According to a blog post by Red Hat, Microsoft was given a three year contract, with no public bidding, which Red Hat and 17 other technology groups are appealing. The contract was worth 14 million Swiss Franc (approximately equivalent to Â£8m or $12m) per year, and was awarded by the Swiss Federal Bureau for Building and Logistics, for "standardized workstations" and the applications and support that go with it.
The government agency claimed the decision was made because there was "no sufficient alternative to the Microsoft products", however Red Hat stated that several other Swiss government agencies are using alternatives, provided by Red Hat.
Red Hat produce open-source software, namely Linux operating systems, which are targeted towards the commercial market. The money is made by selling subscriptions, which provide support for their products, amongst other services.
Red Hat is leading a group of 18 technology companies who are "seeking a public bidding process that allows for consideration of the technical and commercial advantages of open source software products". The companies have filed a brief with Swiss Federal Administration Court, and aim to have the contract with Microsoft overturned.
Open-Xchange, one of the other companies offering alternatives, said "We have alternatives to what Microsoft is offering, so at least we should have a chance at the bidding process," according to an article by PC World. "The IT landscape changes so rapidly, it makes sense to have the freedom to change components without lock-in."