Microsoft walking the tightrope

Teams representing UK local and central government have joined forces to negotiate a single licence covering the public sector’s 1.7 million desktops.

Talks resumed earlier this month but local authority user group Socitm and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) say discussions are going badly.

‘There is every chance negotiations could break down,’ says Socitm chief negotiator and national secretary Bob Griffith.

With government sales representing 10% of Microsoft’s UK business, any licence agreement would be the biggest-ever concluded. Failure would be a devastating blow.

‘There is a real question about whether the deal will go ahead – how that might impact on existing Microsoft contracts is stage two,’ says an OGC spokesman.

David Roberts, chief executive of blue-chip user group The Infrastructure Forum, says several major companies are moving away from Microsoft.

‘The only way to make Microsoft change its mind is don’t do a deal,’ he says.

A Microsoft spokeswoman has said: ‘Negotiations are ongoing.’

But UK managing director Neil Holloway told Accountancy Age’s sister magazine, Computing, last month that its licensing regime was here to stay and that he believed it was a good deal.

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