Potential Favouritism Shown to Microsoft

The European Commission has made a decision to upgrade its 36,000 computers to Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system.

Nothing particularly spectacular about that you might think.  Most people in the world using computers regularly will be familiar with Windows and the staff at the Commission will no doubt be very comfortable using the system.  However, the contract that has gone to Microsoft for the upgrade was not put up for public tender.  No other operating system providers were given the opportunity to put forward a proposal for their product.  Imagine if this contract had been for the construction of a building or a security contract and only one company was even considered.  There would be legitimate cries of foul play and favouritism. 

Furthermore, the Commission has itself stated that it will not get ‘locked in’ to public procurement contracts for longer than a couple of years, but this contract with Microsoft will last at least four.

I have submitted a written question to the Commission that you can read below.  This contract will be worth a huge amount of money; money that has come from the pockets of EU citizens. I don’t think there is any corruption going on here, but I do think that the Commission must be more transparent about how it makes these decisions.  

Written Quesion:

The Commission has announced that it will be upgrading its 36,000 desktop computers to the operating system Windows 7.
This very large contract appears to have been awarded to Microsoft without any public tender, going against the normal Commission procedure. Also, the contract will lock the commission in to this particular operating system for the next four to five years, going against the guidelines it set itself about not being ‘locked in’ to any public procurement contract for more than one or two years.
Given this, could you please explain how this decision was reached and whether the procedure for such decisions can be made more transparent in the future?

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Potential Favouritism Shown to Microsoft

  1. Daniel Oxley

    This is yet another example of the EU’s ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude. They think everyone else should be tranparent and should put contracts to open tender but they are not willing to do any of this themselves.

    Leading by example is a concept which our unelected masters in Brussels seem to be incapable of grasping.

  2. You’re quite right to pursue this.

    It should be open tender, particularly in the light of Nokia’s recent decision to ditch Symbian, the only European Operating System manufacturer in favour of Windows.