Open source supplier Cybersource has accused some state education departments of doing "private deals" with Microsoft excluding all other vendors that supply competing system and application software.
Con Zymaris -- one of Australia's most vocal open source proponents and chief executive of Cybersource -- said the company was finding it hard to sell into the state-based education market.
"This is because the various departments of education will not open up most of their major software purchases to more than a single supplier, namely Microsoft. This runs smack in the face of the level playing field promised for open source software," he said.
"Open source adoption amongst Australian governments is increasing rapidly -- but we have found that various departments of education, rather than look seriously into viable open source solutions, rather than adopt open and fair tendering, will just sign yet another private deal with Microsoft as a sole supplier to the exclusion of firms like ours, Novell, Red Hat, Sun and IBM," he said.
He quoted a recent UK government report that claimed government schools could save up to 50 percent of their total computer technology, not just licence costs, by switching to Linux or open source software.
He claimed that could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for Australian schools every year.
"Every open source vendor is champing at the bit to compete strongly in the education sector. We know we can offer a better alternative. We know we can save taxpayers millions," he boasted.
A spokesperson from the Department of Education in Victoria said DET tenders in Victoria were done to Victorian government purchasing board policies and guidelines.
"Key elements include fairness, openness and partiality. Victoria is also party to the Australia and New Zealand government procurement agreement as well as the Australian and United States fair trade agreement.
"There have been mutual obligations on each party in relation to government procurement [which] enables all suppliers to compete equally for government contracts," the spokesperson said.