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UK Gov agency threatens to dump 500,000 Windows desktops

Licence fee hikes a stick-up, apparently...

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The UK government's confusing relationship with Microsoft seems to be taking a turn of the worse. In recent weeks we've seen the Ministry of Defence and the National Health Service strike deals which will allegedly save them tens of millions of pounds. Now, however, according to a story in today's Times, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is threatening to dump Microsoft, citing increased licence fees that would cost the UK £60 million a year, representing an increase of 50-200 per cent.

Oh what a tangled web we weave when we modify our Ts & Cs. Microsoft's various licensing plans and discount structures probably are sufficiently intricate for some arms of government to be saving money while others are being squeezed. But is the OGC's threat to kick its teddies out of the pram something MS UK need take seriously?

Perhaps. The OGC, which was set up to save money on government purchasing, will to some extent be playing to the gallery, but according to the Times, it's already started looking at alternative suppliers. The words of chief executive Peter Gershon also seem less than diplomatic. The OGC "will not stand by and tolerate suppliers who seek to raise prices of products which are in widespread use across the public sector where the increases take advantage of our dependence on these products and simply cannot be justified on value for money grounds."

Who on earth could he mean by that? Ominously, that "take advantage of our dependence" clearly indicates he's onto the old 'lock-in' gag.

He and UK MS boss Neil Holloway are currently wrangling over a single government contract to supply Office and Windows for 497,600 civil servants. So discounts all round, or does somebody else get lucky? Lets hope Gershon hasn't noticed his site, which Netcraft tells us is running Lotus Domino on Solaris, is down right now... ®

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