If you got a 20% discount off bottled water would you consider the saving compelling enough to wash you car with it? Most people wouldn't consider a discount on something you could otherwise obtain for free a saving. Apparently the Government thinks differently, as they talk about saving nine million dollars over the next three years after signing a new G2006 agreement with Microsoft.
Several operating systems can now be obtained at no charge, including Linux, BSD variants and Solaris. Open Source alternatives also exist in the application space, with FireFox, Thunderbird, Evolution, OpenOffice, Postgres, MySQL, Apache and many others now taking hold in the market.
Government Departments should now seriously consider adopting a platform independence policy in order to maximize its software procurement options. We do not advocate a "Only Open Source" policy, nor should we exclude Microsoft from the software landscape. However, we should not tolerate Government lock in to Windows. We should not tolerate secret agreements for millions of dollars. We are a Democracy after all; we should know where our tax dollars are going.