As expected, the city government in Munich, Germany, voted officially this week to drop Windows from 14,000 desktop PCs, opting instead to go with an open-source solution based on Linux. The Munich migration is, by far, the largest contract loss that Microsoft has suffered at the hands of Linux.
In a closed-door meeting yesterday, the Munich city council voted 50 to 29 in favor of a plan to drop Windows and switch to Linux. The city has studied the proposal for more than a year and will now accept bids from major Linux vendors such as IBM and Novell, both of whom worked pro bono to help the city evaluate the migration, and HP. "Now the bidding will start, and we'll determine which companies will be chosen," Munich Councilwoman Christine Strobl said. "Our decision can act as a signal to other communities. The reaction of Microsoft in the past year and in the last months demonstrated that."
The Munich migration to Linux is expected to cost about $42 million and will begin next month. In addition to replacing the core Windows OS with Linux, the city will also implement several other open-source programs for applications such as Web browsing, office productivity, and personal information managemer (PIM). "The big question has been: Is it possible for ordinary workers to use Linux at a workstation to do word processing, spreadsheets, and Web browsing?" open-source guru Bruce Perens asked. "The answer now is a resounding yes."
After Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer rushed to Munich last year to broker a deal that undercut the lowest Linux bid by $12 million, many large Microsoft customers used the threat of a Linux migration to negotiate better licensing terms from the software giant. Although most reports about these threats are anecdotal in nature, many companies don't seem to be actually considering Linux but are rather using the threat as a bargaining chip against Microsoft.