French Military is reported to have contributed to the latest Thunderbird 3, released this week. This association of the French Government with Open Source started way back with an intense internal debate on whether to go for Open Source software for government usage.
The Reuters report says:
France’s military chose open source software after an internal government debate that began in 2003 and culminated in a November 6, 2007, directive requiring state agencies “Seek maximum technological and commercial independence.”
This debate resulted in a favor of Mozilla powered Thunderbird as it allowed the French Military to include security specific code into the release. This was not possible wit the closed source Microsoft Outlook. So they started it as a Military project and open sourced it soon, under the brand-name of TrustBird along with Mozilla.
This custom Mozilla is in use with the Finance, Culture and Interior ministries.
Also, after the success of Thunderbird, the French government is moving to using Linux and OpenOffice.org instead of Microsoft Windows and Office applications.
The next step would be to look for some support. This can get messy, as Microsoft has a whole army of technicians and on-site help personnel at an established office, whereas Mozilla, has only ten employees located somewhere in Paris.
Reports of this decision appeared on the Reuters website and the news can be seen here.