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State Administration set to buy Microsoft again

Date: 05.12.2007

State Administration Minister Nikolai Vasilev will stop the announced procurement for the acquisition of 60 000 licenses from Microsoft for desktop computers and an additional 2000 for servers. This much could be understood from the discussion held on December 3 about the use of open source software by State Administration.

The discussion was initiated by Vasilev. When the announcement for the procurement of Microsoft licenses was made, Vasilev said he was ready to not buy from Microsoft if he could be convinced that there was a better alternative. "I am not at ease after the discussion, I had expected more. No one has advised me to stop the procurement," Vasilev said.

Despite that, he said he was inclined to split the order in two, one for desktop machines and one for servers. This way, the state would still buy 60 000 licences from Microsoft, but would open the procurement for server software to alternative providers. A decision supported by participants in thediscussion who said state administration was conservative and would reluctantly separate from Windows, while open source software had a strong market share as mail and file servers, in data-base and information security systems.

Vasilev suggested a pilot test to see how administration would work with a system based on open source software. He said he could not make the municipalities do it, and suggested his own Ministry would be used for the test. He said that if he could work with the open source system, he would allow it for the 60 000 employees in state administration.

He was also not convinced by the results from trials in the municipality of Peshtera, where 36 employees had been trained in the use of OpenOffice, but only the IT managers currently used it. It was a heroic test, with disappointing results, Vasilev said.

OpenOffice is an open source, freely download-able office software package, comparable to Microsoft Office.

The Association for open source business solutions said the discussion was belated but a "revolutionary" step in the attitude of the State.

It was not clear yet if State Administration Ministry would change the requirement of the current procurement. The procurement was under way and deadline for offers was December 10.

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