some country stood up for quality closed-source software in the face of all you open-source zealots who won't take total cost of ownership into account.

  • ...that such a thing could happen.
    Incompetence or corruption, which is worse?
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      I'm more shocked to learn that the -gate postfix is used outside of the US! Or, indeed, even English-speaking countries!

      • Seriously, that was the most shocking thing I got out of the article.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by whopub (1100981)

        I'm more shocked to learn that the -gate postfix is used outside of the US! Or, indeed, even English-speaking countries!

        Oh, but it is.

        We even use colgate around here.

        :))

      • by !coward (168942) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @05:12PM (#27056423)

        Speaking as a portuguese, I can tell you that the whole "-gate" postfixing is senseless.. It just doesn't carry weight around here as it does over there. I'd wager the submitter knew this, but just added it anyway because a) he/she is "close" to the matter (probably belongs to the group who's denouncing the situation) and therefore takes this issue seriously and b) wanted to exarcerbate the impact of this news piece by way of a commonly used word-gimmick.. After all, your own media abuses the term whenever some sort of scandal crops up.

        As far as "-gate" scandals go, there's another one a LOT more prone to getting that tag (allegations of impropriety or downright corruption that may implicate the current Prime-Minister regarding the licensing of a big real estate development when he was Minister for the Environment -- and therefore had specific oversight on these matters), a huge mess. And even THAT didn't get tagged "Freeport-gate". It would mean nothing to the majority of people here, many would probably not even get the historical reference (even with "Frost vs Nixon").

        To be honest, and again speaking as a portuguese citizen, this is the first I'm hearing about it (and the first time I've heard about this particular portal, to be frank). As far as I can tell, this relates to a governmental portal for job procurement/hiring.. The "bidding" here either relates to companies wishing to offer services, applying for consulting positions (getting contracts) or for people trying to get employed.

        It's obviously a Bad Thing(TM) but I doubt it was done intentionally and even less that MS had anything to do with it. Not that MS is above this, of course, and they do enjoy a cosy relationship with Portugal and portuguese institutions (we're a small country and they're a BIIIIG corporation -- it's "good business" to keep a major player/investor like that happy, however it may sicken me that we need it) but as other posters have pointed out, this is Vortal's own doing.

        Silverlight is a new technology and Microsoft has been investing heavily around here.. I personally know many aspiring developers (as well as fully-fledged software engineers) who genuinely think Microsoft is God's gift to software engineering.. And it doesn't help that MS does indeed get some things right now and then. :)

        The way I see it, whomever made the decision to use SL (and the ensuing IE-optimized html code -- even the places you can go without Silverlight installed really suck with Firefox, the usability/interoperability is seriously broken) didn't think things through, or honestly felt that Silverlight is the Next Big Thing(TM), and that going with it would be a clever move.

        It's another reflection of the worst thing that Microsoft has managed to instill into so many people, often through the deals they broker with education institutions: the mono-culture mentality.. That only Windows matters (in fact, for nearly all non-CS students, Windows is pretty much IT, and even Apple has only recently begun to show up on their mental map). That as long as you develop for THEIR platform and use their technologies, you'll reach that huge percentage of users, the magic Windows OS desktop-share.. And that the rest basically don't matter. It's so sad seeing this happen in the very places that used to be all about inclusion, early adoption of ALL technologies and diversity.

        The submitter over-dramatized the impact that this is having over here, but I'm glad that the complaint went through and hope they can coax the European Courts to issue a legally binding EU-wide mandate on interoperability.

        • by Blakey Rat (99501)

          Seems to me if you were aLinux company you could just buy a $300 eeepc to make bids with quicker and cheaper than throwing a fit about Silverlight.

    • by causality (777677)

      ...that such a thing could happen. Incompetence or corruption, which is worse?

      Incompetence, if only because so many people are so quick to excuse and defend it. There are not a lot of apologists for corruption.

    • by shrubya (570356) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @04:59PM (#27056277) Homepage Journal

      ... I must object to these allegations in the strongest terms. Our QA department went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure compatibility, by testing our software not only on HP and Dell computers, but also Lenovo, Sony, and Acer. Whatever objections these critics have are clearly spurious.

  • It's 2009 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @04:18PM (#27055665) Homepage
    It's 2009. There's Java, Perl, PHP, Ruby, C#, and Tcl, to name just the main languages that can be used to write web software (I've even seen a page done in Cobol on a lark). Javascript is well established, as is Flash.

    Silverlight comes along offering nothing new but plenty of obstacles and lock-out of end user browsers, requiring active download of a plug-in, and yet, there are bozos out there willing to commit paying customers and their websites to an endless, costly, non-standard nightmare in exchange for nothing! You can't make shit like that up, it's real.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jgtg32a (1173373)
      I know nothing of web programing but was under the impression that Flash sucks for any actual applications beyond a video or basic games.

      And that silverlight was more or less flash but is easy to program for.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jonnythan (79727)

        I was under a similar impression, except that Silverlight, while being easier to program for, actually blows Flash out of the water in functionality.

        I know that my experiences with Silverlight have been overwhelmingly positive compared to Flash.

        It's also worth mentioning that Silverlight works well in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari on Windows, as well as Firefox and Safari on OS X.

        Moonlight even works on Firefox on Linux, and it's getting better at a pretty good rate.

        Complaining that it requires a separate plu

        • Re:It's 2009 (Score:5, Informative)

          by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @04:53PM (#27056185) Homepage Journal

          Moonlight even works on Firefox on Linux, and it's getting better at a pretty good rate.

          Moonlight doesn't support Silverlight 2.0-targeted code. You're being a bit disingenious implying that Silverlight code works on Firefox. Some of it does, but a great deal of it does not. Much of it even requires a Windows client.

          That is what we call 'vendor lock-in'.

          • You're being a bit disingenious implying that Silverlight code works on Firefox. Some of it does, but a great deal of it does not. Much of it even requires a Windows client.

            Are you being disingenuous now? Fully featured silverlight exists for Mac, where you can run it with Firefox, Safari, etc.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by miguel (7116)

            Silverlight supports Firefox as well as it supports IE on both Windows and MacOS.

            I do not remember the last time I even used IE on Windows to browse the web, and there have been *no* sites that use Silverlight that fail under firefox (we try a lot of them when looking for the "next sample to get working on Moonlight" from http://silverlight.net/Showcase [silverlight.net]).

            If what you were implying though was that Moonlight 2.0 was not ready to run Silverlight 2.0 content, you are right. Moonlight, the open source version of

      • Re:It's 2009 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by M. Baranczak (726671) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @04:37PM (#27055983)

        I know nothing of web programing

        And yet, you still decided that your opinions on this subject are worth sharing with the world. I love slashdot.

        • And yet, you still decided that your opinions on this subject are worth sharing with the world. I love slashdot.

          God, that's the story of the Internet now.

          Have you noticed how in the past 5 years or so, googling answers to technical issues has become horrible? It seems like anywhere somebody asks a question, dozens of people who don't have a CLUE will chime in. The real, SMART responses get lost in the noise.

          Is it really that hard to NOT answer a question if you don't know the answer?

          No doubt the same people that do this are the ones who marked you flamebait.....

          • Hell, this guy's not the worst. At least he admits up-front he doesn't know much.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bigstrat2003 (1058574) *
            Well, what do you expect? It was flamebait. There's nothing wrong with participating in a discussion where you have limited knowledge, as long as you're willing to admit that you don't know it all, and accept information when people give it to you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kenja (541830)
        Check out Adobe Flex, its Flash for actual business applications. It is an astoundingly good programming language and is actively being supported by people like Google and SalesForce.
        • by dave562 (969951)
          The only Flex application that I've had occassion to use completely sucks. The vendor told us to go back to the HTML interface while they work out the bugs. I'm sure that is more a comment about the vendor than the application language itself. It does seem that there is a bit of a learning curve though.
      • by pembo13 (770295)

        Flash didn't suck at that, it just wasn't convenient on the development side. But ActionScript being equivalent to Javascript, it can be very functional. Apparently Adobe is fixing most of dev side issues via Flex.

    • Re:It's 2009 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mandelbr0t (1015855) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @04:39PM (#27056023) Journal

      ...and yet, there are bozos out there willing to commit paying customers and their websites to an endless, costly, non-standard nightmare in exchange for nothing! You can't make shit like that up, it's real.

      QFE. You've just summed up all problems in the IT industry in one sentence.

    • Silverlight comes along offering nothing new but plenty of obstacles and lock-out of end user browsers, requiring active download of a plug-in, and yet, there are bozos out there willing to commit paying customers and their websites to an endless, costly, non-standard nightmare in exchange for nothing! You can't make shit like that up, it's real.

      Well, from what I hear, Silverlight is actually pretty good and some of us hate flash. Still, probably a stupid choice for that developer to make unless it gave t
      • by richlv (778496)

        pdf is way more open than doc. wayway more open than this abomination silverlight. not sure about that "whatever" you mentioned.
        it's been bad enough with flash, we really don't need another shitty provider of tech that everybody thinks is shiny enough to use everywhere. especially when requires for government contracts.

        Just use a PC to submit your bid

        right. with which operating system btw ?
        why didn't you specify vendor ? maybe such a procurement site could require a specific cpu and ram vendor, wouldn't that be a good idea ? and hey, ther

  • Do other countries/languages use the "-gate" nomenclature for every government scandal/complaint/event too?
    • Re:Vortalgate? (Score:4, Informative)

      by xSander (1227106) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @04:35PM (#27055949)
      Yes.
    • by richlv (778496)

      for every, no. in general, yes.
      we had a corruption scandal where politicans and other persons were involved in a bribing attempt that got widely publicised - it was called -gate, by the name of the city where the corruption attempt occured. it sounded lame, but journalists liked it.
      of course, nobody who actually organised it was charged with anything :)

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @04:38PM (#27055993)

    I suppose Flash is much better supported on Linux. Hmmm. Yes there are flash versions, but Adobe took their sweet time about it, did they not?

    I'm not a FAN of silverlight (or flash!), but Silverlight seems to be better supported on Linux and Mac than Flash was initially. I could be wrong about that.

    I don't undrestand why Microsoft gets blamed for producing a product that isn't supported on platforms that Windows isn't supported on. I may as well complain that it took forEVER for Amarok to get Windows support, and it's STILL not available! Or, even better, that Safari took forEVER to be ported to Windows! Or whatever other software you care to complain about.

    If developers choose to use a MS only product, that's not MS's fault. Ms is under no obligation to produce software that works with everyone's, including their competitors, operating system. That makes no sense, monopoly or no monopoly. Now, if they were forcing the developers to use Silverlight, or forcing Adobe not to let Flash have a Windows version, that's different.

    • Exactly. I hate MS as much as the next Linux dude, but this situation is hardly their fault. The company contracted to build this portal was obviously retarded, but unless they were bribed by MS themselves, this has nothing to do with Redmond.
    • by ultrabot (200914)

      If developers choose to use a MS only product, that's not MS's fault.

      Yeah, and it's the developers that mostly get the blame anyway.

      C.f. all the flaming around mono.

    • I'm not a FAN of silverlight (or flash!), but Silverlight seems to be better supported on Linux and Mac than Flash was initially. I could be wrong about that.

      Why on earth do you imagine you would you need either Silverlight or Flash to submit a bid?

      This isn't a frigging high end interactive-video-entertainment application, this is something that shouldn't need anything more than Mosaic 1.0 or Lynx.

      • I have no idea why it would need Silverlight or Flash to submit a bid, but that doesn't matter. This has nothing to do with Microsoft. It has to do with website designers/programmers. So blame the developeres and programmers, not companies for producing products that developers and programmers wrongly or incorrectly use.

        • by argent (18001)

          This has nothing to do with Microsoft. It has to do with website designers/programmers.

          Since the deployment of electronic procurement platforms is currently mandatory, this is a particularly serious situation. It entails an artificial constraint on the market induced by a private firm while implementing a service foreseen in "Código dos Contratos Públicos" (Public Procurement Law).

          It sounds like they're correctly blaming the website designers/programmers, so (AGAIN) why are you babbling about Fla

    • by pembo13 (770295)

      Who blames Microsoft? The only person who should receive blame is the developers who choose it for anything that isn't explicitly supposed to be Windows only.

  • I don't know why the vortigaunts in question don't just zap the portugese computers and make them work. They do wonders for pretty much anything else. I mean, I don't know anything about computers besides how to play half life 2 and even -I- know that much.

  • by baKanale (830108)
    It is rude of them to commune by flux shifting in front of those whose Vortal inputs are impaired. They should vocalize in our auditory language as a matter of courtesy. Unless they wish to say unflattering things about us. Just so.

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