The province’s public pension fund administrator (Régie des rentes du Québec) spent 720,000 Canadian dollars (686,000 US) beginning in the fall of 2006 to install Microsoft software on its computers.
Quebec Superior Court Judge Denis Jacques ruled the province should have searched for alternatives as required by its own rules for expenditures over 25,000 dollars (24,000 US).
The contract went to Microsoft dealer Compugen of Richmond Hill, Ontario.
A lawsuit was filed in March 2008 by Montreal-based Savoir Faire Linux, which deals in open-source software.
Savoir Faire Linux was awarded the costs of its litigation, but its bid to have the contract cancelled was rejected as the software installation had been completed.
In his ruling, the judge dismissed the government’s defense that switching operating systems on its computers would have incurred additional costs to train staff used to Microsoft products.
Cyrille Beraud, president of Savoir-Faire Linux, told AFP it was a “historic judgment” as it “breaks multinationals’ stranglehold on information systems.”
It would have “a global impact,” he predicted, as governments worldwide are said to be under pressure to reduce their software budgets and reliance on proprietary software such as Microsoft.
The government is reportedly considering an appeal.