Norway Gov't Moves Toward Open Source

The Norwegian government on Friday said it will step up use of open-source software to reduce its dependency on computer giants like Microsoft.

"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 government said in a statement. "Now that dependency will be broken."

For years, Microsoft's executives, including co-founder Bill Gates, have called free, open-source software a threat to technological innovation.

But proponents claim open-source lets software be developed quickly and easily because vast numbers of people can study, update and adapt programs without having to pay licensing fees.

The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform said measures to increase use of open-source programs includes a specialist panel to set standards for public information.

"Microsoft may well be a dominant supplier in the future as well, but will have to meet the demands of open standards," Administration Minister Heidi Grande Roeys was quoted as telling the business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv.

She said it would be unthinkable, for example, to force Norwegians to use one telephone company when calling public offices.

"But that, in principle, is what we have allowed in the computer sector," she was quoted as saying.

The statement said the project will also set standards to allow various operating systems to communicate with each other.

Several countries, including Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea have been actively moving toward open-source alternatives.

The Linux operating system and Mozilla Web browser are examples of free open-source technology that users are allowed to copy, modify and redistribute.


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