June 17, 2004 7:19 AM PDT

Munich to stick with open source

Munich, the city whose switch to Linux was seen as so significant it attracted a personal visit from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, has announced that its yearlong trial is a success and that it will stick with open source for its PCs.

The change will officially take place on July 1, and 14,000 desktops will permanently migrate to the open-source platform. The pilot was run using Novell's SuSE Linux and IBM products. But the eventual contract--which could be worth tens of millions of euros--will be put out to tender.

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The city's move to Linux is the biggest migration ever from proprietary software to open source, and it will call for municipal PCs and notebooks to move from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice and to use the Mozilla browser. City officials voted last year to make the change.

The decision will doubtless come as a blow to Microsoft, which pulled out all the stops to get the German city to stay with proprietary software.

According to a document seen by USA Today, the concessions the software behemoth was prepared to punt Munich's way included undercutting a Linux bid by $12 million, letting Munich license stripped-down versions of Windows, and offering training and support for nothing.

The migration is expected to be complete by 2008 or 2009.

Earlier this week, Norway's second-largest city, Bergen, announced it would be following in Munich's footsteps and opting to run Linux.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.


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Would I wish it on my worst enemy
I love linux. The reality is that I own my MAC life to FreeBSD so I
have to love all things Unix/like. The thing is that even though I
love my Mac I have still found something hard that would have
been trivial on Windows. Sure they most probably would have
crashed under windows or MSoft would have said that is not our
problem when there were software problems (something Mac
have always helped me on) but they still would have been really
simple to do. The same is true for Linux. Not all things are easy
and many things need you to be more creative (not a bad thing
but for some an evolutionary thing). So while I think this is
interesting and I would have a ball working there, it is a little
strange that 16000 people are going to be forced to become
more creative just so some money can be saved. I am sure it will
save them even more than just tech. Some people will probably
not be able to cope with the change and then hey presto less
worker to pay as well
Posted by (19 comments )
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European governments jumping to Linux
Microsofts approach to software pricing has historically been similar to the pricing of energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs until there were many competitors in that alternate bulb market.

The first flourescent bulb makers rightly noted that the bulbs lasted longer than regular light bulbs and use much less power, and so save big bucks.

BUT they then proceeded to price the bulbs not for what they cost to make plus a small profit, but for what they cost to make plus almost all of the cost savings the bulbs would generate in their lifetimes.

This is how Microsoft has priced its software as a monopoly. Sure, the PC represents huge efficiencies and cost savings, so MS long ago priced its products just below what those total savings for the buyers with the money who would be in using a PC in business.

So MS software sells not for a reasonable profit, but rather sucks in almost all of the cost savings experienced by the monied customers who pay for it.

In this model there is no efficiency gain in using a PC for the public sector of for non-profit users or for very little business like one-person consultant operations; rather, the PC is a sinkhole that raises rather than lowers costs for these users.

That is why Israel and many European communities are eschewing Redmond: More than one has noted the need to get more citizens making productive use of the PC as a tool.

Enter Linux, which proffers the productivity of job automation WITHOUT making off with almost all the efficiencies as vendor profit in the process.

Software makers like Adobe and Symantec, which have long functioned on the MS model as well, should take heed. Their biggest threat is not a PC competitor, but an evolved widely used Linux.

It is extremely encouraging in terms of the number of PC devices that are now coming with Linux drivers. HP, are you listening? The Linux machine us really startin to roll now.
Posted by PolarUpgrade (103 comments )
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