Norwegian government drops Microsoft software license

The Norwegian government will not renew its two-year software licensing program with Microsoft Corp., a government spokesman said Monday.

Norway’s Minister of Labor and Government Administration, Victor Norman, decided against renewing its Select 5.0 software licensing program, which expires Nov. 30, in order to encourage other software companies to compete in the public sector IT market, the spokesman said.

The Select software licensing program is designed for corporate, government and academic customers with mixed product and purchasing requirements. The Norwegian contract is available to public institutions at the national, state and local level with more than 400 workstations, the spokesman said. The public institutions can order products from the U.S. software company at a discount, but are not required to, he said.

In Norway, Microsoft has up to 95 percent of the government market for some types of applications, according to the spokesman.

The use of open-source software, such as the Linux operating system, could promote competition, the spokesman said.

By choosing not to renew the contract with Microsoft, “The government is sending a signal to other software companies that it is open to alternatives,” the spokesman said.

The Norwegian government is currently working on a new IT strategy for the public sector, according to the spokesman. It hopes to announce the new strategy in October or November, he said.

Norwegian government representatives view open-source software as a way to cut costs. Earlier in the year, Fred Arne Odegaard, assistant IT consultant with Norway’s Department for Trade and Industry, said open source “will certainly be an issue” in the government’s new software strategy because contracts with Microsoft “are getting more and more expensive.”