Microsoft is still cheaper than open sauce -

Everytime UK local government people look at open sauce, Microsoft products are always cheaper, claims a local government CIO - Jos Creese.

Speaking to Computing, Hampshire council's Creese said part of the reason is that most staff are already familiar with Microsoft products. Voleware also works well with the thin client model employed at Hampshire council.

But there is an additional reason too. Microsoft has been flexible and more helpful.

The true cost is in the total cost of ownership and exploitation, not just the licence cost. Creese said he did not have a dogma about open source over Microsoft, but proprietary software - from Microsoft, SAP to Oracle and others - needed to justify themselves and to work doubly hard to have flexible business models to help further business aims.

Creese added that his organisation did use open source in some areas. But he said that generally vendors needed to show greater flexibility over contracts, with an appreciation that longer term deals may need to change over time to suit evolving business needs.

He said that there was a range of habits and behaviours he expected from big suppliers to justify continuing using any proprietary software.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has called for government departments to drop the Microsoft Office suite in favour of open source alternatives.

Creese said that there were areas where central government has often had an undue dependence on a few big suppliers, which makes it hard to be confident about best value and he could understand where the Cabinet Office is coming from.

But sometimes you need to do what's best for the taxpayer, and sometimes that means a space can only be filled by a larger and proprietary supplier.