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FI: Ministry of Justice migrates to OpenOffice

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The Finnish Ministry of Justice this month switched over to OpenOffice. It made ISO standard Open Document (ODF) the standard format for office files.

OpenOffice, a suite of open source office applications, was installed late last year on all ten thousand PCs in the ministry. These are all running Microsoft Windows.
 
Of the total 1500 PCs will also run Microsoft's office applications. Previously the ministry used both Lotus SmartSuite (on seven thousand PCs) or Microsoft Office (the remainder).
 
A complete migration turned out unfeasible. According to a report by the ministry's Information Management Unit, this is made impossible because of some integration applications that are based on Microsoft technology, which for example connects the ministry's system with that of the Finnish Parliament and those in use by the European Union.
 
Still, the almost complete migration is saving the state millions of euro, writes the unit in a memo on the change over. Had the ministry decided to install Microsoft Office on all PCs in 2006 - 2011, it would have cost 9.8 million euro. Using OpenOffice will cost 2.9 million euro.
 
This includes license purchases and license maintenance, training, support, document conversions and adjustments to application integrations. "About 44 percent of the migration costs of the OpenOffice solution is spent on training and support as well as conversion of existing documents and applications."
 
The decision to migrate was based on an evaluation published in March 2005 of the three office application suites. The ministry also held a nine month pilot project with about 150 ministry workers using mainly OpenOffice.
 
The conclusions were favourable for the open source suite. "The functionality covers the needs of the ministry and compatibility with Microsoft Office is high." Exchanging documents with Lotus SmartSuite is partly automatic when users use a format that is supported by both software suites.
 
Strong points
 
The pilot also proved that basic OpenOffice skills can be acquired in a single day of training. Another strong point for the suite is the support for many different file formats, writes the ministry of Justice's IT department. "The software opens and saves file formats used by a large amount of programs." The team included a free add-on 'MultiSave', with which users can save a document easily in three different formats in one save operation.
 
"The migration is going fine, says Martti Karjalainen, Chief Systems Analyst at the Ministry of Justice. "We have now a couple of hundred user using OpenOffice, and we are training more all the time. One of the first jobs is to train enough in-house trainers for the migration. This will take some time."
Users have until now reacted positive, he says, explaining that they can fall back on their old tools. "We have not taken away old software in order to allow some time for the migration."
 
The Finnish ministry published all documents that were compiled for the evaluation and the pilot study.
 
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