back to article NHS loses massive Microsoft licensing rebate

Software licensing in the National Health Service is about to get a lot more complicated, and a lot more expensive. Back in 2004 the Office of Government Commerce signed a massive deal with Microsoft to provide all desktop software within the NHS. This followed some very high-level lobbying from both Bill Gates and Steve …

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Happy

Open Office.

Free.

Sorted.

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FAIL

Well shit the bed...

Who'd have known the only software you need to run a national health service is a basic office suite?

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Gates Horns

Hmm...

Not working in the NHS I'm guessing here... I'd be pretty sure that it's not as easy as switching to OpenOffice. I bet there is a fair whack of software which runs on Windows but totally unrelated to MS Office, and then maybe some other software which is tied into MS Office.

I do wonder though if they should have made the switch, maybe it's about time to seriously consider making the switch so they aren't tied into Microsoft solutions (which could well give Microsoft the upper hand to charge what they want in future).

I wouldn't be surprised though if they come up with a new agreement, maybe Microsoft will 'discount' the software my a couple of million just to lock the NHS in for another few years.

Rob

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A nurse will be along in a day or two to change the sheets.

I'm sure there are loads of PCs running Office in the NHS. Enough for a switch to Open Office to result in a useful saving.

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Anonymous Coward

And in reality...

"The bottom line is that the NHS uses £270m of Microsoft software and pays less than £65m per year for it. For the next three years the cost would have risen to £85m as the NHS deploys more and more technology while the National Programme rolls out."

Or taken out of this spin...

The NHS uses £270m of (overpriced) Microsoft software and has paid £65m per year for it for the last 6 years. The bean counters have just figured out the maths in this and would like to stop paying.

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FAIL

PR-speak

"The bottom line is that the NHS uses £270m of Microsoft software and pays less than £65m per year for it."

PR-speak for "The NHS is paying nearly the full retail price for Microsoft software spread over software lifecycles but managed to sell it to the last government as a good deal, now they're wanting the same level of deals we give to large commercial companies and we're refusing to play ball."

Probably get a better deal by going down PC World.

AC because I think my paymasters would be a bit annoyed at that.

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Is anyone surprised?

Thanks to the gullibility of some tosser in NHS management we'll all be paying Microsoft a lot more money over the next few years.

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Flame

Re: Is anyone surprised?

The smart move is to actually take control of your own infrastructure, not to let some vendor dictate what you use and how much tax they will be extracting from you for the privilege of using it, all while you don't have any option of walking away from their little "deal".

The "tossers" (and not just in the public sector - there are big corporate competitors of Microsoft who actually rely on Microsoft to run their infrastructure, believe it or not) are the ones who fail to do their job of actually planning, administering and *controlling* the infrastructure that keeps critical assets of society running.

Microsoft isn't a department in the UK public sector. It shouldn't be collecting what is effectively a tax from UK citizens and calling the shots over UK infrastructure. That's what you have when some corrupt civil servants delegate all their responsibilities to Microsoft (while presumably getting paid a fat salary, even before any kickbacks are added on).

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NB
Flame

rage much?

And this is why the NHS should have booted MS off its desktops years ago. They could have saved millions and millions of £ by switching to linux and investing in good in house support teams. Typical management fail: "oh no we're unfamiliar with that ZOMGWTFBBQ!!!, We'll just continue to waste public money of substandard software". Same reason that most of the NHS' computers are still running IE6, total lack of leadership and an unwillingness to do what is right.

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Seriously why do you guys...

... continue to post when you can't even understand that enterpise desktops are more than office and windows. Sure it may be possible to migrate everything, but stop pretending it would be either cheap or easy (or all open source).

I'm sorry sir, I'd love to look at your CT scan, but unfortunately a penguin replaced my computer and now I can't view them anymore ...

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Anonymous Coward

eh?

WTF? Wasnt' the whole point moving forward that the NHS would buy as a single large unit so to cut costs.

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Silver badge

Who pulled the plug?

Its not quite clear in the article who actually pulled the plug on the deal? Did Microsoft pull out of the deal or was this an action on the part of the NHS?

The comment from the Microsoft spokesman seems to hint that Microsoft pulled the plug due to the money they were losing, but the NHS spokesman seems to be implying that the decision was there's in order to pass the decision back to the local Trusts.

Can you clarify this for us John? Or are both sides keeping quiet on the specifics?

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Who'll blink first?

Seems like a reasonable assumption that MS were sick of getting so little cash and tried to up the price somewhat, and the NHS thought the new price was too steep. Negotiations ensued, but the two sides couldn't reach a figure they both agreed on. Now they're both waiting it out and hoping the other side blinks first.

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Silver badge

Ending in Tears

Isn't this what we were saying at the time, that it was just a means to draw the NHS in to make it ever harder for them to move to an alternative solution? Time to bite the bullet, Mr Lansley, and ditch MS for a cheaper alternative. Yes, it will hurt short-term, but the savings will come over the following years.

Plus we'd see less headlines about various bits of the NHS being brought down by a virus or leaking data via a compromised machine (can't do much about the CD on the train though).

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Yes, you can

"(can't do much about the CD on the train though)."

Yes, you can. Repeated and brutal beatings for offenders until anyone given a cd full of data breaks down in tears at the potential consequences.

Also, a law change that gives people who have had their data lost the opportunity to give the loser a free punt to the nuts (or female equivalent)

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WTF?

What a waste

This is insane. I have worked in the NHS for 10 years. The only MS software we ever use is Word and Powerpoint. All diagnostic imaging and test results are accessed via a web browser interface, or by logging into a remote UNIX system with a terminal emulator.

On top of that, the computers we have to use are fitted with the bare minimum RAM, so even opening a browser window causes frantic HD chugging and a 3 minute wait.

I pray for the day we can all move to Ubuntu & Open Office, I really do.

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Anonymous Coward

transition costs?

"Yes, it will hurt short-term, but the savings will come over the following years"

We don't have spare cash in the system at the moment. And it won't be cheap to make the transition.

Swap a haulage company from MS to open source. Worst that happens is some loads don't get delivered. Move a GP surgery to open source without a cast-iron plan and ......

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Coat

Re: What a waste

"The only MS software we ever use is Word and Powerpoint."

Unless your department is using Macs, I'll suggest there's more MS software under the hood...

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But...

...MS Exchange. Remember the fiasco over nhs.net? A huge amount of money spent on a customised web mail solution, and finally all thrown away when Exchange was bought in instead.

NHS mail is so crap that I use it as little as possible, and instead give people an off-NHS address. I use Squirrelmail/sendmail/Centos for my own webmail. Yes, it's very amateurish, but I think I prefer it to the vastly over-bloated NHS mail.

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Linux

What a wast-Mk2

AC,@15 July 2010 12.42 GMT,

Do you still know any Bean Counters in the NHS?

If so , advise them on Linux/Ubuntu , and that millions can be saved .

They are good at counting beans but the poor sods are obviously not clued up about computers.

It will take some time to get them to understand about Open Source and freedom to innovate (really innovate and not copy).

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MS dealers innit

Ah, the old get 'em hooked then jack up the price business model...

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FAIL

Training.

... and I thought geeks could do sums.

OK.

Over 1.5 million people are employed by the NHS. Cost per person: less than £10 per person per year. Not bad really. Frankly, the electricity to power their computers is going to cost more than that.

Cost of retraining 1.5 million people to use a different OS, different productivity suite etc. at (let's be really tight, lets assume the training is REALLY cheap, £50 a head and all they have to pay people's time, also lets say that the average wage in the NHS is only £100 a day and it only takes joe schmoe 1 day to learn a different OS and a different productivity suite) £150 a head:

£225 million.

Yeah, so: Open office. Sorted? Nah, not really.

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OSC
FAIL

Surely you can do better than that?

They are all using computers? I don't think so

No training costs with an "upgrade"? Of course not, how silly

Downtime due to cornflicker? No problem

Longer hardware refresh cycles? who wants that?

cont'd p94

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Coat

Level playing field

NHS will spent more than that to move to Office2007, with it's extremely gay, confusing ribbon interface. At least OpenOffice is closer to Office2003 at this point, so the learning curve isn't as steep.

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Anonymous Coward

These sums don't work

because most of them don't even have computers. Many of those that do, don't use a productivity suite.

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Anonymous Coward

strangely enough

The NHS does do a little more than just type documents. They have all these fancy machines, that cost millions of pounds, doing tests to find out what's wrong with you.

Most of those will only speak to windows computers, 3.11 in some cases! Then you have all the patient records systems etc, on the custom built software (windows based, naturally).

Changing what version of office people use is negligible in comparison to getting all the diagnostic machines, made by competing vendors of course, to speak to each other at the best of times, nevermind doing an OS migration!

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Anonymous Coward

no problem - just keep on using the software they've got

Unless the NHS has got suckered into some subscription deal, there is *no problem* - do what the rest of us do and keep on using your current licenses. Zero additional licensing cost, zero training, zero upgrade churn. And if they had bought more licenses than they had computers, zero additional cost for deploying more machines.

However, the odds are that being an arm of government it *is* a subscription deal.

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RE: Training.

Training? My dear old mom received some IT training for Windows 98 and Office back in the day -- she's gone on to use Kubuntu and Windows7 with Open Office without any additional training, not even "IT Support" from me. Office suites might change where they put things but people who use them tend to, in my experience, find where those things are as and when they need them. So, apart from the odd bit of confusion, I can't see much Office training being needed.

Then you have any browser-based forms and applications -- provided they'll work in Firefox or Chrome or whatever then it doesn't matter which OS the users of these are on because they never need to touch the OS. Same goes for anything terminal based -- will work through any old terminal client.

So, training going to Linux should be minimal fro a lot of organisations -- it's only those installing and configuring the software who need to know the differences. Anyone else should never touch the OS anyhow.

I'd say the only expensive barrier is replacing any proprietary or bespoke systems which rely on Windows -- in fact, that may make it cheaper to stay with Windows even under very expensive licenses.

There's an interesting, if old, article about Ernie Ball moving to Linux which seems to agree with my assessment also.

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WTF?

Training?

I've seen several companies upgrade to different MS versions and offer no retraining whatsoever, and the jump from ms 2003 to ms 2007 is much bigger than going to openoffice.

Employees are generally expected to get on with it.

You think they'll complain? Sure they will, but they will complain whatever you do and noone will care anyway. At the end of the day, employees will use what their employer gives them.

I've seen companies where people were using linux or mac and their staff got on just fine with them, and their overall level of complaint seems to be lower than windows based companies...

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Linux

simple choice for employees

"Our source said the only alternative - a move to open source software - was unlikely to overcome reluctance from staff to move to less familiar systems."

give them a simple choice... adapt or quit...

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Stop

Not as simple as just switching to a different OS

You've missed a big point in the fact that a lot of applications used within the NHS have been designed specifically for Internet Explorer and a lot of them do not function correctly with other browsers.

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Silver badge

Not just Internet Explorer...

But most likely the wonderful, much loved IE6. Sounds like an ideal time and an ideal excuse to finally ditch it and have the apps written properly.

Oh wait, I forgot. We're broke.

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FAIL

Applications ?

Forget Internet Explorer and browsers, that's the easy bit.

Almost every single application is developed to run on MS Windows. FACT. Companies, governments, charities, etc all run MS Windows as it is the ONLY way they can run the applications they need.

Yes, yes, there are people out there developing for Mac, Linux, Amiga, NeXT, ZOS, etc, but those are NICHE markets and home developers.

Until the world stops using MS Windows on 90% of the machines the situation won't change.

And as a taxpayer and shareholder, I'm not happy risking the money required to pay for the redevelopment of all the applications my company uses throughout the business. Moderate sized business with 500 apps in the portfolio.

I'm not defending the MS position - just pointing out fact.

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Grenade

bullet

bite

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FAIL

Tool, thats part of the FUD

http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2010/06/16/june-2010-web-server-survey.html

70% of active webservers run a *nix of some sort only 18% are M$ not exactly a niche market or home developers, also the list of major companies and government orgs that are switching to linux is ever growing.

The only reason Companies, Governmenst and charities run M$ is because tools like you tell them linux can't run the software they need which is downright bollocks. There are some specialist apps that might need windows but most of them can be run via VM and most companies just need a word processor, email and spreadsheet all of them run perfectly and more securely than on windoze. So take your so called facts and shove them where the sun don't shine

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WTF?

Portability

These days, it's really pretty simple to write your application to be independent of the end-user's operating system, particularly when the local machine is just used as an interface to a networked, server-based system.

And if you think modern Linux development is just home-based, you really ought to get out more.

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Congratulations NHS

You have just been shafted by Microsoft. Welcome to the fantastic experience as had by most.

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Silver badge

Oh! The joy of lock in

This is a superb illustration of why you adopt multi platform, well documented/specificfied solutions; use standard file formats and protocols of which there are several implementations. When your current provider hikes the price you can threaten to walk - and they know that you can do it.

What a surprise that MS wants more money; they priced low to get the NHS enmeshed and raise the price when the know that they cannot move away quickly.

This is more about Open Standards than Open Source -- although Open Source fits the bill admirably.

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Linux

Move to opensource will save money in the long run

The best (and probably only good) thing about the new government is that they are seriously considering a move top Linux/opensource.

Yes you will need retraining, yes software will need to be re-written . - all possible and will save OUR money in the long run - and will stop funding a hideous American company with MY tax dollars ...

The main issue with an Monopoly is vendor lock in ......... If they didn't have a monopoly in the first place the NHS may have been more sensible,,

Do the NHS need the latest version of Microsoft desktop software ??? (are they playing games ?)

One final thing is that a move to Linux may save lives due to the lack of downtime in systems and will stop hospitals being grounded by some windows virus (aids)

i.e:-

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/18/conficker_nhs/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/18/london_hospital_malware_shutdown/

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Thumb Up

You may also recall the wonderful spokeslogic

alleging no clinical disruption caused by the computing disruption, leaving hanging the question as to why they were using computers in the first place.

As door stops to get the stretchers through quicker?

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Headmaster

@ Yossarianuk

Quote - "and will stop funding a hideous American company with MY tax dollars ."

Can anyone see the irony? Your tax dollars?

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Gates Horns

Drug dealers

Street dealers give the first hit for free, then once your hooked start to charge.

The best dealers charge for the first hit then put the price up once you can't stop.

Remind you of anything?

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JDX
Gold badge
Linux

Here come the OS zealots...

I'm sure it'll be a fair and objective discussion.

However: Java Desktop.... LOL

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WTF?

Java Desktop

Yes, it's a product formally from Sun, now from Oracle. I believe it used to be GNU/Linux based but it's now based on Oracle. I believe it incorporates a Gnome desktop (configured to work pretty much like Windows), StarOffice, Mozilla Firefox, Evolution (which looks similar to Outlook), and Java.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Java_Desktop_System

Rob

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Flame

Hmmmm

I really wish the NHS was in a position to be able to actually pull the plug on these fuckers, see how quickly they come back to the table.

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FAIL

Re: Hmmmm

Did you even read the article?

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Troll

Re: Hmmmm

Yes I did. Your point?

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Flame

RE:Hmmmmmmmm

I think Captain Save-a-ho was referring to the sentence:

"Our source said the only alternative - a move to open source software - was unlikely to overcome reluctance from staff to move to less familiar systems."

Which part of this sentence do you not understand?

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plan?

given Dave's great new plan to replace 150 managing bodies with 500 new ones I doubt there'll be any great new deals coming along in the future.

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I know what

my employer would say if I showed "reluctance to move to less familiar systems". There are a lot of people on the unemployment register who would love to use open source software in the NHS office.

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