Governments around the world are feeling the pinch of shrinking budgetary funds and burgeoning debt, but the UK is taking one important step in the right direction: open source software. With reports that the government will be abandoning Microsoft Office for all its government offices and departments and heading towards a deal with open source Collabora, this will be the latest in a line of clients who are realizing there are equally viable tools to be had without having to fork over exorbitant amounts of funds.
Earlier this week, news came out about Google’s attempts to win over Microsoft’s corporate clients with a sweet incentive–free access to Google for Work for the duration of their companies’ contracts for Office suite, along with as much as $75,000 to cover the training and implementation costs associated with the switch. Should these new customers opt to remain with Google for Work at the end of their free run, the costs are nearly half what the subscription fees for Office run.
According to an official statement on the Collabora switch, “UK Government buyers have signed a new commercial deal for Open Source office applications on desktop, mobile, and cloud. The ‘Cloud Transition Agreement’ between the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), an executive arm of the Cabinet Office, and British Open Source software firm Collabora Productivity, states the Government’s commitment to Open Source and Open Document Format, and offers major cost savings for public sector bodies.”
Collabora GovOffice functions very much like the much-loved LibreOffice suite, and it’s compatible with Google Docs and Microsoft Office. It also comes at a price tag that neither Google nor Microsoft have anted up. But the price tag isn’t the only reason for large-scale entities to make the switch: proprietary software is only as good as the company running it, and when that company runs into trouble, so do the customers who rely on their product to function. When you take into account the fact that the government is that customer, there can be no errors, at least not when the client is paying as much as it is for the privilege.