back to article Microsoft: You want on-prem wares, We'll make you pay

Government departments will pay up to 47 per cent more for the pleasure of using Microsoft desktop software under a volume licensing programme that is months away from launch. The latest Public Sector Agreement (PSA ’12) between Microsoft and Crown Commercial Services is set to expire on 30 April, and will not be replaced with …

  1. Busby

    So MS are gouging the public sector once again, hardly surprising who cares about the price if it's being picked up by the taxpayer anyway.

    Whomever came up with the cloud first strategy deserves a good kicking.

    1. Immenseness
      Big Brother

      "enabling our UK Public Sector customers to move to the cloud"

      Isn't newspeak marvellous?

    2. Lusty


      It bothers me far more that public sector IT is badly mismanaged than it does that a private company is taking advantage. One has a responsibility to the tax payer, the other to their shareholders. Only one would appear to be fulfilling their responsibilities. At least MS can give specific numbers - I doubt is even able to say how many licences they actually require!

    3. msknight


      Actually, M$ are facing pressure. Some local government authorities are moving to Google cloud and their office suites. I'm on the distant edges of one such installation now, and the authorities I'm aware of, aren't the first.

      For better or worse, who knows, but M$ aren't getting it all their own way.

    4. Mpeler
      Paris Hilton

      It's cloud illusions I recall...

      To paraphrase Joni Mitchell, Micro$oft could well say:

      I've looked at clouds from both sides now

      From up and down, and still somehow

      It's cloud illusions I recall

      I really don't know clouds at all...

      For users with security, privacy, convenience, or thriftiness in mind,

      "clouds get in the way"...

      (Let the "anti-Luddite" feeding frenzy begin ... :) )

      Paris - closest to Joni on the list...OK, they're both blond, for starters (even if bottle-blond...).

  2. Vimes

    What about protection for any personal or private information that passes through public service systems?

    There is basically none when exported to the Microsoft cloud thanks to the lack of any real rights for non-US citizens. And that applies even to servers abroad and data that never goes anywhere near the US.

    I can understand Microsoft being forced to comply with US law, however unreasonable that law may be.

    I would have thought though that the public authorities here can't simply abdicate any responsibility to keep data safe by using Microsoft services and passing the buck on to them. Surely it's the government's responsibility to comply with the Data Protection Act and any other laws that apply in the UK given the potentially sensitive nature of the information being dealt with?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I wouldn't have thought that letting a foreign company control access to your data would be a particularly bright move for a government department.

      1. Rich 11

        Are we talking about GCHQ?

      2. Vimes

        @moiety And yet it's already happening

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @moiety And yet it's already happening

          Short-termism and 100% clueless about IT. Yep, that's our government alright - I'd recognise them anywhere.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        GDS has already handed everything over to Google. At least MS is fighting US access to non-US data in the courts.

        1. Vimes


          (I really wish they would bring back the timestamp to forum posts, rather than just display the relative age).

          What Microsoft wants to do for its customers is irrelevant if it's being forced to hand over data anyway. If they fight the case and lose they'll still be an unsafe bet, no matter how much resistance they put up.

          I'll believe that the Microsoft cloud can potentially be a safe place if they win the case *and* the laws are changed significantly as a result. Anything else is just paying lip service to user privacy IMO.

          And wasn't there talk at one point of them deliberately allowing access to the US government to Skype conversations? That doesn't sound like the actions of a company interested in privacy to me. Those actions are far more revealing than any court fight they've conveniently mounted since then, as is their lack of any resistance until anybody found out about it.

      4. I'm counting

        If they did nobody would be held to account.

    2. adnim

      "...when exported to the Microsoft cloud"

      I read... when extorted to the Microsoft cloud.... I must get my eyes or my cynicism checked.

      Although to be honest I think my cynicism is in perfect health.

    3. Smoking Gun

      I was under the impression that the NHS simply cannot use Microsoft Cloud services as there isn't a cast iron guarantee that data in Ireland or Amsterdam will leave the EU, as in event of DR (however unlikely but perhaps worth considering given recent events in the Ukraine) it falls back to the USA?

      1. Vimes

        @Smoking gun

        I'm not sure about the NHS as a whole, but I certainly recall various ambulance services pop up in g-cloud purchase history spreadsheets put up by the government for cloud related services (most if not all involving US companies including Microsoft).

  3. gerryg

    Don't forget 2012

    [Microsoft] confirmed last week [...] is raising the cost of its software to UK channel partners by 29 per cent on average.

    Is the definition of a monopoly someone that can raise prices 29% during a recession?

    2015: "Government departments will pay up to 47 per cent more for the pleasure of using Microsoft desktop software"

    Well at least the recession must be over.

    1. Smoking Gun

      Re: Don't forget 2012

      Recent letter from an NHS Trust dated 13th February 2015 (one of many):

      "As a valued supplier to the XXX Health Economy you will be aware that the NHS is

      facing unprecedented financial challenges. We have been asked by the Government to achieve

      savings totalling £20 billion over a four year period and the Department of Health has advised of the

      need to resist blanket price increases from suppliers.

      At a local level we must address our own significant financial pressures, and as a consequence all

      three NHS Trusts are unable to accept annual price increases from its suppliers.

      It is acknowledged that the private sector also has its own pressures and that a zero inflation policy

      will potentially have an impact on your business. We would like to take this opportunity to

      emphasise that where convenient we are keen to explore ways we can work together to reduce our

      mutual costs. We are open to receiving any suggestions you may have for facilitating better cost

      management, such as reducing the number of deliveries that you make to us, consolidating invoices,

      and early payment discounts."

      2015: "Government departments will pay up to 47 per cent more for the pleasure of using Microsoft desktop software".

      Scratches head...

  4. David Lawton

    I think the government seriously needs to start looking at non Microsoft software. £1200 a year to run a laptop is just silly. Im guessing a lot of software might be written for Windows , well take a more long term view instead of a short term one and pay the money now to get it re written for cross platforms. It won't be long until we hit the same issue that governments had with XP (and still have I'm looking at your NHS) with Windows 7. Its just a gravy train to MS. These prices are making having Apple Macs look like bargains, at least there OS upgrades are now free.

    Don't think anything will change, i see the same problems here being forced to pay out for Microsoft SQL and Microsoft Server licences every 2/3 years because Capita use Microsoft instead of MySQL + Linux, and for what? So we can do exactly what we did before , enter data into boxes.

    The savings long term must be eye watering if the government dumped MS.

    1. gerryg

      Remember 2011...

      ...and the LSE TCO of OSS study for Cabinet Office

    2. WillieEck

      "These prices are making having Apple Macs look like bargains, at least there OS upgrades are now free."

      Wow that's incredibly naïve. We all know that Macs are just overpriced Intel PCs and the cost of those "free" OS upgrades is built into the high up front cost - why do you think Apple are sitting on a huge cash mountain!!!. And worse than that, Apple tend to not support models for more than a few years. So off you go and buy a fleet of shiny new Macs only to find a few years later they are not eligible for that free OS upgrade. At least 'rapacious' MS supported XP for 13 years. And if you want to know exactly when Win 7 will reach end of life you can look it up on the MS website, so no nasty surprises there. And back to Apple, when did it ever make sense to as a public body to tie yourself into to one supplier for both hardware and software?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suspect its more likely that the civil service negotiators(*) specifically asked Microsoft for a deal that would effectively force departments to move to the cloud in order to meet "strategic targets".

    (*) maybe GDS again ? or is this another outsourced role ?

  6. David Austin


    I am not renting a Word Processor

  7. All names Taken

    Chances are ...

    ... that MS is big enough to make it work (provided UK civil servants don't put the kiss of death on it. And if they did would it be a treasonable act?)

  8. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Something something

    something something open source, something something free as in beer

    1. PNGuinn

      Re: Something something

      No, something something free as in SPEECH.

      In any sane country this would trigger the year of the government Linux desktop.

      Windows Clippy in the Cloud: "You seem to be trying to send confidential information to Bing. Do you need any help with that?"

      "Windows Clippy in the Cloud". Remember - you read it first on el Reg.

  9. NJobs

    Two things worse than traffic wardens: Politicians and Microsoft Reps

    The 'Cloud First Policy' is a poor one, championed and implemented by ignorant government officials. Microsoft have done a remarkable job in lobbying weak politicians but in reality, the Cloud does not save the tax payer money for Microsoft's Office 365 product. Perpetual Office 2013 is still significantly more cost effective - read the following LinkedIn post, which cuts out the Microsoft Cloud hype - its commercially oriented but the same principles apply to Public sector Cloud v Perpetual software:

  10. localzuk Silver badge

    £1200 pa per laptop?!

    I'd love to see a breakdown of those costs to be honest! Costs here are closer to £250 per laptop per year, and we're a full Microsoft house.

    1. micheal

      Re: £1200 pa per laptop?!

      £250 for licenses, £950 for CRAPITA to bribe more Civil Service heads of department

  11. SolidSquid

    I could see this running afoul of EU data protection legislation depending on how it's being managed by Microsoft. If they're hosting documents (or mirroring them) on US servers then that could be a violation if private details are being stored in documents, as US servers aren't considered secure/private (there's a set list of countries, Canada's on it but the US isn't)

  12. Furface
    Black Helicopters

    need to become a MS shareholder

    Whilst Office 365 is okay if you are entirely a Microsoft shop the strategy falls apart when you have a number of other systems that cannot talk to your new MS cloud because of incompatibilities or even worse if you rely on Citrix as a desktop service. It also guarantees that Microsoft will be doing the bulk of your end user services hosting for years to come with no easy out to their cloud, so this isnt so much as a strategic government agreement this is a "lets underwrite Microsofts bottom line forever!" contract. Its always easy to move to a cloud but its very difficult to actually leave one, especially if you allow the supplier to hold all the cards such as Microsoft will have here.

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