Moscow gives Microsoft Outlook the cold shoulder

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Bloomberg reports that Moscow city has undertook to replace Microsoft’s backend software with free alternatives, in response to President Vladimir Putin’s call for Russia’s authorities to reduce dependence on foreign technology and presumably to manage budgetary constraints.

Moscow city will replace Microsoft’s Exchange Server and Outlook on 6,000 computers with an e-mail system by state-run carrier Rostelecom PJSC, Artem Yermolaev, head of information technology for Moscow said today.

“We want the money of taxpayers and state-run firms to be primarily spent on local software,” Communications Minister Nikolay Nikiforov told reporters, producing a list of nearly 2,000 Russian software products that state-run companies should use instead of products from global vendors.

Beyond the first 6000 PCs, the project may expand to as many as 600,000 computers and servers, and may also consider replacing Windows and Office, Yermolaev said.

Russian Premiere Vladimir Putin is urging state entities and local companies to go domestic amid concerns over security and reliability related to political issues due to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. Moscow’s government has already switched Cisco Systems Inc. technology for city surveillance cameras to local software, Yermolaev said. State media company Rossiya Segodnya and Moscow’s regional government switched from Oracle database systems to open-code PostgreSQL software supported by local programmers, according to Digital Russia.

The loss to US companies are not trivial, with Russia having a $3 billion software market and government entities spending about 20 billion rubles ($295 million) a year on foreign software, according Nikiforov.

From 2017, government entities including the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, General Prosecutor’s Office and Audit Chamber “will be tightening their grip” on state institutions that aren’t switching to domestic alternatives, he said.

Bloomberg reports that Microsoft declined to comment.

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