Germany has modified its IT procurement policies in a bid to end projects being put out to tender with Intel processors as a pre-requisite.
The move follows the European Commission's call for an end to such limitations within IT contracts. The EC even went as far as to threaten legal action against European Union member states that failed to make appropriate changes to their procurement policies.
That threat, made in April 2004, was the result of an investigation of procurement policies in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Austria and Finland. At the time, only Germany and Italy were told to make policy changes.
The EC's probe was inspired by complaints from AMD that some government contracts were specifying Intel CPUs - in violation of European procurement regulations and the free movement of goods. In many cases, the phrase 'Intel CPUs' had been simply used as shorthand for 'x86 processors' or to imply a certain level of performance, rather than to register favouring that vendor, though the outcome is much the same. Germany's new rules - like those of other countries that have followed the EC's advice - will focus on platforms and benchmark metrics rather than such flabby generalisations. Germany's new procurement rules can be read here (PDF).
It's important to remember, however, that Intel itself has never been alleged to be party to such favouritism, even though it may ultimately have been a beneficiary.
German has taken its time to change its policies. Since the EU's April warning, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, and France have all formally adjusted their own policies to prevent them favouring any particular processor manufacturer. France did so in May 2004, though it's interesting that in October 2004, the EC felt the need to tell the country that it must offer more evidence that the amended policy is being adhered to. Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland were also asked to provide such information.
Separately, Russia's deputy minister for Economic Development and Trade, Andrei Sharonov, has issued a similar call for vendor-neutral IT procurement within the Russian Federation, according to AMD. ®