The NHS has signed a software licensing deal with Microsoft that could save the health service £112m over the next three years and £330m over the nine years of the contract.
The agreement will also see Microsoft develop software specially adapted for the health service's needs. It allows the NHS to use Microsoft desktop software on up to 900,000 computers.
Richard Granger, director- general of NHS IT, said, "This agreement represents not only substantial savings over previous NHS pricing but also that of other public sector purchasers."
The deal was signed a week after the Office of Government Commerce reported that open source software had become a viable alternative to proprietary software products.
The national programme for IT said there was no contradiction between the OGC's open source advice and the framework agreement with Microsoft.
"The contract is in line with the terms of arrangements the OGC put in place to allow the NHS to negotiate better deals with Microsoft," an NHS spokesman said.
"We fully support open source options, which we have reviewed, and we continue to evaluate open source products and that is why we have a contract with three-year breaks. Therefore the option to use open software in the future remains."
Public sector welcome for open source >>
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