Bristol adopts Star Office


Bristol adopts Star Office

Will Hadfield

Bristol City Council is migrating its desktops to Star Office. It predicts the 12-month migration from Microsoft Office to the open source productivity suite will deliver substantial cost savings.

The council began to migrate its 5,500 users in August after completing the installation and deployment of Star Office earlier this year.

Gavin Beckett, Bristol City Council's IT strategy manager, said, "We are spending 12 months doing the migration. We are about a quarter of the way through."

Council staff supply the IT department with a list of the files they need to convert to Star Office. They then receive a half-day training course in how to use Star Office.

The IT department is able to convert files before the course so that staff can see how their key files will appear in the new package. However, few of the council's Microsoft Word files have required conversion work, Beckett said.

"Following the course we set a date when we arrive on site with workers who spend a half day with each user asking them what questions they have," she said.

A separate team from the IT department visits the other departments within the council once everyone has migrated to Star Office. The team then removes all Microsoft Office applications from the desktops in those departments.

All 5,500 desktops will continue to use Windows XP as their operating system.

The council said it has had no problems making its financial management system, which was built in-house work with Star Office.

The authority aims to achieve substantial cost savings through moving to open source applications. "The migration to Star Office cost a few tens of thousands more than the annual expenditure on Office licences," said Beckett.

The most difficult part of the migration has been transferring Lotus 123 files to new formats, partly because the IT department employs few people with Lotus skills, he added.


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