Microsoft NHS deal imminent

The Department of Health (DoH) has failed for the second time to meet its target for signing a massive NHS-wide software deal...

The Department of Health (DoH) has failed for the second time to meet its target for signing a massive NHS-wide software deal with Microsoft, although officials promise that an announcement is imminent.

A spokesman for the DoH said, "We are expecting the Microsoft deal to be signed very shortly." The department has been rectifying minor details with the supplier, he said.

An attempt by the DoH to sign a deal with the software giant earlier this year was delayed amid fears about the impact of new licensing charges. It had been hoping to implement corporate licences covering a range of Microsoft products for the whole of the NHS.

A guidance note from the NHS Executive originally promised that any new agreement would be in place by 1 July. Whitehall sources then suggested that the deal would be completed in September.

Earlier this year the NHS, which is one of the UK's largest users of Microsoft products, announced that it had entered into discussions with the software giant to improve its arrangements for purchasing key products.

Health service professionals have expressed concerns about the impact of Microsoft's new licensing arrangements. Analysts have also voiced fears that the new arrangements could significantly increase costs for users with upgrade cycles longer than three years, as is common in the public sector.

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