back to article Microsoft signs 1.5 million seat contract for Office 365 and more

England's National Health Service has inked a £774.5 million ($940 million) contract with Microsoft to license its Office 365 and security software. The initial deal with one of the world's biggest employers is for 34 months, with the option to extend for up to a further two years, according to a contract notice published …

  1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Super Bugs

    Let's hope that the Office Suite does not get infected by a hospital bourne Super Bug!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Super Bugs

      It already is. It's called Windows.

    2. Jurassic.Hermit

      Re: Super Bugs

      Jason, is that you ?

      No, I'm the other guy, Jason Borne...

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    $940 million for a million and a half users ?

    That's almost $627 per seqt.

    Outlook is not worth that much.

    1. R Soul Silver badge

      Re: $940 million for a million and a half users ?

      Our government is well known for spunking away vast sums on hugely overpriced and defective products from dodgy suppliers: PPE, aircraft carriers with no aircraft, Rwandan holiday homes, Bojo's lawyers, ferry companies with no ships, etc. This M$ deal is just another in that long list.

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: $940 million for a million and a half users ?

        We just need to find that Bytes Software Services is a subsidiary of Capita and it will be the perfect exemplar of Government Spending.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: $940 million for a million and a half users ?

          It is owned by Bytes Technology Group plc, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange. The largest shareholders are the usual list of stock brokers and investment funds.

      2. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: $940 million for a million and a half users ?

        Come, now… the holiday homes exist and can be used, it’s just that no one wants to go there. The carriers can get aircraft…. A little later. Okay, much later. BoJo’s lawyers were kept out of mischief. And the ferry company can get ships. Now, will MS Office ever be worth even one penny?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: $940 million for a million and a half users ?

          Now, will MS Office ever be worth even one penny?

          On a good day, it may reach minus 1p but, normally, the loss of effectiveness will be minus more than your average hospital cleaner!

      3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: $940 million for a million and a half users ?

        Question: is it our government or our civil service that does this?

    2. richardcox13

      Re: $940 million for a million and a half users ?

      > That's almost $627 per seqt.

      Over just under three years.

      $18 per user per month.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: $940 million for a million and a half users ?

        $18 per user per month.

        Which is odd - we are also a Government body and get Government pricing. An E5 license costs us a hell of a lot less than that (even adjusting for £/$ pricing).

        I suspect that there's a whole bunch of other stuff bundled, most of which looks whizz-bang but will never, ever be used. Makes you wonder whether *any* techies were involved in the process at all!

        (Sadly, I think I know the answer to that one - i'll be the men and women in nice power suits who did all the 'negotiating'[1] and a token tame 'techie' [2] brought along to give the gloss of appropriateness..)

        I think I've got old and cynical.

        [1] AKA nodding wisely as they were being fleeced by the reseller. And picking extra-cost shiny from the list when prompted to.

        [2] He/she once built a PC! Must be an expert!

  3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Value for money

    Microsoft advertises Office subscription direct to consumers at £59.99 (c $76) per year, while the NHS deal works out at roughly £100 ($136.50) per user per year.

    Kerching! Trebles and bonuses all round

    In the mean time, cut down on patient care and staff costs

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Value for money

      I presume the NHS deal is based on Microsoft 365 E5, full price is £52.40 user/month and charity/nonprofit £20.20 user/month.

      Which would still seem to be a lot for Teams and email, given the majority of staff would only be using the medical applications and entering patient data directly into these.

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Value for money

        It's not just teams and email, they're offering things like intune as well and external phone calling. It all has to be integrated into the NHS Mail admin portal too which essentially just runs powershell commands on their tenant when you tick a box etc.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: Value for money

          It also covers 34 months, so basically comes out a little under £1m/day.

        2. Anne Hunny Mouse

          Re: Value for money

          When the Portal works and frequently it doesn't.

          Microsoft calling minutes need to be purchased, as do licenses for Intune.

          Previously users had an E3R license which didn't come with the Office Apps. The new deal is for E3.

          NHS D (as was) has been pushing orgs to move to O365 licenses but there have been issues by Orgs that have moved.

          Locum? Not attached to org so no license.

          Reconciliation of licenses after someone leaves is very slow. This leaves orgs short for new starters.

          Part of the deal is that NHS Orgs have to commit to reducing their existing Office 16/19/21 estates by 50%

          Don't forget this unusual shared tenancy has lots of restrictions. Lots of integrations can't be done, Accenture / NHS X26 hold access to Azure etc

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Value for money

          I get it’s more than teams and email.

          However, for the majority of NHS employees their need to directly use 365 is very limited.

          I doubt the NHS previously had a similar number of Office 13/16/19 licences.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Value for money

          NHS.NET is already running on M365, and has been for ages and is managed - for some reason - by Accenture. It also has Okta 2FA.

          Part of the problem is you have a fragmentation - due to 250+ NHS Trusts (in England) all doing their own thing and part using national systems.

          I’m not seeing anything new here … unless it’s M365 subs … which at 1.3m users - procured via a Government Framework - should be at Microsoft’s bestest pricing:

      2. Mike007

        Re: Value for money

        Presumably for the NHS email platform they only actually need basics? Or do the NHS buy full desktop office licenses for users at private companies* just because they have an NHS email address...?

        *which is what all of the hospitals and surgeries and pharmacies using NHS email addresses are...

  4. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Clippy Returns

    Now that MS has access to everyone's health records...

    "It looks like you're having a suspicious polyp removed and your doctor is concerned you won't make it. Do you need help updating your Last Will and Testament? If so, here's a list of legal firms near you. Otherwise, we can suggest three funeral homes with discounts if you pre-book." *blink* *blink*

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And "security" ?!?

    And what, pray, may that be if it's provided by Microsoft? A long piece of rope connected to the desktop plug to yank it out of the socket?

    Judging from the large amount of breaches and ransomwware they have presided over it can't be anything more sophisticated.

    Anyway, say bye bye to the privacy of your medical data.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: And "security" ?!?

      That was already taken care of with Palantir.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And "security" ?!?

      "Microsoft and security" go together like "Oceangate and safety".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And "security" ?!?

        Very dark humour, but I think a bit too soon.

        That said, some of the memes I have already seen online appeared earlier so maybe it's just me.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And "security" ?!?

          Too soon? Are you kidding me? Microsoft has been pumping out security defects for decades now! How much longer should we wait until we face the facts????

          Oh, wait. Err....nevermind.

  6. BenDwire Silver badge


    And are all these NHS staff going to be trained properly so that they can *efficiently* use their new software? Or will they just be left to get on with it in the style of simian Shakespearians? One can only imagine the length of the ever increasing phone queues as admin staff struggle to adapt to all the changes.

    Disclaimer: I'm particularly jaded with the quality of admin staff as my partner's hospital appointment letters have just been delivered to her ex-husband's address, despite him moving to his latest girlfriend's house 10 miles away. Yes, yes GDPR and all that, but seriously, what's the point of trying to complain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Training?

      Left to get on with it, there are hundreds NHS Digital Champions…. But trusts won’t pay any wages for you to actively participate so it’s a half-assed pile of shite on Teams.

  7. P.B. Lecavalier

    Evil Licensing

    Remember when you purchased a license for M$ Office, pay it once, and then keep using it for ages? PHBs drank the subscription kool-aid with such enthusiasm.

    "But sir, you are not getting the latest and greatest features!"

    Which interest, like, no one.

    "But sir, you are vulnerable to security threats without constant updates!"

    If a word processor is so darn dangerous, then we should switch to something more innocuous. Also, if we find a bug, does that mean they commit to fix it or give us a full refund? (You already know the answer.)

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Evil Licensing

      Still can. (Other vendors are available).

  8. Ali Dodd

    Not an MS apologist

    but an astonishing amount of comments here don't seem to know that MS Office is the new name for the entire online service formerly known as Office 365 - not 365 apps which is what the new name for Office suite(nothing like a confusing Microsoft renaming!). So this is 1TB of storage online per user plus unlimited email archiving (effectively) plus everything else so sounding like telephony inc VoIP via teams to standard lines, Intune, a large threat protection suite (which isn't actually that rubbish) for Mail, documents and connected machines AND a load of other bits too which some are quite useful (not all..).

    Certainly not the equivalent of the £60 pa personal plan, more likely the e5 full caboodle which is more like £50 pcm normally.

    Sounds like a good deal, excepting the usual MS 'changes' and the eggs in one basket side of things but for normal users on windows it's actually rather sensible. NOW if the NHS had it's own build of Linux and internal team to support that plus a good telephony provider for VOIP, etc, etc.. we'd have an alternative (so wish this would happen, they are so big it would revolutionise the use of Linux in the workspace for ordinary users).However, as it is the 6m pound gorilla who we know and can publicly be shamed to some extent will have to do and is not the worst solution possible.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Not an MS apologist

      > NOW if the NHS had it's own build of Linux…

      Point the finger at the Cabinet Off8ce, they had the full picture of UK government IT expenditure, yet decided to throw money at Microsoft rather than invest in UK IT skills and industry…

      It’s taken along time for the Conservatives to realise that having 42 independent and “competing” (when the. conservatives set up the health care trusts they prevented them from working together to get benefits of scale or in some areas needless duplication of service) health trusts meant the UK government and taxpayer weren’t getting value for money.

  9. Korev Silver badge


    "Microsoft signs 1.5 million seat contract for Office 365 and more"

    Why didn't you just name the NHS in the headline?

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Headline?

      The purpose of a headline is to pique your curiosity, so you want to open the article and see if your guess as to who this contract is for was correct.

      1.5 million seats? Could it be the Burundi Civil Service? Nah, that is a silly suggestion. The EU Cross Party Conference? Oooh, oooh, the North Korean Secret Police: "Open the online form in Word 365 and Bob was your uncle"!

      A great parlour game, fun for all the family.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Headline?

        The only larger employers in the world are Walmart, Indian Railways, Peoples Liberation Army, and US Department of Defense[sic].

        If you take Walmart for example, not that many of their employees work in an office, and therefore need desktop or laptop computers. Staff involved in moving stock around will have some sort of handheld or tablet computer, and staff on the tills will have the till.

        I don't know what modern armies have in terms of computer equipment, but I'm guessing most of them don't have desktop//laptop computers, and while there will be some sort of computer technology to get commands to the front line, I'm guessing it isn't Exchange or Teams.

        So the NHS is the biggest email deployment outside public services such as Hotmail and Gmail.

  10. bofh1961


    Do you have to have a Windows device to use Orifice 365?

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Windows?

      > Orifice 365

      As used in dental surgeries, Ear Nose and Throat and, of course, Proctology.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Windows?

        Emphasis on Proctology.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Windows?

      No. It is also available on Mac, iOS, iPadOS, and Android. And the web stuff can be accessed on Linux / FreeBSD / etc.

  11. ecofeco Silver badge


    ... they're boned.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not quite as bad as it looks

    The contract value is £774.5 million but the actual order is £143 million. All public sector contracts have to have a maximum value that can be transacted through it, but it's quite normal for this ceiling to be set so high that it's never actually reached. I've worked on a few contracts for £10m+ software deals that had a contract value of £50m. That allowed us to sell an extra £5-10m of licenses over the term of the contract and put through another renewal at the end without retendering, but we never got close to the £50m, despite our best efforts.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Not quite as bad as it looks

      And given the call-off framework through which this deal was procured is expiring at the end of the year (in 6 months), putting through a deal that's over multiple years with its own contract value that you can book against the framework immediately means the money is there in 3 years' time, not like in some cases where something comes up for renewal and the beancounters go "nope, the money's not there..."

      Now the option to extend by another 2 years is not firmed up yet, so *that* money will have to be found once the end of the 34 months crawls nearer...

  13. dadbot5000

    34 months? They mean forever. Once staff starts using 365 and get all their documents and info tied up in it how can they get out? Also whoever the sales guru was at Bytes Software Services, I hope they know a good realtor in the south of France to help them spend that huge commission check.

  14. CowHorseFrog

    Given how much time NHS staff will waste on pointless emails, iguess the gov will save millions because enuff of the public will give up and skip actual healthcare.

  15. CowHorseFrog

    Who makes a contract period for 34 months ?

    Why not 36 or 3 years ?

    Why not 34 months and 3 days ?

    1. Tzhx

      I’d guess so that the contract end lines up with the someone’s financial/reporting year.

      1. Anne Hunny Mouse

        Last contract expired at the end of March,

        They have been paying monthly for the existing provision since then.

  16. Peppix

    LibreOffice is free

    It was too easy to use a open source free of charge solution like OpenOffice?

    1. Anne Hunny Mouse

      Re: LibreOffice is free

      Problem is the integration with other apps.

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