The London Borough of Newham has signed a deal with Microsoft which it said will be cheaper to support than migrating its systems to Linux.
The deal follows a comparison of the costs and benefits of Microsoft versus Linux - carried out by consultancy Capgemini - which concluded that Newham could reduce support costs by 13.5 per cent, or £3.2m over five years, by using Microsoft products. This is double the £1.6m saving from using Linux.
But the agreement is non-exclusive and Richard Steel, Newham's head of ICT, told vnunet.com that there were no specific plans to migrate existing non-Windows systems.
"The agreement is Microsoft-centric in that we will take a 'why not Microsoft' approach and go for Microsoft if there is no good answer," he said.
Newham has some 27 Unix and Linux systems, and Steel said a recent investigation had discovered around 16 open source projects.
The cost of the deal to the council includes hardware, with the Microsoft software element costing around £500,000 per year, he added.
Capgemini's Microsoft-funded survey used nine different elements to calculate total cost of ownership, including transition costs, risk and security.
"Open source came out better on two, three were equal, and the Microsoft was far cheaper on the rest," said Capgemini executive consultant Lesley Burr.
Steel said a separate evaluation by an open source-leaning consultancy had raised the same total cost of ownership issues but had recommended the open source route.
Microsoft will work with Newham on a next-generation local government web portal, a web-based employee self-service system, and flexible and mobile working.
Microsoft has proposed linking the borough's own citizen customer relationship management system with its VisionWare software.
A Newham Social Services pilot project using Windows-based tablet PCs with handwriting recognition, for completion at homes of remote forms with on-line approval signatures, is now achieving a one-hour saving per visit.
Microsoft wants to use the agreement to work with other London boroughs. Terry Smith, the company's senior director of public sector, said: "The only way we can be effective is to look at public sector top to bottom, with no customer left behind."
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