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The French police force plans to ditch Microsoft's Internet Explorer as its preferred browser software and replace it with Firefox by the end of the year. Up to 70,000 desktops will be switched over to a Firefox and Thunderbird email client set-up because of the combo's "reliability, security and inter-interoperability with other state services"," General Christian Brachet, IT director of the French police force said.

Brachet said the gendarmerie had settled on Firefox because it is based on the W3C standard and can used on Windows, Mac and Linux boxes. Basing its systems on open net standards will make it easier for French citizens to report crimes online in future, once such facilities are introduced. The move over to an open source browser follows the French police's switch from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice, a change implemented last year that's expected to save the force €2m ($2.4m) a year, AFP reports.

The news agency reports that other French government departments - including the interior customs, culture and finance ministries - are also moving towards open-source alternatives. The finance ministry is leading the charge with plans to move 80,000 desktops to Linux starting in 2H 2006.

Colonel Nicolas Geraud, deputy director of the gendarmerie's IT department, said the force was considering its options over a move from Windows to Linux. Geraud made his comments during a presentation to the Solution Linux 2006 exhibition in Paris last week. ®

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