The Minister Said No

The Minister Said No

In an unexpected move, new Minister of Information and Communication Technology Marwan Juma met with Microsoft representatives in his office as he asked about the benefits of renewing Microsoft licenses in Jordan's government and public administration, stopping by this the former minister's intention to re-sign a multi-million agreement with the company

The Ministry had already spent $13 Million in the last 3 years to purchase Microsoft products, for which the support ended last year and Microsoft hoped to renew the contract for the next three years. In the tender issued by the Ministry, three major Microsoft partners were ready to compete, namely STS, UTS and Optimiza.

But a recent news story found that experts in the Ministry opposed the renewal of the contract and expressed that their Ministry is not in need for any new software, especially Microsoft's new operating system Windows 7.

The same article opened a serious debate about increasing the use of Free Software in the Jordanian government, a discussion which can be considered strange and new in the local media, with multiple comments supporting the idea and others opposing.

Unfortunately, postponing the agreement does not mean the end of proprietary software in our country, nor that Open Source will dominate the public administration the next few years, but it makes it sure that the new Minister will not give Microsoft a privileged "status" and prefer it to other IT firms, a thing that previous ministers were always accused of.

In addition to this agreement, the former Minister also had a really scary idea about having all the government's computers (including the schools and other public organization) within a huge proprietary cloud run by Microsoft. The project -if it will take place- will give an end to any efforts to push open source in the public sector.

Anyway, things seem better now with Juma: he was the director of the Information Technology Association of Jordan (int@j), one of the few organizations that promoted Open Source and held related events in Jordan the last few years and rumors are spreading about cooperations between the government and one of the major Open Source vendors... We cross our fingers and see.