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Dutch gov blows open standards raspberry at Microsoft

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The Dutch government has pushed through a new open source and open standards policy which will leave Redmond with smoke coming out of its ears.

The Netherlands economic affairs ministry said last week that parliament had approved a plan that will mandate the use of open standards and open source software government-wide.

It has also set an ambitious May 2008 target by which time all national agencies will be expected to use open software. State and local government organisations will be required to adopt the same rules by 2009.

Despite bitter protests from Microsoft against the Labour-led Dutch government's plans, in which it argued that the ruling would put a dent in the market economy, the policy was agreed in parliament without any opposition.

The decision was made to cut costs as well as put a halt to heavy dependence on the software giant's products, particularly its Office apps.

Labour Party member of parliament Martijn van Dam said: "The storm of protest that Microsoft has attempted to stir up is one of the greatest endorsements of this plan."

Under the new open standards and open source policy, agencies will need to justify their use of propriety software where there is no obvious alternative. The new rules will be enforced by an "open source police" unit and an open source hotline. ®

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