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31 May 2009, 15:30

Open-source firms win partial victory over Microsoft in Switzerland

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The Swiss News Agency (SDA) reported on Thursday, 28 May, that the Swiss Federal Administrative Court had issued an immediately enforceable ruling ("Superprovisorische Verfügung") that stops the award of a large federal government order to Microsoft. The Swiss Federal Office for Construction and Logistics (BBL) had previously awarded an order to Microsoft for the extension of licences, maintenance and support worth 42 million Swiss francs, without putting it out to public tender. Many open-source firms – including the Linux suppliers Red Hat, Univention and Collax and the groupware specialists Zarafa and Open-Xchange – objected to this award procedure.

A regulation has been in force in Switzerland since 2004 that requires open-source software to be examined on the same basis as conventional proprietary products in procurement procedures at federal administrative level. Although, in principle, orders can be allocated directly without the issue of a public invitation to tender, there must be special reasons for doing so. However, according to the decision by the Federal Administrative Court the BBL may continue to obtain services from Microsoft that are necessary for the operation of federal information systems. The Swiss press agency said nothing has yet been formally announced.

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