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Microsoft has appointed Jan Muelfeit as its new head of public sector sales in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Muelfeit will oversee Microsoft's continuing efforts to counter the threat open source software poses in this sector. He replaces Peter Hayes, who has moved on to join Citizens Communications.

Muelfeit joined Microsoft in 1993 and is currently vice president of Microsoft's operations in Eastern Europe, the fastest-growing region within Microsoft, worldwide.

He has his work cut out for him, though, if he is to fill his predecessor's shoes. It was during Hayes' time in charge that European governments began to seriously consider migrating to Linux and other open source systems.

In the UK, the response from Redmond's finest was determined and thorough. Key local government deals, like the one at Newham, became must-win contracts for the software giant. In that instance, Microsoft offered the council a very reasonable deal on its licensing fees to make sure that it beat out the open source competition. Then, when the NHS went looking for desktop computing software, Steve Ballmer was brought in to close the deal.

Microsoft has recorded similarly high profile contract wins in Holland's public sector, prompting complaints from Dutch MPs.

The company also established a new position in the UK, Germany and France: that of National Technology Officer. The NTO is responsible for developing the software giant's strategy in the lucrative public sector market. ®

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