Feeds

MP warns against Microsoft monopoly in e-gov services

'Those who don't use Windows should simply not bother'

The essential guide to IT transformation

Citizens are being excluded from e-government services because they don't have the right software, an MP has warned.

Liberal Democrat MP Dr John Pugh believes the government is unwittingly creating a Microsoft monopoly in its delivery of online services because, in many cases, the public can only access them by using the US company's Windows software.

Speaking to GC News, Dr Pugh said: "Why can a Mac user not be able to apply for benefits online?"

"If a company built a road down which only a Ford car could go, there would be an outcry."

In an adjournment debate in the Commons this week, Dr Pugh challenged the government's stated position of neutrality and of supporting a "level playing field" in the software systems it wishes to see used.

He outlined a "damning" range of preferential treatment, which he said was tantamount to advertising and product placement.

During the debate, Dr Pugh said: "The Driving Standards Agency driving theory CD-Rom can be used only on Windows computers.

"The Revenue website has limited functionality for the Firefox web browser...The Department for Work and Pensions online benefits system can be accessed only by those who have a Windows computer.

"Those who have Unix or Linux computers or who use Mac computers should simply not bother."

In response, Treasury minister Angela Eagle said the government had made increasing use of open source software, which is now playing a key role in the delivery of some high profile IT projects.

She said the key online portal, Directgov, accessed by 6.5 million users a month, successfully uses open source products. Also a significant part of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's electronic vehicle licensing system is delivered through open source components.

"Some open source projects cannot meet our needs for quality or security, and we are not prepared to compromise on those," she added.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.