04 November 2004 | Cara Whitehouse
Government departments could ditch proprietary software produced by giants such as Microsoft in favour of open source software (OSS), according to the Office of Government Commerce.
OSS pilots run across the government and public-sector organisations have shown that the software is a "viable desktop alternative for the majority of government users", and one that could "generate significant savings".
John Oughton, OGC chief executive, said the report showed OSS could support government bodies by offering "efficient and cost-effective IT solutions".
OSS systems, such as Linux, are available for use without licence fee.
It is an alternative to proprietary systems such as Microsoft's, in which users can access and modify their code.
The report says OSS could be better value for money over the lifetime of IT systems.
Governments abroad have made moves towards adopting it. The government of Munich has shifted its 14,000 desktop software systems to Linux.
Mark Woods, head of collaborative opportunities at the OGC, told SM: "Competition is needed in the software marketplace and should mean better deals."
Although the report does not make recommendations, it puts pressure on Microsoft, which still dominates the desktop software market worldwide.