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desktop Linux matures, it's becoming more practical for government
and business use. Government are looking to Linux to save money
and as a more secure platform with lower support headaches because
it's immune to the plague of Microsoft Window viruses, spyware
and trojan horses. Some are likely to move to "dual source"
strategies, which require splitting the contract between
at least two vendors so that they can avoid getting locked
into one high-priced vendor and still maintain their bargaining
At the same time, Microsoft knows these are hugely
lucrative deals and is trying to secretly push
through multi-year deals to lock these governments in behind the scenes.
Below is one such saga playing out in the Netherlands. Microsoft tried
to push through a $156 million, 5-year contract. But their plan was
blown when the secret bid leaked out. Linspire submitted a preliminary
bid, which was about $6 million - or a $150 million dollar savings from
the Microsoft bid. The following is an open letter to the
Prime-Minister of the Netherlands showing what Linux has to offer.
Ministerie van Algemene Zaken
2500 EA Den Haag
Dear Prime-Minister Balkenende,
It was recently brought to my attention that a bid has
been circulating for software for 260,000 desktops for the Dutch government. I wanted to express Linspire's eagerness to
provide a complete and in-depth proposal for the software required for
these machines. I believe we have the ability to save you a substantial
amount of money
yet deliver high-quality products and services.
First, here is some background on Linspire: We are a software company focusing
on providing full-featured and easy-to-use Linux software for desktop
and laptop computers. We are based in the United States where we have
seen solid success. Just this week, we launched a laptop series with the
world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, starting at just 375 euros.
We also sell outside the United States.
have been selling our product in the Netherlands for nearly two years
via well-known distributors like Mensys BV. If you
look at our global user map at Lraiser.com you will see a strong
cluster of users from Netherlands, which is a testimony to the
popularity of our software in your country. In
fact, the first book ever on Linspire was published in Dutch,
which illustrates the interest in our products. As CEO of Linspire, I have personally
visited the Netherlands to better understand that market, and I am personally committed to this region.
As I understand it, there is an open-bid process for a 260,000
desktop deployment over a 5-year period. First, let me commend you for
an open bidding process. Even if you don't select Linspire, competition
will help you secure the best possible value with your tax dollars.
Second, let me commend you for considering open source/Linux options.
These technologies have greatly advanced over the last few years and
many people are attracted to Linux's security, affordability and
stability, and Linspire has worked very hard to also make Linux
I was not able to secure the precise requirements of the proposal, but
I can provide you with a rough estimate that may be valuable for broad
comparison purposes. For a 260,000 seat deployment we would charge
approximately 4.55 euros per year per machine over the 5 year period.
This would provide you with complete operating system licenses with
updates, essential business software such as an office suite, complete
access to our 1,900-title software library for every computer, and customization to your specific needs on-site.
The total cost of our proposal would be 5,915,000 euros. My sources
have revealed that Microsoft has submitted a formal proposal of
156,000,000 euros -- an estimate of 150,000,000 euros more than Linspire's
proposal. I want to stress that even with the dramatic cost
difference, you will receive a comparable product and we believe better
service from Linspire. Let me explain why. First, because we are
Linux-based, we are able to produce a high-quality product at a
substantially lower cost and are able to pass those savings to you.
Second, this would be a significant contract for our company, which
would have the attention of our entire organization from myself on
down. Because it is based on Linux, the Linspire operating system is
free from the normal security threats found on most PCs, including
viruses, hackers, and spies. Finally, the open source nature of our
product would ensure that
you would not be locked into our product line or support only from our
company. You would be guaranteed the ability to audit the code yourself
or engage a wide array of companies familiar with Linux to assist with
your computing needs.
There are several corporations that are in the process of
deploying Linspire that we would be able to provide as references. In
addition, we can provide names of satisfied users, businesses and home
users who are using Linspire on a daily basis in the Netherlands.
I would like to follow up this very informal proposal with an official
proposal. I look forward to examining closer the needs of Dutch govern to tailor
a proposal that is comprehensive and cost-effective.