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Does Microsoft Office Lock-in Cost the UK Government £500 Million?

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - In may last column, I wrote about Microsoft's efforts last year to derail any possible adoption of ODF. That's very telling, because in a way it's quite separate from the issue of open standards, and it shows that one of Microsoft's chief fears is losing the extremely lucrative office suite business. But just how lucrative is it? An email from Microsoft that is apparently circulating around the Treasury department sheds some interesting light on this. Here's what it says:

As a strong supporter of openness and inter-operability in software and systems, Microsoft feels there would be risks associated with a narrow definition of an open standard or a restrictive single standard mandate. Moreover, we believe that this would actually the increase costs of procuring IT right across the Government estate rather than reducing costs.

Microsoft a "strong supporter of openness"? Well, that's an interesting claim given that it has spent the last fifteen years spreading FUD about the horrors of openness. But maybe it's seen the light now, so let's look at the second part of the above. Notice that it moves from open standards to restrictive single standard mandate: as far as I am aware, nothing in the current open standards consultation talks about single standard mandates - it's another of Microsoft's straw men.

The email goes on: