How Munich rejected Steve Ballmer and kicked Microsoft out of the city

Breaking up with Microsoft is hard to do. Just ask Peter Hofmann, the man leading the City of Munich's project to ditch Windows and Office in favour of open source alternatives.

The project took close to a decade to complete, has seen the city wrestle with legal uncertainties and earned Munich a visit from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, whose pleas to the mayor of Germany's third largest city not to switch fell on deaf ears.

Munich says the move to open source has saved it more than €10m, a claim contested by Microsoft, yet Hofmann says the point of making the switch was never about money, but about freedom.

"If you are only doing a migration because you think it saves you money there's always somebody who tells you afterwards that you didn't calculate it properly," he said.

"Our main goal was to become independent." Peter Hofmann, project lead

"That was the experience of a lot of open source-based projects that have failed," Hofmann noted. They were only cost-driven and when the organisation got more money or somebody else said 'The costs are wrong' then the main reason for doing it had broken away. That was never the main goal within the City of Munich. Our main goal was to become independent."

Munich is used to forging its own path. The city runs its own schools and is one of the few socialist, rather than conservative governments, in Bavaria.

Peter Hofmann speaks in Berlin
Peter Hofmann speaks about Munich's open source migration at the Linux Tag conference in Berlin.
 Image: Stefan Krempl

Becoming independent meant Munich freeing itself from closed, proprietary software, more specifically the Microsoft Windows NT operating system and the Microsoft Office suite, and a host of other locked-down technologies the city relied on in 2002.

The decision to ditch Microsoft was also born of necessity. In 2002 the council knew official support for Windows NT, the OS used on 14,000 staff machines at the council, would soon run out. The council ordered a study of the merits of switching to XP and Office versus a GNU/Linux OS, OpenOffice and other free software.

As well as being tied to Windows upgrades, Munich faced becoming more tightly locked into the Microsoft ecosystem with each passing year, Hofmann said.

"Windows has developed from a pure PC-centred operating system, like Windows 3.11 was, to a whole infrastructure. If you're staying with Microsoft you're getting more and more overwhelmed to update and change your whole IT infrastructure [to fit with Microsoft]," according to Hofmann, whether that be introducing a Microsoft Active Directory system or running a key management server.

"If you're staying with Microsoft you're getting more and more overwhelmed to update and change your whole IT infrastructure." Peter Hofmann

Free software was ruled the better choice by Munich's ruling body, principally because it would free the council from dependence on any one vendor and future-proof the council's technology stack via open protocols, interfaces and data formats.

The prospect of such a high profile loss, and other organisations following Munich's lead, spurred Microsoft to mount a last ditch campaign to win the authority back. A senior sales executive at the time told general managers in EMEA "under NO circumstances lose against Linux." Steve Ballmer himself took time out of a skiing holiday to make a revised offer in March 2003, followed two months later by Microsoft knocking millions of Euros off the price of sticking with Windows and Office.

The lobbying failed to change Munich's mind, and in June 2004 the council gave the go-ahead to begin the migration from NT and Office 97/2000 to a Linux-based OS, a custom-version of OpenOffice, as well as a variety of free software, such as the Mozilla Firefox browser, Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail client and the Gimp photo editing software. It became known as the LiMux project, after the name for the custom Linux OS the council was rolling out.

Making sense of the IT zoo

Nine years is a long time for a desktop migration by anyone's standards, but the LiMux project was always going to be more than a simple transition.

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer came to Munich and made the case for sticking with Microsoft software.
 Image: James Martin/CNET

Originally planned as a soft roll out that would be complete by 2011, the project was extended when it became clear that the migration to free software would be more challenging than first thought.

The complexity came down to the way IT was managed at Munich: twenty two different units handling IT for different parts of the council and each with differences in the Windows clients and other software they used, varying patch levels and no common directory, user, system or hardware management.

"[The council] had 22 different units with their own IT, with totally different kinds of systems for the networking, operating and user directories. It was all a big zoo," said Hofmann, adding there was no detailed overview of the hardware each user relied upon or the software they needed to do their job.

Without a clear picture of its IT estate, Munich found it was taking too long to deal with unexpected problems thrown up when rolling out LiMux.

"If you set up an old PC with the new system you'd start recognising 'Whoops, that isn't there or there's hardware that needs to be reconfigured' and at that stage that's clearly too late. You have to know what's going on before you roll it out."

"We planned a slow migration, carrying out the migration and the development of our LiMux client in parallel." Peter Hofmann

Munich chose to standardise processes for capturing each department's infrastructure and requirements and for testing and release management, at the cost of adding several years to the project's completion date.

"That took a large amount of time to get over these heterogeneous systems," said Hofmann.

A single unit was put in charge of maintaining and supporting the LiMux client, as well as implementing and providing common tools for user and system management.

The nature of the project had changed, from a desktop migration to cleaning up much of Munich's IT infrastructure and the way it was managed - a move in keeping with the council's motto for the project: "Quality over time".

In spite of the delay in completing the project, Hofmann said the authority had always planned to take its time.

"We never planned to carry out a big bang migration. From the start we planned a slow migration, carrying out the migration and the development of our LiMux client in parallel."

LiMux logo
Munich focused on The IT Evolution as the logo for its custom Linux platform.

The time taken to complete the project is one of many reasons that Microsoft has attacked Munich's move to LiMux. A report criticising the project, produced by HP for Microsoft, claimed the Redmond software giant could migrate 50 to 500 desktop PCs per day if upgrading to a Microsoft OS and office, suite compared to the eight per day it said was being achieved under the LiMux project.

However, by Hofmann's reckoning, that slow and steady migration is one of the reasons the project has largely managed to stay within its budget with minimal disruption. The project finished within budget in October 2013, with more than 14,800 staff migrated to using Limux and more than 15,000 to OpenOffice.

Retooling for Linux

A myriad technical challenges emerged as Munich tried to reconfigure an infrastructure littered with proprietary formats and protocols to play nicely with LiMux and free software.

Large chunks of the software used by the council were built using Microsoft technologies. For example, a sizeable proportion of Microsoft Office macros were written in Microsoft's programming language Visual Basic, while other departments were tied to Internet Explorer by a dependence on ActiveX. This preponderance of lock-in interfaces was described as "awful" in 2010 by then deputy head of the LiMux project Florian Schiessl.

LiMux screenshot
This screenshot of LiMux shows the major customization that Munich has done to Ubuntu.

As would be expected, the council has had to shell out a chunk of change on getting applications to work on LiMux - a custom-build of the Ubuntu flavor of Linux - some €774,000 as of last year.

At the time the migration started, the council used about 300 common office software programs, such as web browsers and e-mail clients, and 170 specialised apps tailored to different roles performed by the council. These specialised apps ranged from large-scale IT systems down to macros and templates linked to Microsoft Office.

Understandably, migrating these apps to run on the LiMux OS is one of the areas where choosing LiMux over Windows cost Munich, with the work on migrating apps to LiMux costing €200,000 more than porting them to a newer version of Windows.

Offsetting that is the estimated €6.8 million savings the council says it had made as of last year from not having to licence a new Microsoft OS and office suite.

The lion's share of Munich's applications, about 90 per cent, are accessible via LiMux. Most have been ported, while others are running as web apps, inside virtualised containers or via terminal servers.

A small number of apps have proven impossible to port, make accessible or switch away from - particularly software whose use is mandated by the German government - and have to be run directly on Windows machines.

While the council has weaned itself off the majority of Microsoft technologies, Munich still experiences friction where it rubs against proprietary software in widespread use elsewhere.

"We thought from the start we would have other organisations follow us but it's really not easy." Peter Hofmann

One of the main complaints from Munich staff using LiMux and OpenOffice is about incompatibilities with Microsoft Office. Documents, spreadsheets and other files display some fonts, pictures and layouts differently in OpenOffice than in Microsoft Office, and changes to some documents are not properly logged.

Munich hopes to ease some of these problems by moving all its OpenOffice users to LibreOffice, a process which will get underway at the end of this year. Munich has worked with other users of LibreOffice, including authorities in the German city of Freiburg and the Austrian capital Vienna, to pay for updates to LibreOffice that should improve interoperability with Microsoft's office suite.

The complexity of moving from proprietary software after years of being a Microsoft shop might explain why more organisations haven't followed in Munich's footsteps, and why some, like the German municipality of Freiburg, have given up on their own shift to open source. Last year Freiburg scrapped plans to move to OpenOffice claiming it would have cost up to €250 per seat to resolve interoperability issues.

"We thought from the start we would have other organisations follow us but it's really not easy," said Hofmann.


Hofmann's warning against justifying the jump to free software on cost alone seems well-grounded given how hotly Microsoft has contested costings for the programme.

Microsoft claims that, by its estimation, the LiMux project would have cost considerably more than Munich has said. The HP report for Microsoft put the project's price at €60.6m, far more than the €17m Microsoft claimed it would have cost to shift to Windows XP and a newer version of Microsoft Office.

LiMux migration timeline

Munich stands by its assertion that it has cost the council less to drop Microsoft than it would have to have stuck with it, and says Microsoft's figures are based on bogus assumptions.

The final cost will be released at the end of 2013, but in August 2013 Munich said it had cost €23m to shift to LiMux and OpenOffice. Munich says this is far less than the estimated €34m it said it would have cost to upgrade to Windows 7 and newer versions of Microsoft Office.

Where does the truth lie? Well Munich makes a good case for why much of the work carried out during the LiMux project would have been necessary if the council had decided to opt for a newer version of Windows, and how it has saved money on top.

By choosing to swap to LiMux and OpenOffice Munich was able to keep using its old PCs for longer, something that Hofmann said would not have been possible if it had chosen some of the recent versions of Microsoft Office and Windows 7.

Extending the lifespan of its PCs in this way had saved the council some €4.6m as of last year, according to its official figures.

And by Munich's reckoning, the same standardisation of the council's tech infrastructure and administration would have eventually been necessary whatever the OS and office suite chosen, said Hofmann.

LiMux workstations chart

Training thousands of the council's staff to use a new OS and software is another area where Munich believes the council would have faced equivalent costs for both Microsoft and LiMux - claiming it would have set them back €1.69m regardless of the system.

"If we would have switched to Microsoft Office, the costs for the e-learning platform would have been the same, and the new GUI for MS Office would have required the same amount of training," said Hofmann.

"[In fact] the GUI in OpenOffice is much more like MS Office 2000 than the new MS Office GUI."

Similarly the €6.1m bill for personnel to oversee the migration process would have remained the same regardless of whether the council moved to LiMux or a future Windows OS, in Munich's estimation. Currently up to 18 people work at any one time work on development and maintenance tasks relating to the operating system and office software for LiMux and Windows.

Freedom to work

While many businesses might balk at the thought of not having a support contract to pick up the pieces when their OS and office software goes wrong, Munich feels far from adrift, said Hofmann.

Munich's Victory Gate
Victory Gate is a symbol of the City of Munich. Its Linux migration declared victory in October 2013.
 Image: iStockphoto/tzeiler

A team of just 25 people at Munich develop, roll out and provide final support for the Ubuntu-based LiMux client. A larger number of people look after the everyday administration of the city's PCs but far fewer than the 1,000 people cited in the Microsoft/HP report as implementing the LiMux project.

The authority doesn't have a support deal for the LiMux client, but instead handles support itself with the help of various free software communities, such as those supporting Ubuntu, KDE, LibreOffice and OpenOffice.

"We are using the community way of support," said Hofmann. "We are finding it to be effective, mostly."

The model is allowing the council to help develop the software it uses in order that it better suit its needs.

"If you're only a customer with a support contract, it doesn't give you the ability to change how things are put into Ubuntu or LibreOffice," said Hofmann.

"That becomes more possible when you work with the community."

"We are using the community way of support." Peter Hofmann

The same staff who develop LiMux are also responsible for the last level of support, Hofmann said, adding the authority prizes the freedom it has to work out how to resolve problems on its own.

"We had an issue with OpenOffice in the past and a support contract wouldn't have helped us because nobody else has this sort of problem, so we would have had the choice to live with it or forget about it," said Hofmann.

Instead Munich paid a company to resolve the issue for them, and put the patch upstream.

"The only downside is there's no-one to blame when things do go wrong, but what's the advantage of that?" Hofmann said.

What does the future hold?

Now that the migration to LiMux is complete, Munich plans to continue developing LiMux (the next version is due out in summer 2014) and continue to incorporate changes made to the Ubuntu LTS release it's based upon. The authority will also continue to identify opportunities to migrate other apps to run on the LiMux client so it can further reduce its Microsoft footprint.

Picturesque Munich
Picturesque Munich is regularly ranked as one of the world's most liveable cities.
 Image: iStockphoto/Björn Kindler

Now that Munich is on a path to freeing itself from proprietary ties, Hofmann says he sees no compelling reason for the authority to ever go back.

"We saw from the start that if you're only relying on one contributor to supply your operating system, your office system and your infrastructure, you're stuck with it. You have to do what your contributor tells you to. If they say 'There's no longer support for your office version', you have to buy and implement a new one. You're no longer able to make those kinds of decisions by yourself."

He is hopeful that Munich will show other large organisations that it is possible to make the jump to free software and, while it is a difficult and time-consuming process, making it happen doesn't mean shutting down your IT.

"It's the best thing you can do. I've been asked 'How come you say you're up and running when Microsoft says you're already dead'," he said.

Hofmann's response: "It is possible to do an open source migration and still have the citizens not left alone. We're far from being dead."


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.


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When someone 20 years from now, would read these comments and actually be seeing what we call future he probably think how emotional and stupid we were. Because maybe, in future there would be no Microsoft, No google No Oracle but something much bigger and beyond the capabilities of what today's software can do


What would it be like to look into the future and to predict things? 2014 is ending and here is the latest news about the "bold" decision of Munich mayor for "freedom".

"The city government of Munich, Germany has decided to end its long term use of a Linux-based operating system for its PCs and will move back to using a version of Windows for its computer needs:

Way back in 2004, the Munich government thought that using the Linux-based LiMux operating system would help them save money over Microsoft's Windows, since it didn't cost anything to license and would supposedly be more reliable to use than Windows. However, the government later learned that moving to Linux was in fact a highly costly move for the city, because all those 9,000 PCs were no longer compatible with other computers that still ran Windows.

The end result was that the city had to spend lots of money and time to build applications just so the Linux machines could share files with all those Windows PCs. In the end, Munich's deputy mayor Josef Schmid stated, "When the whole world is working with a standard program, then it is important that we are on the same system." That's why the government is moving all those Linux PCs back to a version of Windows."


But nice story indeed... anyone an idea how to crack/break the *.docx *.xlsx format-vendor-lock? ;)


problem on site: please tell your webdevelopers the comment's texts are "cutoff" like overflow hidden...

the "fyre-comment-wrapper" div needs to be 800px width or something broader... than now.

just tested in firefox... same problem.


Trust the Germans to have the organisational capability and the tenacity to finally shake off the shackles of M$! 

Well done Munich! If it wasn't for the different language (and the cold weather) I would move to Germany myself. :)

Instead I'm stuck in sunny Sydney, where the thought of bucking the trend (and actually planning ahead for more than 12-24 months at a time) is considered incongruous... :(

To the doubters, (tedz, kgapos, trilithium et al) I say that what Munich has done is to sod-break an initiative that may well see the adoption of open source software as mainstream by government organisations everywhere. If this takes off it may well see the end of the proprietary formats, arbitrary standards and other lock-ins that has plagued the IT industry since its inception.

I am old enough to have seen the rise and fall of IT giants' proprietary standards (e.g. IBM comms standards), and although I don't for one moment suggest that the road was not bumpy, I think that the value of open source and community driven standards has benefited the users overall.

Whatever criticism you may have about the Munich initiative there is no denying that taking responsibility for one's own IT environment, at the level which that city has done, can only result in long-term profit.

They will have control over the architecture, data formats and costs to a degree that no other public organisation that I know of has achieved. That alone, in the long run, will benefit them not only financially but in terms of security, accountability and forward planning.

In other words they have taken back control of their own future from M$. A rare and valuable deed.


@slack1 I wish before commenting here, You should have read about the FATE of Munich decision. Read my comment above which contains the news and read about it on Wikipedia and elsewhere. If you happen to be in Munich, you need nothing but just to talk to people.

That LIMUX move is dead, they are going back to Windows!!!

"I am old enough to have seen the rise and fall of IT giants'" --- old enough but too stupid to calculate the consequences in depth. sorry for a personal remark but after reading the news I was laughing at your comment


Im glad to see someone do this on this scale. I am only a user/hobbyist  but as to the free aspect this is nice but not the entire reason. I saw a comment calling opensource an imitation product, they are really 

no imitation, they do some things differently and the OS is actually easier to tweak once you understand it. Much of the software is much less limited. I don't think  imitation of Microsoft is a good idea or anyone's intent. As an end user a major linux distro will do anything that is needed/wanted. Even gaming is becoming a reality. I can experiment(play) with technology that would cost me thousands in Microsoft's world or maybe be inaccesible at any cost, so Linux is definitely a must for my hobby.

Small businesses could absolutely benefit by never starting with Microsoft systems in the first place.


When this project was discussed in Munich and Microsoft tried to put all power into avoiding a switch to Linux I ran a Pro-Linux email campaign to all political parties (to approx. 300 regional offices) in Bavaria. My arguments from that time are still the same:

- IT money is spent primarily locally and not going to overseas

- The local software development and service structure gets more support

- A better infrastructure for IT education gets supported - Linux is free (think about Raspian)

- The government is in full control of all security aspects (no back-doors)

- The IT structure can be developed based on the city's requirements and not based on decisions of MS.

- Supporting open source avoids a monopoly of closed software companies

- Longer usage of hardware is not only a benefit for the finances but also for the  environment

Additionally the article made clear that the standardization of the wildly grown IT infrastructure was the major cause for the delays. Such a new infrastructure will ease everything in the future. Microsoft technologies are so popular because you can produce quickly results. But for a proper standardization Microsoft products are pure poison. There are so many concurring features that it is is difficult for IT managers to resist "abuse" (e. g. storing data by using MS Access). Less is sometimes more and here the Linux world shines. Looking back to the time when I sent out my email campaign I am now very satisfied that I have contributed a little bit to this decision and very successful project.



It is great to see someone in the IT industry make their own decisions and decide what is best for everyone instead of folding into pressure from one vendor. 

I hope other cities and corporations will follow.  I will certainly be showing everyone this article and spreading the word that you don't need Microsoft to run your IT shop.


They claim to have saved over 10 million euros, because they simply reduced the budget. How about return on investment? Any economist will agree that trimming the budget does not always guarantee money savings in the long term.

Just because they switched to imitation products that are cheaper, doesn't necessarily mean they raised value for money. Maybe they should reject their very own Mercedes cars also, I hear there are some new Chinese car manufacturers that make cars *almost* the same! Here's a picture
They look the same and they rarely burst into flames, killing all the passengers inside.

Every once in a while I read about a community project, a product *almost* identical to <fill a complicated piece technology here>. And the reason is simple: it is impossible to patent software. Regardless of this, there will always be a country that simply doesn't give a shit (see China).

In a consumer's perspective all this sounds great, freebies right? However, by the time the imitations are relatively stable to use, the newest version of the official product is released, packed with tons of innovative ideas, that increase productivity and reduce costs.

While everything migrates to the cloud, these guys are trying to re-invent the wheel. While everyone is using economies of scale to bring the costs down, these guys think they can do better with freebies.

And when the success story is too fake for anyone to believe, people will get fired and Munich will start all over again.

Fred Fredrickson
Fred Fredrickson


A wonderfully incoherent post with not a shred of evidence to back up the assertions. Bravo.


Following your line of thought. Why don't you go back to being a feudal worker? You had guaranteed food and shelter, so you did not have to worry about basic necessities. Oh, yes, I know! There is a thing called FREEDOM and the right to decide for yourself when to pay for a new PC or when to upgrade your software or not being bombarded everyday with new virus that force you to PAY good money to "Antinirus" companies for the protection that your "precious" M$ OS denies you.

And lots of other things that the closed OS environments force you to swallow.

I have been using various types of Linux for more than 12 years now and for the past at least 5 years, I never had the need to use M$ Windows unless I was forced by some stupid OEM company that builds stuff "only for Windows", because they are more leeches than enterpreneurs.


Congratulations, Munich! There are always advantages and disadvantages with choices made. I am a supporter of Linux and I have had "growing pains" using Linux on the desktop but things have improved over time and I feel it's all worth it. Time will tell for Munich but I believe it will show their choice to be the right one with the advantages growing.

I prefer not to go into details (as I have read time and again counter-arguments that have their point, depending how one views them) but the trend is clear - the growing adoption of Linux in so many areas of IT by individuals, corporations, institutions, manufacturers and governments (e.g. Munich, Russia, China, US government agencies like NASA and the military) points to the potential for a very good future for Linux.


You can pay up-front for software, or over time, or a combination of the two. But whichever way you do it, it costs money. The usual complaint about Microsoft software that one sees on the web, for example in comparing Android and Windows, is that others give away the OS whereas Microsoft insists on being paid for it. Without explaining the reality behind it, that is disingenuous. And the reality is that, as I said, you either pay up front, or you pay over time, or some combination of the two.

While Munich may have saved money, it sounds like they have a system frozen in time now, because they have their own custom version of Linux to support. I happen to like the ribbon concept, and for me, the ribbons in Outlook, Word, Explorer, etc, make those programs easier to use. But will there be such evolution in Libre Office? Or is it too pretty much frozen in time? I don't know enough about this but I'm sure someone else can comment.

There may have been a plateau of stability for some years now in which people do not expect much change in their main OS features and applications, but the last 1-2 years have shown that there are seismic changes under way, with Windows 8 and its rivals, and with the explosive growth in the use of tablets and touch-screens. Where does this put Munich? What about BYOD if those devices will not be part of the Linux ecosystem? I would be interested in the opinions of others, I am not trying to be negative about Munich.


@trilithium @trilithium  You missed the key points of the article. The move away from M$ was NOT about the cost exclusively. It was about FREEDOM. I've been in computing for 25 years and I've used Microsoft products for about 24 of those years. I run two software companies. I switched off of Microsoft to Linux Mint 17 within the last year and I've never looked back. Many of my friends made a similar switch but chose the other Linux-like OS, Mac OSX. 

Did I switch because of cost? NO! It was about freedom. Windows 8 is what pushed me over the edge. I was so upset that I could not in good conscience use such a terrific piece of junk and still get work done. It is the worst excuse for an interface and OS on a desktop I've ever seen. Clearly I'm not alone in that department.

Now here is the rub. If I don't like Windows stupid interface, what choice do I have? NONE! If I hate the ribbon interface in Office, what freedom do I have to change it. NONE. If I hate (small thing now) the size and customizability of the taskbar in Windows and I want to fundamentally change, what freedom do I have to do that in Windows. NONE (or at least very little)!  If I want to make my OS run much faster on my existing computer, what freedom do I have to do that with Windows 7, 8? NONE!  If I want to have my computer start up, shut down, suspend and resume much faster without annoying hangups, what ability do I have to do that in Windows?  NONE!

So like Munich I have chosen to switch to Linux because I was tired of being forced to do it M$ way, which I think most of the time is really stupid. Let me tell you the results:

I use an out of the box Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon 2 interface. I've added a few little bells and whistles and it completely blows the doors off of anything I ever had with M$. I have most or all of the key programs and utlities I used under Windows in Linux, eg. Teamviewer, Google Drive, Chrome, etc.

I completely replaced M$ Office with Libreoffice and WPS Office. The programs are a fraction of the size, they are many times faster and I don't have to deal with the annoying clunkiness of M$ Office.  

The OS runs several times faster than Windows ever did and it NEVER slows down. I startup in 37 seconds with all my goodies running. I shut down in less than 10 and it never, ever, ever hangs like Windows did every time it shut down. 

I have to say that that once you stop drinking the M$ koolaid you really discover that there is a much brighter world with better software and greater usability than anyone in Redmond has ever produced. I'm actually daily shocked at how much better computing is without any M$ involved on the desktop. At least Apple had the good sense to move their key desktop and server OS to an Linux variant, FreeBSD.

Munich has obviously done what I did at a much greater level and I guess things have gone well for them. The only way back in is for them to grease a politician's hand as they will likely do with a move of the M$ German headquarters to Munich in 2016 and a fanboy like Dieter Reiter as Mayor. But the facts still stand and Linux is a FAR superior OS on the desktop to M$.


Here is the reasoning. $Microsoft, actually Steve Ballmer called Linux a cancer. A cancer to whom? Linux is not a cancer, the rest of the world which is dominated by the true cancer ($Microsoft) needs to align its self to. It is a misconception that you need Office, but if you do, why not Use WINE and run Office xxxx on top of Linux? It may not be the best solution, but it is a solution. As a Linux System admin I am going to push the best and really only alternative to the Redmond brand.  And that is not $Microsoft. It is Linux, not SUN or IBM AIX, or anything else, it is the only true alternative to the true cancer, $Microsoft.


As soon as I read that Munich was considered to be a socialist government, I knew exactly what their motives were - though I must admit I am somewhat confounded by their socialist beliefs given they are the home of a very profitable automaker - BMW. I guess they are the San Francisco of Germany.

To think that they spent 10 years to complete this migration in order to achieve independence and freedom!  And not justify the conversion through cost savings, is surely a cop-out.  I have to wonder what the opportunity costs of this migration were?  All the time and energy spent to swap out Microsoft technology for Open Source yields no functional improvements in their IT portfolio.  At the end of a 10 year effort all they have to show for their investment of time and money is doing the same old word processing and spread sheets on a new OS platform.  If only they took all that money and effort and invested it in delivering new functionality to both the government sector as well as the citizens of Munich - think of the benefits could have been delivered.

This is like ripping all of the plumbing and electrical wires out of your house to replace them with new components (not sure why you would do this, but it's the best analogy I can come up with).  You notice no difference when you flip on the light switch or turn the water on at the sink, but somehow you feel better having done it.

I'm no fan of Microsoft, and their pricing structures are crazy, complex and expensive.  And they certainly did take advantage of their market power to extract maximum payments from their customers - but such is capitalism.  Is it Munich's dislike for profit and capitalism that drove them in this direction?  Or was it Munich's dislike of American's profiting from selling their software to the Munich government?  If Microsoft was SAP I bet they never would have under taken this adventure.


@tedz98I am moved to comment that your post is a bit of a diatribe, partly deriving from ignorance.

 " considered to be a socialist government".  You obviously have no idea (and maybe the original writer also not) that all this means is that the municipality is dominated by the SPD, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which is mildly left of centre, as opposed to the rest of a (very conservative) Bavaria, which is run by right of centre groupings.

FYI urban areas all over Europe have tended to be more 'social democratic' and liberal, and less conservative ('reactionary'?) than rural areas for centuries.


@DAS01 @tedz98 I am fully aware that the OVERALL  political leanings of the EU are left of center and in my opinion quite far left of center.  I was using the author's statement as being indicative that the government of Munich was in fact declaratively socialist in nature and therefore quite a bit further left of center than other left-leaning governments in Germany or other areas of Europe.  This perspective  was the basis for my opinion, not diatribe, on the motivations for making the move from Microsoft sourced software to open source software.

I typically think of Germans as being quantitative and calculating in their decision making.  I was surprised that this type of quantitative rigor was not the primary driver, nor secondary, for their decision to move to open source.  While there may be a nice "feel good" dimension to choosing to migrate to open source, a quantitaive cost-benefit analytsis would have a hard time justifying such a change, especially for an environment that is composed of 14,000 workstations.  Additionally a 10+ year migration would never be tolerated in the U.S. - even in the public sector.  The length of time required to change over systems is a strong indicator of the complexity and high cost associated with such a significant change - which tends to support my position that a migration to open source was probably not the best decision taking into consideration all of the costs and benefits.

You seem to have gotten hung up on my opinion of the political environment in Munich.  I was simply trying to highlight how political ideology, in my opinion, appears to have gotten in the way of making a sound business decision that is justified quantitatively and not just on feeling good about running open source software.  If they were a completely new installation I would certainly encourage them to look at using Open Source software. However given their legacy environment and 14,000 workstations,  moving to Open Source was not the right choice.  When political ideology wins out over logic and quantitative analysis, you are committing a disservice to the people who pay the bills for the migration - in this case the citizens of Munich.


@tedz98 @DAS01  

re: Political motivations - L/R/C alignment on a political spectrum is entirely relative - given that the center has been systematically moved ever rightward over the last 40 years, your stated conception of 'far left' still lands a place like Munich very close to the historical 'center.' 

re: German nature - most rational societies are 'quantitative and calculating' insofar as society informs and is affected by value ideologies. To say that the 'German mindset' has some particular aspect of being quantitative, calculating, dispassionate, etc., is to make a broad range of assumptions based on generalization.

re: 'feel good' migration and perspective - ideology is just as inherent to economic structures as to the political. Humans need resources, and the methods and value hierarchies involved with resource acquisition and distribution form the basis of any ideology. Note, independence is a resource - appending a currency value to this resource doesn't logically fit most quantitative models, so quantitative models are thereby ineffective in expressing the systemic value of non-material resources. Referring to the prioritization of this value as 'feel good' decision making is dismissive, and reveals more information about your personal value system than that of the municipality of Munich.

re: the migration itself - a slow migration allowed the city to provide a smooth transition and develop the internal resources to maintain their systems in a fashion absent fatal reliances. Just because one society values short-turnarounds and devalues non-fatal reliances doesn't mean that the converse could be any less useful for a different group of people. The price tag was lower and the return higher. This of course doesn't speak to the added value of FLOSS deployment.


@tedz98 "a 10+ year migration would never be tolerated in the U.S. - even in the public sector". Really! Then why the transition to metric system -the system used almost by the entire planet- has taken more than 50 years? And it is not completed yet! I think that you simply take -I don't know your motives- the stand of every scared and intimidated -by Micro$oft- user who thinks that if you move away from the "all mighty and saving" M$ paradise you'll be damned to hell. Well, there is no difference between your kind and the people in pre-scientific revolution Europe. Those people -like you- thought that they would go to hell if they doubted that Earth was the center of the Universe. Thank God, Galileo came around.


@tedz98 @DAS01 The French Gendarmerie will finish to migarte 72000  Winodows XP to Linux  in 2014 . I will take them also 10 years but they claimed 40% saving. 


@tedz98 The French Gendarmerie will finish to migrate 72000 Windows XP to Linux in 2014. It  will take them also 10 years but they claimed 40% cost saving.