back to article Microsoft loses NZ Windows government deal

Microsoft has failed to renew a key government-wide purchasing deal for Windows, opening the door to greater use of open-source software. Talks between Microsoft and New Zealand's State Services Commission to renew a purchase agreement for the next three years have ended without the desired agreement, as it became apparent "a …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And now...

    cue the smug Linux fanboys

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wishful THinking

    Individual agencies are still free to negotiate on their own. Which they undoubtedly will do to avoid having to change from Microsoft Software.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    I never got why governments use private companies for something as important as what their computers run.

    Like I keep advising: get a few programmers on your IT staff, smack GNU/Linux on the computers, get the free (as in freedom) software you need, and adapt/secure it to your needs.

    It may "just" be New Zealand, but it's still a government... not exactly the type of organisation you want a lot of holes in.

  4. Nathan Hague
    Thumb Down

    Linux on the desktop bro'?

    yaaaawn. So some smug spotty graduate is now in charge of the ICT Dpt. Well done. That blue sky thinking will come in REAL handy when they all work out that the acounting program they've all invested heavily in, doesn't ACTUALLY integrate all that well with Openoffice for mail merges, or any non-windows platform. Terminal server + linux dumb terminals = PASS. Linux on the dektop + spotty oik graduate with "blue sky thinking" with no experience of the real world and user workflow systems = FAAAAAAAAAAAIL.

  5. Michael


    I can see this as a reasonable decision but the level of work in migrating from a solely M$ network to either fully *nix or hybrid it alot of work that may cost more than whatever M$ is offering for windows.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    @ And Now

    What has this story got to do with Linux - its about NZ not renewing a contract with MS, nothing in there about them getting rid of Windows. Your paranoia is showing

    @Wishful THinking

    Which requires more 'training' a. those moving from MS Office 2003 to the 2007, or b. those moving from MS Office 2003 to OpenOffice (I accept it's not 100% compatable does what 99.9% + users need from an office suite)?

    Sorry forgot about support - MS are always there at the end of the phone should you need a helping hand.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And now...

    cue the predictions of fanboy-ism ... oh wait, too late.

  8. Antony Evans

    Can I be the first to say....

    Microsuft sux eh bro.

    Mine's the one with the wooly face poking out the front.

  9. Herby

    In related news..... released version 3.1 this week. It has a newer faster spreadsheet among other things.

    Geez, releases in less than a year that actually work, and are responsive to the user community? Who could ask for more!

  10. vincent himpe

    and why

    does this automatically mean 'open source ? they could move to so many different platforms. Mac OSx anyone ? solaris anyone ? any big iron kit form IBM perhaps ?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    To overemphasize the cliche..

    Well, bugger me with a sheep, the bloody kiwi's are capable of showing some sanity.

    If they can dump Microsoft, who knows what could happen next? They could learn how to play cricket or something important like that.

  12. raving angry loony


    What's to be smug about? Just because it didn't renew it doesn't mean anything. The government will probably head straight back into an expensive, proprietary system, at twice the price, with half the performance, all because someone is friends with the senior bureaucrat who makes the decisions before telling the minister what they're going to announce. Be nice if the bastards actually learned from experience, but instead they seem to have the memory of a goldfish. A dead goldfish.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Open Source?

    Naaaahhhhh! They'll just buy Macs.

  14. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @Wishful THinking


    Thant would be Wushful THunking....

  15. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Not about getting rid of windows

    It's not about getting rid of windows, it's about them ending a deal that would have been highly pressured towards exclusivity towards a single vendor and lock in. It's about choice - if a linux, unix, solaris, windows, macos, or whatever OS solution is the best for the purpose (given, future support, updates, later development, ease of installation and use and value for money) then it should be used. The choice should not be dictated by a single supplier who, for obvious reasons, has their own interests at heart.

    The NZ government is right in pointedly not showing favour to a single supplier and therefore mandating a lock in themselves.

    They should use whatever is best and provides the best value for the tax payers. The majority of government computers users need little more than a word processor, a spreadsheet, an e-mail client, a web browser, a secure file store, shared printers and rather often a terminal emulator to allow access into a computer system that's being doing the job it's needed to do for the last 20 years.

    On the anti-MS point, this doesn't require a noisy, power hungry, quad core 4GB PC with whizz bang pointless effects, a laughably insecure OS and a rental licence for everything. The system will feel that it'll require replacing in 2 years time as the bloat of many updates and an indescribably bad data repostiory takes its toll on peformance.

    On the other hand, using linux on the desktop while initially cheap introduces issues involving training, support and management of systems. Solving these issues takes time and therefore monry that could arguably be better used elsewhere. In the long term linux is likely to be cheaper, however how long it takes to get to such a point and how many changes of mangement may occur in between are important factors to take into account. There are problems with hardware support, especially support for devices that aren't considered "fashionable" for open-source developers (notably printing) but also various other management systems that a well organised IT department rapidly grows to rely on. Custom applications written for Microsoft products are also quite common place - from custom applications through to convoluted scripting within documents, they all need to continue working as they were or to be replaced.

  16. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    Smug fanboy replies....

    I think it's great what it shows is that NZ gov are prepared, on the face of it, to look at alternatives. As a dedicated Unix geek I always go by the mantra "Horses for Courses.". I think Windows is great, it's easy to use, gets people using computers who may otherwise avoid them. Stuff works, plays games, Internet connections are a doddle. What I object to is that everyone has Windows rammed down their throats, that it's the only choice for PC's, as an OSX and Linux geek, that's what gets up my nose.

    OSX fanbois - it's an O/S, not a lifestyle choice!

    Linux fanbois - get real, desktop is never gonna happen unless Bill and Steve B screw up, big time!

    Win fanbois - Crowing about gaming will not save you! Be thankful that MS make a console, 'cos PC gaming days are numbered!

  17. regadpellagru

    Not that a loss for MS

    "Microsoft has now agreed to provide "recommended retail price certainty" for government agencies that will conduct their own, individual negotiations with the company, while the State Services Commission said it would support agencies exploring trying to "maximize their ICT investment and achieve greater value for money". "

    Given the above, it's not that a failure for MS. I bet they'll get more money at the end from the NZ gov. than what they let go with that failed nego !


    Even if perfectly possible to deploy a complete Linux solution for office, I wouldn't go that far. But at contrary, there's 0 reason today to use the horrifyingly expensive and definitely anti-standard (read PDF) MS office rather than OpenOffice. Anyone believing there are still compatibility problems with MS office should check toroughly with current versions.


  18. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Lost kiwi perspective

    There's nothing in this decision regarding open source adoption. Microsoft wanted a particular cash extraction from its government customers, and those customers acting as one didn't like the deal that was offered. Both parties were so far apart that the deal fell through. Now deals with MS must be negotiated more or less independently. This decision does not mean gangs of Linux weenies have taken over government ICT, though in my opinion we could use a few more of them.

    There is no central ICT department to blame; each Ministry has its own, and there are a number of vendors who deploy software and manage networks. Most of those vendors are heavily invested in Microsoft technology, just like their customers.

    Scale matters. This entire country is a rounding error in Microsoft's balance sheet. There aren't that many IT pros here, and most of us pick widely adopted technologies to specialise in because our career options are seriously limited otherwise. This leads to an abundance of Microsoft skills. at the expense of other vendors' stuff.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Now that is interesting (not)

    If (and it's a big "If") they did switch to a Linux distro (or OS X?), how much will re-writing the client apps cost?

    Yes, I know there is OpenOffice, but that needs re-training and MS Office add-ons won't work. Yes there is Crossover Office (never used it) but that would require new licenses I guess and maybe re-training. Any VB/dotNet/non-Java custom application won't work (WINE is not ready for general release and MONO may not offer enough coverage) and would need a re-write.

    So, they probably won't switch from Windows due to the cost/bother. Which means each department/council/team will have to negotiate their own deal. Which means more red tape, more time wasted, lower bargaining position, higher prices and increased cost. Yes, very well done. My, what clever thinking.

    Maybe the Red Hat lawsuit caused them to panic?

  20. Tony Reeves

    Not Quite So...

    Having attended the G2009 presentation by Microsoft to Govt entities today (without SSC involvement), not much has changed. Microsoft still has favorable terms to Govt agencies in NZ, to ensure perpetuation of lock-in. Pricing is not greatly changed, however that may well change in 2012 when the next roll-over happens.

    Nothing has really changed that would give Linux fanboys reason for celebration.

  21. Pyrrho Huxley

    Feel the fear!

    @ Nathan Hague

    I can almost feel your fear - at having to learn something new, at having to leave your comfort zone, at having to work out appropriate solutions for ALL types of organisations, solutions based on an objective, deep-level assessment of ALL the options. Microsoft's products, excellent as they often are, are only PART of the solution for many organisations. The NZ decision is nothing to do with "spotty graduates" and is about governments, which are spending our money, for once trying to be flexible and for once trying to get real value for money instead of being persuaded to buy Microsoft because their "IT advisers" are afraid of change.

  22. Fred
    Thumb Up

    Common sense prevailling

    Sounds like this is only the start of the end!

    Everywhere I go, the beach, the pub, shopping, walking, I hear people talking about Ubuntu and Linux.

    This is a clear use of common sense, and there will be others taking note of the decision made.

    Why people are still clinging to a sinking ship is me, like Rome, Microsoft has had its day!

    Its so easy to see why they made the choice: They are only having to pay wages, instead of so much for the OS+Antivirus+Malware removal, and in these days I bet the smart IT staff would rather get paid than have their bosses pass it on to Microsoft...

  23. Danny
    IT Angle


    hmmm, and now to see how long it takes them to find out just how free "free" software really is....

    don't get me wrong, if they have good and affordable support in place it may work, but i highly doubt that's the case.

    on top of that, their migration is going to be hell, i wouldn't be in charge of that one for sure

  24. Richard Porter


    Just because departments are free to use whatever is best value for them doesn't mean they can't use Windoze if that's what they need to do the job. But they better get out of the habit of assuming that everybody can use proprietary Micro$oft formats. More strength to the Kiwis; British governments have all but destroyed the British computer industry by getting into bed with Gates.

  25. Lionel Baden


    basically the NZ gov thought they could probably push M$ around stating fine we will just go Open Source

    bet M$ will be feeling very smug whilst they try and change over for the next few decades !!

    I mean hohnestly can you imagine trying to switch the UK gov over to linux !!

    were not just talking about 1 system health care, traffic systems, police, out of office workers,

    @Why not just hire a few developers

    well for starters they are around X20 more expensive.

    there are not as many to hire.

    oh boy the list goes on !!

    i dont really have any issues with linux except it doesnt just work :(

    Really wish it did. I really wish i could just install it on my system play all the games i normally play.

    If i install hardware i want to be able to just download a driver and use it.

    Linux please stop making so many different versions. just stick to 1 and make it usable for everybody. and then get all these people making multiple versions to make drivers instead !!!

    Then we will be very happy !!!

  26. Tim Bates


    WTF? What beaches do you go to? I'm guessing there aren't many hot girls there if Ubuntu is the topic of the day. ;-)

    [above comment from someone who uses Ubuntu on 3 out of 4 of his computers]

  27. sam tapsell

    Open Source Time

    Microsoft is not worthwhile for a basic OS and Office software. I dont know of a compelling reason why a large government organization (like the NHS here in the UK) could not run largely on open source.

    Linux also tends to run better on old computers, extending the wasteful upgrade cycle.

    Clearly this open source solution will hit the pocket of microsoft and those who install and support it, but it will save money for us as taxpayers.

    Its time to start the switch. Internet explorer>firefox. Office>OpenOffice. By the time people are comfortable with these, they will switch to linux OS underneath without too many problems.

    Lets do it!

  28. The BigYin
    Thumb Up


    "i dont really have any issues with linux except it doesnt just work :("

    Then you have selected the wrong one for your hardware, or goosed the install. You can do that with Windows too. Try VirtualBox and install the Linux distro of your choice there, just to learn it.

    "I really wish i could just install it on my system play all the games i normally play."

    Linux does still lag Windows in the gaming scene it must be said. Some games play very well (better?) on Linux through WINE or similar, others just vanish up their own arse. But then my Windows games don't really run on my xBox either, can't really moan about that.

    "Linux please stop making so many different versions"

    Linux is not an OS, it is a kernel. To pick one distro, Ubuntu, they make three main "versions"

    Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu

    The only thing that really changes between those is the desktop (to a new user anyway).

    There are server/special variant, but you get those with Windows too.

    So if you don't want to be swamped with a bazillion versions - just pick on. Anyone. Doesn't matter. Then stick with it. You can always change it later.

    As for hardware support - the only big failing I have found is the shocking lack of printer support. Well, let me put that the correct way round. The only big failing I have found is the printer OEMs' shocking lack of Linux support. Some OEMs play nice (they make drivers, release their source or generally help out), others are just sods.

    "just stick to 1 and make it usable for everybody. and then get all these people making multiple versions to make drivers instead !!!"

    Can't I am afraid. Linux support far too many hardware variants. Got a really old PC you want to use as a (say) firewall/router? Then you need something like EasyPC. TomTom run a Linux distro. PVRs are almost certainly Linux. The utility I used to fix my xBox was Linux based...the list goes on. How can all there needs possibly be satisfied by one distro? They can't.

    Now it is daunting when you first start. "OMG...what do I need? Slackware? Debian? Fedora? Mandriva? OpenSUSE? ARGH!" Just do what I did, pick the "Linux for dummies distro" (Ubuntu) and just start. Stick with that one until you know enough to think "I don't like this because of X" and then find the distro that scratches that X-itch. And don't fear the terminal. If you use Windows in any serious way, you will be a regular at the command line or in writing batch files (these are called "scripts" in Linux). I wrote a batch file on Windows to defrag and compress my virtrual machines on a schedule. You could to the exact same with a script and a cron job on a Linux distro.

    My Linux laptop is a Vrbis Highscreen Green (yeah, go look that up). German keyboard, ancient ATI graphics card (fixed by me with milk bottle tops - I kid you not), obscure multi-media hardware and it "just worked". Getting Compiz Fusion and other doo-dahs to work took some effort - but these additions are not central to the fact that it booted, displayed, found my wireless, and was rather happy. Samba was a complete sod until I worked out that it wasn't the fault of Samba at all....CheckPoint VPN Client on my Windows box was breaking networking. Once I "fixed" Windows, it all went honky-dory.

    I am no Linux expert and I *HATE* the elitist fanboi attitude that you see an awful lot (even here) "Read the man page FFS" is not very helpful when you don't even know *what* man page to look up!

    Just remember, your Linux distro is not Windows. What it does it not "wrong", just different. And some of the things it does are, IMHO, "better". There are some Windows things I would like to see copied over, but on the whole Linux is easy enough to work with.

    I do feel that I need to go to night classes or something to get the most from it, but that is mostly down to a lack of free time on my part (and a decent reference book - anyone know one?) to learn the ins-and-outs. It took me years to get to grips with Windows thoroughly, but I don't think it will take as long with Linux. Once I find the time.....

  29. Michael
    Thumb Up

    Spotty graduates? long as they're members of the Chaos Computer Club, that's just DANDY by me!!

    Pretty-Boy MSCE's can do what they like! I prefer people who WORK for a living.People who actually can code!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Sounds good

    I'm in NZ and work in Gov dept, This switch is only a bad thing for "IT Pros" who only bothered to learn Windows. Show end users where their apps and files are saved and they don't care what OS their using. Bring on the change

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Lionel Baden

    Many new traffic systems in the UK run under Lunix

  32. Hugh_Pym

    In a word - Lock in

    OK, two words. Not being party to the negotiations I can't know but in the past MS has offered favourable terms to large buyers as long as they buy nothing but MS. The offer to UK schools included buying a Windows licence for all the computers in the school including the Apple macs in the Media suite, in fact even the Amigas in the cupboard could have been covered, no wonder this offer was not recomended.

    IMHO What NZ have said is just that they don't want the lock in. They may wish to go totally open source or perhaps just install a few Linux based web servers. The choice is theirs.

    When people say Linux can never win against Windows they are missing the point. Linux was always about having a choice - People have choice. Linux has already won.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    This is not about best-fit technology,...

    this is about politics and game-playing. I had the misfortune to work for several NZ govt departments over a 10 yr IT career and have many friends who have also done so.

    IT is very frequently used in govt as leverage for power struggles and a way of building influence and status. Only very rarely is the rationale for a new system a technical one. In this case, someone is using their position to forward their own agenda (not a bad thing in itself) and wrong-footing anyone else (bet there was little collaboration before this decision) Honestly, the most petty and squabbling hierarchy I have ever had the misfortune to see.

    PS I do still like NZ but also like the fact that I have left.

    PPS This is probably about MS Select agreements, not about desktops.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    NZ IT?

    I hear they haven't got electricity yet.

    What do they need 'puters for anyway - online sheep-dating?

  35. Fred


    Seems that more people are waking up that fact.

    With all the FUD in this comments list you'd think half of them where scared to learn and adapt, but the psychology is clear.

  36. Albert

    Just wait - they'll sign up in the next 3 months

    It's all about negotiation.

    NZ Gov will sign up to Microsoft in a few months when the deal gets a bit sweeter so they can counter the publicity that this has received.

    It's all gamesmanship.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    For all the fanboys out there.........

    Having worked as an infrastructure architect for one of the organisations that this affects let me tell you Microsoft is going NOWHERE in the foreseeable future. We had something like 70 applications that are dependant on MS technology hooks for one thing or another. We tried for 9 months to get a stable open source platform that would allow 4% of our user base (The easiest 4% with the fewest apps) to work at even 80% of the speed and ease of a MS based desktop. It went nowhere. Over 90% of the server infrastructure and 100% of the desktop will be MS based for now and that will probably not change as a lot of the applications would require replacing and these are not systems you replace at the drop of a hat, we are talking tens of millions of dollars to replace all of the apps that have MS hooks and even if the open source TCO was zero (it is not and never will be) the return on investment would be in the order of 10 years+ with huge risk to the business and the clients (Not a good look in that business sector let me tell you).

    So the LINUX fanboys just need to settle down, this announcement is not the end of MS in NZ government and I would expect at least 75% if not more of the organisations that would have come under the SSC's umbrella contract to sign seperate agreements with MS within 90 days.

  38. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    Pacts with Devil?

    "NZ IT? I hear they haven't got electricity yet. What do they need 'puters for anyway - online sheep-dating?" .... By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 27th May 2009 10:23 GMT

    AC, The switch from Microsoft control may be much more profound than may be generally imagined and given the gung ho fcuk you nature of the parent nation, thoroughly welcomed because of it. And this is why NZ and Antipodeans are important? ........ ..... although it may nowadays be a case of such alliances being only of historical imperial importance, with new possibilities and opportunities now freely available via other means/partnerships.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @AC 13:57

    "We had something like 70 applications that are dependant on MS technology hooks for one thing or another."

    who in there right mind specified 70 different apps, all MS dependent! I think the infrastructure architect needs a rocket up his arse. Who is he anyway ...oh sorry.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @AC 13:57

    "70 applications that are dependant on MS technology"

    Well done mate, that's awesome: You make the BOFH look like a bumbling amateur. Even at my most unpleasant, I could never burden the poor buggers with more than 30 critical apps enterprise-wide. Maybe 35 if you count Minesweeper and Freecell.

    Paris, 'cause she doesn't understand consolidating functionality, either.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    @AC @AC 13:57

    In that organisation Applications and Infrastructure were two seperate teams, in Infrastructure we had to build the SOE but very little input or control of the business applications. Also all of those apps were there when I started and I spent 3 years trying to change the mind set of the applications team and failed. It all got WAY to hard so I went back to a reseller where things made sense a little more often :) We ended up putting in an image management system that duplicated abour 60% of the function of another system that was already deployed because the user (Note singular) liked the interface more. Something like $600K because of one persons opinion and I could not get the backing of my CIO to stop it. There are many reasons why I left that organisation.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    @ Michael

    "People who actually can code!"

    Why should an Sys Admin, IT Manager, project manager or tech support person have to be able to code? I can appreciate a need possibly for basic scripting knowledge but other than that why? If you need a programmer hire a programer.

  43. Gordon Crawford



    the IT dept already has linux in flavors running across its servers, and if the systems are already running and they only need a few specific extra comps to run a windows ap , then why should they [or you , or anybody ] pay to lock in and repay for all the systems ? let the old systems use the old windows [or whatever] . Let any one who wants a window system use an already loaded system . let the free os get the newer hardware . savings all around and no new training needed.....

    M$ is the memememememememe and only me generatoin

  44. mariuz
    Gates Horns

    in other news Romania Issues €100 Million To Microsoft Without Bids

    Contracts are drafted to exclude any alternatives and hand the money over to Redmond, say local activists

    The Romanian government is spending hundreds of million euros on proprietary software from Microsoft, without opening up the bid to competitive tenders or considering alternatives, according to complaints from the country's open source community.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Awwww lost sales on Extortionware?

    Nooooooooo refusal to accept Crapware.

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