Open source lags proprietary development apparently…

Following on from the news yesterday about the UK government’s magnanimous decision to give open source a “level playing field” (is that an admission that the government hasn’t treated open source providers fairly in the past?) – the boss of UK IT professional organisation SOCITM has given his take on the announcement.

Richard Steel, head of the society for public sector IT managers, has written a blog entry on the issue claiming that:

“Open Source” software development, in my experience, lags proprietary development by several years. I don’t think we could achieve the anytime, anywhere fixed and mobile infrastructure with tele-presence we require, now, for flexible and new ways of working using only Open Source”


“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.”

Steel’s less than enthusiastic, (or is should that be boldly pragmatic?) take on open source won’t come as a surprise to some in the FOSS community.

Steel, also CIO at the London Borough of Newham, has been painted as executing a u-turned on plans to use open source software back in 2004, choosing to with Microsoft instead.

Open source lags prop development? Hmmm, I wonder how many updates to Fedora, Suse Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Ubuntu happened during the time it took Microsoft to get Vista out of the door? But that might not be a fair comparison given installed base of Linux versus Windows. Still not sure that Steel’s comments hold water at all.

A good account of the Newham Microsoft issue here and Steel’s take on it:

Steel’s full blog entry on the government’s open source announcement here:

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