Linux could be poised to take another big step into the public sector overseas, thanks to a new report from the UK Office of Government Commerce (OCG). The OCG study concluded that open-source operating systems such as Linux are “viable” and could “generate significant savings.”
The UK joins other European and Asian nations in their open-source expeditions, which some analysts say could bring independence from commercial software producers like Microsoft.
“The report shows that open-source software is rapidly maturing, offers significant potential benefits to government and should be actively considered alongside proprietary alternatives,” said the OCG report summary.
“It concludes that decisions should be based on a holistic assessment of future needs, taking into account total cost of ownership, with proper consideration of both proprietary and open-source solutions.”
Cost Analysis Needed
Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio told LinuxInsider that this endorsement is a “big deal” for open source but also emphasized the need for thorough cost analysis.
“There isn’t a black and white,” Didio said. “There’s not a right or wrong. When you get down to it, the operating system market has largely become commoditized. For most of the people who actually have to sign the checks and authorize the purchase of these things, they don’t care about the brand name.”
Microsoft certainly cares what brand name users stare at on their computer screens. That’s why the company launched a campaign earlier this year to convince users that Windows is a more cost-effective operating system than Linux.
Microsoft Fighting Back
The company’s “Get the Facts” campaign points to analyst reports and user case studies designed to bolster Windows as the lower total-cost-of-ownership operating system.
In the wake of the OCG report, Microsoft has stepped up its attack. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer yesterday sent an e-mail to customers worldwide that discusses analyst reports and case studies that toot Windows’ horn.
“A number of third-party reports have questioned how safe the Linux platform really is,” Ballmer wrote. “For example, a recent independent study by Forrester, ‘Is Linux More Secure than Windows?,’ highlighted that the four major Linux distributions have a higher incidence and severity of vulnerabilities, and are slower than Microsoft to provide security updates.”
Room for All?
Despite persistent bickering in the development communities, DiDio maintains that most end users still don’t care about whether there’s a penguin or Microsoft blue on the desktop.
“There is a not a one-size-fits-all operating system for every environment,” she said. “It’s scenario-based. Many people I talk to love Linux. Just as many are enamored with Windows or Macintosh or Unix.”