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Maude backs plan to switch software

London Evening Standard - Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes the Government can make savings by switching to free 'open source' software.

Ministers are looking at saving tens of millions of pounds a year by abandoning expensive software produced by firms such as Microsoft.

Some £200 million has been spent by the public sector on the computer giant's Office suite alone since 2010.

But Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to free 'open source' software such as OpenOffice and Google Docs.

Document formats are set to be standardised across Whitehall to help break the "oligopoly" of IT suppliers, and improve communications between civil servants.

The proposal is part of the coalition's drive to make its procurement more effective and efficient.

Speaking at a cross-government event showcasing new online services today, Mr Maude will say: "The software we use in Government is still supplied by just a few large companies. A tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace.