Red tape cut in umbrella agreement...The NHS is to standardise its software licensing deal with Microsoft under the umbrella of an enterprise agreement in an attempt to cut down on red tape. In the past, Microsoft has ordered extensions to current NHS software licence policy from local organisations on a subscription basis. However, under the new contract, upgrades and licences will be distributed by a single centrally managed transaction. The news marks the only time in the NHS' history that the entire organisation, from healthcare trusts to the Department of Health, has used the same version of Windows software. Michael Meakin, a spokesman for the North & Mid Hampshire Health Authority, said the deal will enable the NHS to reduce bureaucracy and administration overheads. In addition, he said it will help the organisation streamline its IT process as laid out in the government's Information for Health strategy. The NHS did not disclose how much money the licensing deal is expected to save it.