UK government may draw down reliance on Microsoft Office

Cabinet official says it won't ditch Office entirely, but it may engage more online services like Google Docs.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

Microsoft Office might soon lose its position as the go-to platform for the UK government.

Speaking at an event on Wednesday centered on online services, the UK's Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said that the 200 million British pounds the government spent on Office since 2010 could be cut substantially if it moves to the open document format employed by services like Google Docs.

"I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software," Maude said, according to The Guardian, which earlier reported on the news. Maude went on to say that an "oligopoly" of software companies, including Microsoft, have dominated the government's purchasing, leaving free options out.

The news has prompted some to speculate that Office might be tossed aside in favor of free or open-source alternatives, impacting Microsoft in a potentially major way. However, Maude stopped short of saying that Office was on the chopping block, instead saying that having more options to choose from is a good idea.

Still, the writing appears to be on the wall: Office is under fire in the UK.