BRISTOL Set for Biggest UK Open Source Switch.

  recap 16:22 18 Oct 2004

The biggest ever switch by a UK local authority away from Microsoft software to 'StarOffice' desktop solutions based on open source software is set to take place at Bristol City Council.

Bristol is poised to move up to 5,000 of its staff desktop computers to the StarOffice 7 system early in the New Year, in a move aimed at
saving an estimated 1.4 million pounds over five years. StarOffice (click here) has been developed by Sun Microsystems as a low-cost alternative to Microsoft Office, and its source code has been released to form the free software suite OpenOffice (click here).

The Bristol decision concludes a three-year evaluation of the technical,financial and cultural issues of software migration, including a 600-user pilot in the council's Neighbourhood and Housing Services Department.

Previously the only significant migrations to open source solutions in the UK public sector have been on a much smaller scale, with a few
hundred desktops at Penwith council in Cornwall and Central Scotland Police. However, large-scale projects are already underway in Munich
in Germany and Bergen in Norway.

Perhaps understandably, Microsoft is keen to play down the idea that the Bristol defection could signal the start of a trend. "Bristol made its
decision on the basis of its needs and unique circumstances, and we respect their decision. Microsoft supports choice, and firmly believes
that customers should choose the solution that best suits their needs and procurement conditions," a spokesperson said.

  georgemac 07:39 19 Oct 2004

quite a bold and brave move I would say and will be monitored by many others with great interest.

Our company has MS Office on all desktops. I would say 90% of the users only use perhaps 10% of the functionality (including myself). It is expensive (when you consider that most of the functionaility is never used) but is very reliable and an excellent profit.

£1.4 million over 5 years is a considerable saving, as long as the support/training costs can be kept down - but I imagine the user interface is not too different from MS.

  JayDay 08:33 19 Oct 2004

At last. I can not understand why local government has taken so long to realise that there is a viable alternative to MS Office. Imagine the savings across every government dept. across the entire UK.

  georgemac 08:54 19 Oct 2004

meant excellent product but must have been thinking about the large profit it generates for Mr Gates!

  JayDay 09:23 19 Oct 2004

Out of curiosity I have just download OpenOffice. Very good product. You can open Word Documents. Save documents as PDF files. Interface is very similar to MS Office.

If you run a small business and paying Gates a small fortune then check out this product. click here

  Sir Radfordin 10:25 19 Oct 2004

As Microsoft and others have claimed/shown in the past the saving made in purcahsing software isn't the only cost. You need to look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). If you need to retrain uses, re-skill support staff alter/update existing templates then there can be hidden costs pushing up the TCO.

There is a reason why Microsoft have so much of the market and I don't think it is just because there was never another option.

  Sparrowhawk 13:18 19 Oct 2004

HOME use:
I entirely with JayDay. OpenOffice click here is very good for its price (£0, $0, €0...)
If you are on a tight budget and cannot justify paying £200 or 300 on MS Office that one won't fully use anyway in a HOME only utilisation.

Even the current leftist administration in Paris chose to stick with MS and not go with open-source.

click here

News > Software > Linux-Unix Tuesday 19th October 2004

Paris shrugs off open-source plans

Jerome Thorel
ZDNet France
October 15, 2004, 10:55 BST

Tell us your opinion

Paris City Council's plans to move to open-source software have been nixed in the short term, as 'it would mean significant additional costs without improving the service'

  JayDay 15:42 19 Oct 2004

I think Bristol's initiative will be closley watched by other local councils.

I agree the there is a cost inmplictaion when it comes to retraining but this is a one off cost, and I think if Bristol pull it off without too much trouble other councils will seriously consider it. In fact as council tax payers we should insist that our local councils give it serious thought.

  Belatucadrus 17:35 19 Oct 2004

In Decembers PCPro office suite lab test, the A-list Lab winner is OpenOffice, with the recommendation of StarOffice for those that want more support or a database. Revue results like that are likely to get the more hidebound IT depts to look a little further afield. Don't get me wrong I like Office, it's probably the suite I have most experience with, but it's hugely over specified for most users and the price is a joke.

  georgemac 18:33 19 Oct 2004

The price for the MS office suite is not a joke if you consider all the parts that can be used and the functionality. It's just that for maybe 90% of users (perhaps less depending on the business) that level of functionality is just not required.

I do not work in IT, but do use a desktop at work, mainly for email, intranet/internet, basic word editing, basic spreadsheet and we are using an access database so old it is a joke. I would imagine I could easily get by on open office, but for our company to change would probably cost a bomd as they would have to retrain everyone.

If I was in charge of a small business, I am sure I would seriously consider the alternative to MS (office), but I have no real idea of the pricing of multiple license.

  Forum Editor 19:29 19 Oct 2004

and I have got used to working with MS Office over the years, but I have to admit that for 90% of the time I'm using 10% of the capabilities of Office 2003.

I have several clients using Open Office and they like it a lot - it's a real alternative for people who don't need the lights and stripes of MS Office. Sir Radfordin's point is valid - retraining for a change of Office suite pushes up the TCO - but even so, Microsoft must be realising that their current corporate licencing model is bound to make others sit up and take notice when big networks make a move like this.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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