Munich Is Ditching Linux For Purely Political Reasons

Brief: Once the flagbearer of open source adoption, the city of Munich is finally shutting the door on Linux in order to welcome Windows.

German city Munich was among the first to opt for Linux as the main operating system and adopt open source office product. After more than a decade, the city of Munich is going back into the lap of Microsoft, much to the dismay of the Linux users worldwide.

Munich Linux failure is a big shock to the open source community

Munich’s historic switch to Linux

To give you a little bit of history, Munich city council voted for an open source policy back in 2004.

Debian was the initial choice but later it was switched to a custom Linux distribution LiMux which is based on Ubuntu. WollMux, OpenOffice with custom templates, is used for the office suite. WollMux eventually switched to LibreOffice for the obvious reason that OpenOffice is good as dead.

The transition to LiMux took several years to complete. It was in December 2013 that the switch to open source was completed.

Open source enthusiasts from across the globe lauded this effort and called it a model success story to be followed by other organizations.

While other European cities also started to adopt for Open Source alternatives, the trouble started brewing in Munich sooner than expected.

Apparently, (some of) the employees of city administrations expressed their displeasure on working with Linux and LibreOffice. While the transition was successful, not providing adequate training to employees was what lead to this discomfort.

While switching to Linux might have saved Munich city millions of Euro, then mayor Josef Schmid claimed that the change has been driven by ‘ideology’ rather than a view to taxpayer savings. He might be correct in pointing so. Because the original decision was based on “the desire for strategic independence from software suppliers”

Microsoft’s continual fight to win Munich back

Back in 2003, when discussions were ongoing in Munich to opt for Linux, then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (infamous for calling Linux cancer) offered a 90% discount on all Windows licenses. Though the duration of the discounted license is not clear. Was it for one year, 2 years, 5 years?

In 2013, when Munich announced that it saved more than 10 million Euro with the switch to Linux, Microsoft claimed that Munich would have saved more than 40 million Euro had it stayed with Windows XP and MS Office.

The basis of this claim was a study done by HP and financed by none other than Microsoft itself. This Microsoft propaganda was quickly called out by a number of Linux publications and independent bloggers. Interestingly, Microsoft never made this so-called study public.

One of the rumors, I cannot confirm it, behind Munich going back to Microsoft is that Microsoft agreed to move its German headquarter to Munich. Microsoft moved its headquarter to Munich last year.

Back to square one

Fast forward to 2017. The euphoria over Munich’s open source adoption has died down. The rumors have turned to be true. Munich is going back to Microsoft.

The general council has approved a proposal that the city should look for how long it’ll take to create a Windows 10 client, and what would be the cost.

According to the Document Foundation (parent organization of LibreOffice), this step back to Microsoft will cost around 90M of taxpayer’s money.

It’s not a technical issue, it’s a political issue

Karl-Heinz Schneider, the man behind LiMux project, has called it a political decision rather than a technical one. Schneider protested:

“We do not see any compelling technical reasons for a change to Windows and Microsoft Office… We solve compatibility and interoperability problems by providing MS Office, mostly virtualised, at workplaces that need to work together with external offices on office documents.”

Schneider claimed that the decision had been political, “not made on the basis of facts”, with even Accenture (the company that did recent analysis on the usage of LiMux) recommending the continued use of LibreOffice.

Implications on open source adoption?

It’s heartbreaking for Linux and open source lovers because for long we have been touting Munich an example to be followed. Indeed, many other government organizations did get inspiration from Munich’s Open Source adoption.

If the success of Munich lead to more open source adoption, will its failure have a negative impact as well? What do you think of it?

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"Across the world"? Here is a link for the definition of across for future reference. You should have used "around the world".

Abhishek Prakash

I think it's a modern phrase and I have seen many people using it:

Bill G's greed is without parallel. I hope he dies a very painful death.
If anyone want all the bloat that comes with win 10 let them have it. My last Windows was vista, which would not allow an update of IE. I hated the strangle hold windows wants to put on its customers, I vowed Vista was my last windows, and it WAS ! GO LINUX MINT !

Bill G's supposed greed has very little to do with any of this. It was a long time ago he was in charge in the running of the company.

this isn't about technology or even political ideology. It's about bribes. No one will admit to it of course, but cash under the table will always do what the the public and honest people won't. Microsoft restores its cash cow and unnamed people profit in ways no one will ever find out about. Sad, but not unexpected.

Sad story. Look at android success, technical Linux OS, running most mobile phones or small computers technically. Its about creating an ecosystem around the os. Windows has it, Android has it, Apple has it, Linux as a desktop os has, no ecosystem. in my coutry I can not buy a conputer with Linux preinstalled, only windows. That is one of linux main problems, it exist zillions of distros, but no ecosystem around ready for users.

it doesn't speak well for Open Source though, and there could be possibility of Munich decision affecting few other organization or city around. All the same, i still have this strong feelings that there is no need to bother too much on that, as long as the great work is continuous in the Linux community to prove it edge over MS, Munich will feel the need to come back for the best, cos political influence is subject to change over time.

I expérienced Microsoft corrupting and destructing attitude for everything that does not obey their "law". And this since the mid-1990ties. Microsoft foes whatever they want with their customers, or better flocks of sheeps
Microsoft and the GAFA are deadly threats to democratic societies and socio-economic achievements in any country, sevelopped or about to be.
The MUNICH "VICTORY" is just the outer skin of a rotten apple...!

Globalism really sucks. This is how global corporations do business: predatory drug dealer pricing model...

I'm not a real Microsoft fan, but: How bad is Microsoft really?
How open and easy was LiMux/WollMux?
Customizing a Linux distribution. Today is all about common, off the shelf. Customizing is expensive and complex.
9 years to implement! How much did that cost? Not just money you spend on licenses, but also time spend on compatibility issues. Switching to Windows 10 will not take another 9 years, just see.
People with compatibility issues were given virtual instances of MS office. More complexity.

I hate MS license schemes, they are almost as bad as Oracle, but W10 works. O365/office2016 works. Out of the box. Their management suite also works.

Not such a bad decision

My Linux Mint KDE works. Libre Office works. Number of other Open Source programs I use for WORK - works as well, all out of the box.
But recently my daughter prepared presentation for her secondary school project, using LO Impress, of course. She was asked to submit project to her teacher by e-mail. In return the teacher asked her, why she didn't used MS Power Point? "Is any problem with opening this?" she asked. "No, but MS software is a standard" - he replied.
So - "no problem with using it, but the other is a STANDARD". Set by who? International Standard Organization? United Nations? European Union? Vatican? Or MS marketing budget? There is no word about software STANDARD in school policy...
My wife attended an evening course some time ago, because she needs some certificate for her work. Very first week there was a meeting and information given by enthusiastic young man, that everyone can do the Microsoft Office Specialist certificate by the way. For free (hooray!), because good uncle MS cooperate with college. He didn't add that in return the college do really great job for the MS, training students to use exclusively MS products, I think. College is owned by state and I am wonder why institution which is running on taxpayers money working so hard in behalf of international corporation? And what if this corporation will be forced to pay for time and effort of state employees doing extra job as sales reps - in full?
But no. MS must pay only for some conferences for small number of right people then for some courses and certificates for little bigger group of teachers, principals and so on, give them discount for products, as well as for software licenses installed on students workstations and - marketing machine is ready to work, to produce teachers who knows 'standards' and will force their students to follow these 'standards'.
Six out of 10 my friends who used computers on daily basics for surfing, communication, document editing, music, film and social media - can switch for Linux tomorrow without any problem. Remaining four will stay with Windows, because they have to use some specialist software, not available for Linux (but this is not a Linux problem, is it?). Anyway - 60 % can and should, but... if they going to shop and asking specialist working there about some computer for such basic tasks - they are offered either Windows or MacOS solutions, sales person never ever say a word about Linux, and have nothing to offer: no laptop cheaper, because no OS license included in the price, no offer that for 10 euro extra service can install and configure Mint, or Ubuntu on that machine. Nothing.
So - you right. Not such bad decision. Pretty cheap one, and well prepared.

Really bad decision......
Even if win 10 is given free.....
What about the security risks ......
they will have to pay for antivirus....
then for office....
in the end govt data will be with some enemy contries' hackers....

You bet if Microsoft gets control every hacker will soon have their hooks on everyone's info....and Germany will become a security risk for Europe.

You bet it's political. Back in 2015, when the announcement about Microsoft moving its German HQ to Munich was made, I knew the writing was on the wall. The US firm may have made it a condition of the deal - after all Munich stands to gain a whole lot of annual business tax income from them.
To those who wonder if there may even have been a sweetener for the mayor involved, shame on you cynics!
Just shows how hard it is to escape the domination of big corporations these days.

This is one of those cases, where business is willing to do everything to get back the market... even play unfair and Microsoft has a long story full with dirty works supported by IBM. Anyway governments are simply people with power that many times abuse and the Munich case... won't discourage no one, but Linux has made one thing wrong - Never invested on young generations. Trying to convert the present generation on Linux, simply mean having a short vision about life, which Microsoft seems to know pretty well how to manipulate it.

Not many things can actually surprise me any more. To make the argument short - it is a very dumb move. It is the move that will cost allot of money, that will create problems on top problems and that will leave many thousands unprotected and insecure with that large virus called Windows.

This is very sad indeed. This article highlights the contrasting interests that emerge amongst key decision makers in big organisations. Conceivably, Microsoft can even afford to give away the licences for free (subject to certain terms and conditions), thus negating any compelling positive reasons Linux may have had against Windows.

The issue about lack of training is very mute and largely subjective in my view, but significant enough to scupper any IT project irrespective of its merrits of success in terms of implementation, within budget and within time lines.

Linux will survive on grow stronger after this relatively minor hicup.

My forecast is that when the staff are forced to use Windows 10 they will be up in arms and the whole thing will boomerang.

That is just really sad. I mean, why though? The unreliability of Windows 10 doesn't make them concerned? It's like saying our aircraft uses Windows. It won't work at all.

Diego Lima Wilhelms

I would say that the biggest "problem" with the wide adoption of free and open source software is that few people in FOSS community are willing to bribe authorities to switch to free software. We think that technical matter will suffice, but we forget that in real world a political decision need to favor someone... and normally not the tax payers. :-(

Well Linux is a business modeled software. Frankly Windows by comparison, even in Windows 10 is still a big mess. Its performance by comparison lacks. Office is leased on a monthly basis, meaning Microsoft stands to make a TON of $$$ from Office 360 . When it comes to technical problems, Windows and Microsoft offer the LEAST support. Their usual answer to a problem is to reinstall the software. Gee that is about the dumbest answer period. If the computers they currently use, were designed for Windows XP, they have not a prayer to run Windows 10 without being replaced.
In the transitional period, now all the LiMux boxes will find they cannot communicate well with Windows 10. Basically its like taking years of what took to get to a solid foundation and throwing it all away in favor of new. I can understand IF they were going from Windows XP to Windows 10, but to go from Debian Based Linux, so now they get also to spend millions retraining everyone. Its a recipe for disaster period. So PAY the developers then and get results. I can guarantee you will get better results.

This is an unfortunate decision for the Open Source community but I understand why they choose Windows again. I don't like Libre Office, I know that it can replace Microsoft Office for daily work for the most of the users but the problem always was the same, the interface is poor and complicated to use sometimes, I've been saying it for long time. The administrative users need to find out things easily and the interface doesn't help. Another problem here is when goverments or institutions adopt Linux they don't train their users, they don't want spend time training their people or hire someone to do that. The open source community has to change their philosofy about it, I'm working on IT for years and when someone hire Microsoft they send you people to assist you to make an implementation, they send you digital documents to train people or understand the solutions hired, they send trainers, etc. if Microsoft can offers these services why the Linux\Libre Office people cannot sell the same services to do an easy migration to Open Source platform, show the advantages and costs reduction, etc?. I think with a good Marketing strategy much people will choose Linux for sure.

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