Customers need no longer solely depend on software companies to release new versions of applications. With a lot of these now being run on open source, users have a lot more freedomâ€”they can view the source code and alter and redistribute such software.
So a company like Microsoft which gives most of the software loaded on your PC and therefore having a monopoly there, now has a competitor. Open source is especially used in e-governance where common government processes are computerized and automated and are used to bridge the digital divide between communities. It also reduces costs, improves efficiency and provides better services to citizens.
Open source software is being used by many countries so that theyâ€™re not dependent on a single vendor for all their software requirements. Even though the source code is open to the public, a greater degree of control is possible when applications are run on open sources.
Sovereign nations are more comfortable working on a platform where the source code is not the property of a private vendor. Countries like China and Germany prefer to use pen source software for sensitive areas like defense. Access to the source code allows the military establishment the liberty to modify it according to its requirements.
Many countries have also initiated policies on use of open source. Singapore for instance, even promotes it by offering tax benefits to companies using it. In India, a number of G2C ( government-to-citizen) applications such as land records, commercial tax and Panchayati Raj applications of state governments run on open source.
Many a time, proprietary vendors are not interested in developing a localized version of their software if the country or language is not economically viable. This increases barriers to technology usage.
However, Microsoft is of the opinion that a hybrid model (combination of open source and proprietary software) will be the answer to the information, communication and technology needs of the masses. In fact, under Shared Source Program, source code can be share making it available to all partners.
Indian government officials have meanwhile decided to play it safe. While choosing a platform for an e-governance application the government sources are looking at the total cost of ownership and the robustness of the technology and also at that platform which best fulfils user needs.