Government wants to break free from Microsoft? – France shows you how.

I will start this article covering two matters on the Web in regards to Microsoft software and government.  It’s reported that Bristol Council is having some difficulty breaking away from its Microsoft “lock-in” (which might not surprise some) however does suggest that its making inquiries in all the right places in order to bring about a future where open standards/source are common place in our Government.  Can we look forward to a more diverse IT set of solutions in all of industry as well as the public sector?

It seems though at present, Bristol Council is finding that they are having to spend more money on upgrading their Microsoft software and maybe now they are considering that the proprietary decisions of the past were not so good :

Bristol ICT director Paul Arrigani said in the IT proposal that Bristol was being forced to upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft software because, since its old software was no longer supported, access to other key computer systems such as the Government Secure Intranet could be invalidated.

Source: Computer Weekly

Forced to upgrade“?  – reportedly coming at a cost of at least 7.3 million pounds at a time when everyone is trying to cut costs and save money to get the economy back on track.  I suppose at least if we dip into another recession, theres one company doing alright, thank you very much.

What is also reported though is the news that:

….Bristol’s Microsoft strategy was not a “retreat” from open source. The council would still install the open source Open Office alongside every machine with Microsoft Office. It would encourage users not to form habits that would lock them into using Microsoft in the future.

and even more encouragingly:

There’s a fairly strong open source community in the Bristol area. There’s a growing number of open source companies as well. The council’s money is local money from local taxpayers; isn’t it better to feed that into growing local businesses rather than faceless multinational companies?

You can read the Computer Weekly article here.

So are council’s and governments in the UK finally wanting to break free of Microsoft? Are they now seeing what Linux/FOSS users have been saying for years? – I’ll let you decide, but ask yourself this, if Microsoft software was so great and Open Source such a poor alternative, why are people in government making comments like this?

Meanwhile on a more national level, the government is looking for Opensource business cases.   They need your help and it seems to me that the government really does want to make the move from a Microsoft dependency, it just needs your help to justify doing it (after all who else will help? A Microsoft salesperson?:

Follow the money, follow the numbers… if you have some case studies send me them on email, Twitter, whatever. We are avidly looking for these… and championing them out of the public sector.

Source: ITpro

Talking of case studies/business plans, here’s one regarding the adoption of Linux/FOSS  by the French Police.  It certainly doesn’t highlight any issues with the migration:

From an end-user perspective, the transition went unexpectedly smooth. Almost no additional training was required for the local police forces using the computers in their daily work. This was in part thanks to the fact that the software applications remained the same, but also because the Ubuntu user interface was easy to get used to.

Pascal Danek points out that a transition from Microsoft Windows 2000/XP to Vista would have been more difficult, since the new version of that operating system introduces many new features and designs which might confuse users. If difficulties do occur, there is however a Didacticien, which is a tutorial application installed on each workstation that can give further guidance if problems  occur. Furthermore, there is a hotline that the local police stations can call where phone guidance on technical issues is given. This helpline however is not used very often, as most issues can be resolved in a learning by doing fashion.

Source: Osor.eu

And it was not just the migration to Linux that went well.  The report goes on to say:

Through the introduction of Ubuntu, the networking abilities of the local police stations and the central office in Paris has improved very much.

The move to Ubuntu was started in 2008 and as you can see it’s looking like a very nice partnership.

But then for any Linux user who already knows how good Linux/FOSS is,  we have been saying this for years.  Maybe the UK government could take the lead from the French who are already experiencing the benefits of migration?

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

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