UK firms are failing to exploit open source software as much as they might because of uncertainty about its business benefits.
That's the key finding of a report prepared for the UK Department of Trade and Industry by the National Computing Centre (NCC), which offers a series of recommendations to encourage use of the technology.
According to the NCC, quality standards for open source are uneven - open source operating systems compare favourably with proprietary infrastructure products, but this is not the case for office desktop and business systems applications. It calls for a wider, more co-ordinated development effort.
Dr. Andrew Hopkirk, head of research and development at the NCC, said: "the current use of open source software in the UK is a complex and fragmented picture, yet there is clearly great potential for cost savings and increased efficiency."
Interest in Open Source has increased in the light of rising licence costs of proprietary software. But difficulty in establishing accurate total cost of ownership benchmarks for computer systems is holding back adoption.
Assessing the quality and suitability of open source products, partly "due to the widely collaborative way in which they are developed", is also seen as an issue for users.