The government's decision to ensure open standards IT is used across all government bodies has been hailed as a landmark victory by open source industry onlookers.
Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, announced that from today, in order to increase transparency and decrease price, government bodies must comply with the principles unless they apply for an exemption.
Between February and June this year, the government undertook its Open Standards: Open Opportunities, Flexibility and Efficiency in Government IT report following a public consultation.
Maude said that £409m has been saved this year already, and added that under the new rules, the chance of vendor lock-in is reduced.
He said: "Having open information and software that can be used across government departments will result in lower licensing costs in government IT, and reduce the cost of lock-in to suppliers and products.
"It is only right that we are encouraging competition and creating a level playing field for all companies to ensure we are getting the best price for the taxpayer."
The government's public consultation showed that nearly 70 per cent of respondents believed the principles set out would drive innovation, competition and choice within government IT provision, as well as the same percentage agreeing that it would save money.
Mark Taylor, chief executive of open source provider Sirius, said he was delighted with the news, but legacy resellers will not be pleased.
"This new open standards policy is what will drive the open source agenda, the SME agenda, and lead to the massive savings the government wants and the taxpayer needs," he added.
"It will not be popular with proprietary incumbents, but the world moves on and the UK government must be acknowledged for leading the way."
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