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EU Commission Study Finds OSS Saves Money

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the penguins-print-dollars dept.

Linux Business 128

PS3Penguin writes "Groklaw has up a story about an EU Commission's recent findings on the costs savings available from using Open Source Software. From the article: 'Costs to migrate to an open solution are relevant and an organization needs to consider an extra effort for this. However these costs are temporary and mainly are budgeted in less than one year. The major factor of cost of the new solution - even in the case that the open solution is mixed with closed software - is costs for peer or ad hoc training. These are the best example of intangible costs that often are not foreseen in a transition.'"

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No surprise (4, Insightful)

kamochan (883582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17578804)

This does not come as a surprise for people having worked in IT and with OSS for some time.

Now, if this report gets public bodies to use and require use of OO/ODF, the large corporations (whose customers or legislators the public bodies tend to be) might move to OO/ODF as well, and then also us small subcontractors could finally junk the P-O-S, all-defaults-are-nonsensical, pay-for-incompatible-upgrades MSOffice. Someone just needs to get the ball rolling...

Damn, it's good to see the EU bureaucracy sometimes produce sensible results!

Re:No surprise (2, Interesting)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17578854)

"This does not come as a surprise for people having worked in IT and with OSS for some time."

Stand by for a least one patent-imdemnification-fud post in this thread ..

Travolta and Pitt crash in LA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17579128)

John Travolta and Brad Pitt crashed Travolta's jet in LA today ! All feared dead.

Re:Travolta and Pitt crash in LA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17579866)

Damn, it's on slashdot! It's got to be true!

A surprise for some people (2, Interesting)

mollog (841386) | more than 7 years ago | (#17578906)

I've seen Microsoft advertisements and white papers that assert that there are many hidden costs of using FOSS. You and I know that it's FUD or at least naieve, but people like Gartner Group lap that kind of 'research' up and repeat it.

More interesting would be to do the research on the hidden costs of using Microsoft OS and applications. I, for one, waste plenty of time dealing with updates, reboots after updates, etc. with the various Microsoft OS's that I have to use.

Re:A surprise for some people (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#17581088)

Not to mention:
Anti virus
Anti spyware
Remote administration software (the default remote desktop has unfixed security flaws)

Re:No surprise (1)

Jaqui (905797) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579004)

True, this is not a suprise.

"and then also us small subcontractors could finally junk the P-O-S, all-defaults-are-nonsensical, pay-for-incompatible-upgrades MSOffice"

do as I do, use an oss office suite and reject ms office formats.
[ after all, they are KNOWN malware carriers, it comes from being a binary format ]
So anyone sending ms office format files is trying to infest your network with malware.

windows / microsoft free for 10 years and proud of it.

Re:No surprise (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579304)

OO/ODF do not replace functionality provided by Exchange or Outlook. Until someone provides that kind of service in OO, nobody here is switching to it.

Re:No surprise (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580178)

OO/ODF do not replace functionality provided by Exchange or Outlook.

Open Office is an office suite, ODF a file format.

The functionality of Outlook & Exchange can be replaced through the use of CalDAV/LDAP/IMAP/SMTP/NNTP & Evolution.


Re:No surprise (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582472)

So you're saying we should replace something that integrates with the office with something that is completely unattached? It's not quite the same and thus not the solution.

Re:No surprise (1)

GnuDiff (705847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583770)

I don't know who is the "we" you refer to, but in my (granted, not very extensive, but >10 years in IT - in a bank, state telco and a couple private companies) experience I have yet to see any particular usage of some kind of direct links between mail/groupware program and office. What exactly are you referring to?

resistance (1)

plexium_nerd (724461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17581378)

I'm a big OSS advocate and I feel I make a pretty good case for clients to use OSS. However, the percentage that don't, and i've heard this quite a bit, do so because they're not "collectible" in the event it causes damage.

Even if the damage had minimal impact, it seems they still need assurance that they can sue the crap out of someone.


Re:resistance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17585416)

So these people who need to sue base this on successful lawsuits aganst microsoft when their office products failed or their MS servers got compromised or someone infected the whole intranet with the latest windows trojan? They *sued MS for damages* and got paid???

Got any (or do they) links to that successful lawsuit? How much did they collect?

But (4, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17578820)

One of open source's most touted benefits is its price. Download the software, install it--and don't pay a penny. That's the theory. But to a surprising number of companies, the price tag--or lack of one--is irrelevant. Believe it or not but in my university there are no problems to choose software. We are not looking the philosofical part of the questin (this is OS, this is not). We literally don't care for that. We look at what does the job best. And we buy and use it. And don't care for the price.

Re:But (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17578922)

The biggest benefit of open source software is that its, well, open source. Sure, most of it is free to use, commercial or not. However, as this, and other articles point out, purchase price is normally a very small portion of TCO (total cost of ownership).

Re:But (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579214)

yes, and to most user the "open source" nature is completely irrelevant.

It, like other methods and philosophies has it's pros and cons. I'm glad not everythin is OSS, that way I can use the closed source software that ended up better in some areas, and the open source that ended up better in others.

Re:But (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579394)

It depends where you're talking. Sure the average home user is going to prefer free programs. However, when you're talking large corporations, as I said, the initial purchase price usually isn't the deciding factor. Regardless of the type of software (closed or open source), one should ALWAYS choose the best software for the job. However, IMHO, open source generally produces better software in the long run than does closed source.

Re:But (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579786)

Ahh, but that's "free as in beer" software... Not necessarily open source software

There's a lot of free as in beer software that isn't open source. A normal user could care less if it's

free as in beer + free as in source access
free as in beer + closed as in source access

I agree, though it's not always the case, OSS generally does do better given enough time... But earlier on, I've found closed source projects tend to get better financing and startup. Then the beurocracy makes the throw-money-at-it approache less effective than the OSS throw-time-at-it approach.

Part of the nice "features" of commercial software (where most non-OSS is admittedly, and most OSS isn't), is that it has a certain amount of market pressure to be of a minimum quality, or it doesn't last long. You can find dozens of crap OSS projects on a certain topic before you find one that is good. Again, this isn't always the case, but it seems to be frequently such.

Re:But (1)

lazarusdishwasher (968525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17581080)

according to marketplace free beer is not free http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2006/12/2 9/PM200612295.html [publicradio.org]

the reason you might have to try many oss projects before you find a good one is that places like sourceforge and other big oss places never seem to drop any abandoned projects so they sit around popping up in search results. My theory is that all software starts off bad and gets better over time. Bad closed source is harder to find because they don't release until they think they can sell it or they go out of buisness and nobody is allowed to spread it.

Re:But (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17584286)

Part of the nice "features" of commercial software (where most non-OSS is admittedly, and most OSS isn't), is that it has a certain amount of market pressure to be of a minimum quality, or it doesn't last long.

One of the disadvantages of commercial/proprietary software is that it often only has the minimum quality required to receive enogh sales. An increase of quality beyond this minimum will seldom happen, especially if it doesn't generate enogh return on investment. In contrast, non-commercial developers couldn't care less of return on investment and other such financial issues, which enable them to increase quality beyond the minimum needed to barely satisfy its users.

Re:But (1)

CantStopDancing (1036410) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579490)

So you're saying that if the closed-source software had been open source, it would have been lower quality?

Re:But (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579648)

In some cases yes, in some cases no. There's a lot that goes into the development of a piece of software. In the end it amounts to this:

what group did the software development setup aggregate for creation of said software?

If it aggregated a good group, then the software will be good.

Different groups are aggregated to different styles. Some styles seemed to have worked better Open Source, others closed source. Its way to dynamic of a subject to drop onto one categorization though.

Re:But (2, Informative)

CantStopDancing (1036410) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580854)

Please explain what you mean by "aggregated a [good] group", what "aggregating a group" is, and how a group can be aggregated to a style.

Please tell us, specifically, which closed-source software you run that would have been of lower quality if open sourced.

Re:But (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580836)

The fact that it's open source should be considered by any well managed business.
Using proprietary software that locks you in to a single vendor is a HUGE BUSINESS RISK. It's highly dangerous to make your business dependant on a single organization or product, you should ALWAYS have a backup plan.
With open file formats, you have multiple sources from which you can obtain software, and with open source you are guaranteed the ability to install additional copies (yes, we've had several situations where we needed additional licenses for a proprietary product but couldnt buy them), never forced to upgrade (for the same reason, sometimes we couldnt get licenses for our current versions and had to buy the latest incompatible version, which forced us to upgrade other systems too) and your never going to be totally without support (we can't get any support for some old packages AT ALL because the only organization capable of supporting it no longer does) since worst case, you can hire your own programmers.

Re:But (4, Insightful)

Leftist Troll (825839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579036)

But to a surprising number of companies, the price tag--or lack of one--is irrelevant.

Many of those still choose open source software. There's a reason GNU, Linux, BSD and Apache are so widespread, and it has nothing to do with price.

Re:But (1, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579226)

There is also a reason why Windows, Photoshop, Visual Studio, Premiere, Office, Maya, AutoCad are also popular even if they cost A LOT. Have you been thinking about that? OS is not the holy grail. There are a lot of underfeatured are mediocre OS applications that sadly are overrated just for being that.

Did you miss a decade? (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579482)

Hi, welcome to /.

For approximately 10 years we've been arguing about why a lot of those products are so widely-used despite their (in some cases) inferiority or (in other cases) exorbitant pricing.

Re:Did you miss a decade? (1, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579694)

It's easy, in many cases it's not so har to understand. We use a lot of Photoshop at work. When you find us a package that does the same that Photoshop (please don't dare proposing me GIMP, don't make me laugh) then we will change be it OS or not. We don't care. AutoCad is used by our reactor designers. Don't try to push anything else to them. They have tried, believe me. And we pay gladly 8000 USD per licens... And so on... The philosophy and puritanism of OS=good and hip, commercial = bad and pest is not relevant...

Four more of open source's most touted benefits (2, Informative)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579154)

-It complies with published standards and therefore creates longer-lasting documents
-Since the source code is available, you are not locked in to a single vendor
-There are far, far more people who know the internals of the code and can offer you customizaton services.
-Security holes are easier to spot.

Who wants to do the next four?

Fine, I'll do them (2, Informative)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579388)

-(of particular interest to govts.) Instead of spending money on licensing fees that go into the Redmond, Washington tax base, you spend it on training, customization, etc. that can be performed by your constituency, and thereby have many generations of return
-Any feature you want/need badly enough can be added. You don't have to hope that your desires are common enough to merit MS's attention.
-You do not have to worry about whether sensitive information about your computers is being sent to Microsoft as part of some newfangled Automatic Updates or DRM "feature"
-On the offchance that your government believes in individual liberty, F/OSS should give you a warm fuzzy feeling.

Fifth and sixth reasons (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17581334)

This is why I prefer OSS: I can test at will anything I use. With commercial software they either give me crippleware or a limited test period. And if I later find I chose the wrong product, I don't have to write a report to management saying I made a mistake and, please, could I have more $$$ to buy the right (I hope) software.

And my second reason: with source code I don't have to worry about the supplier dying. I'm currently trying to find what to do with a software my company has; we do have the source code, 400k lines of Fortran, but it's VAX-FORTRAN and runs on VMS. The VAX/VMS suppliers have died twice already, when DEC was taken over by Compaq and when Compaq was taken over by HP. The best solution would be if HP released the source code to VAX/VMS under the GPL, but no such luck.

Re:But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17579180)

We are very happy for you...
We do, however, not consider software wich crash without a reason (and without a good error message) as "best for the job"...
...one thing you've got right "Price does not matter". Microsoft has never been "Best for the job", they have been easiest to implement in a MS only setup and they have been the best looking... but best ? Never !
Famous BG quotation no. 35: If you can't make it work, make it look pretty.

Re:But (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579338)

There is no "asolute best" in the world, sonny. What is good for one think, is not so good for other things. There is white and black but there is a whole spectrum of colors there inbetween. You'll grow up and will surely understand, don't worry. Windows is not "best" nor is Linux and even less the much imperfect OsX... They are all good and bad for certain things.

Re:But (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17581490)

And don't care for the price.
That's because you people get Academic pricing. Try paying Real World pricing in a Real World where cost is an issue.

Re:But (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582070)

Please tell me that your university is in some non english speaking country.

If so.. I applaud your mastery of a second language! (Seriously- it's a little mangled but not bad for someone for whom english is not their first language).

If not... well then your spelling and grammar was painful enough that I had to comment even tho I normally do not.

Training cost? (5, Interesting)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17578866)

I am a manager with a masters degree in engineering. My charge rate is well past $180/hour.

I spend about 1 hour a day telling other members of staff how things work in Excel. That's Excel 97 by the way, which we have had deployed for over 6 years.

Retraining costs only apply if your staff are trained in the first place. In the world where *everyone* puts "Office expert" on their CV almost no one is trained - at least not to a high enough standard to do anything beyond typing a letter.

With the interface also changing in the next version of Word this cost is even more fictional than ever - but it was never legitimate in the first place.

But did your personnel pass those tests? (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579086)

It's been years since I took 'em, but you know the ones: Office competency tests... "Perform a Mail Merge using the file 'blahblah.txt'". Except that if you use hotkeys, it registers as a wrong answer.

I always wanted to train some sort of domestic animal to pass those tests.

Re:Training cost? (2, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579142)

Retraining costs only apply if your staff are trained in the first place. In the world where *everyone* puts "Office expert" on their CV almost no one is trained

Heh, I don't. I can get by with office applications but I can only barely use a spreadsheet - I'm a mathematician so computers I work on tend to come equipped with rather more interesting power toys for any calculation/plotting needs and I simply never learned how to use spreadsheets. Likewise, due to my profession, I tended to use LaTeX for documents. Sure, I can bash out a letter or a simple document in a word processor, but anything fancy like tables, headers and footers and the like are things I would have to look up, or muddle through - I honestly don't know. Luckily for me, however, office application skills aren't that highly prized in the sorts of jobs I apply for. I do sometimes wonder how much of an odd one out I am though - I mean, am I alone in having "basic competence" in office apps, or is it common and everyone else just lies?

Re:Training cost? (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579698)

You, sir, sound scaringly like me. Must be a mathematician thing. I am far more at home with octave than openoffice, and I'd have a much easier time writing an xml table and style it with xstl+css than do the same in kspread or any other spreadsheet :)

Re:Training cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17580372)

In my experience there are two types of difficulties. The first is when something is legitimately difficult to do, the second is when something is artificially made harder for various reasons.

Consider math, I have always found that calculus is made unneccessarily difficult, because the solution requires quite a bit of both computational work and various rules (ever work on a problem where if one variable was different the solution would be at least a page less?) Note that I'm not complaining, I just feel like I'm doing busywork and mathematical gymnastics rather than solving interesting problems making calulus seem like a chore compared to other, more interesting math subjects.

I find text processing to be similar. And I find LaTeX allows me to work with the least amount of artifical complexity (although I want to learn Docbook when I have the time). I only run into problems when working with a business that _demands_ I use Word, and that is the only reason I would learn how to use it better.

Re:Training cost? (1)

Anthony (4077) | more than 7 years ago | (#17581312)

Almost the same here. Word Processors never appealed to me once I got past the "this key combination turns the word bold in-front of your eyes" which was novel at the time. I do all my correspondence in Emacs/LaTeX including invoices.

Spreadsheets were more of a fascination because I used a printing calculator many years ago and remember wishing it would be good to be able to go back and fix up an entered number and redo the calculation. There are a number of ways that could have been implemented in a calculator, but Visicalc came out a few months later! Once every few years I have a need for spreadsheet.

It might be a curmudgeonly thing, eschewing these tools. On the other hand, it might be that Office Apps don't fit with my way of thinking/creating.

Re:Training cost? (3, Informative)

donaldm (919619) | more than 7 years ago | (#17585382)

I have just recently put Fedora Core 6 on my new HP dual core 64 bit AMD laptop which I purchased (no dual boot ether). I did have a few minor issues which could have been solved with a HP configured install and recovery disk instead of the Microsoft XP professional it came with. So far I can actually do nearly all my work with this OS with the exception of some Microsoft specific solutions that requires I use my company laptop but 95% of my work can be done using FC6.

For a scientist or professional engineer I would strongly suggest a Linux solution (FC6, OpenSUSE, Scientific Linux ... etc) than a Microsoft one even though you can get most of the applications you like for a MS OS (sometimes free as well) at least you will fully own all your data and never have to be dependent on a proprietary Operating System. Actually IMHO LaTeX is actually easier to use than IMHO most word processors and the result is normally very professional. This is especially true if you need to write mathematical papers. You still need to know how to use a test editor though. As far as any type of development that requires maths a good Linux distro can provide everything you need (if you do any type of statistics have you tried "R" since it is like "S Plus") and again for free or cheaply.

If anyone writes to me stating "Oh you had problems with a Linux install on your laptop then there is a problem with Linux". My simple answer is I will give you FC6 or OpenSUSE and Microsoft XP (legitimate copy) and then ask you to install the OS and configure it on a reasonably new laptop (I am being fair here) and I am quite sure you are going to have more problems with the Microsoft OS than with a Linux OS. Since I now have a working Laptop with FC6 (what do you think I am using to type this) I can easily create a recovery disk that could be used to configure all laptops of this type. The first install is always the hardest after that you can easily roll out an OS on equivalent machines, this is how most PC vendors install an MS OS.

Now back on topic. If you are a manager and it has been put to you that you need to spend vast amounts of money to retrain your staff to the switch from MS Office to Open Office, then I would suggest firing people and I am not just speaking as a professional engineer I am speaking as a manager. Most MS documents can be imported into Open Office (including many with macros) with little if any changes needed. The only problem you have is when you try to read an OO document back into MS Office. That in itself should tell you how standards compliant Microsoft is.

The biggest problem an organisation is going to have making a switch to Open Standards (note I did not say Open Source) are the managers who will most likely say "Oh it is not like MS Windows" or who have made bad business decisions although to be fair to them they may have made the right business decision at the time, that have locked the company into proprietary solutions.

Sometimes you have to force change (the engineer in me speaking) otherwise things will never change since most organisations are very conservative and won't change unless a decision comes down from the top but sometimes the top managers are even more conservative or love to organise committee's, which usually means nothing changes.

Re:Training cost? (1)

zsau (266209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17587114)

I'm not a mathematician, but I also tend to use LaTeX and the like. I have very few skills in Office, but because I'm a programmer, people assume I'm great at computers and ask me how to do such-and-such in Word (or whatever). Most of the time I've never done it, but I poke around for half a minute and it's done, and so they ask me next time. (Some times, of course, I give up and say "I don't know".)

So my guess: Almost everyone lies.

Re:Training cost? (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579296)

I spend about 1 hour a day telling other members of staff how things work in Excel. That's Excel 97 by the way, which we have had deployed for over 6 years.

When I was a very young - okay, not that young, but young - sysadmin, we had a secretary who was constantly asking me over to help her out with something in MS Word or Powerpoint. I believe that the only reason I wasn't also getting requests for help with Excel was that management knew better than to ask her to work on a spreadsheet, but that's another story.

After one particularly frustrating day in which she'd dominated my time with a completely trivial issue, I finally suggested that she might benefit from taking a course on the various Office products. We worked for a university, and they were offered free of charge to staff.

She pooh-poohed me, suggesting that it was just experience. "I'd be as good at this as you are if I spent as much time in Powerpoint as you do." I had to tell her, as gently as possible, that I had no reason to use Powerpoint in my regular duties, hadn't done a Powerpoint presentation in several years, and in fact hadn't even used the program in the last several months for any purpose other than answering her questions.

This brings to mind something I read on someone's blog recently: a consultant who was somewhat frustrated with what he perceived as silly research questions from one of his clients finally asked: "Look, I could go look this up for you on Google, but is that what you really want to pay me for?" Their answer was an unequivocal yes.

That secretary never did take the class.

Re:Training cost? (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580386)

When I was a very young - okay, not that young, but young - sysadmin, we had a secretary who was constantly asking me over to help her out with something in MS Word or Powerpoint. [Story about how secretary doesn't know Office]

Hmm, did she smile when you helped her? Flick her hair back? Give out hints about movies she'd like to go to, but doesn't have anyone to go with? Mention nice places to get coffee at?

If so, then perhaps constantly calling you over to 'help with Word' may be what normal people call 'flirting'. I don't know anything about that, personally, you'd need to ask someone else for more details. I just read about it somewhere.

Re:Training cost? (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580768)

Hmm, did she smile when you helped her? Flick her hair back? Give out hints about movies she'd like to go to, but doesn't have anyone to go with?

I think that the pretty girl (or hot guy, for those inclined) who calls over the tech support dude to see if he could just help with one more little thing is the unifying fantasy of all geeks, if you ignore the ones about Natalie Portman, etc. But trust me, that's not what what was going on here. And I'm just as glad.

Another quick story. The secretary had a terrible time with her phone, which was a multi-line model. She couldn't grasp the concept that she had multiple extensions connected to the phone: one which was the "main" extension for our group, and another which was specifically for her. As a result, she was constantly confusing her self by pressing the button to use the "main" extension, then trying to access her own personal mailbox. On one occasion, she called my coworker to complain that she'd forgotten her voicemail password, which he dutifully reset before going to her desk to help out. Since we were about to grab lunch, I accompanied him.

She demonstrated how she was trying to dial her voicemail: she pressed the wrong extension, dialed the voicemail extension, and when the automated attendant asked her for her mailbox number, she entered her password. Because she didn't bother listening to the actual content of the error, which was along the lines of "Unknown mailbox. Please enter your mailbox number," she then hung up and said, "See? My password doesn't work."

Coworker explains her error for her, she grumbles about how ridiculous the phones are, and then: "Wait. Why isn't my password working now?" Coworker explains that in keeping with policy, he reset her password when she said she'd forgotten it. She flipped out at him, saying that that was "completely unacceptable," and "how dare he" change her password to something else?

It was about all I could do to keep from jumping across her desk and putting my hands around her throat, so I walked away while he explained - politely - why she was being dumb.

Having typed all that, I shall know go home, have a beer, and daydream about Natalie Portman asking me to show her the art and science of kernel parameter tuning.

Re:Training cost? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579332)

You are exactly right. Every day I run into a question about how to use an office program that has been on the market for years, if not closer to a decade. In my opinion, this is why moving people to F/OSS is a no brainer. If they have to be trained anyway, why not move them to F/OSS?

Simpler still is the fact that the complexity of MS office applications is what generally causes the questions for many people. They feel that there should be a way to do something, but don't know how. Even if 'clippy' was meant to help, its so annoying that nobody wants to use it.

If someone were to create a FAQ information base that answers questions for Linux and Linux apps, then ... oh wait, I forgot, they did that already. So the problem then is that people, end users, generally don't want to learn to use computer applications, they just want them to work. Perhaps with a few big buttons at the top so they can access common functions and a big help button that summons an IT guy visitor pronto.

The cost of training is not small, and most enterprises pay that cost like the death of a 1000 cuts each time someone asks a coworker how to do xyz in Excel, or how to setup bullets in Word.

If that death of 1000 cuts will always happen, why not let it happen on applications that don't cost you a leg and an arm every couple of years?

Re:Training cost? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580596)

Google hits for: +"OpenOffice" training
      approximately 1.3M

Google hits for: +"Microsoft Office" training
      approximately 6.4M

(You can try other forms such as "Open Office" or "MSOffice" or what not, but that will just add to the gulf between the numbers.)

So, if I'm looking to train my staff (the largest chunk of cost in implementing an Office Suite), it appears to be much more available to train on the MS product than the open source solution. If I live in PodunkTowne, U.S.A., which do you think will be easiest for me to access....not very likely to be OpenOffice. I would bet that OpenOffice training is only really available in larger / more tech savvy areas.

Sure those training companies will travel, but that just adds to the expense.


Re:Training cost? (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583712)

One problem is that training isn't just for the stupid computer noobie employee. I know it comes in as a shock, but when you do high end enterprise softwares inhouse, moving from one environment to another can be a pain. When you're moving from an environment where the solutions are in .NET, people use OWA, everything is handled by Active Directory (including the inhouse apps), the database goes through SQL Server, the web front end is on IIS, all the web services get integrated in MS Office, the documents are pumped out Sharepoint, and the workflows are controled by Biztalk (and doing all of this is quite common, because when your devs have MSDN licenses anyhow, half of the development tools come at no cost anyway, and the actual licenses come out as peanuts compared to the development), replicating all of that (which can take several years even when everything work on first try, and is eased up greatly by the high level of integration) on OSS, while very possible, and in the end -will- work very well, is almost crazy from both a $$$ and time perspective.

All the environment generic algorythms and whatsnot they teach in school is cute and all, but when faced with business challenges, environment specific architecture and solutions are often needed, and people with high degree of seniority in these environments are required to get it done.

Basically, my point is that you'll need to fire 2/3rd of your IT department (the QAs, analysts and project managers get to stay. Maybe 1-2 low level graphic guys, an auditer, and a lucky bunch at the R&D. MAYBE), and go back to the drawing board, with your Human Ressource department not knowing which qualifications are required in the new guys, since we don't know what the actual hiccups will be.

I realize I'm making it sound worse than it is...but teaching the desk people how to use their new office UI is the -least- of an enterprise's worries, in my opinion.

Re:Training cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17580586)

So you decided to hire morons. You should consider the total cost of hiring a moron...

Charge rate (1)

subl33t (739983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580858)

"My charge rate is well past $180/hour."

You mean, *gasp*, it is almost $190/hour?!

(ok it's Friday, I'm not being sarcastic, my head is just... not right)

I've Been Saying This For Some Time (4, Insightful)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17578900)

No mattter WHAT it costs to transition your people, those costs can be amortized over time. Whereas paying proprietary software license fees is FOREVER. By definition, sooner or later OSS HAS to cost you less - not even taking the intangibles of avoiding lock-in, flexibility, etc. into account.

The only issue is whether you can afford the upfront costs - and that has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. And you solve that issue by doing your migration over time according to a PLAN.

Planning? A novel idea for most IT management who are usually locked in to a crisis management mode...

Re:I've Been Saying This For Some Time (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579386)

sooner or later OSS HAS to cost you less
And once you run into the limits of one tool, you have documentation and interfaces so you can extend it, or work around limitations. Yeah I know, this may entail going back to the source. Or you can just go to a different tool because you have compatible or documented file formats.
But with closed tools you're more or less stuck. I've seen way too many cases where Excel refused to jump through hoops, at least without some serious coding. Unfortunately, around here Excel is all people know. Have tou ever heard someone in the next office over going click, click, clock rapidly about 50 times? I'll bet you they were using Excel.
If all you have is a hammer, you don't know what you could do with a Swiss chainsaw.

Re:I've Been Saying This For Some Time (3, Funny)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579918)

Have tou ever heard someone in the next office over going click, click, clock rapidly about 50 times? I'll bet you they were using Excel.

If that was me, it's Minesweeper.

Bad argument (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580648)

The saving over time has to be larger than interest on the initial investment for the free software (or any other cost saving measure) to be a good investment. Otherwise, you are better off putting the money in the bank.

The "intangibles" as you call it, avoiding lock in, is the reason that free software usually is the better investment in the long run. The freedom granted by the use of free software is important when you have to navigate your organization in an ever changing and unpredictable world.

Expect a response saying the exact opposite (2, Insightful)

fatphil (181876) | more than 7 years ago | (#17578932)

... commissioned by a company that's a Microsoft partner. But no, honestly, it will be independent; we even paid extra for them to put "an independent study" in their abstract.

It /always/ happens, and I've not seen a "Upgrading to Vista is cheaper than Linux" report yet this year, so it's due some time soon.

Re:Expect a response saying the exact opposite (3, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579002)

Don't you know Vista is Free with purchase of a PC?

Re:Expect a response saying the exact opposite (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582138)

It really is in a way.

I used to scratch build.

For the last two years, the parts to build the machine cost more than buying a prebuilt machine with an OS installed.

OEM vendors have to be paying next to nothing per copy for their OS.

The price of the OS seems to depend on the hardware. High end hardware can be bought and scratch-built cheaper than medium to low end hardware.

Re:Expect a response saying the exact opposite (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579054)

oh, I am quite certain that the next study that says that MS is a better low cost solution will be totally independent AND will not be "funded" by MS. In fact, it will be the same way that SCO was not funded by MS or Sun.

Training costs (2, Interesting)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17578952)

It would be interesting, then, to see a comparison of training costs between switching to an OSS solution and upgrading to Vista and Office 2007. Certainly a pure OSS solution is going to require more training because there are more changes involved, and some of the differences are significant. Still given the easier incremental transitions you're likely to get on the OSS upgrade treadmill (which tends to have more regular, smaller, upgrades) compared to MS, you might be able to claim an offset in future training costs. At the very least it would be interesting to see how such costs stack up in a variety of cases. If training to the only really significant cost for OSS then this next upgrade round from MS might see a few more companies deciding to do an OSS roll out when they finally get around to upgrading.

Where is the control group? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17578976)

I always see the studies about the costs of migrating to Linux. But they never adequately explain the control group.
To be of any real value, you have to compare the Linux migration costs to some control group.

Here are some possible control groups:
1. Group transitioning from Windows95/98 to Window XP to Windows Vista
2. Group transitioning from Windows95/98/XP to Mac
3. Group transitioning from Mac to Windows Vista
4. Group transitioning from Windows95/98/XP to LTSP
5. Group transitioning from Linux to... Linux?
6. Group transitioning from Windows NT to Windows 2003 to Windows Vista

It seems that the control group in most of these studies is only imaginary: Windows XP with no transition.
That control group doesn't exist. It is never actually included in the studies. It is only conjectured.

What is the value of a study that uses an imaginary control group?

Re:Where is the control group? (1)

IDontAgreeWithYou (829067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579328)

Quite possibly the most intelligent post ever by AC. Please look and mod up... or copy, paste and take credit for the parent post.

I guess they never got the memo (3, Informative)

oOo Shiva oOo (582339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579010)

Wasn't it well established in an open letter [slashdot.org] that open source is dangerous and could derail the European economy? :)

What about those of us who are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17579032)

too stupid to use F/OSS?

That's what they tell me all the time. I mean, MS has no problem selling to us stupid people.

Me: download F/OSS, install it. Read TFM.

Compile errors usually saying I need a newer version of some dependancy that wasn't mentioned in the FM.

Get the dependencies. They have their own dependencies.

Have problem getting software to work. Contact developer: Developer, "RTFM! Idiot!" Okeydokey.

After 30 -40 hours of surfing web, scratching head, I just say, I'm too stupid. Delete software, buy MS solution.

I don't have time to do it myself or the money to pay for someone smarter than me.

At this point, I would somewhat dissagree (3, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579098)

The forces who do not want to see OSS succeed for their own financial reasons will do what ever it takes to make sure your costs go up. If Linux usage spikes next month (for example) I would except to see a rise in underhanded tactics as well.

Lies (2, Funny)

schabot (941087) | more than 7 years ago | (#17579230)

Of course the EU would say that, Europeans are socialists and Linux is communism. [theregister.co.uk]

Want the truth? Get the facts [microsoft.com] where they are totally straight and objective, from honest American corporations.

(Insert tongue in cheek)

The facts are not looking good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17579936)

All the "Get the facts" Case Studies are in .DOC format. So we will never know what we are missing. :)

What they meant to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17579514)

"EU Commission Study Finds OSS Makes It Next to Impossible to Make Any Money". Fixed that for you.

fuc-k a Cock (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17580112)

as possible? H03

Price doesn't matter (3, Informative)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580124)

Vista will make cost irrelevant.

Lots of companies and most governments are going to be mandated to use whole-disk encryption for laptops and desktops in the next year or so. The easiest way to do this is to get your hands on Vista Ultimate or Vista Enterprise.

This is a problem.
Vista Ultimate is a consumer product and you cannot get it via a volume license agreement, so that's out.
Vista Enterprise is available via volume & enterprise agreements but you must have software assurance agreement in place.

To get software assurance, you pay Microsoft a "seat fee" equal to the number of computers that you have that aren't:
  - Servers
  - Applicances (VPN devices, Google Search boxes, etc)
  - Kiosks (ATM's, POS terminals, etc)
  - Embedded devices (Treos, Blackberries, etc)

That means that you'll pay Microsoft for Macs, Linux machines, FreeDOS machines... anything that is a workstation. So switching to Linux won't save a time, because you'll pay Microsoft anyway!

Re:Price doesn't matter (2, Informative)

Hymer (856453) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580636)

IBM's laptops have hardware encryption of the disk on board... and got it for something like 10 years. You don't need Vista for harddisk encryption... and Vista's encryption is even not the best solution (for Vista) available, there are several 3rd. party solutions wich are fairly cheap, powerful, and runs on several versions of Windows. You don't even neesd that TCP chip for running real safe encryption...

Re:Price doesn't matter (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17585374)

So instead of locking into proprietary software, you lock yourself into proprietary hardware as well?

I've been involved with evaluations and deployments of disk encryption software... there are plenty of great packages out there, but most places will choose the convenient solution over the best one.

The point is, Microsoft is doing the same thing to enterprises that they did to OEM's.

Re:Price doesn't matter (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#17581210)

Or they will migrate to Linux with full disk encryption.
All we need, is to produce distros that install in this way by default (otherwise encrypting the whole drive can be a pain to set up)

Re:Price doesn't matter (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17585848)

For there to be a contract, there must be an offer and acceptance. Therefore, it is your own fault if you accept such a bad deal.

fp ni6ga (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17580204)

Prima doonas to

Traning costs, what about Vista, Off2007 & rib (1)

Lukasz (Qr) (959203) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580246)

so transition is zero when you have to retrain people when moving to never fancy ribonized M$ Office? Same cost so for your sake it is better to switch to OSS like OpenOffice, instead retraining people with M$ junk.

There is OTHER software than Office (1, Interesting)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580270)

Hey, fanboys! Before you get too far into yet another "OSS is the best!" argument, you have to realize that there are many, many, MANY other things that software does that OSS doesn't do yet.

Case in point... the main software that I need is point-of-sale. There is NO OSS point-of-sale software that is anywhere near as good as any of the closed source products.

Hell, there isn't even a good equivalent for Quickbooks/Peachtree that's OSS. It's absolutely mind-boggling that any small businesses could ever go completely open source WITH NO FINANCIAL SOFTWARE (Yes, I know about GNUCash: it's a joke).

Hell, we don't even use any office software at my business (text documents are done with Textpad).

So, while Open Office and Linux is nice and all, it only meets a fraction of common, every day business needs. (Unless you're a multi-billion dollar internation corporation, then you can just pay a team of people to write something OS, and not care if your competition uses it or not).

Oh, so my point is that these studies are ridiculous. The custom OSS software we would have to have written would have to be amortized over ~20 years in order to save us money. OSS is grossly more expensive for me than shirnk-wrapped products.

Re:There is OTHER software than Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17581118)

ViewTouch designed and developed the world's original colorgraphic touchscreen POS ( point of sale ) system. (Oh and it runs debian...)

Re:There is OTHER software than Office (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17581506)

Yes, there is good accounting and POS software, IF YOU LOOK FOR IT.

http://www.linuxcanada.com/ [linuxcanada.com]

Their base package (GL, Recievable, Payable, etc) is free and compares featurewise with QuickBooks Enterprise. Their point of sale is also excellent but costs, albeit very reasonable at $1k + $250/terminal. Server runs on Linux only and needs Postgres or Sybase or Firebird; clients are graphical and run on Linux or Windows.

Amazing (2, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17581584)

Hell, there isn't even a good equivalent for Quickbooks/Peachtree that's OSS. It's absolutely mind-boggling that any small businesses could ever go completely open source WITH NO FINANCIAL SOFTWARE (Yes, I know about GNUCash: it's a joke).

Simply amazing that those crazy Europeans manage to get by without Quickbooks. A miracle I manage in my own business(es) without ever once missing Quickbooks. I run OSS almost exclusively and actually spend less time dorking with my computers, which tend to stay working for extremely long periods of time. What is it I can't do without Quickbooks? Because I manage to track mileage and expenses, do billing, proposals and make financial projections with, what to me feels like, a minimum amount of effort. I must be living a torrid, pathetic existence. How sad for me to be so happy in a slime pit of unrealized potential. I don't have Quickbooks and I'm too cheap to spring for a copy of CrossOver to run it. But I do have a lot of fun with the money I'm not spending on MSFT products, so it's not a complete loss.

I'm not sure what makes that mind-boggling, because I think I'm doing just fine without MSFT. Perhaps you're easily boggled?

Re:Amazing (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583940)

Well, first off, Quickbooks is made by Intuit, not Microsoft. Secondly, we do hundreds on transactions a day, and deal with over a hundred vendors, and have over 10,000 different products. Pencil and paper doesn't work for us. Glad it works for you, though!

Re:There is OTHER software than Office (1)

leftcase (1030652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17582670)

Hell, we don't even use any office software at my business (text documents are done with Textpad). So, while Open Office and Linux is nice and all, it only meets a fraction of common, every day business needs.

So you're aware that products such as open office are available for free and yet you use textpad for word processing. You're either a nutter or a liar mate!!

Re:There is OTHER software than Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17584536)

whis he a nutter or a liar? Why the hell would you install the bloated piece of shit that is Open Office if a text editor will suffice for what your doing. Anybody that installs it when not needed is the nutter.

Plenty of POS solutions available... (1)

LibrePensador (668335) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583726)

Idiocy seems to be rewarded in Slashdot as you seem to have been favorably moderated. Just do a google search and you will find plenty of linux-based POS solutions.

Try Novell's POS as we have deployed that for a very large business in Spain.

Financial software is very much country specific. Here there are a couple of very compelling open source solutions, and some proprietary ones.

Anyway, I'll quit wasting my time with what is obviously a troll post in intent, nature, and tone.

Re:Plenty of POS solutions available... (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17583918)

Just do a google search and you will find plenty of linux-based POS solutions.

A. I was talking about OS. Not necessarily Linux.

B. I've investigated what's available, and none of them are even remotely acceptable (compared with the proprietary products out there).

C. Novell doesn't make a POS product that I can find. They're partnered with Oracle for a product called "360Commerce". I have no idea if it's for small businesses or not.

Er, what about training? (1)

L4m3rthanyou (1015323) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580462)

Retraining employees isn't cheap, especially with regards to the time cost.

Unfortunately, OO.org is not anywhere near on par with M$ Word, especially under Linux. It's bloated as hell. When a word processor is so slow that it's annoying, something has gone horribly wrong. Hopefully later versions of OO (or some other office suite) will improve on this... but until then, I can't see Linux/OSS making significant progress into the office/business market without a good word processor.

Contrarian view point (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17580694)

Well, MSFT had how much sales last year? 40 Billion Dollars? What is the total expenditure of all the Fortune 500 companies put together? 2 trillion dollars? MSFT is not taking big enough chunk of the companies to matter.

Know thy enemy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17584058)

First of all, know what you're confronting. You're going to sit at a public manager desk and spread all these numbers, talk for some hours till some magic moment when he looks up to the ceiling and says: "Eureka! Got an idea! Why don't we use this FLOSS and save the taxpayers a bunch?"


He'll just ignore you, and say to others you're a zealot whose ideas are distorted towards Linux domination. Don't say you're going to propose the use of free software on Windows: it won't work and he'll keep calling you Linux zealot.

Against all evidence, he'll just keep buying M$ licences instead of directing money to acquiring better hardware. He'll keep investing in platforms exclusive to M$ environments, like C#, .NET, ASP, etc. Mono, hah, not an icecube's chance in hell.

He'll spread FUD like "software has a life cycle" (so licences must be bought again and again), "new purchases are needed because newer product versions have bugs fixed" (an article by the late Dijsktra from 30+ years ago stated the opposite, mind you).

He'll use any possible dirty trick he knows to make Windows win and why? Because Linux wasn't in his plans! He's been so fiercely busy promoting Windows variants as better than Unices and when things started to lean favourably, there comes this PITA Linux to spoil his victory... (the other theory involves corruption, but I find incompetence more plausible).

In the end, there's no possible way to solve this on reasonable grounds only. If this guy was capable of changing his mind, he would have done it at least 3 years ago.

He has succeeded in qualifying Linux as a crazy nut thing; the ones he commands either are too coward to protest or have so much investment in M$ knowledge that they -- like their boss -- don't want to learn new things, too.

So, what do we do? I don't know for sure.

Fortunately, as I've seen in the past, the Windows-to-free-software change is happening in spite of guys like him (or me, btw!). In my zealot's distorted vision, it is as sure as the progress of time.

I think I'll just keep doing what I think is right and let time deal with him.

Pfft the EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17584990)

The EU couldn't find their way out of a room with only 3 walls let along anything as complicated as that.

The problem here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17585464)

... is that any statement about the cost implies that the total cost (and hence, the actual benefit) are measurable. Measuring either would be highly complex and depends largely on decisions about relative valuations made by those measuring.
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