Water regulator Ofwat is one of the organisations trialling open source products. It currently relies on Windows-based systems, with its 250 employees using the Office 97 desktop suite supported by Windows NT servers.
An Ofwat spokesman said that as Microsoft is planning to discontinue support for the regulator's systems by December this year, the organisation had to upgrade its IT infrastructure.
The spokesman said, "The choice we have is to either upgrade to the latest versions of Office and Windows Server or adopt Linux-based desktop and server systems."
A decision on which package to use from January 2005 will be made "in the next few months," with a November cut-off to allow the organisation to complete further testing and arrange staff training in the run up to a roll-out of new systems.
Ofwat said the OGC's open source trial had come at a very busy time for the organisation, as its IT systems were central to delivering and managing the five-year price reviews of the industry's water companies.
The spokesman said, "We have to deliver drafts of the water companies' price limits in August this year and deliver the final decisions after consultation in December, ready for implementation from April 2005, so an IT overhaul could not have come at a busier time."