Munich to stick with open source

The German city confirms it will proceed with the biggest Linux migration ever.

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 reported from London.

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