Wednesday, February 25, 2009

United Kingdom moves ahead with Open Source

BBC News reports that the U.K. government will adopt an open source software action plan. This goes much farther than simply selecting open source software when it is the best buy. Tom Watson, M.P., Minister for Digital Engagement (I will pass on that title) says the plan is to put open source software on an even playing field with Microsoft Windows and other proprietary software. The government wants to avoid becoming locked into proprietary software programs. In order to "put teeth" into the plan, they developed a multi-point open source and open standards action plan. The article quotes unidentified sources in the O.S. movement estimating that the move may save the government as much as 600 million pounds a year.

Here are the points of the plan:

* ensure that the government adopts open standards and uses these to communicate with the citizens and businesses that have adopted open source solutions
* ensure that open source solutions are considered properly and, where they deliver best value for money are selected for government business solutions
* strengthen the skills, experience and capabilities within government and in its suppliers to use open source to greatest advantage
* embed an open source culture of sharing, re-use and collaborative development across government and its suppliers
* ensure that systems integrators and proprietary software suppliers demonstrate the same flexibility and ability to re-use their solutions and products as is inherent in open source.

Government departments will be required to adopt open source software when "there is no significant overall cost difference between open and non-open source products" because of its "inherent flexibility".
The article goes on to say they expect some backlash from proprietary software producers, but that they expect the move to go smoothly as more and more of the public are comfortable with such open source programs as Firefox (alternative to Internet Explorer) and OpenOffice (alternative to Microsoft Office suite, including Word).

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