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Beijing council has made a substantial purchase of Microsoft software, despite deciding late last year that it would buy products from local developers.

The original £3.5m contract with Microsoft was so heavily criticised that the council cancelled it. New procurement rules were drawn up to encourage government bodies to buy locally produced software. Domestic software was defined as anything which was at least 50 per cent developed in China. Government departments would need special permission to purchase non-domestic software.

But the council has reversed this policy and bought Office and Windows products. A municipal official told the Financial Times the council had bought more Microsoft software than homegrown code. The same source told the paper that the council was forced to buy the software so that it could comply with a deadline, set by central government, to stop using pirated products.

Beijing council refused to give any details of what it had bought or how the procurement process worked.

Microsoft would not detail the contract either. It told the FT: "We appreciate and support the Beijing government's decision to use legal software including Microsoft's products within its government entities."®

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