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back to article HMRC hops back into bed with Microsoft, finds purse £10m lighter

IT reseller Computacenter has brokered an Enterprise Agreement (EA) between Microsoft and HMRC valued at roughly £10m. The agreement entitles Blighty's taxmen to volume discounts on Redmond gear, upgrades and more over the next three years. It is understood Computacenter will take a small cut for hooking up the two organisations …

COMMENTS

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Incoming!

Cue 20 posts from people who've successfully used it for their granny, pointing out how much money could be saved by switching to Ubuntu + LibreOffice.

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Trollface

Re: Incoming!

Cue 25 posts from people using Win 8 pointing out how touchscreen interface will help HMRC improve productivity over existing stellar performance on XP desktops. Oh, er wait....

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Silver badge

Re: Incoming!

My granny works for HMRC. So I think that makes my post valid.

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Re: Incoming!

@Chris Miller - Yeah, one could save on licensing but I am going to bet that HMRC doesn't really use vanilla Office (if they use that at all for doing your taxes; the UK taxes managed in Excel? *shudder*); it will have custom apps (probably Windows only) and add-ons for Office (Windows only).

Whilst it would be nice for HMRC to be out from under the yoke of MS, the savings from licensing etc. probably don't give a quick enough return over the re-implementation costs. I don't know, I don't have the figures. Picking any solution purely on dogma rather than prudent considerations is almost certainly going to cause one problems.

What, maybe, HMRC could threaten MS with is moving their back-end away from Windows. e.g. Samba 4 instead of Active Directory. Or CentOS rather than Windows Server (assuming they aren't using SQL Server, of course). HMRC could push this even further by still running Windows etc, but commissioning new applications/services that can be migrated from platform-to-platform (e.g. JBoss, Apache or whatever instead of IIS, Java, Mono, Python etc instead of .Net). In fact, I would strongly suggest that engaging new projects in such a manner is the correct decision, as it make future negotiations that much easier.

And thus, F/LOSS does its job. Maybe not directly, but it makes it harder for the monopoly incumbent to gouge the customer (and thus us, in this case).

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Unhappy

Re: Incoming!

surely we ALL work for HMRC?

well unless of course you are on mates rates with which ever party is in power ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Incoming!

Most organizations use a mix of Java Enterprise edition (JSP) and ASP.NET on Windows Server.

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Re: Incoming!

J2EE is (well...should be...) portable, ASP.NET isn't.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Incoming!

Well that depends on what you mean by portable. The Mono project is attempting to run ASP.NET on Linux.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Incoming!

The thing with moving your directory to SAMBA 4 would be the probably (I'm not sure, though) loss of support from MS for directory services, with 90k workstations this would be a big deal for a tiny %age of the overall cost of operating the estate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Incoming!

Cue fandroids saying they should use Android, since there is nothing else on the planet as good as that obviously.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Incoming!

Unless you use JNI.

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Re: Incoming!

By "portable" I mean you can take yer J2EE mega app running under JBoss on Windows and drop it on to JBoss on GNU/Linux and it will just work. Unless some ass-hat coder has made explicit assumptions about file-paths and other resources.

If have been that ass-hat coder.

(Sorry about that)

If you are a customer and you do not spec portability...then you are spec'ing "Please lock me into one specific vendor who can gouge me forever more."

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Anonymous Coward

Soooo....

..can the HMRC say they've made no money this year and therefore not pay Microsoft?

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FAIL

Seems somewhat hypocritical

Given MS's recent newsworthiness regarding paying bugger all taxes to the British purse.

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FAIL

So was using open source desktops considered AT ALL?

See this statement

"We will continue to open up government procurement, create a level playing field for open-source software and split large ICT projects into smaller components."

http://midtermreview.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/improving-public-services/government-transparency-and-information-technology/

Level playing field - I don't think so. I think they just rubber-stamped another decade of Microsoft lock-in rather than honestly looking at alternatives. Perhaps HMRC feels more at home with Microsoft as Windows is effectively a 'tax' on open source community (PC users).

Why not follow the Spanish example and save (a LOT) of money!

http://joinup.ec.europa.eu/news/extremadura-move-all-its-40000-desktops-open-source

Barclays is starting to get the message as well

http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/barclays-cloud-open-source-103349

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So was using open source desktops considered AT ALL?

Most organizations are happy to stick with their Windows XP desktops. If Microsoft abandons the OS and it totally breaks then organizations will consider Ubuntu & SUSE.

Libre Office is capable of opening legacy Word 97-2003 documents and the Internet uses the PDF format for documents.

A few organizations will struggle, the ones that have made extensive us of Visaul Basic macros.

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Meh

Window XP is EOL - besides Windows 7 is infinitely better than XP.

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Anonymous Coward

But Windows 7's interface differs from XP and the problem with XP is the amount of time people have used it for. There are non-technical users who have never used any other version of Windows. Asking them to move to Windows 7 or 8 would be like starting from scratch and learning to use a computer again.

So retraining fees need to be incorporated into any upgrade proposal.

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Anonymous Coward

If they stick to Windows they have retraining fees; yes.

If they move to something else, they have retraining fees and migration costs and (potentially) new hardware costs and hiring costs (if they need to bring in new skills quickly).

Switching to something else is never as easy as people think and the freetards seem to focus on the "saving" on licenses which are infinitesimal compared to all the other costs.

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Unhappy

(km123) This is about Government POLICY overriding a PREFERENCE for Windows

The whole point is that open source software MUST be considered as a possible option whether on desktop computers or servers. If you already have Windows then you HAVE to consider other options even if you eventually end up renewing the current contract.

Have you ever tried to buy a PC recently which was NOT preloaded with Windows? Only a handful of companies will do so in the UK at the moment. This is an ENFORCED MONOPOLY on the desktop and would not be allowed in any other sector and should have been investigated and BANNED by the monopolies commission long ago.

I suspect that no real attempt has been made to TRY to use anything other than Windows.

I am working in a commercial company, and typing this up on a PC running Ubuntu 12.04 (and yes I swap documents with Windows and Mac users). It is just as viable a platform as Windows in many cases. With desktop/laptop PCs being a dying platform, I suspect that their decision will end up costing them dear in the long run.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: (km123) This is about Government POLICY overriding a PREFERENCE for Windows

The German Foreign Office tried it and went back to Windows.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/02/22/germany_rejects_linux_in_favour_of_windows_xp/

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Re: (km123) This is about Government POLICY overriding a PREFERENCE for Windows

That German FO switch was more about politics (as there was a power shift in Germany) than practicalities from what I understand, especially given this from the story you link:

"All that despite McKinsey confirming in 2009 that the German Foreign Office had splurged less cash on its individual IT workspaces then any other federal authority in the country while running a Linux desktop shop."

Although understanding anything a government does is difficult at the best of times.

We can cite stories back and forth, but that doesn't change anything. Whilst people use MS only formats (e.g. Office Open XML*) and MS only code (i.e. anything that only runs on Windows); then MS have you by the balls. If organisations spec open standards and portability, they have a much better bargaining position and can keep their costs down (even if they ultimately remain on Windows).

*Before some Windtard chimes in, yes; I do know that in theory Office Open XML is an ISO standard and in theory an open standard. The actuality of that is, however, rather different (e.g. the "openness" only applies to a specific version of ooxml). The only true open standards IMO are those spec'd by OASIS (e.g. odf).

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Umm HMRC currently has less than 70,000 employees and are planning to cut another 10,000 before 2015.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jun/23/tax-revenue-tribunals-staff-billions

Why do they need a license agreement for 90,000 desktops

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Anonymous Coward

HMRC had 90,000 or thereabouts employees when the agreement was first signed. You might think that someone had stupidly rolled the numbers over without double-checking, but I couldn't possibly comment.

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