Some £200m has been spent by the public sector on the computer giant's Office suite alone since 2010. But the Cabinet Office minister believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to free "open-source" software, such as OpenOffice, or Google Docs. This would break the "oligopoly" of IT suppliers, and improve communications between civil servants.
Speaking at a cross-government event showcasing new online services Maude said that the software used in government is still supplied by just a few large companies and a tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace.
"I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software," he said. "In the first instance, this will help departments to do something as simple as share documents with each other more easily. But it will also make it easier for the public to use and share government information."