The French military has claimed that open source IT products are more secure than Microsoft‘s counterparts, as it begins its move to open source software, including the Linux platform.

According to a report by Reuters, Mozilla‘s open source design has enabled the military to build security extensions, something that cannot be done by Microsoft’s proprietary software Outlook.

The French Army is currently using Mozilla’s Thunderbird mail software and in some cases the Trustedbird extension on 80,000 computers, which are spread throughout France’s Finance, Interior and Culture Ministries.

The French Government is also planning to use Linux instead of Windows, and OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office.

Mozilla Messaging chief executive David Ascher said the primary changes made by the military offer assurance of when messages have been read, which is critical in a command-and-control situation.

Mozilla’s Thunderbird mail software has also qualified for NATO‘s closed messaging system, and the French military has shown TrustedBird to Nato, according to military officials.

“The French military is helping build an ecosystem of specialists around the world that provide specialised add-ons, leveraging our platform to help meet customer needs,” Ascher said.

The French Army says it will shortly use a product that is compatible with Yahoo! mail, Google Gmail and other email systems, but competes against Microsoft Outlook.