WinInfo Daily UPDATE, November 29, 2006: Au Revoir: French Parliament Drops Microsoft

- Au Revoir: French Parliament Drops Microsoft
- Movie Studios See Future, Embrace BitTorrent

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==== IN THE NEWS

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- Au Revoir: French Parliament Drops Microsoft
- Movie Studios See Future, Embrace BitTorrent
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Au Revoir: French Parliament Drops Microsoft

In June 2007, the French Parliament will switch from the comfortable confines of Windows and Microsoft Office to PCs running Linux, Mozilla Firefox, and the OpenOffice.org office productivity suite. The French Parliament says the move will save money in the long run, although the transition could be relatively rocky. It's also trying to reduce its reliance on a single vendor.

The move will affect both the upper chamber, or Senate, and lower chamber, or National Assembly, of the French Parliament, and will include both desktop PCs and servers. This switch marks the first time that a major French government bureau will move desktops to Linux-based systems, although numerous French agencies are already using Linux and the open-source Apache Web Server on their servers. The French Parliament currently maintains more than 1100 desktop PCs.

One sticking point: The Parliament has yet to pick a Linux distribution. The distribution it picks will greatly affect the success of the migration. Some high-profile Linux migrations have fared better than others: After years of delays, the city of Munich, Germany, said it will complete 80 percent of its Linux migration in 2008. Meanwhile, Birmingham, England, cancelled a planned migration to Linux because of a lack of internal expertise with the new system. The city had converted just 200 of 1500 desktops to Linux before giving up.

Movie Studios See Future, Embrace BitTorrent

Sensing that the end is near for packaged video formats such as DVD, major movie studios are now racing to embrace digital movie downloads, despite only tepid success in the market thus far. This morning, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox announced that beginning in February 2007 they'll participate in a legal online video service that will utilize BitTorrent technology. (Warner Bros. is already on board.) These movie studios will be joined by various TV content providers, including MTV Networks.

"We come to the table with a solution to piracy," said BitTorrent's General Manager Eric Patterson. "Millions of people are using BitTorrent to download content legally and illegally. We know from our research that 30 percent of that audience will pay for content. We're going to help the studios turn an enormous problem into a viable sales channel."

BitTorrent is a file-sharing scheme for transferring large amounts of data across the Internet in a more efficient manner than was previously possible. BitTorrent works by breaking large files into tiny subfiles that can be distributed to numerous PCs around the world, then downloaded to other PCs. Because of BitTorrent’s distribution nature, users will automatically download subfiles from the closest and fastest online locations, speeding up the process for everyone.

Currently, the large sizes of TV show and movie downloads limits consumer appeal. But these companies hope to sway potential customers with the ever-widening use of broadband Internet access and network-friendly technologies such as BitTorrent. This embrace of digital technologies suggests that these companies have learned from the mistakes of the music industry, which continues to pursue its aggressive anti-download policies. In the most recent example, Universal Music Group threatened to withhold its content from Microsoft's Zune service unless Microsoft paid it a per-device fee. Universal is also expected to try and levy the same fee against market leader Apple.

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