Proprietary software 'a waste of money', says EU commissioner

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

EU commissioner slams the European public sector's use of proprietary software, saying government bodies must embrace open source

The European Union's Internet Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, has criticized European public sector organizations that spend buy licensed software systems when cheaper, open source alternatives are available. In fact, if no support required, Open Source is free, even for businesses and government.

Speaking at the Open Forum Europe conference, Neelie Kroes criticized governments' habitual purchase of proprietary technology. Instead, Kroes advised that public sector organizations instead consider "software that you can download from the website and that you can implement without restrictions".

Such free open source alternatives include operating systems distributed under the Linux banner and document and spreadsheet package OpenOffice.

"Many authorities have found themselves unintentionally locked into proprietary technology for decades and after a certain point that original choice becomes so ingrained that alternatives risk being systematically ignored," she told attendees. "That's a waste of public money that most public bodies can no longer afford."

Kroes added that public sector organizations which implemented proprietary software should have a "clear justification to do so".

In her previous role as the EU's antitrust chief, Kroes oversaw the investigation into Microsoft's practice of bundling in web browser software with its Windows operating system. The software giant was eventually fined hundreds of millions of dollars and forced to sell a browser-free alternative.

In the UK, both the previous Labour government and the current Conservative-Lib Dem coalition have endorsed the use of open source software in Whitehall.

This suggestion by the EU commissioner for the Internet is rather funny seeing that the EU websites, especially anything interactive, cannot, for instance, be used properly with browsers other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

It is time that they sorted that one out if they want to be true advocates of Open Source and not just want to sound good. They do say that actions speak louder than words and in the case of most of the EU ICT use they are still tied in to proprietary software and here, primarily, Microsoft.

However, it is true that Open Source software works, is free, and who wants to pay $100s to MS for an office suite when OpenOffice comes free and with basically everything that Microsoft Office has. I certainly don't.

I have been using OpenOffice for years now and would want to go back. It is just such a shame that some software is still written to only interact with MS Office, such as Avery's label making templates.

That is something else that need sorting out in the same way that encryption engines for hardware encrypted USB drives and such need to be made to work across all platforms, directly.

Even though many manufacturers state that their drives work on Linux and Mac so far I have found none, even of those claiming that they do, that actually do, and that includes Ironkey, unfortunately.

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