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EU bodies plan upgrade to Windows 7 without public tender

Jennifer Baker | March 24, 2011
Due to time pressure, the European Commission makes moves to upgrade to Windows 7

But the Commission's plan to stick with Windows appears to be at odds with its own European Interoperability Framework, a set of guidelines for governments installing IT systems, which broadly supports the use of open specifications and warns of the danger of being locked in to one software vendor. The chair of the task force, Catherine Day, said that it was important that "decisions taken now do not lock the Commission into any technology providers for more than a few years."

DIGIT was also told that it should "inform the group of other mainstream IT supplier negotiated procedures where contracts are approaching their end date," said the minutes.

Many supporters of open standards, have been outraged by the Commission's action.

"Europe is in danger of rapidly becoming a laggard in this march towards open and fully interoperable computer systems. While some national and regional governments from around Europe have made impressive moves in the right direction, the European Commission remains wedded to a single, closed operating system and shows no signs of even considering an open alternative," said Paul Meller, spokesman for Open Forum Europe.

In what appears to be an effort to avoid such situations arising in the future, the Commission's Directorate General for the Information Society (DG INFSO) earlier this month put out a call for tenders to draw up a report on IT procurement. The report will provide the groundwork for a formal Commission communication due out by the end of the year. It will "provide guidance on how to use ICT standards in public procurement in order to help public authorities to make better use of standards to promote efficiency and reduce lock-in."

The minutes of the meeting indicate that members of the task force do not want to be faced with having to make a snap decision in the future and that it should be possible to plan ahead, well before licenses run out.

 

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