Norway Looks to Open Source

Norway said Friday that it plans to wean itself from dependence on large corporations like Microsoft by increasing the use of open source software within government agencies. The Norwegian government also plans to organize a panel of experts to set standards for access to public information and how operating systems can interoperate.

The northern European country is not the first to move towards open source; Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, and South Korea already have plans in place to do the same. The allure of open source to governments is great -- a lack of licensing fees means much lower IT costs, and greater flexibility to adapt programs to their specific needs.

"It should no longer be necessary to use software from the major, international computer companies to gain access to electronic information in the public sector," the Norwegian government said in a statement.

To accomplish such a goal, agencies could ensure that their Web sites and online documents are viewable through open source browsers like Mozilla's Firefox, and documents could be converted to the Open Document Format to ensure they can be opened in multiple applications and across operating systems.

The Norwegian government gave no indication as to what exactly its plans would be around open source, nor did it mention any specific applications in particular.

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