I've been thinking alot recently about the power of free software and how it could be put to better use to innovate in companies.  At the moment, most of it is used to replace old proprietary blobs around offices, and has very much the same components as the old system - only cheaper.

However, with free software there are many more benefits that just being cheaper than paying for a legacy software license for things like file storage and printer servers.  There are many cases when I look at small/medium sized companies and see how their entire business model could benefit from adopting an Open Source system as the backbone to what their business does.

In the past, IT has been a tool which allows businesses to go about their business - only recently has it actually become the business of businesses.  It's a shame though, because as more and more businesses sell services based on free software - in essence it becomes standard customised solutions at a slight discount to the client, and without licensing overheads for the vendor.

What I'd like to see is the promotion of open source and open standards, and the ability for as much software to work in tandem with other stuff.  There's a heck of a lot of quality free software out there that companies should be able to utilise.  Rather than simply provide free software on a plate, efforts should be made to educate the users on what exactly they are getting.  How extensible the packages are and how to utilise them to their greatest benefit.

I don't know how other people feel, but setting up a new company legally incurs some costs - and when you add MS licenses to the mix, for just a single PC, it can double the cost.  I've recently set up a business who'd just bought a couple of new PCs.  They both came with Vista (laptop and Desktop).  I've been runnning purely Open Source Software on those two PCs for the company (aside from Vista) - and they're very happy with all the software, it does exactly what they need.  The next step is for me to speed them up, by switching them over to ubuntu.  I can see this happening within the next six months.  However, I'll also leave 1 Windows XP machine intact, so they can use it for remote-desktop connection for running some legacy software.