The government has signed a "preferential" licensing deal with Corel for public sector bodies that want to use its desktop office software.
The memorandum of understanding between the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and Corel gives 1.4 million government desktops cheaper access to the WordPerfect office suite, if they wish to take advantage of the deal.
Earlier this year Microsoft struck a similar deal with the OGC that the government claimed would save it £100m a year on software licensing costs.
The OGC explained that government agencies would probably only buy the software for niche graphics-based desktop tasks and not as an alternative to Microsoft's Office suite.
"It's not the same level as the Microsoft and Sun Microsystems deals we did earlier in the year," an OGC spokesman told vnunet.com.
"It is not a guarantee of business to Corel but it is part of our ongoing remit to open up the government marketplace to other options."
But Corel claims that the deal will give public sector bodies a more cost-effective alternative to Microsoft Office. The agreement covers government departments, the NHS, local government and other government agencies.
Amanda Bedborough, European executive vice president of Corel, said in a statement: "Government bodies need to deliver services to tax payers, and not only are they under pressure to do this efficiently, it must be done in a cost effective manner.
"Research shows that demand for Corel products has grown significantly over the past year, as users look to improve their productivity and flexibility."
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