eWEEK Europe Readers Say Yes To Open Source

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Enterprises are leading the way in open source, according to our readers’ poll, while governments lag behind. Next up: the majority of my business’s desktops are…

The open source versus proprietary software debate has raged on for some time, and the fight is always passionate. There are those that still cling to the ancient Windows XP operating system, loathe to believe that anything could touch it for reliability. And then, there’s an equally committed user base, which argues that open source is the route to true innovation.

However, as the global economic crisis progresses, and businesses continue to look for ways to cut costs, many IT managers are taking a closer look at Linux-based offerings.

Open source vendors have long touted the lower cost of ownership of their products, and it may be that companies are beginning to bite.

We love open source

These, at least, are the findings of eWEEK Europe’s latest poll. We asked our readers to describe their company’s open source policy. Of those that responded, 40 percent claimed to use open source – on principle – in all cases possible. Meanwhile, 28 percent said it was used it in major production systems, and 20 percent said they used it experimentally. Only 8 percent of respondents said they didn’t use it at all, because it couldn’t be trusted.

One enthusiastic reader, commenting on the poll, pointed out that open source “offers companies the opportunity to rapidly build open standards”.

Despite the obvious enthusiasm among eWEEK readers for open source, mistrust of the technology is likely to be far more widespread than this poll suggests. In November 2009, the vice president of the European Commission expressed concerns about the security of open source software and open standards, warning that governments should consider the implications for security and business continuity.

Enterprise leading the way

Since then, however, governments have gradually been overcoming their security fears. The Hungarian government has been held up as an example of how governments should be championing the use of non-proprietary software in the public sector, although some open source experts have questioned how committed the Hungarian government is to the technology.

Meanwhile, the coalition government in the UK has proposed the use of open source tech to help the public sector cut IT costs during the economic downturn. The Tories support the use of open standards in government IT projects, and the Lib Dems have sung the praises of open source’s cost benefits in the past. However, as TechMarketView analyst Georgina O’Toole has suggested in the past, the two parties are likely to clash in their approaches to achieving these goals, and with government tech budgets already stretched, it remains to be see how the rollout will be achieved.

With the uptake of open source technology remaining a matter of contention for governments, it is down to the enterprise sector to lead the way in open standards. The results of eWEEK’s poll back up the findings of a recent study by IDC, indicating that the enterprise is doing just that.

“Open source software (OSS) is increasingly a part of the enterprise software strategy of leading businesses and is seeing mainstream adoption at a strong pace,” said Michael Fauscette, group vice president of Software Business Solutions at IDC, in a statement. “As the overall software industry continues to consolidate, it will be key for OSS vendors to reach scale if they plan to continue as a stand-alone business.”

And it is not just on the desktop that open source is starting to make an impact. You only have to look at the sales of Android-based phones, for example, to see that open source software is making headway in the mobile space. According to German global knowledge provider GfK Retail and Technology, sales of Android phones increased by a staggering 350 percent over the last quarter, with Android’s share of the British smartphone contract market rocketing from three percent to 13.2 percent.

Next poll: The majority of my business’s desktops are…

This week’s new poll (in the left column of the eWEEK Europe website) delves closer into the issue of proprietary and open source software within the enterprise. We’re asking readers, which operating system runs on the majority of desktops in your business?

Are you one of those die-hard Windows XP enthusiasts, or have you taken the plunge and upgraded to Windows 7? Maybe you’re lucky enough to work in an office stuffed full of shiny Apple Macs, all running the latest edition of Snow Leopard; Or maybe you are also an open source junkie and run Linux on all your PCs.

Figures from Net Applications released earlier this month indicate that Microsoft’s sales nightmare that was Vista is slowly fading away, after it revealed that Windows 7’s market share for July had overtaken that of its much-maligned predecessor.

Windows 7’s market share for July reached 14.46 percent, according to the firm, compared to 14.34 percent for Windows Vista. However, Net Applications noted that “Windows XP is still the leading operating system by far, with double the share of Vista and 7 combined.” The firm estimated Windows XP’s market share at 61.87 percent.

Meanwhile, Apple’s latest Snow Leopard release was found to be outselling its Leopard and Tiger predecessors by 2-to-1 and 4-to-1 respectively, just two weeks after its release.

A new cloud-focused Linux flavour also launched in April, known as Peppermint. Designed for mobility, Peppermint offers “a light and fast system that gives you quick and easy web app integration but without sacrificing the traditional desktop model”.

Do you have a preference? Click on this week’s poll and let us know – and join in the debate if you want to.

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