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Munich considers dumping Linux to return to Windows

Munich, the German city that pioneered a shift from Microsoft Windows to Linux on the desktop, is considering a switch back after user complaints.

According to German newspaper Süddeutsche, deputy mayor Josef Schmid says the municipality is considering reverting to Windows because users are dissatisfied with the functionality of the open source software they have been forced to use.

In particular, staff have complained about the lack of integration of contact, calendar and email software, while the municipality also had to set up an external mail server to connect staff mobile devices.

An “expert panel” is to be established to consider whether or not the city should return to Windows. Schmid is quoted by Süddeutsche saying that he would not oppose such a move.

The City of Munich was one of the first major organisations to migrate to Linux, a decision made in 2003, after the city council voted to spend €30m (£24m) and 10 years making the move. The migration required the city to migrate much of its infrastructure, not just installing Linux on the desktop instead of Windows.

The city opted for a customised version of Ubuntu Linux, dubbed LiMux, with the migration completed only last year. The decision to look again also follows a change in administration.

The original 2003 decision to replace Windows was not based on costs. According to a 2008 report from the European Commission, the main motivation was “the desire for strategic independence from software suppliers”.

At the time, while the organisation committed to spending €30m on the Linux implementation, it suggested that it would save €35m on software licensing, including hardware upgrade costs. Microsoft, however, suggested that the Linux implementation would cost Munich closer to €60m.

Few organisations have followed Munich in making a lock, stock and barrel shift to Linux, although many thereafter used the threat of a migration from Windows to Linux as a means of beating up Microsoft on licence and support prices.

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