Paris offered Microsoft discount

The French capital is reported to have been offered up to 60 percent off the cost of its Microsoft licences

Microsoft has offered a 60 percent cut off the prices of its licences for three years to the city of Paris. It's a tactic that bore no fruit in Munich when the German city government opted for open-source software on 14,000 desktops earlier this month.

Will the software giant be more convincing in Paris and stop the French making the swap? Faced with the possibility of losing the French capital, Gates and chums have opted for the same tactic that they used in Bavaria when confronted with customers making eyes at Linux or OpenOffice: agreeing to take a knife to the cost of licences.

According to French daily Libération, in January, Microsoft made an offer to Philipped Schil, the Paris mayoral authorities' director of information technology and systems -- an offer cutting licence prices by around 60 percent for the local government's computers, which meant some 15,000 PCs. In financial terms, the bill for three years would drop from €13.27m to €5.65m.

The overhaul of the Paris administration's IT environment will cost about €160m and will be carried out as part of a three-year framework, from 2004 until 2007. Modernisation has been the order of the day since Bertrand Delanoë took political office in Paris. Delanoë was elected for the Socialist party at the head of a coalition with the Greens in March 2001.

The overhaul could well have prompted the city to look towards Munich, which, following a study from Unilog, decided in May 2003 to replace Windows and other Microsoft products with open-source software.

The Bavarian capital has just agreed on a migration calendar, which will last until 2008. Jens Mühlhaus, a representative of the Greens on the city council, said the decision wasn't taken solely for economic reasons -- strategic and political reasoning had also come into it.

Delanoë's services have also ordered a conversion study from the French Unilog and some of its representatives have been to Munich several times to study the Bavarian initiative.

The estimate seen by Libération was dated from January -- well before Paris went to Unilog France for a study into open source. Rumours of an even greater discount -- to the tune of 80 per cent -- were also circulating.

The IT section of the socialist party, Temps reels, has been loudly calling for open-source software and recently sent an open letter to the Mayor of Paris signed by several of the party's MPs.

When questioned by ZDNet France, the Paris council refused to confirm or deny the figures put forward by Libération

A spokesman said: "This won't be a political decision, however. The study ordered from Unilog is to help us determine the financial consequences and the timeframe and staff training of any eventual migration."

The results of the study will be made public "in the coming weeks" but the decision on whether to migrate or not "won't be necessarily immediate; there isn't a set calendar".