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MS offers 57% price cut as Paris tilts to open source

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Faced with the possibility of another major municipal defection to open source, Microsoft has slashed its prices by 57.4 per cent. The move, which has been confirmed by Microsoft France (after being revealed by the aptly-named Libération on Monday), comes shortly before the publication of a feasibility study on open source deployment in Paris by Unilog SA.

Veteran French consulting company Unilog has already been involved in a number of open source projects in France, and there is political motivation for a switch both locally and nationally. Paris' administration is currently socialist, while last month French civil service mininster Renaud Dutreil confirmed that he intended to give open source software suppliers a slice of the government computing upgrade programme. The Paris contract is relatively small, but has a certain symbolism, and is one of those most worrisome of gigs for Microsoft, an open source desktop project. Desktop software licensing pays the Redmond rent amply, so if places like Munich and Paris start showing there's a viable alternative, the fiefdom will start to fray away.

Microsoft France CEO Christophe Aulnette told Agence France Presse he remained confident that Microsoft would hold onto Paris. "There are a certain number of incorrect ideas circulating about free software, for example that it's free," he said. Libération cites a source close to the mayor's office as saying that Microsoft fears the symbolic effect of the loss of Paris most of all, but notes that the price cuts may be enough to discourage Paris from making the big leap.

On an entirely unrelated (well alright, maybe it is a bit related) matter, The Register hears a shocking allegation that a certain high-profile win for the excellence of Microsoft's price cuts... er, technology, recently went live with its spanking new Exchange system. At which point, senior execs became unable to access their email. But we don't believe a word of that, no sir. ®

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