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German state opts for Microsoft Office 2003

Microsoft continues to grab contracts with local authorities in Germany, despite the trend towards open-source software.

Microsoft continues to grab contracts with local authorities in Germany, despite the trend towards open-source software.

This month the US software giant began installing Office 2003 software in 110,000 PCs in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany's largest and most populated state.

The decision to install Office 2003 makes NRW the only German state operating every computer with uniform software, said state interior minister Fritz Behrens.

Using Extensible Markup Language as Office 2003's document format helps NRW satisfy a requirement to establish a software platform based on open standards, for seamless communications with all state employees, said Wolfgang Branoner, director of public sector sales at Microsoft's German subsidiary.

The NRW contract comes at a time when numerous state and local governments in Germany consider dumping Microsoft for open-source software products, such as the Linux operating system and OpenOffice, in an effort to reduce their software costs.

Earlier this year, the Munich city government decided to migrate its entire computer network to Linux. In June, Germany's Federal Ministry of the Interior presented a list of guidelines for federal, state and local governments, as well as other public sector agencies interested in migrating their computer systems to open-source software.

Microsoft has sought ways to retain huge public sector software contracts in Germany after the government, in an effort to reduce costs and increase security, agreed with IBM last year to use computers with Linux operating systems in federal, state and local governments.

John Blau writes for IDG News Service

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