Open source champion mulls return to Microsoft

voleAfter a decade of being the Open Saucy champion of the world, Munich  is now considering going back to Vole’s loving arms.

For ages the City of Munich has been the poster child for Linux and open office, but now the authority is considering proposals to make Windows 10 and Microsoft Office available across the council.

Starting in 2004, the council moved about 15,000 staff from using Windows and Office to LiMux—a custom version of the Ubuntu desktop OS—and other open-source software. At the time, Munich was one of the largest organizations to reject Windows. It was so serious that the shy and retiring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer flew to Munich to have a quiet word with the mayor.

Now a report commissioned by current mayor Dieter Reiter has outlined a project to make Windows 10 and Microsoft Office available to all departments, and give staff the choice about whether to use Windows or LiMux.

If Windows subsequently became a popular choice, the report says “it could be investigated whether it makes economic sense to continue using Linux as a client operating system”.

This is all part of wider €18.9 million architecture and client’ project. Munich city council take on two new “Windows experts”, who would help develop a “powerful” new Windows client for use by staff.

The council has previously said that the bulk of users had not taken issue with the move to LiMux and free software. However, in correspondence with the council, there is support from various departments for replacing LiMux and LibreOffice with Windows and Office.

The city’s human resources department (POR) hates LiMux, saying that since 2006 when the POR started using LiMux and OpenOffice, later switching to LibreOffice, that “the efficiency and productivity of the POR-supported workplaces has decreased noticeably” – referencing crashes, display and printing errors.

“Even 10 years after the start of the LiMuX migration, the users and users of the POR are dissatisfied. LiMux and LibreOffice are “far behind the current technical possibilities of established standard solutions”.

HR says Munich “is still dependent on Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc., since many requirements can only be met by the products of these manufacturers”. Aspects of these proprietary systems are incompatible with LiMux, according to POR, citing the council’s SAP security system, and errors in how PDFs are displayed by the open-source viewing software. Another department describes the use of Windows as being “mandatory in many areas of the city of Munich, whereas Limux clients are not”.

Even if the council were to accept the report’s suggestion that Windows be made available across the council and LiMux eventually dropped, no change would be made immediately. Under architecture and client project, the consultant’s report recommends that LiMux continues to be improved, as both LiMux and Windows continue to be used side-by-side at Munich for at least the next couple of years.