Microsoft plans to open Windows code to Irish Government

1 Aug 2003 has learned that Microsoft is in discussions with the Irish Government to provide it with access to its Windows code as part of an international move to win public sector contracts over open source software rival Linux.

The move is part of a concerted effort by Microsoft to stem the damage caused by the growing popularity of Linux software among corporates and governments, which are opting for Linux to run their desktop and networked computer systems, posting the biggest threat yet to Microsoft’s dominant market position in computer operating systems.

The most devastating blow came in May when Germany’s SuSE won a lucrative contract to switch 14,000 Windows desktop PCs to Linux for the city government of Munich. Linux now runs on some 15pc of servers sold in Europe, up from 0.7pc in 1998, according to IDC figures.

Microsoft has turned up the heat in its offensive against pro-Linux vendors such as IBM by starting a new initiative called Government Software Program, which involves opening up its flagship Windows operating system to governments interested in tailoring the software to fit their security needs.

So far Microsoft has struck deals with governments in 12 countries, including Austria, Russia, China and the UK and is in negotiations with 35 governments around the world. understands that while Microsoft is conducting discussions with the Government about opening up its Windows code for e-government projects, formal negotiations in terms of an actual deal have not yet begun.

By John Kennedy