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Open Source's Confidence Problem

At least on paper, open source technology offers enterprises a sort of promised land, an escape hatch from the world of expensive and disappointing proprietary commercial apps into one that features a technically-superior - and less costly - alternative. Simply put, on most days, what system administrator wouldn't like to give big bad Microsoft the slip. But though many organizations are beginning to use open source software, there is evidence that corporations are hestitant about adopting the technology.According to the online survey of 3300 people conducted by the Open Source Development Labs, companies are not willing to abandon all of their existing applications and are concerned the proprietary and open source software can't coexist peacefully in the same environment. Companies worry that open source will be more difficult to implement and support than traditional applications are. And businesses question whether open source will work well with peripheral devices. In a reversal, the state government of Massachusetts has thrown its support to Microsoft in an ongoing battle over office software formats and has launched an investigation into the state's former IT chief, who had been championing open-source software.

And Microsoft has, as per usual, managed to successfully foil the progress of many of its competitors by proposing its own open document format. The result has organizations such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
doing 180s and suddenly thinking abandoning Microsoft might not be such a bad idea. But somehow, I don't think the words "open" and "Microsoft" belong in the same sentence.

All hope is not lost. If open source vendors can do a better job of clarifying how their software can play well with proprietary apps, enterprises may regain some confidence in open source. All we can do now is wait and watch to see what develops.