Microsoft and NHS Connecting for Health have renewed their Enterprise Wide Agreement (EWA), following the completion of the first three years of the contract.

The agreement covers most of the Microsoft Desktop and personal productivity software for up to 850,000 NHS users. The deal for the first time covers Microsoft Exchange and includes anti-virus technology and the new Microsoft Windows Vista operating system.

John Coultard, director of healthcare for Microsoft UK, told EHI: "If you look at the changing landscape of the NHS CIOs have realized that they need an extended work environment. They wanted a desktop that didn’t get in the way of doing everything that they want to do."

The original Microsoft EWA was signed in November 2004, with an unconfirmed value of £500m. The agreement was for a total of nine years and includes three-year breakpoints to enable the NHS to review its technology requirements. The size of the deal makes the NHS one of Microsoft’s largest customers in the world.

When first signed in 2004 the Department of Health claimed the £500m enterprise licensing deal would save the NHS £330 million over the lifetime of the contract, compared to piecemeal local procurement of software.

Coultard said that the NHS’s scale of the requirement had changed since the NHS originally signed a licensing deal for 600,000 desktop licenses with the number now extended to 850,000, but the deal remained "within the original cost envelope".

Microsoft said the new NHS agreement also includes software assurance for each of the products. In addition, NHS staff will once again be eligible for Microsoft’s Home User programme, providing access to most Microsoft desktop applications to install and use on home computers. This includes Microsoft Office Professional. The software is available to NHS staff for £17.99.

To round off a good week for Microsoft NHS Connecting for Health has also agreed with Cable&Wireless that the NHS email and directory service will move to Microsoft Exchange 2007, replacing the Mirapoint email platform that C&W has previously run.

Microsoft said the move to Microsoft Exchange 2007, running Outlook and Outlook Web Access, will lead to a significantly enhanced user experience.

Coulthard told EHI: "The move of NHSmail to Exchange will help the NHS meet the business drivers it now faces such as providing mobile access."

Coultard said that work has already begun in migrating NHSmail to Exchange and that the first NHS organisations would migrate onto the new platform within months. "We will see migration of organisations by the end of the year."

He added: “We look forward to building on our partnership with NHS Connecting for Health to create a secure and consistent IT platform that enables the NHS and its employees to deliver enhanced healthcare services to patients.


Microsoft NHS Resource Centre

Microsoft NHS Home User Programme