Moscow to Microsoft: We're ditching Outlook, Exchange on 600,000 machines

Putin's edict for Russian government authorities to buy local rather than foreign software appears to be taking effect.

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It seems the sun may be setting on Microsoft's relationship with the authorities in Moscow, with Exchange Server, Outlook, Windows, and Office all facing the exit.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Moscow is ditching Microsoft's email platforms for a homegrown alternative, in line with Russian president Vladimir Putin's call for local authorities to stop buying foreign tech.

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The Russian capital is set to replace Microsoft Exchange Server and Outlook on 6,000 computers with an office productivity suite called MyOffice developed by Russian vendor New Cloud Technologies, Bloomberg reports.

Moscow's move away from Microsoft follows a new government IT procurement law that started in January, requiring public authorities and state-owned corporations to first check a registry for similar locally-made products before buying foreign software.

Head of Moscow's IT Artem Yermolaev said the new homegrown email system could be rolled out to 600,000 computers and that Moscow may also replace Windows and Office after that.

Moscow's initial Outlook and Exchange migration will be carried out by state-run carrier Rostelecom, which has switched some of its systems from Oracle to the open-source database product PostgreSQL.

However, Russian paper Vedomosti reported in March that Russian organizations may find it to difficult to comply with the order since the country lacks competitive products for databases and operating systems. Bloomberg also reported earlier this year that three-quarters of the $3bn that Russia spends on software goes on imports.

In August, Rostelcom kicked off a major project to move egovernment services to PostgreSQL from Oracle to reduce the risk that state agencies face sanctions for relying on foreign licensing and software, according to Vedomisti.

In a similar vein to China's restrictions on Windows for government authorities, Putin has urged local organizations to buy domestic products for security reasons, attempting to prop up local developers. The policy follows heavy US trade sanctions targeting Russia's energy sector over its occupation of Crimea in the Ukraine.

"We want the money of taxpayers and state-run firms to be primarily spent on local software," Bloomberg quoted Russian communications minister Nikolay Nikiforov.

Nikiforov said government organizations spend about $300m on foreign software and that Russian regulators will be clamping down on state organizations that aren't switching to local products.

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