One of the things that Collabora does is work with other open source projects to improve things for open source software in general.
I was chatting with Michael Meeks of SUSE fame and we had a chat about my recent decision to buy Microsoft Office 2010 for the city council.
One of the overriding problems with the comparison was the lack of support for macros within OpenOffice and I was glad to hear about improvements being made in that area. However, there was still an issue. Doing improvements like this cost lots of time, and therefore for a commercial open source company, money.
A question arises as to who can pay for this. A district council has limited funds, and can’t devote it to (essentially what equates to) a large search and development software engineering task. Companies themselves won’t want to take the risk that comes with the large development without a buyer, as once the work is done, it is open source so is harder to monetize.
In the mean time, millions of pounds of public money is being siphoned into a private company, and vendor lock in continues. An easy out for a councillor can be to say “Central Government should pay” but given the current state of the economy, I can’t see is happening in the immediate future.
However, there is a consultation on Open Standards that’s currently accepting submission until May, and if that insisted on ensuring that open standards are adopted throughout the UK, it may help unlock this chicken and egg problem.