Estonia spends millions on Microsoft software license fees annually

Administrative fields under Estonia's ministries and larger offices pay a total of nearly €5 million annually for Microsoft software licenses.

For example, the Ministry of Education and Research spends €100,000 annually on Microsoft licenses, however the ministry's administrative field also includes Estonian schools, which decide for themselves what software to use and about which the state lacks an overview, reported daily Eesti Päevaleht (link in Estonian).

The €1.7 million spent annually by the Ministry of Defence and its area of government covers the Microsoft-related software costs of approximately 6,000 jobs, meaning that the cost involved per position is approximately €280 per year.

The costs vary per institution in Estonia. For example, the total cost of Microsoft products for approximately 3,000 end users in the administrative field of the Ministry of Finance is €408,000, or about €136 per user.

Thus, the total cost of user and server software licenses for a ministry is €360,000, plus an additional €48,000 for Microsoft's business support. Some institutions handle their own software needs, while others, such as the Ministry of Education and Research, participate in a three-year joint framework agreement via the Centre of Registers and Information Systems (RIK).

The Microsoft software primarily licensed for use are the Windows operating system and Office suite of applications (including Word, Excel and Outlook). While free alternative software is available for use — such as the Linux operating system, OpenOffice and LibreOffice — Estonian institutions nonetheless largely opt for Microsoft's software.

Institutions contacted by Eesti Päevaleht in large part responded that these free options had been weighed, but thereafter skipped for various reasons, including concerns about file format compatibility and lack of competitive alternatives to Microsoft products.

Microsoft costs the Ministry of Defence and the Estonian Defence Forces €1.7 million, the Ministry of the Interior €1.25 million, the Ministry of Finance €408,000, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications €344,000, the Ministry of Social Affairs €311,000, the Ministry of Justice €300,000, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs €133,000, the Ministry of the Environment €112,000, the Ministry of Education and Research €100,000, the Ministry of Rural Affairs €65,000, the Chancellery of the Riigikogu €58,000, the Ministry of Culture €16,000 and the Government Office €9,000 annually.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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