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Open source is years behind commercial products, says Socitm president

Cliff Saran

Socitm president Richard Steel believes open source still lags behind commercial products.

Speaking after publication of the government's policy on open source software, Steel, who also heads up IT at Newham Borough Council, wrote on his blog, "I don't like the term 'open source'. It's misleading what many people mean is 'anything but Microsoft' few businesses actually use open source directly - they buy software derived from open source that has been commercially packaged and sold with support, which, in practice, is little different to licensed software."

In Steel's experience, open source software development lags proprietary development by several years. "I don't think we could achieve the anytime, anywhere fixed and mobile infrastructure with telepresence we require for flexible and new ways of working using only open source," he said.

However Steel added that he would not rule out using open source at Newham. The council signed a ground-breaking 10-year contract with Microsoft and HP in 2003, where Steel ran a competitive tender with Windows against Linux. He said, "Newham has used open source for some applications since the time it did its deal with Microsoft and continues to do so."


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