MICROSOFT reportedly threatened to move its research facilities out of the UK if the government went ahead with plans to promote open source standards.
The Conservative Party announced plans last year, which have since come into force, to move government departments to open source software in a bid to save money.
Cabinet Officer Francis Maude outlined plans at the time to shift the UK to the .odf Open Document Format and away from Microsoft's proprietary .doc and .docx formats.
Maude said: "The software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies. A tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace.
"I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software."
New reports have claimed that news of a switch to open source didn't go down well at Microsoft, which threatened to move its research facilities out of the country if the plans went ahead.
As reported at Bloomberg, Steve Hilton, who was the prime minister's director of strategy until 2012, revealed at an event that Microsoft began lobbying members of parliament after the Conservative Party proposed shifting government computer systems to open standards.
"Microsoft phoned Conservative MPs with Microsoft R&D facilities in their constituencies and said we will close them down in your constituencies if this goes through," Hilton said. "We just resisted. You have to be brave."
This isn't the first time Microsoft has moaned about the move. The firm warned in a blog post last year that the government moving to open source standards would have a negative impact on businesses.
"These decisions will likely impact you, either as a citizen of the UK, a UK business or a company doing or wanting to do business with government," Microsoft said.
"This move has the potential to impact businesses selling to government, who may be forced to comply.
"It also sets a worrying precedent because government is, in effect, refusing to support another internationally recognised open standard and may do so for other similar popular standards in the future, potentially impacting anyone who wishes to sell to government."
Microsoft had not responded to our request for comment at the time of publication. µ
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