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Thursday, 16 February 2017 10:03

Microsoft does not love Linux in Munich

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The city of Munich, which moved its systems to Linux many years ago, is now thinking of moving back to Windows 10, following the arrival of a mayor who got Microsoft to move its German corporate headquarters to Munich.

The city council voted on Wednesday to create a draft plan outlining the costs involved in moving back to Windows. If the plan gets the green light, then the return to Windows could take place by the end of 2020.

Munich's move to Linux goes back to 2001, when the idea was first suggested. It came at a time when the city had to either upgrade from Windows NT and 2000 to Windows XP, or else choose a different operating platform.

Munich finally opted for a customised version of the Kubuntu Linux distribution and called it LiMux. By 2013, more than 15,000 desktop systems, out of a total of about 18,000, had been moved to LiMux. At that time, Munich said it had cost €23m to shift to LiMux and OpenOffice, much less than the estimated €34m that an upgrade to Windows 7 and newer versions of Microsoft Office would have eaten up.

Microsoft claimed at the time that the LiMux project would cost €60.6m while moving to Windows XP and a newer version of Microsoft Office would have required only €17m. Munich responded by saying that Microsoft's figures made many bogus assumptions, such as over-estimating by a big factor how many people were needed to implement the switch.

The new mayor, Dieter Reiter was once quoted in an interview to the German magazine Stadtbild as saying he was a Microsoft fan. He was later quoted as saying that this had nothing to do with his suggesting that LiMux be junked in favour of Windows and commissioned Accenture, Microsoft's Alliance Partner of the Year in 2016, to report on whether a change should be effected. Accenture also runs a joint business with Microsoft called Avanade that helps businesses implement Microsoft technologies.

While those who support a move back to Windows have claimed that Accenture made this recommendation, ZDNet, which obtained a copy of the report, says that this was not the case.

The report said that while 18% to 28% of users had software issues that could be solved by moving back to Windows, 15% said they had severe issues using Microsoft Office.

In the case of the city's human resources department, the loudest complainer, which said it needed Windows to run its SAP and Oracle applications and display PDFs correctly, Accenture recommended that different city units should be allowed a choice between Windows and LiMux, depending on which ran their applications better.

Accenture also said that in the end the desktop platform would not really matter all that much because a move to Web-based software-as-a-service was not far away. It added that Munich should look at the option that was cost-effective for the moment.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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