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Microsoft and the National Health Service

Posted 07-19-2010 at 03:43 PM by rich_c

I saw a ‘The Register’ article late last week regarding the rebate deal between the NHS and Microsoft coming to an end. I didn’t think too much of it apart from hoping that alternative (FOSS) solutions will get proper consideration. The benefits being cost savings, which would seem to be a very high UK Government priority and avoiding a situation in the future where a monopolistic vendor might feel they can feather their nest with an initial generous deal followed by less favourable terms once ‘lock in’ is achieved by way of dependence on proprietary formats and so-on. As the Prime Minister has expressed his admiration for the Open Source community in the past, there is some hope that the bad old ways of public service IT procurement might be numbered.

There is another side to this though. It appears from info on Microsoft’s site that any NHS employee that purchased MS Office through the Home User Programme is now expected to uninstall it and replace it with a full retail version, or whatever other version they may be entitled to that might be cheaper. Well, it seems to me that such users that have been locked in with a sweetened deal only to be presented with the sting in the tail now that NHS rebates have ended need to know that they have options. Migrate to Openoffice.org for your office suite and Mozilla’s Thunderbird for your email client to replace Outlook and you will have neatly sidestepped Microsoft’s rather shoddy treatment of it’s customers. In fact, a visit to www.osalt.com will probably turn up alternatives to most proprietary software in popular use.
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