Hang on a minute.... this isn't all my fault!
Sorry folks, Ted's right.
What's more, all of you whining that it's senior management not having the balls to step outside the Microsoft compound, are wrong.
I am Senior Management, responsible for IT in a UK public sector organisation, and I can personally guarantee that the license status - which is all we're really talking about here- has precious little to do with my decisions when picking suppliers and software.
Many many commenters are speaking as if decisions on major procurements are made in some kind of vacuum, where the first (and perhaps only) decision is whether something is FOSS or not. I have to take a really broad view of fitness for purpose, and FOSS ain't it for me at the moment, but there's a few general points out there that influence my thinking when spending public cash.
First off- FOSS sounds great, but how do I get FOSS products that work for me?
Secondly, many folks are speaking about "alternatives" to Windows apps as if one can simply swap out components and replace e.g. Word with OOO.
Thirdly- "It's free, therefore you save money!"- ORLY?
Looking at these in turn:
I've just committed my organisation to a million pounds worth of spend on our principal line of business application deployment project. All of that spend is going on closed source, proprietory products. Why? Because they are packaged up as a solution, (albeit one slightly adapted by the supplier) for my organisation. The present day FOSS alternative would have been for me to employ a stack of staff to develop something from a bunch of scattered components, which would then have had to have been solely supported by yet more expensive staff. Why on earth would any sane person do this? Alternatively, I could have approached RH and entered into an expensive support contract with them, after providing them with the source code, and gone through roughly 100 years of contract negotiations where they argued over various bits of the code, so as to get it into a shape they would be happy to support. Why bother? The closed source option already came with this supplied. On top of that, there are disbenefits to being the only organisation in a sector to use a system, so following the crowd does make sense from a practical point of view.
Secondly- dragging the odd FOSS component into an enterprise does have significant risks and pain in the arse aspects. At one level- I have another supplier and set of patches to manage. Not that much of a bother if you have a set of 50 staff in your IT team, but for me, it's an issue, as we run a tight ship. At a user level, they are being given software they haven't seen before. Thirdly- legacy documents require tweaking to get them into OOO (which is the most likely candidate for adoption). Their spreadsheet app has limited compatibility with excel, and like it or not (and I definitely don't) many chunks of organisations are run of excel workbooks.
Finally, please quit with this "It's free, therefore it's cheaper than paid-for software" shit. FOSS is more expensive, end of story. Even if you have a team of 20-30 die hard freetards manning the IT department. Support for FOSS is improving, but it's a million miles away from where it needs to be to tempt folks like me who are solely responsible for supporting a business of 200 staff, all of whom care not one iota about whether something is "free- as in beer" or "free- as in speech" or whether it comes with a certificate of authenticity from Redmond. At the moment, I cannot begin to build a sensible case based onROI or payback on FOSS products. They just simply do not stack up on a direct costs basis, even before you look at BI and other indirect costs. Office standard costs me £34 a head, and with that I get happy users, and good support, and products that integrate with our email and other proprietary apps. I estimate I'd be at least £25 a head worse off a year using OOO (and as I say- that's direct costs: training for users, and integration into our infrastructure. No lost productivity factor included- these are all fairly hard figures)
Lastly- and I never directly asked this question, but we touched on it in the answers above, but it's still a biggie: Linux has a limited skills base out in the wider world. I have a stack of roughly 100 CV's on my desk now for a 2nd/3rd line Engineer role. About 15% have Linux/Unix skills. Many of those 15 folks have a salary expectation above what I'm willing to pay.
Having said all that, I won't say no to open source, but the FOSS world just need to start selling the stuff better, making it integrate into what's already out there, get it working in a financial sense, and then make certain IT staff have the skills to support it.
Flames- because I know that's what's gonna happen next.