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France has moved to avoid European Commission anti-trust action by removing a stipulation that government IT hardware projects must be based on Intel-based kit.

The measures follow a Commission investigation into the contract tendering policies of EU member states. At the end of the probe, the EC warned national governments to open up IT contracts to hardware based on chips from other suppliers - or risk court action.

France's move is intended to pre-empt such action. According to Reuters, the French Ministry of the Economy and Finances has ordered purchasing managers to not specify a processor "of a given [brand] mark [or] of a frequency higher than a minimal value expressed in MHz or GHz" in their contract tenders.

Instead, "it is recommended to envisage the technical references as follows: the microprocessors of the computers, servers or workstations, can be defined by means of common specifications, for example by using the generic term 'x86 processor'."

Sweden has already put similar measures in place. Italy and Germany are expected to do so, after receiving official warnings from the EC. Sweden and France have made the changes off their own bat.

The Commission will make sure that these instructions are followed at all levels of local and state government, and throughout the public services, an EC spokesman said. ®

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