Microsoft has stated it remains a solid supplier of software to the HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC), despite the department opting for some Google apps over Office tools.
A spokesperson from the Redmond company said that Microsoft wants to "set the record straight", arguing that the claims it has been ditched in favour of Google by the HMRC was simply the media panache.
"While we appreciate that ‘HMRC ditches Microsoft for Google' makes a more interesting headline than ‘HMRC chooses Google for internal collaboration', we wanted to set the record straight that Microsoft's secure, reliable and transparent technologies are continuing to play an active part in helping to deliver HMRC's and the government's ‘ambitious digital future'," the spokesperson said.
"HMRC has confirmed that it has decided to use some Google collaboration tools, but Microsoft remains a significant supplier of products such as Office, Exchange and other software and hardware to HMRC, as we are to the UK government and wider public sector."
Microsoft's response came after the HMRC revealed that 70,000 of its staff would adopt Google's cloud-based productivity apps over those offered by Office 365. This would add to the 20,000 government employees who already use Google's Gmail service.
A spokesperson from the HMRC said the move will help staff better collaborate on internal documents, with better flexibility and efficiency adding to the department's cost savings.
"Following a successful pilot, we are planning to roll out Google collaboration tools to more people throughout HMRC later this year. We have carefully considered the protection of customer information and this remains our highest priority," said the spokesperson.
Google has celebrated the deal as a "huge" endorsement for Google Apps.
David Fitton, head of public sector sales at Google UK, said on LinkedIn: "The acceptance by HMRC that they can store official information offshore in Google data centres represents a major change and endorsement of Google's approach to managing sensitive information."
Despite Microsoft's previous criticism of publishing and education company Pearson's decision to offer employees the choice to use Google Apps, the company said it understands why some firms opt for software and tools from multiple vendors.
"We recognise and embrace the fact that customers use technologies from multiple suppliers, and will continue to offer attractive and competitive products that our public and private-sector customers want to use," the spokesperson said.
HMRC's move to Google is a major blow for Microsoft, but the firm still provides technology for more than 450,000 civil servants.
News of HMRC's shift to Google comes just weeks after the UK government confirmed that it had ended its extended Windows XP support deal with Microsoft.
A blog post confirmed that the decision was taken not to extend the contract as technology leaders in government had been given plenty of time to make the necessary migration plans.
"All departments have had seven years' warning of the 2014 end of normal support and this one-year agreement was put together with the support of Technology Leaders to give everyone a chance to get off XP," it said.
"The Technology Leaders met last month and took a collective decision to not extend the support arrangement for 2015. The current support agreement ended in April 2015."
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