The French government announced this week that it will give "alternative" and open-source software (OSS) companies a chance to win business from Microsoft as the country attempts to cut software prices and offset a mounting deficit. French representatives say that the move isn't an attempt to punish Microsoft or American companies; rather, France just wants to move away from one supplier of state software.
"We are not starting a war against Microsoft or against American companies in the software sector," Renaud Dutreil, minister for civil service, said. "\[But Microsoft\] must return to being one supplier to the state among others. The competition is open. My estimate is that we can cut the state software bill at least in half."
The plan includes both office-productivity suites and operating platforms such as Windows. Contracts for those types of software are estimated to be worth more than $360 million each. The software will be rolled out over 3 years. OSS solutions such as Linux and OpenOffice.org are definitely a possibility, Dutreil said, noting that such software is "very credible."
Microsoft will fight the migration, according to Christophe Aulnette, managing director of Microsoft France. "\[OSS\] is not free," he said. "It is very expensive because it shifts the cost to maintenance, services, integration, and training."