Microsoft has agreed to help the German government protect critical IT operations in its vast public sector.
Under the agreement reached yesterday, Microsoft and the Federal Office for Information Security will collaborate through an intensive exchange of information in the areas of IT security, interoperability and openness.
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The agreement was signed in Berlin by Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer and German federal minister Otto Schily.
In his discussion with Ballmer, Schily emphasised the need for Microsoft products, which play a huge role in Germany's e-government programs, to be interoperable with the offerings of other suppliers and with open-source software.
The German minster applauded Microsoft's decision to develop a .net version of the OSCI (Online Services Computer Interface) protocol developed in Germany for secure legal transactions of e-government services and its support of the Computer Emergency Response Team for German medium-sized enterprises, the ministry said.
Ballmer said Germany played a leading role in Europe in the area of IT security.
In January, Microsoft and the Federal Ministry of the Interior agreed to extend their existing licence framework agreement enabling federal, state and city governments in Germany to purchase Microsoft products at favourable prices.
Microsoft has shown a high level of flexibility in its licence conditions ever since the German government struck an agreement in 2002 with IBM to supply new computers with open-source software.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service