Open Source advocates have kicked up a fuss over a contract given to Microsoft in the Netherlands this week. The Dutch government had been negotiating with Microsoft for desktop software, valued at €120 per PC. The contract is for five years, and covers over a 1/4 million government PCs. The deal could be worth as much as $200m to Microsoft. The Register notes that the Dutch government negotiated in private with Microsoft on a massive contract that is required by law to go up for public tender. The article also highlights the fact that in 2002 the Dutch government voted "to guarantee that by 2006 all IT systems in the public sector would operate on open standards".
Dutch MP Martijn van Dam sees the contract with Microsoft de-railing this legislation, commenting "With this action, open source is placed offside for years and European rules for public bids are completely ignored," says Van Dam. "The government links itself to a single supplier. That makes us vulnerable."
Towns in the Netherlands have had success with Open Source alternatives to Microsoft products; the town of Haarlem moved from Office 2000 to Open Office and made costs savings of 90%. For Microsoft to start loosing large scale contracts of this type is bad news for the company and it will no doubt be relieved if the deal remains. Microsoft is currently facing anti-trust proceedings against it by the European Union, which could cost the company as much as $500m.
View: Letter to Dutch Government (Kindly translated by Sietse)