Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tamil Nadu (India) may shut door on Microsoft

Source: .

Note: 1 Crore = 10 million, 10 lakh = 1 million, 1$ = Rs.45(approx)

Chennai, Dec. 31: The Tamil Nadu government, which is on a fast-track pushing the state to the top in the Indian IT sector, has almost shut its door on the software giant, Microsoft, preferring the Open Source Systems (OSS) for reasons of costs and easy migrating capabilities.

“Initially, 99 per cent of government systems have been running on Microsoft systems but then 2007 will be a watershed year for the state IT sector. We are fast migrating to Linux operating systems which are so much cheaper and can be operated at low cost, besides offering continuous updates and freedom from viruses,” says Mr C. Umashankar, managing director of state-owned ELCOT, vested with the responsibility of overseeing such ambitious government projects as e-governance, enumerating the beneficiaries of the free TV scheme, family ration cards and the free sari-dhoti distribution.

“We have already dispatched 6,500 Linux systems to village panchayats and another 6,100 Acer desktop systems with Suse Linux operating systems are on their way. We are procuring 20,000 desktop systems for schools, which will run only on Suse Linux. Remaining 30 desktop systems will also migrate as and when the new machines arrive,” Mr Umashankar told this newspaper.
He said all the ELCOT servers were on Redhat Linus and the government IT company’s 28-seater software development wing was fully on Suse Linux.

“We will train over 30,000 government officials in Linux Operating Systems and Open Office. A contract has been already finalised with the government departments and we have set up a Linux support centre with two Linux-certified professionals to assist the state officers. This number will go up to ten or more in 2007, which will be a path-breaking year for government on migration to Linux Operating System,” Mr Umashankar said. “India can live without Microsoft packages and even progress but Microsoft will find it tough without a huge country like India buying their software packages,” he said.

He said a top official from Microsoft India had met him twice to convince him to continue with MS products. The official offered the XP operating system for about Rs.7000 while he quoted Rs.500. “I explained to her that for a mere Rs.300, I could get the entire operating system, office productivity software and a wide range of utility tools, such as DVD/CD writing software, database software, multimedia editing software, vector map-drawing software plus a whole range of software development tools. Also, I have the option of downloading this entire package in DVD media and not even pay that Rs.300, which is the media cost and not the software charges,” said the ELCOT chief, an IT expert himself besides being a senior IAS bureaucrat.

He said he had also pointed out to the Microsoft official that MS Office did not allow saving of documents in open document format. While it was possible to open all MS Office files using, the vice versa cannot be done. “I asked her why ELCOT should buy such an inferior product when is available free of cost for Windows as well as Linux.

She said Microsoft are working on open XML format,” he added. Mr Umashankar said he had written to state finance secretary enumerating the “huge financial and working advantages” of shifting to Open Source Environment in all government departments. “I have been receiving great support from all the senior IAS officers here, from the chief secretary downwards. It is very encouraging.

ELCOT is not the loser when Microsoft did not accept our price of Rs.500; on the other hand, Microsoft loses out due to our big volumes involved,” he said.
“There is a gross misconception among the governments and officials that if they migrate to Open Source platform, Microsoft would get angry and the entire software industry could come to a grinding halt. This is totally misplaced fear,” Mr Umashankar said.

“Within the next five years, it is going to be the IT services which would dominate the revenue share of the IT companies, because more and more users, governments and the corporate sector have started migrating to OS software, thus removing the scope for more revenues from products. It is time that the users understood this scenario and start saving their precious revenues,” Mr Umashankar said.

Talking of the changes happening in this direction, he said he had ordered 43 rack servers for ELCOT to host various government applications. “All the applications are to run under OS software. I would have paid Rs.20 lakh per server if I had adopted proprietary software but now I have saved over Rs.8 crore from this one transaction.

We intend to procure 1000 servers in the next two years. Imagine the amount of savings we are getting out of this,” the ELCOT chief said. “In my view, a state government of TN magnitude would be able to save Rs 200-500 crores every year, when the National e-governance action plan gets implemented,” he said, adding that school children too could get the benefit of “more robust, secure and economical Open Source software for their work,” he added. “Today, there is more demand for OSS trained engineers. I require at least 500 trainers to train 30,000 state officials across Tamil Nadu in the next six months.


bitswapper said...

While its true that linux does not suffer from the architectural flaws that have historically made Microsoft's operating systems so chronically vulnerable, any linux system must still be set up and configured in a secure, sane manner to be secure from malware. To assume that all OSS software is free of viruses by default is not a good security posture.

While someone operating a linux desktop, for example, may not be able to infect the system files with a virus, they can still suffer harm to their own files. And, as always, user awareness (don't open that attachment unless you at least know who sent it, for example) is very important as well.

उन्मुक्त said...

I hope this will set an example for other States to follow.

GerardM said...

There was a fine article the other day where a Medical doctor explained that the very security that Vista insist on for DVD content is what makes it unreliable for medical applications.

Safe by design.

Thank you very much,

Queenslander said...

Your comments are so far off the mark I have to wonder if you are deliberately spreading FUD or just misinformed.

Point 1.
I have watched several nervous users Suse Linux recently, which Tamil Nadu will be using, on their systems and I can assure you that the Suse default installation is very secure - and that any user that can install Windows will find Suse easier to install and setup.

Point 2.
Your "don't open that attachment" comment suggests that this could be a way for Viruses etc. to enter a Linux system.
That is impossible - clicking on an attachment in any Linux email program will result in the attachment being opened by the appropriate program, but cannot run an executable file. Unlike Windows, executable files in Linux are not executable because of their file extension, but because of their executable attribute - which is always set to non-executable for incoming attachments.
Thus clicking on greeting.gif.exe won't install a trojan in Linux, but would in Windows.

chronoss said...

while i agree it is a bit of a victory for linux it is not in one respect they mention using SuSe why not mandriva for your desktops?
I can say ive tried them all and it has the most umf when it comes to desktops and there 2gb linux on a desktop is cool the powerpacks arent free as in beer but are so low cost that do i care no i pay for them. RMS i think might agree that that distro gives some vendors there ability to remain proprietary yet get into the open source ina cheaper way for the customer.
the OS now looks quick slick and as far as im concerned the fact that india the worlds largest dmeocracy has chosen linux should be a wake up call.

Andrew said...


I don't know how much R.500 is, but seeing as it is a factor 10 lower than the petrified Microsoft offer, it can't be much. It's a goot point though, when you are competing against free and open software, the cost of the closed software should be ... comparable?

Does SuSE or Ubuntu or Mandriva make a difference? Possibly, but I suspect that this gentleman's enterprise size mandates a lot of support for which Novell is the largest game in town.

What a way for Microsoft and Linux to start 2007! MS person should have accepted the offer, as 'Pretty Woman' said to the shop assistant, "Big mistake!"

chitragupta said...

CIO study shows thatLinux would grow by 40 percent from 2007-2009, and would then accelerate to grow by 80 percent from 2009-2011. I think it is good start from TN India..

Shankar Ganesh said...

Linux Rocks!

Mail said...

Good to know of a Government official being aware of OSS. Debate of SuSE over Mandriva/Ubuntu etc. etc. can continue.. but the important point is .. a start has been made. One thing to take note is of the SuSE - Novell - Microsoft connection. I am sure MS is gonna not give in so easily in Tamil Nadu - maybe a back door entry with the widespread use of SuSE now - MS may have some aces up their sleeve - through the Novell - SuSE connect.

To be on the safer side - why not use Ubuntu - which as on date has long term commitments to OSS - or govenment of India can set up - through their reportedly excellent IT talent - a home grown Linux distribution customised for the millions of users in the government and education sector!!

markandsweep said...

siphoning tax payers money into an extremely expensive product for Rs7000 is really ridiculous.
I think this is a really wise decision but remember lobbying has some influence and never underestimate these factors. Let us see how it goes. I wouldn't say that MS office is an inferior product that is not true.
At the same INDIA has lots of work force to maintain the software products they use, if they want it they can do it. KDE/GNOME is as good as windows and in some aspects does exceed windows. If all applications become web based these problems will just vanish.

dbgeek said...

It really doesn't matter whether they use mandriva, suse or Ubuntu. What matters if they are using a software which lets people practice their basic freedom.

Yes 500 Rs is still a lot of money for the poor people. More than 10 days salary for many people. How many of you will spend 500 dollars for just windows..?

Kudos to Tamilnadu Goverment. It need not be a bed of roses for the first few months . But there is a definite future ahead.

bitswapper said...


While you are correct on a point by point basis, its still not the best idea to assume that all OSS is completely free of security concerns. Being more secure than windows is like shooting fish in a barrel. However, reasonable security postures are still advisable, and end user awareness is always good.

They will be more secure than windows, but still need to keep security in mind as a good general practice (which if they are switching to linux due to security is sounds as though they are). One of the most pernicious shortcomings of the 'windows way' of doing things is to put convenience before functional security. Linux users/admins shouldn't do the same.

நற்கீரன் said...

Certainly a good news. But, Suse edition is sponsored by Novel, which is a partner with the MicroSoft. So, carefully selecting the edition is important as well. Some Linux editions fully support Tamil, while others do not to the full extent.

நற்கீரன் said...

//To be on the safer side - why not use Ubuntu - which as on date has long term commitments to OSS - or govenment of India can set up - through their reportedly excellent IT talent - a home grown Linux distribution customised for the millions of users in the government and education sector!!//

I agree. There is Tamil Version CD released in Sri Lanka. All related information is avilable in Tamil Wikipedia.

I suspect a Suse-Novel-MS connection. Because, if support is the concern, RedHat may be another option. It was part of the Tamil "zh" Project.

Gerard said...

It may well be the cynic in me - but something in me says that this is just political posturing to get a big Microsoft discount. I can't believe that any politician in India is interested in saving documents in ODF. I don't even think any politician in India cares about standards of any kind - open or closed. If you check, most government departments work with Microsoft Word document formats. Most do not even use PDF - an open standard - for non-modifiable document transmission.

OSS adoption is driven by corporates with the requisite skill and the need for technology that comes without any Vendor lock-in.

And indeed, that is how it should be.

As long as people do not understand the dangers of Vendor lock-in, they are most welcome to pay the price for it.

When they do understand the dangers, they will instantly begin evaluating open, standard compliant alternatives.

Anil said...

It is very obvious that such an effort is cost effective as well as very beneficial in long term. But I have very serious doubts it will go as far as predicted. The reason: someone from Microsoft or US government is going to "take care" of this by bribing someone on the top of the ladder in to the whole picture. Face it, Microsoft is going to loose a huge market and worse, Tamil Nadu can set a bad example for the company in one of the fastest growing market. I am keeping my fingers crossed and see what happens next.

Jeremy said...

I woul like to point out that while this is a good initiative, we see that this bloke is going to deploy 1000 servers and for whatever reason I hear no mention of virtualization. If this bloke was really half as intelligent as he is playing his comments out to be, he would further his cause by lowering his annual hardware leasing & IT Operations budget through the use of virtualization.

Cost savings upfront does not always mean a lower annualized budgt. He also has not mentioned the budgetary estimates for the trainers and the training/downtime cost factors.

So in the end, have they really saved that much?

Thomas said...

I am so glad to see someone putting their collective finger in the Microsoft Eye for this and actually saving money. I would also suggest that they blog-poster read the various postings at the following blog that has actually gone through a fairly large-scale change from Micro$oft to Linux:
The blogger for this had to go through the pain of uninstalling Microshit and the joy of converting all the terminals over to Linux. Just read the posts and you will understand how insidious Microscrubs are.

Swapnil said...

Heartiest congratulations to each and all involved with making the decision to migrate to Linux... I am more than impressed with the fact that the government officials are becoming more tech savvy and aware... Let this move be an example for other states and organizations too...

Chris said...

MS domination in the IT arena is obsurd. Its time to put a stop to the pointy clicky mentality and open your mind to new dimensions.

On Demand said...

Interesting....well....lok out Microsoft. you know..MS has been biting more than it can chew. Focus on one thing and do it well. Not a thousand things ans SUCK doing it!

Henrys said...

It is absolutely untrue that viruses can only be propagated by running executable files. Actually, that is a very rare occurrence even in Windows. Virus are normally propagated either through macros in documents (and a platform that doesn't support macros is dead from the start) or buffer overrun exploit code embedded in documents (and numbers indicate that Linux apps have about the same number of buffer overruns and such vulnerabilities as Windows apps). So in that respect, there is no difference between Linux and Windows other than there are actually much fewer Linux viruses thanks to its smaller install base.
So beware, if you approach Linux as a cure all for untrained personnel, bad policies and lack of IT management, you are going to get disappointed (and most likely fired).

Henrys said...

I find the comments by this guy annoying. It doesn't look like he's making the arguments based on technical or economical merits, it is saying things like he's getting revenge for something.
For instance saying that the fact that you can get some other package for less money implies that Microsoft HAS to match the price is pointless. It is like going to a Ferrari dealer and saying "Hey, I can get a Yugo for $5000, you should give me one of your cars for the same price". Not that I think Office is a Ferrari or that OpenOffice is a Yugo, but the way he is talking he is implying that all packages are equal, and that all that matters is price (not quality, support, performance, etc.). He only mentions the open document format issue, and the latest Office versions support XML format anyway.
If he moved to Linux based on technical merits, I see him as having some merit. But it looks like he's making the decision based on personal reasons, and that's never good.

Paul said...

The best part as I see it is that the more people who use it, the more will contribute to it and it will become that much better... more apps will be developed for it, etc. I believe MS is more concerned about Linux being used by a lot of people (thus creating more demand for software and making it that much more of viable option) than the revenue alone.

I don't recall which country it was, but I remember something about MS selling them Windows licenses for like $1 per copy or something ridiculous, simply because as Linux grows in usage, it will get better and better and more countries/companies will consider it an real option. MS should just have their own Linux version -- like Mac did.

I really hope they actually move forward with Linux and if they can show it to be a wild success, many more will follow the lead. Hooray!

Henjoe said...

Yeah! Said NO NO NO to Micro$oft

Stephen Samuel said...

According to this link MS was asking for $1500/seat (I would hope that this includes server licenses, and software bundles, but can't say yay or nay).

The TM Govt was apparently willing to settle at $250/seat, but MS wasn't willing to budge that far.

karthikeyan said...

This is a great move,
I have one more suggestion,They can also use online free Zoho products like ZohoWriter,ZohoSheet,ZohoShow

wanker667 said...

"besides offering continuous updates"

- Eyes wide shut by Tamil Nadu if this would happen zo Suse :-) -

No Comment....


thewizardalbany said...

Yep! I agree good on these people for making the decision to move away from Microsoft. Linux is very much an option now with four seriously good Distros in Suse, Ubuntu, and Fedora.
Well done!

Chris said...

I think this is a wonderful in IT/CS history. I hope this does hurt Microsoft and drives to accept open formats. If more countries do this, then more innovation will happen. I agree as more institutions, agencies, and companies migrate to open source, training is a must because as any open source user can tell you, it can be very different than what your used to if you've been a windows user. I'm windows free going on 5 months and I love it.

Damocles said...

With a software add-on, Tamil Nadu could take the SUSE Linux value proposition one step further and allow up to 10 students to share each Linux desktop.

This white paper explains how that could be done:

Electronic said...

A question for OSS licensing experts. If a client purchases from a supplier OSS application software such as ERP software, what are the licenses that are usually provided to the client? Can the client use the source code to build extensions to the application and than sell it to third parties without compensating the original supplier?

Guru Prasath said...

it depends on the type of license the supplier is providing. Based on rights given to the end user/developer you can do whatever you want. For more information on licensing goto,

Nethaji said...


Guru Prasath said...

That is not available from Certainly you can get it from Google cache.

wanker667 said...


This is from the GPL (General Public Licence).

"You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License."

So you cant sell it (maybe if you find someone that is stupid enough to buy open source). --> Maybe you could sell "support".

If you use open source, you have to opensource all the programm "affected" by this opensource.

In most common Commercial cases you have to pay for all kind of "open source" and "free software" in case you sell it to third parties. (Commercial Use).

For example, if you create a ERP software which will be distributed with MYSQL. And you sell this ERP software to customers, you HAVE TO PAY for the MYSQL Server Licence.

What is absolutly right, i think.

The goal of opensource is not to provide you a way to make much money with no effort.


mac said...

Let's us begin the era of Free Software for Masses in India. I appreciate ELCOT for its efforts. Let us join together in supporting the Tamil Nadu users of Linux.
Free and Open source user and supporter from Coimbatore

brudinie said...

Fantastic. It wont be long before other countries catch on too. I just wish the English government would start investing in Linux but Tony Blair is in love with Bill Gates. I think they make a lovely couple - two illuminati boys together.

SK said...

The bottom line is that while we can kick the software guys, hardware and networking sales will increase and it is these companies which are now going to have a hay day

Komail Noori said...

Well, I still go with Microsoft. What ever they do, but they still rule the technology world and thats what it counts.

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butlimous said...

Yeah you are right! I think Microsoft products are OVERPRICED and there are Opensource alternatives to nearly most of the products! Thanks for the nice post...

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Tamil Payapulla said...

Ohh fucking freetards!!!Guys!!!Wake up,a government cannot be made or run on free things.This is what happens when a moron sits at the apex.Pls check with the CTO Commisioner of Chennai and other CTO associations ,they would tell u wat kinda crap this guys is.!!!Even i can write a licky praise as Mr Guru,but that doesnt mean anything.

Saravanan said...

Oh, Wow lot of money saved for TN government. Some stupid government a*s* *o*le would fill his a** with this money.

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tamilnadu said...

HI Guru,

Good job !. keep it up, y not you start a regular website have these postings there. (in addition to this site)


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arman said...


Guru Prasath said...

The deccan site never kept link alive. I digged it using google cache.

Exlpore Wisdom said...

Very Good job. May all the states consider to migrate to Linux from the monopoly Microsoft.

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May every one follows this revolution

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Anonymous said...

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suparna said...

i really do not know that Linux operating systems are so much cheaper.
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aanmiga kadal said...

தங்கள் வலைப்பூவின் தகவல்கள் அருமை

Guru Prasath said...

நன்றி ஆன்மீக கடல்

One said...

I have found Linux based OS are more free about the security concerns as compare to the Microsoft OS.

The Linux's increasing market share will definitely shuts the door for the Microsoft to some extent. Microsoft should take some measures to upgrade the security for their OSs.

This would be a good step to benchmark for the other states.

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