Big businesses consider free alternatives to Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat

Almost a quarter of big businesses want to drop Microsoft Office and over a third are considering dumping Adobe Acrobat in favour of free alternatives, according to research.

Almost a quarter of big businesses want to drop Microsoft Office and over a third are considering dumping Adobe Acrobat in favour of free alternatives, according to research.

More than half of these companies will start using free software in their business this year, following IT budget cuts and freezes.

The findings come from interviews with 400 CIOs at companies with over 1000 employees commissioned by Global Graphics, which makes e-document and printing software. Three quarters were US based with the rest in the UK.

The findings:

• 24% of CIOs are looking to replace Microsoft Office with free software.

• 38% of CIOs are looking to replace Adobe Acrobat with free software.

• 51% of CIOs will start using free software in their business this year.

Gary Fry, CEO at Global Graphics, said free software is a critical part of large organisations' IT strategies.

"Large organisations are perfectly prepared to use free software where possible, and upgrade to a fully paid-for version of the product where it makes sense for them."

It is not just the cost of buying software that is putting firms off Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat but the fact that workers are more au fait with freely available software, he said.

But Richard Swann, IT head at the Institute of Directors (IoD), doubts that large companies will move to free software in large numbers. "It is more likely in the SME space," he said.

"There is increasing interest in open source but there is no such thing as free software because you have to pay in the end for things such as support."

He said for business-critical applications large businesses feel more comfortable with software supplied by companies such as Adobe and Microsoft.

He added that the IoD has experience of free software. "We have tried it out on a small scale but users often struggled with it."

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