Microsoft chosen as exclusive Homeland Security contractor

The Homeland Security Department has chosen Microsoft Corp. as its preferred supplier of desktop computer and server software, according to a statement issued late Tuesday. The move is a significant development in the government's ongoing merger of 22 agencies and comes as officials are selecting various technology companies' products as de facto standards for the department.

The contract "establishes a key partnership relationship" between the government and Microsoft, the world's biggest software maker, the statement said. The department has purchased a license for about 140,000 desktop computers and is consolidating other Microsoft agreements held by Homeland Security agencies into the five-year contract. The deal is worth $90 million.

Homeland Security employees' computers now will be outfitted with Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, as well as the Microsoft Office Professional version of software products. And perhaps most important to Homeland Security's mission to get agencies communicating more easily, Microsoft will provide the standard e-mail software for the entire department.

Months before the Homeland Security Department was established in March, officials labored over an inventory of the various software, hardware and network brands security agencies are using. Their ultimate goal has been to select one company as the sole supplier in each of several technology categories, such as e-mail or desktop computers. Microsoft's selection for such a wide range of software products would seem to indicate that officials have found those brands are used and favored by the majority of security agencies.

Dell Marketing L.P, a division of Dell Computer Corp., also was chosen to provide "day-to-day management" of the license agreement, the department's statement said. The statement didn't disclose the value of that deal. The Microsoft contract was awarded June 27.