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Corel takes on US govt over software procurement

Move follows similar case in Canada

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Having scored a $6.7 million success in a case against the Canadian government for not following correct tendering procedures, with the result that Microsoft was awarded a contract for Office, Corel announced on Friday it had filed a suit against the US Department of Labor for its procurement practices. It was filed in the District Court in DC, and wouldn't it be amusing if Judge Jackson (or Sporkin) were assigned the case? Corel is asking for an injunction against the contract (said to be worth $8 million, and which also went to Microsoft) and for the contract to be re-opened to competition. Corel said that it had taken this step "to ensure that the United States government follows its own rules for open and fair procurement". Meanwhile, there is increasing evidence of that Corel is gaining sufficient momentum to become a major player in the office suite and Linux markets. Downloads of Corel Linux from two of the main independent sites in the first month of availability were 158,344, and estimating for the third site, the total downloads have probably now passed 250,000. Still some way to go to catch up with Red Hat, we suspect, but the number of copies in use can be expected to increase significantly once it is included in the cover CD-ROMs of magazines. Three Linux alliance announcements were made last week: Corel is partnering with Bitstream to provide font support for Linux, which translates as Corel licensing Bitstream's Linux font server. Corel has also partnered with S3 to create drivers for S3's 2D and 3D graphics acceleration products -- no big surprise, this, since S3's rivals, Nvidia and 3dfx (the latter in particular), are already pushing hard to court Linux users). The third alliance was with Creative Technology to develop Linux drivers for Creative's audio and video cards. The latter are largely based on Nvidia chips, and drivers for these are already in the works, but SoundBlaster Live! support should be welcomed. Less welcome will be Corel's latest senior executive departures. The company's VP of sales left recently to join an Internet firm in Ottawa, while the respected CFO, Michael O'Reilly, resigned without announcing any future plans, but he was probably vested and enjoying Corel's share price, which did wobble a little after the announcement of his departure, but quickly recovered. Meanwhile, CEO Michael Cowpland remains under a cloud over insider trading allegations. ®

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