Heal Your Church Web Site: Fellowship Church Excommunicates Microsoft Server Solution connects with my own thinking.
In fact I had only written 42: Open Formats a short while before finding it. It is particularly interesting because of the comments by Robert Scoble (technical evangelist for Microsoft) see A church switches to open source and teaches us a lesson. The original story is Leave It Behind > Brian Bailey: Why the Switch?.
I have long been a believer in Charities and Christian organisations (Churches etc) using FOSS (Free/Open Source Software). The key paper that really influenced me was Development, Ethical Trading and Free Software from 1999, in 2001 I presented a session on Free Software at a conference on software for charities 2001.
My key reasons have always been ethical, however, I admit that it does also help that there are compelling technical and financial reasons for Churches to choose free software.
Personally, I believe that this is a battle and a tide that Microsoft are unlikely to win in the long term. The cultures are (and need to be) far apart, the Church is for the Kingdom of God and the ways we work for that are far more important than anything else.
Particularly I stand on the issue of open formats when we work with partners. It is not ethical to require partners to send reports, accounts, budgets etc in formats that require them to use specific commercial software (unless you provide the hardware and software for them – but what a huge waste of resources).
So Robert, in my personal opinion, if you want to win the Church back to Microsoft you first need to come back to us first on the issues that are most important to us i.e. ethics. Tell us how Microsoft ethics support the values of the Kingdom of God, show us how using Microsoft products is entirely compatible with the ethics of the Kingdom of God, then we can consider the technical and financial issues.
I feel this was a little unclear. I realise that ethics were not listed in the 10 items given for this church switching away from MicroSoft. Clearly I feel that a discussion of ethics should come before any discussion on technical and financial issues.