LibreOffice: out of the niche, into the mainstream

Hot on the heels of Genoa’s adoption of open source, South Tyrol in the north of Italy is standardising use of LibreOffice (just as LibreOffice’s v4.1 is about to be released).

South Tyrol is a seasoned user of open source. For the last 20 years “free software” has been in use in its public administration, but now LibreOffice gets its moment in the sun. Over the next three years 7000 PCs will migrate from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice. At the end of that period, ODF will be the default document exchange format.

LibreOffice choice made by committee

The decision to standardise LibreOffice was made by representatives from many sectors, as representative of users as of experts, as it should be. Echoing Genoa’s reasons for adopting open source, the committee’s reasons for standardising LibreOffice include

  • avoiding vendor lock-in
  • increasing flexibility
  • saving costs – and, interestingly:
  • supporting the region’s smaller IT providers

Managing change is essential

The key to the successful adoption of open source technology into the mainstream is a managed process. This is borne out in Munich and again with Genoa, and Freiburg’s experiences demonstrate what happens when you don’t take this sort of approach.

Roberto Bizzo, Minister for Innovation and Information Technology, emphasised that the changeover would require commitment from politicians and management. Identifying one of the greatest strengths of open source software, Bizzo said that moving to open source would allow greater flexibility in a fast-moving IT environment. Hear hear.

Thanks to H-Online for the source material for this blog article.

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