A reader asks: Are Microsoft's Exchange 2007 Client Access Licences part of NHS agreements?

In 2004 the then Health Secretary John Reid announced that a “ground-breaking” and “landmark” deal had been struck with Microsoft after talks with Bill Gates and the supplier’s Steve Ballmer.

The deal would, said the press release, “improve patient safety and value for money” for the NHS – but thereafter secrecy descended on the arrangements made.

Connecting for Health, which runs major parts of the NHS’s National Programme for IT, declined to say what the government had promised to Microsoft, by way of minimum volumes of purchases, in return for the supplier’s promise of very low prices.

Now it seems that not even NHS IT staff know exactly what is and is not covered by the deal.

A reader Andy Spencer, an NHS system engineer, asks whether Microsoft’s Exchange 2007 client access licence [CAL] is covered by the government’s deal with the company.

He writes:

“Has anyone heard if Exchange 2007 CALs will be part of the NHS agreement? We are on Exchange 2000 and deciding whether to go to [Exchange] 2003 or straight to 2007.

“No one seems to know!”

Exchange Server 2007 was released in late 2006 to business customers as part of Microsoft’s rollout wave of new products. It includes voice mail integration, better search and support for Web services, better filtering options, and a new Outlook Web Access interface

Any answers much appreciated.


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Thanks in part to the £12.4bn National Programme for IT, 100,000 NHS staff have bought Microsoft Office 2007 for less than £20