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E.U. Talks With Microsoft Called a Contradiction

NYT - The European Commission, which is urging governments on the Continent to consider using open-source software to make their computer systems more compatible, is negotiating with Microsoft to extend its use of the proprietary Windows operating system on 36,000 government computers, a spokesman said Monday.

Antony Gravili, a spokesman for Maros Sefcovic, the commissioner responsible for government administration, said the agreement covers 42 agencies and institutions that comprise the bulk of Europe’s central government.

“By negotiating a big order we are hoping to drive down prices,” Mr. Gravili said.

Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner responsible for the digital agenda, who has espoused the benefits of open-source software alternatives, and who as the former competition commissioner completed a 10-year European antitrust prosecution of Microsoft, also declined to comment, said Jonathan Todd, a spokesman.

Graham Taylor, the chief executive of Openforum Europe, a Brussels group whose members include Microsoft competitors Google, International Business Machines, Oracle and Red Hat, questioned the decision to extend Windows without a public bidding process. “This decision would appear to contradict the IT policy goals laid down in the commission’s digital agenda and it also would appear to run counter to the commission’s efforts to make procurement processes in Europe more transparent and fairer,” said Mr. Tayler said.