City that swapped Windows for Linux debates proposed Windows 10 move

Munich politicians demand answers about report that suggests the authority ruling Germany's third largest city could make Windows 10 and Microsoft Office available across the council.

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The skyline of the city of Munich, Germany's third largest city.

Image: kanuman/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Politicians at open-source champion Munich are demanding more information about proposals that the city rolls out Windows 10 and possibly even abandons Linux.

The city authority, famed for rejecting Windows, yesterday questioned the administration about consultants' proposals to make Windows 10 and Office available across the council.

If the city implements the project it would mark a significant departure for the authority, which spent years migrating about 15,000 staff from Windows to LiMux, a custom version of the Ubuntu desktop OS.

In the new report, Accenture and German consultancy arf suggest staff be given the choice--on a department by department basis--between using Windows 10 and Microsoft Office and using LiMux and LibreOffice, and that if Windows proves popular enough "it could be investigated whether it makes economic sense to continue using Linux as a client operating system".

While the council still runs some Windows machines, its policy is to keep the use of the Microsoft OS to a minimum, only running it where line of business software is incompatible with LiMux.

On Wednesday, the consultants report was debated by Munich's administrative and personnel committee, which deferred taking any decision related to the report until January next year.

The first matter to be considered by the council will be the report's recommendation that the city's three tier IT department is restructured as a single unit. The council won't decide on whether to back the Windows-focused architecture and client project outlined in the report until later next year.

Nevertheless elected officials at the council demanded more information about the Windows-focused proposals in the report, which was commissioned by current mayor Dieter Reiter to determine the future of IT at the council.

Politicians on the left of the council discussed measures to stop changes being implemented in the wake of the report, while the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) asked for a breakdown of licensing fees that would be incurred if the council made Windows more widely available.

In relation to the draft resolution being considered by the council, the Green Party of Munich is preparing what it describes as a "huge amendment", would stipulate the authority must "stick to Linux as the major OS".

In correspondence with the administration preceding the meeting, various departments at Munich were critical of LiMux and LibreOffice, with the human resources department citing problems with crashes, display and printing errors, and backed a wider rollout of Windows. In the past, however, the council has said that the bulk of users had not taken issue with the move to LiMux and free software.

The high cost and complexity of maintaining a Windows- and Linux-based client side-by-side at the council is classed as a "high severity" weak point in the report, which stresses the need to improve the Windows client at the council.

The Free Software Foundation Europe has questioned why Accenture was commissioned to co-author a report assessing the use of Microsoft software, when the consultancy runs a joint venture with Microsoft called Avanade, which helps businesses implement Microsoft technologies. For its part, Accenture said it has an "independent view of the technology landscape".

The move to more widely roll out Windows is part of a larger €18.9m 'architecture and client' project detailed in the report. The four year project would see Munich city council take on two new "Windows experts", who would help develop a "powerful" new Windows client for use by staff.

A spokesman for Munich City Council says the final decision on whether to implement the client and architecture project will be taken once detailed financial planning is finalized, which is not due to happen before summer / autumn 2017.

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