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Open-source pioneer Munich debates report that suggests abandoning Linux for Windows 10

Exclusive: An external report into IT at the city authority suggests the trailblazing council could move away from using open-source software.

As an open-source software pioneer, Munich spent years moving away from Windows, but now politicians are debating a report that suggests the city could eventually abandon Linux.

If the authority ruling Germany’s third largest city backs proposals to make Windows 10 and Microsoft Office available across the council, it would be a significant step away from open-source software for an organization once seen as its champion.

Over a nine year period starting in 2004, the council moved about 15,000 staff from using Windows and Office to LiMux—a custom version of the Ubuntu desktop OS—and other open-source software. At the time, Munich was one of the largest organizations to reject Windows, and Microsoft took the city’s leaving so seriously that then CEO Steve Ballmer flew to Munich to meet the mayor.

Now a report commissioned by current mayor Dieter Reiter to help determine the future of IT at the council has outlined a project to make Windows 10 and Microsoft Office available to all departments, and give staff the choice about whether to use Windows or LiMux.

If Windows subsequently became a popular choice, the report says “it could be investigated whether it makes economic sense to continue using Linux as a client operating system”.

This work, part of a wider €18.9m ‘architecture and client’ 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.

This renewed focus on Windows would be a dramatic departure from the council’s current policy, which has reduced the number of Windows machines to a minimum, keeping only those needed to run software incompatible with LiMux.

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