NHS Microsoft deal could be finalised in two weeks

The long-awaited £50m software deal between the NHS and Microsoft is imminent, according to Department of Health (DoH) officials.

The long-awaited £50m software deal between the NHS and Microsoft is imminent, according to Department of Health (DoH) officials.

A DoH spokesman said, "The business case for the deal has gone to the Treasury and we are now waiting for them to sign the money off." The agreement will be announced in the next two weeks, he predicted.

Attempts by the DoH to sign an NHS-wide software deal with Microsoft were recently delayed amid fears about the impact of new licensing charges. The NHS Executive had originally planned to have the new agreement in place by 1 July.

Earlier this year, the NHS announced that it had entered into discussions with the software giant to improve its arrangements for purchasing key Microsoft products. These were expected to include Microsoft Office 2000 Professional, SQL Client and System Management Software Client.

The move could simplify the processes associated with purchasing and managing the licences and reduce administrative overheads.

However, there is still concern about the ongoing effect of Microsoft's new licensing arrangements on the Health Service, which is one of the UK's largest users of Microsoft products. Health Service workers have voiced fears that the new arrangements could prove costly and hinder crucial IT development work.

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