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UK government backs open source

by xavier last modified 2009-03-31 12:05

The UK government has said it will accelerate the use of open source software in public services.

Source: BBC News, Feb 25, 2008

Tom Watson MP, minister for digital engagement, said open source software would be on a level playing field with proprietary software such as Windows. Open source software will be adopted "when it delivers best value for money", the government said. It added that public services should where possible avoid being "locked into proprietary software".

Licences for the use of open source software are generally free of charge and embrace open standards, and the code that powers the programs can be modified without fear of trampling on intellectual property or copyright.

According to some in the open source industry, the shift from proprietary standards could save the government £600m a year. As said by Steve Shine, Ingres: “Open source can help avoid many of the hidden costs of proprietary software”.

Simon Phipps, chief open source officer for Sun Microsystems, said the UK government's stance was part of a "global wave" of take up for open source in governments.

"We waste a fortune on proprietary computer software because of paying for licences and promises up front and not demanding value," he said.

Mr Phipps said schools, government departments and public services would have a "crucial freedom" because of the choice of whether to pay for support and training when using open source software.

The government's action plan could see a wave of open source software being deployed in areas such as office applications (word processing and spreadsheets), document management and database infrastructure, the backbone of many large-scale IT systems.

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