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Despite signing a recent deal with Microsoft, Sweden has become the latest country to investigate the benefits of free software.

In a report entitled "The state wants to save money" in Swedish magazine Ny Teknik, the Statskontoret, (Swedish Agency for Public Management) is setting up a working group to investigate the value Linux could provide.

The work is in the initial stages and it is too soon to see what the actual result will be, according to Irene Andersson, who is responsible for all software at the purchasing department in "Statskontoret".

Contributors to the working party include the police, the unemployment agency and the tax office.

Sweden recently signed a half-billion kronor deal with Microsoft to run two years. This encompasses central government and local authorities. (Thanks to Tomas for the translation - we thought about asking Linus, as his first language is Swedish, but he's very busy).

Earlier this year Denmark announced it was considering moving 55,000 desktops to Linux, and the Norwegian government - a supporter of its indigenous Opera browser - recently cancelled a public sector Select contract with Microsoft.

These are dwarfed by public sector IT decisions being made elsewhere, notably in Asia. 120,000 Korean public sector desktops are being migrated to Linux, and the biggest big government spend of them all, China, is developing its own, home grown distros.

The call for software libre comes from all corners of the political spectrum: Norway's decision was encouraged by Administration Secretary Victor D. Norman, a conservative free marketeer.

So it's a possibility that Bill might soon be booking a flight to Scandinavia bearing gifts. In which case we can help with pronunciation and cultural nuances . ®

Related Link

Ny Teknik story

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