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Norway snubs exclusive Microsoft deals

The government in Oslo is canceling a restrictive contract with the company regarding software for the computers in its public offices, according to reports.

The Norwegian government apparently has canceled an exclusive contract with Microsoft to provide software for the computers in its public offices.

The story, reported by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, quotes Victor D. Norman, the country's minister of Labor and Government Administration, as saying the move will provide better access to cheaper and higher quality software, according to a "rough translation" of the news article on the Web site.

"We think that the Microsoft agreement in reality has given Microsoft a monopoly in the area where we are better served by introducing competition," Norman is quoted as saying.

The move is being trumpeted by enthusiasts of rival operating systems such as Linux and Apple Computer's Macintosh. Sites such as DesktopLinux, and Mac Observer praised the new policy.

Linux supporters in particular have pushed the open-source operating system as a cheaper and more stable alternative to Windows in countries including Mexico and Brazil, prompting Microsoft to aggressively counter such claims. Some countries have even considered legislation that would require public entities to use open-source software unless proprietary software is the only option available.

However, Linux has been slow to take hold on the desktop, partly because it's not as familiar to most consumers as Windows, which runs on more than 90 percent of desktop machines.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Norwegian contract.