Microsoft seems to have been the main beneficiary of the UK government's drive to put council services online. Research from the Society of IT Managers (Socitm) reveals that local authorities are increasingly opting to use Microsoft Windows applications, particularly in new installations.
The research also revealed that contracts for applications specific to local government are concentrated in the hands of a select circle of companies.
Although it doesn't name names, the research reveals that just two companies supply 85 per cent of local authorities with Client Systems for Social Services. Four account for 91 per cent of Council Tax systems and three for 79 per cent of Electoral Registration systems.
The increase in Microsoft deployments seems to be largely due to a shift from away mainframes to a Windows environment. In 2000, 43 per cent of General Ledger systems were run on mainframes, 50 per cent on Unix, and just 7 per cent on Windows.
The latest figures indicate that now, just nine per cent of these systems are still on mainframes. The number on Unix systems has increased slightly to 52 per cent, but the Windows OS has been the main beneficiary, now accounting for 29 per cent of installations.
Fewer authorities are developing software in house. For example in 2000, 19 per cent of local authorities used home grown software to deal with HR. Now, just nine per cent do so.
For software installed recently to automate previously manual processes, Windows scores even more highly. A whopping 84 per cent of licensing systems run under Windows, with Unix accounting for the remainder.
The research covers software used internally for document management, finance and virus detection, for example, as well as external systems that support front line services like environmental health, libraries, social services and housing management. ®