The South Australian Government has committed $10.5 million to a Microsoft licensing agreement covering 14,600 desktops.
Part of this money is also destined for the establishment of an "innovations centre", designed to provide facilities for developers designing applications for government contracts.
According to Brian Holder, Microsoft's South Australia branch manager, the Government has agreed to implement a standard Microsoft platform across all government departments.
"The implementation of a standard platform across different Government agencies will significantly improve inter- and intra-departmental communication," Holder said. "Applications developed for this environment can now be used across different departments, saving money and improving efficiency."
Holder also indicated the interdepartmental platform would facilitate contact with the Government. "It will be significantly easier to transfer information between Government departments," Holder said.
While Holder believes the across-Government platform will aid in the provision of services via the Internet, he confirmed that there was no plan at this stage to restrict Government services to the Internet.
"Although there are productivity gains to be made by providing these services via the Internet, over the counter services will be provided as long as there is a need for them," Holder said.
The implementation of the operating platform will be supported by the Adelaide-based "innovations centre". Holder said the new centre will be staffed by a mixture of Government employees Microsoft representatives, and private sector developers working on government projects.
The set-up costs of the innovations centre will be joint funded by Microsoft and the South Australian government although at this stage it is not clear the extent of each group's investment.
At this stage, the innovation centre will provide facilities and support for projects relating to specific Government departments and Holder is confident the centre will play an increasingly important role in the private sector.
"At this point this is primarily a Government solutions centre," Holder said. "However, we are exploring different options and we are certainly not ruling out making the centre available to South Australian developers working on non-Government contracts at some stage in the future."