Free software rife in UK firms

Half of large companies use 10 or more free packages

Three quarters of large firms use free software as part of their enterprise strategy, according to a survey commissioned by Global Graphics.

The report found extensive use of free software across the enterprise with over half (54 per cent) of the 400 UK and US CIOs surveyed using more than 10 different flavours of free software. The most commonly deployed software was Adobe Reader, used by 78 per cent of organisations at an enterprise or departmental level. This was followed in popularity by Java Runtime Environment and Adobe Flash Player. QuickTime, OpenOffice, GoogleDocs, Skype and Microsoft Save as PDF were also heavily used by organisations.

"Things like Flash, Java and Adobe Reader are good, trusted bits of software and come from a reliable source. Where there are dangers are with less known free providers. If you go on sites like Tucows there are applications added on a daily basis and for individual users that's fine, but companies need to be a lot more diligent," said Gary Fry, CEO of Global Graphics.

The main reason for using free software was not to save money but to complement existing desktop applications and service users who couldn't easily be supported with traditional paid-for software. Most of the free software was on the desktop (82 per cent), followed by the application level (78 per cent) but 35 per cent of large firms also used free software within the data centre.