Resellers hope that Microsoft's decision to tailor its software so it will be accepted by the NHS's National Project for IT (NPfIT) will help them secure hundreds of millions of pounds of public-sector cash.
Microsoft is currently in negotiations with the NHS to create specialised, sector-specific versions of its software.
The NHS has also secured a bespoke arrangement with Oracle, where site-wide rather than per-user licences are being used, and is talking to Sun about open source.
"This will build on top of full versions of Office and Windows," said Neil Jordan, head of healthcare at Microsoft UK.
But the deal will not involve rewriting of the core code of the current products or stripping functionality, he added.
Rob Killick, chief executive of Microsoft Gold partner cScape, said it is good news for resellers. "If Microsoft starts to create software aimed at certain markets, we would be the kind of partner it will work with," he said.
"Repackaging Microsoft products to give it more sector appeal goes with the grain for the channel."
The NPfIT said it met Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer last week. A representative for the initiative said: "This is to get best-value products and services, taking into account the scale of the NHS as an IT marketplace. Discussions with Microsoft are continuing constructively."
Ross Miller, managing director of Microsoft Large Account Reseller Trustmarque Solutions, also welcomed the move.
"Microsoft wants to make its products more usable," he said. "It wants to enhance the benefits of its products by being sector-specific."
James Governor, principal analyst at RedMonk, said NHS IT boss Richard Granger drives a hard bargain.
"He has evidently used Linux as a lever to get Microsoft to the negotiating table," he said. "Then again, not many businesses have the bargaining power of the NHS."
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