Microsoft-Funded Report Had "Big Influence" on Decision Against Linux, Admits UK Official

"It would be insane to claim otherwise," he concedes

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    A report carried out by Capgemini SA was the clincher in the decision by the London Borough of Newham to scrap its plans last year to switch to Linux on the desktop.

    It was funded by Microsoft, though, giving rise to considerable concern

    The man in charge of IT for the Borough, Richard Steel, has been telling the press how the report came about. Microsoft had asked if they might to commission the report from Capgemini in response to a report from a UK-based open source consultancy, Netproject, that had been commissioned first and which concluded that a switch to open source would be the best solution.

    "We obviously recognize that you could question the independence of a report funded by Microsoft," Steel conceded, adding: "It would be insane to claim otherwise."

    According to Capgemini, solving the Borough's IT problems the Microsoft way had the potential to save it $5.9 million over the next five years, versus a saving of just $2.9 million for the Linux solution.

    The report claimed to have compared total cost of ownership (TCO), transition costs, and risks and security. The Borough will now be deploying twelve different Microsoft software products, including tablet PCs.  

    Skeptics are wondering if the whole strategy of commissioning the first report wasn't just perhaps a gambit to pressure Microsoft into devising more lenient licensing terms and fees. But the officials involved deny that. The Borough merely defined what it needed in terms of business outcomes, it maintains, and the solution offering the greatest saving won.

    The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, said: "Newham is a great place to live and do business, but we have ambitious plans to build on this, particularly as the Borough is the focal point of the UK's 2012 Olympic bid. Having a committed, reliable and value-conscious software partner who shares our vision and is able to support us in our programme of transformation is critical, and Microsoft has proven to be the provider of choice on all these fronts. I am excited at the potential of this partnership to take technology to a new level in driving better, more cost-effective services for our citizens in Newham and across the country."

    A statement from Microsoft and Newham said:

    "During the 12-week assessment, Capgemini compared costs, business benefits and risk profiles of a Microsoft solution comprising Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Office System on the desktop and Microsoft Windows Server 2003. The evaluations led the Borough to choose a Microsoft solution over an Open Source alternative as its best overall value option"

    Terry Smith, Senior Director of Microsoft's Public Sector group, said: "We welcome the opportunity that Government evaluations of competing products offer us to prove the value and interoperability that Microsoft products offer. Naturally, were delighted with Newham Councils findings, and we look forward to continuing to help all levels of Government address their needs in a manner that delivers real value to the Government and its citizens."

    Related Link:

  • The Battle to Bring Linux Onto European Desktops Continues

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    Most Recent Comments
    jebus 08/08/07 01:59:54 PM EDT

    this class is sow boring (alderete)

    richard 08/08/07 01:57:09 PM EDT

    this program is sow cunfusing y bacame emo

    Mackie Messer 08/20/04 06:25:39 AM EDT

    Read again the last sentence: "in a manner that delivers real value to the Government and its citizens". Not "to citizens AND their Government". That says it all... Makes you wonder what's this "great value" they are talking about here.

    Michael Goolsby 08/19/04 01:57:44 PM EDT

    The major problem here is the case study itself. Was it the sole case study that the Borough of Newham commissioned? Were they taking bids from other consultants (Microsoft-partnered or otherwise)? The Borough pretty much got what it paid for from Capgemini. They sought a study from a Microsoft partner, they were going to get a Microsoft solution. Problem I find here is how did they come to the conclusions they did for the cost savings. Microsoft is very stringent with its licensing for its products--and they really are not that cheap when it comes to the individual computers involved. Sure, MS does carry different licensing and pricing structures for different kinds of organizations (educational, government, business) but the question that needs to be asked after that it what is the initial investment for this solution versus the long-term costs of this solution. If the Borough analyzed these, this solution may not save them that much money.

    ncisivegroup 08/18/04 11:08:30 AM EDT

    Too many people turn this argument into an either/or one. There are plenty of places in government that employ transactional computer users, or those that exist technologically in one primary business application. Even in a Microsoft world, organizations can find ways to exploit thin Linux for dramatic cost savings without fighting the fat desktop battle which Microsoft will never totally lose. Let's hear it for well designed heterogeneous environments that take advantage of the most appropriate technology for the business purpose!

    &%/# 08/18/04 09:17:19 AM EDT

    c'mon lets be honest here Microsoft is casting a shadow over the whole Linux community. When you've got Windows 98 not being supported, NT not being supported, OS/2 not being supported--if you're a decision maker in the IT field, you need to be able to look at Linux as something that's going to continue to be supported. It's a major consideration when you're making those decisions.

    Norwegian Wood 08/18/04 09:11:55 AM EDT

    When the City of Bergen in Norway migrated to Linux its CIO said that the most important issue for the city was to provide the best possible public services to its citizens through cost-effective municipal operations. He said that in addition to the IT-based benefits from migrating to Linux, Bergen by switching attained a business model that doesn't tie us to a single vendor's solution architecture.

    By migrating to Linux, Bergen achieved a business model that is open, democratic and will ensure a greater degree of freedom of choice, more efficient operation and major cost savings that will benefit its citizens.

    Newham take note!!

    Anon 08/18/04 08:32:59 AM EDT

    I have no trouble believing that the SHORT-TERM costs of
    migrating a Windows NT 4.0 shop to Windows 2003 Server and Windows XP will be
    much less than converting to Linux. That is partly a measure of Microsoft's
    success in sabotaging standards. Costs of retraining a bunch of MSCEs and
    turning them into competent Unix folks is also substantial. If Microsoft were
    to be trusted, it might well be right for Newham to have made the decision they
    did. Most people basically DO trust Microsoft. They think large companies are
    reliable. Without my detailed knowledge of what Microsoft has done in the past,
    I have a feeling I would be the same. Newham Borough's decision is not totally stupid. It is only wrong because they will get hurt in the end by tying
    themselves into a relationship with an unprincipled corporation.

    trUndle 08/18/04 08:30:30 AM EDT

    MS felt it had to offer a very good deal indeed to make sure they wouldn't switch to Linux. If this happens more and more you can expect MS profits to fall sharply.

    Once people understand they have alternatives MS's power base will dwindle and they will have to compete just like everybody else.

    The whole patent mess is gonna help too. Once people understand that new software is only safe until MS decides to drag you into court, people will not look so favourably upon them.

    Capgemininsider 08/18/04 08:22:38 AM EDT

    I used to work for Capgemini and I can tell you 2 things
    about them:

    1) They are very proud of the partnership status with
    Microsoft (it used to be displayed prominently on the
    first page of the intranet)

    2) They have a lot of consultants who have very little
    idea what computers do and what IT is for, but are good at
    finding out from there colleagues what they are expected
    to say and saying it.