Munich is the pioneer of en masse migration from Windows to Linux after the city started the transition to open-source software in 2004 and completed it many years after that, but it turns out that local authorities are once again considering going back to Windows and Office in the coming years.The key word here is considering and a decision in this case has not yet been made, but a report commissioned by current mayor Dieter Reiter discusses a possible move to Windows 10 and Office for the approximately 20,000 systems that are currently in use.
In approximately nine years, Munich moved about 15,000 staff from Windows and Office to open-source alternatives, including LiMux, which is the city’s own Linux distribution based on Ubuntu, and LibreOffice, replacing the more expensive Office productivity suite.
But the report brings back the idea of returning to Windows and Office as there are departments where the use of open-source software still doesn’t advance as planned.
One of the agencies that are supporting the transition back to Windows is the human resources department (known as POR), who explains that productivity dropped dramatically because of crashes and bugs that engineers had to fix. The department cites old software and issues such as errors in how PDFs are displayed as some of the problems that employees have to deal with every day.
"The POR strongly supports a swift and structured transition to Windows, Microsoft Office products and standard applications," the organization explains.
LiMux, currently at version 5, is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (which stands for Long Term Support), whereas the newest version available for public users is 16.04. Approximately 45 percent of machines are running this version, while 32 percent of them are powered by LiMux version 4.1. 23 percent were running 4.0 when the report was conducted.
More than 4,000 PCs used by Munich are still running Windows, and according to a report from TechRepublic, 77 percent of them are on Windows 7, 9 percent on Windows XP and Vista, and 14 percent on Windows 2000.
While the transition back to Windows and Office isn’t yet happening, the city is planning to at least give employees the option to choose between Windows and Linux when setting up new computers. This way, authorities are trying to make sure that productivity won’t be affected in any way, but it remains to be seen if such a decision also makes sense when it comes to costs.
Matthias Kirschner, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), pointed to some details that make the whole report sound a little fishy: it was conducted by Accenture, a company that’s involved in a joint venture with Microsoft called Avanade and whose purpose is to help the software giant implement Microsoft tech, such as Windows and Office, for businesses and organizations worldwide.
While a connection between the study and Microsoft is hard to be confirmed (but it’s not out of the table either), Accenture guarantees this is just an “independent view” and it shouldn’t be associated with the Redmond-based software giant.
As a refresher, Microsoft considered Munich’s transition to Linux such a critical moment that even CEO Steve Ballmer himself flew to Germany to discuss the matter with the mayor and attempt to convince them to give up on this plan.