Officials in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US, have decided to dump Microsoft Office from some of its desktops.
Unimpressed by a looming $12m (£7.4m) bill for Microsoft's licensing, the city has turned to the internet-delivered SimDesk, according to newspaper USA Today.
While SimDesk's functionality is limited compared to Office, it is a fraction of the cost. Houston has been trialling it as a low-cost alternative for public-access computers since last autumn.
The city is giving SimDesk to tens of thousands of residents and businesses, free. And it has begun using SimDesk as an Office substitute on at least half the city's 13,000 PCs.
After the SimDesk deal was approved, according to USA Today, Microsoft told Houston it owed $1.1m for Microsoft software which the firm said was being used illegally. Houston's own audit found that it owed about $500,000. Microsoft is now examining the city's figures.
If Houston can make SimDesk work, other US municipal authorities may follow.
USA Today also reported that Chicago, the third-largest city in the US, recently launched a pilot program putting SimDesk on 150 PCs in 18 community centers.
About 50 public agencies in a further 27 states are also examining the technology.
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