“France’s Ministry of the Interior says its use of Thunderbird, a free software email client, running on its 200 000 PCs since 2008, is five times cheaper than the use of the ubiquitous proprietary alternative.”
That claim sounds exaggerated even to me, but perhaps they are right. You install it and forget about it. Free Software just works with no fussing. I would estimate Free Software costs about half as much but then I don’t have a lot of data on non-Free software. They do. That same ministry reports, “that it is using free and open source operating systems for its servers and IT management. It is also using the Postgresql relational database management system for its databases, and on desktops, it uses suites of office productivity tools, all “leading to substantial savings.” Who can argue with the bean-counters?
Saving money is a great feature of Free Software but far more important is the freedom to use the hardware we own most effectively. Want to run on a different computer? No problem. FLOSS licences don’t restrict how you can run. That could save a lot of money because you don’t have to run the software on old equipment just because it’s too much work to re-license. Want to go into a virtual machine? or use thin clients? No problem, for the same reason. FLOSS licences give the user the right to run, examine, modify and distribute the software. In IT that means all maintenance, tuning and growth of the system is OK without worrying about the licence. Just do it. That saves manpower, paperwork, budgeting and money while increasing flexibility. IT gets done the right way instead of the way that maximizes M$’s profits.