The Japanese government has commissioned a study to look into moving to open source software such as Linux.
A government spokesman said that the Ministry of Public Management is earmarking ¥50m ($410,000) for a panel of scholars and computer experts - including Microsoft officials - to finish the study by March 2004.
The move has been prompted by growing concerns in Japan about the costs and security aspects of a heavy reliance on Windows-based systems.
Members of the government panel will travel to see how other countries choose and use operating systems.
But the Japanese government said it could not make a decision to switch operating systems solely on hearsay, and wanted "an objective study" on the options.
The study will not recommend a system, but will instead leave that decision up to ministries and local governments.
According to Associated Press reports Japan lags behind Germany, the US, China and other nations in considering open source software.
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