Windows 7 to Score Big with Surprise EU Decision

Dennis Faas's picture

The European Union (EU) has come under harsh criticism of late for upgrading its computer networks to Windows 7 without first considering other operating systems.

It's just emerged that at a "secret meeting" last December, the European Commission (which is the administrative wing of the EU, responsible for applying the laws produced by elected politicians) decided to upgrade computers across the European political system to run Windows 7. (Source:

Controversial Decision Gives MS Big Boost

The controversial element of the decision was that it was made without putting the project out to tender, a process that wouldn't necessarily mean picking the cheapest option but would mean that various possibilities had to be examined.

The decision would be a major win for Microsoft, not only in the significance of getting the backing of a major institution, but in the sheer number of computers involved: an estimated 36,000. If the move inspires individual national governments to follow suit, it would be an even bigger deal; the various governments of the EU are estimated to make up a combined 19 per cent of all software purchasing across the member companies.

EU 'Locked In' With Windows

The choice of upgrade was something of a pressing issue as not only was the EU still using Windows XP and even Windows 2000, but its license with Microsoft is set to expire in May. It appears the officials that made the decision opted to go straight for the upgrade without a tendering process largely because time was running out.

Aside from the lack of transparency, the main point of contention over the decision is that the upgrade apparently "locks in" the EU to using Windows for the next four years or more, a level commitment that normally European political institutions are expected to avoid making. (Source:

The upgrade from vastly outdated systems will at least mean it's possible for EU institutions to run the latest edition of Internet Explorer (IE) rather than being forced to stick with older versions, most notably IE6 -- which is now so old that even Microsoft urges users to upgrade for the sake of security.

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