Microsoft Home User Programme

Posted By Grant Forrest |  last update 25-Aug 2010

The ever-popular eHealth Insider ran a story back in July on the DH's decision to pull the plug on the £500 million licensing deal that it has with Microsoft.£500m_microsoft_licensing_deal

The story attracted what I think is probably a record-breaking 41 comments. I found myself coming back to it several times to read subsequent new comments.

The implications of the DH's decision are far-reaching. Not only is the burden of MS licensing being shifted toward the Trusts, but all the NHS employees that took advantage of the heavily-discounted copies of MS Office made available under the Home User Programme (HUP) have now been told that they must un-install the software, or upgrade their license.

I'm curious about how many will actually do this, and whether the MS "update" system will detect the invalid licenses. Assuming it does, will the HUP copies of Office stop working ? Will they become "guiltware" with a nag screen to prompt purchase of a new license or will it only become evident that the license has become invalid when users try to apply new patches or service packs ?


P.S. Paul and Tony have authored an article on this topic in the WIKI

5 comment(s)

Posted by paul cooper on 16-Aug 2010 07:08

There seem to be 2 camps developing over this. One is 'excellent opportunity for the NHS to dump a costly tie-in'. The other is 'MS is so embedded in NHS processes that the whole thing will fall over without it'. In addition I suspect there are a lot of very risk-averse management. It used to be "nobody ever got sacked for buying IBM". Nowadays it will be 'nobody ever got sacked for buying Microsoft'. As well as the cost of licences (is a single Trust big enough to negotiate a enterprise-wide agreement ? ') there is the cost of counting the numbers of copies deployed at any one time. I think Outlook calendaring is the functionality that would be a 'deal-breaker'. But how many desktop users in a Trust actually make full use of Outlook calendars, or any of the advanced functions avaiable in Excel, Powerpoint or Word ? In addition people havent been using the full functionality of these apps anyway - see blog post passim. If it was me , I would look at how many people actually used an Outlook Calendar. They will probably need to continue using it , at least in the short to medium term. For everyone else I'd dish out OpenOffice (and/or Lotus Symphony) and see what happens. After all the same people haven't required training to use Amazon, Ebay Internet banking. There would be a learning curve and a bit of grief in the early days, so I'd provide a helpline - perhaps see if I can do a deal with Sun/Lotus to provide it. Id reassess things after 3 months and see how much of the fuss has died down and then buy licences for those who use Outlook, or have specfic objective requirements. Monocultures in anything - supermarkets, agriculture, equipment, software, - are a bad thing. Why is NHS software different ? Perhaps we will install the alternatives at the Internet Cafe at Harrogate and see what people think.

Posted by Grant Forrest on 16-Aug 2010 11:08

I am in the "MS too embedded in NHS to even consider wholesale migration" but as you say, perhaps there are options for a limited deployment of OOffice for the more forward-thinking IT managers. There is also GoogleDocs but that would probably be a bit bandwidth-intensive for most Trusts. I thought we already had OOffice on the cybercafe laptops ?

Posted by Alan Hope on 19-Aug 2010 09:08

It's not so much the Office Suite, it's the OS. I shudder to think what moving to Unix would involve for us. Currently MS Office 2007 - 3-user license, is dirt cheap (£53). Surely some volume buying by the Trusts would drive that down further.

Posted by paul cooper on 27-Nov 2010 17:11

And i came scross this - Things I dont know:

  • is the intention that it will replace MS Office on users' desktops within the Trust ?
  • Although there is in general very little need for support these days,  do they have a plan for the occasional time when there is ?
  • is it compatible with other  stuff that is in use eg digital dictation software?
  • Whose idea is/was it, and why have they ended up with this product rather than one of the other more well known ones ( eg Star|Open Office) ?


Posted by Grant on 27-Nov 2010 18:11

Here is the link on the EHI site :


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