updated 11/17/2008 11:31:04 AM ET 2008-11-17T16:31:04

Norway pledged funds Monday to stimulate public sector use of the free open source software OpenOffice to reduce its dependency on Microsoft Corp. and other major software producers.

(Msnbc is a joint Microsoft - NBC Universal venture.)

Minister of Government Administration and Reform Heidi Grande Roeys said she was granting 2 million kroner ($285,000) to the national center for free software to adapt and promote OpenOffice for such government use as public reports, accounting and archives.

"I want to simulate increased competition in the market for office software. OpenOffice is a good alternative to the supplier owned programs in this area," she said. "The problem is that the specialized programs and OpenOffice don't always give optimum performance together. The grant is to solve that."

OpenOffice is based on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s StarOffice software. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun released the source code of the programs in 2000 in hopes of challenging Microsoft Office's market dominance by providing a free, open and high-quality alternative.

In April 2006, the Norwegian government announced a long term program to step up use of open-source software to reduce its dependency on computer giants like Microsoft.

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