In recent years there has been an almost constant debate over the state of privacy in the Western world. With much criticism resting on governments the world over, private companies have often been cast as the underdogs in these conflicts, a characterization that benefits them greatly in the media.
With this being the case, it is easy to forget that companies such as Microsoft are far from helpless when faced against the forces of the state, rather the opposite, as a new revelation from the UK attests. As reported by Bloomberg, according to a former aide of Prime Minister David Cameron, Microsoft threatened to pull its R&D facilities out of the UK if the government went ahead with plans to promote open-source software.
Steve Hilton, an influential former director of strategy for No. 10, proposed shifting government operations to open source solutions, both to drive down costs and reduce general dependence on Office. However, things didn’t go as planned,
“Microsoft phoned Conservative MPs with Microsoft R&D facilities in their constituencies and said we will close them down in your constituencies if this goes through. We just resisted. You have to be brave”
Although Microsoft has declined to comment on the matter, if it should prove to be true then it will hardly be a surprise. When a company is well-funded and has a global reach, it will do everything in its power to promote its business interests, as can be seen through the machinations of powerful business lobbying firms and groups across the western world.
Despite Redmond’s best efforts, the plans still went ahead, with the switch beginning in 2014, with a view to decreasing the general dominance of Microsoft.
As mentioned however, this goes to show that, regardless of what such firms may attest, it is nearly always the case that they have alternative strategies for success, it never pays to play your best cards first.
Do you think Microsoft’s behavior in this matter was unacceptable or routine? Let us know what you think in the comments below.