Windows 7 or bust!

According to ZDNet Australia News, Centrelink is testing Windows 7:

In a statement, Centrelink said it had been testing the early versions of Windows 7, with the agency’s first impressions being that they displayed a "significant improvement over [the] performance and quality of Vista".

The agency confirmed it had long-term plans to migrate to Windows 7 from its current standard operating environment, based on Windows XP.

"Improvements in deployment, management, performance and reliability make it the preferred long-term corporate desktop over Vista and XP — depending on availability and testing and certification of [the] final version," the statement said.

Several things trouble me about this.

Centrelink Firstly, I can’t help but that think Centrelink of all government departments should be looking for alternatives to bloated, slow and extremely expensive software. As an organisation who’s primary existence is to provide welfare, spending millions of tax payer dollars on computer software when there are viable, cheaper alternatives seems like a case of misplaced priorities to put it mildly.

Microsoft has these public sectors convinced that they need to upgrade software every few years and that their solutions are the only viable ones. Is there any tender process? Are alternative companies or organisations allowed to bid for government approval and contracts?

Why is an article from ZDNet talking about Windows 7 with no mention of other alternatives whatsoever? It’s as if they don’t exist. I’m a Mac and FreeBSD guy because I have a few gripes with Linux, but even that’s got to be better.

As I said on Google Reader, I also take issue with all the suspiciously saccharine sweet reviews I’ve been reading about Windows 7, prasing it in particular for being so much better than Windows Vista. While I do agree the people at Microsoft have done the right thing and fixed up some of the more serious usability problems, it by no means makes Windows 7 a brilliant OS. Bluntly, Vista did set the bar pretty low, and despite the branding Windows 7 is still largely an update to Vista not a whole new version.

I guess I’m just agitated by the fact that Microsoft has such a stranglehold over our government, and very few people if any at all are talking about it. Microsoft has every right to bid on government contracts and provide software, but where’s the accountability? I’d like to be proven wrong, but I’m not raising my hopes.