The Netherlands government has set a deadline for its agencies to start using open source software by April 2008.
Open source software is freely developed software that can be modified by anyone. The software has already made significant inroads in corporate infrastructure with Linux (operating system), JBoss (application server) and MySQL (database) leading the charge.
The Netherlands government however is keen to promote open source at the desktop level, specifically targeting personal productivity applications like word processing, and has directed its agencies to use the Open Document Format by April, and the state and local levels by 2009.
The Netherlands Economic Affairs Ministry however clarified in a statement that it was not necessarily barring agencies from using proprietary commercial software.
But [they] will have to justify it under the new policy, a ministry spokesman said.
The decision to migrate towards open source was approved by two Dutch parliamentary commissions earlier this week. The driver, like most open source adoptions, is to cut costs. The Netherlands government, for example, estimates it will save around $8.8m per year on running its city housing registration systems after implementing open source software
But it also said it wanted to reduce its dependency on ISVs like Microsoft. And the Dutch government isn’t alone in that respect. That has forced Microsoft to scramble to try and get open source certification for its Open Office XML standard. Thus far it has failed to do so from the ISO (International Standards Organization).
But recognizing the ubiquitous use of Word across its agencies the Netherlands government will still treat such document formats as equal alternatives to open source for the time being at least.
Microsoft said it is confident that it will get ISO certification for Open Office XML soon.
The Netherlands joins other European city authorities including most notably Munich and Vienna as open source shops.