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Ministry Extends Microsoft Deal to 2017, Staving Off Major Price Hike

The Ministry of Education today signed an extension to an agreement with Microsoft, allowing education institutions and local governments to buy the company's software at current rates.

Schools had feared that they could be expected to shell out around 10 to 20 times more than currently as the IT giant cited World Bank data to prove Estonia no longer needed heavily subsidized software licenses.

Minister of Education Jaak Aaviksoo told Postimees today that the favorable conditions were achieved due to Estonia's reputation as a supporter and developer of IT education.

The new deal states that schools and municipalities will pay the same rate next year, after which prices will steadily increase until mid-2017, when the new agreement expires.

Tallinn, which has 6,500 school computers under its administration, only pays 15,600 euros annually for the license to use Windows operating systems and Office. Had the agreement not been reached, that figure would have risen to 364,000 euros.

A conversion to free software such as Linux was an alternative, but Estonia does not have enough Linux server administrators.

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