Microsoft on Wednesday lost its bid to keep the German city of Munich a Windows customer.
The Munich City Council on Wednesday announced that it has decided to deploy the Linux open-source operating system and will migrate its 14,000 desktop and notebook computers away from Windows products to Linux.
Richard Seibt, the CEO of SuSE Linux A.G. in Nuremberg, Germany, told eWEEK in an interview on Wednesday that the Munich City Council would be moving away from all Microsoft products and implementing Linux as its strategic infrastructure platform.
The city currently runs Microsoft Office, Windows 3.1, 95, 98 and NT as well as the Internet Explorer browser. The council also plans to move to the free OpenOffice desktop productivity suite and may also decide to use Suns StarOffice suite, he said.
Although the council has not as yet made a decision on its choice of vendor, SuSE Linux AG and IBM Germany will participate in the resulting contract bid.
“The city of Munich believes that from a long-term perspective they are by far better positioned if they use Linux and open-source software. This is a momentous decision because we believe this truly marks a watershed moment for Linux.
“The city clearly sees Linux not just as cost savings over costly, proprietary software, but also as the best tool for the job—bringing security, stability, flexibility and privacy not available to them before,” Seibt said.
The move away from proprietary Microsoft software is not just a German phenomenon but a European story, he said. This has nothing to do with the fact that Linux was born in Europe but rather that it is more competitive in lowering the total cost of ownership and allowing customers to chose from a range of products from different vendors, he said.
“I have talked to the German government many times, and they understand that Linux and the application development associated with it, helps create jobs in Germany. We are talking about investment as well as customer savings,” Seibt said.
Walter Raizner, the country general manager for IBM Germany, said that the German public sector is embracing open standards-based software such as Linux. “Worldwide, more than 75 IBM government customers—including agencies in France, Spain, UK, Australia, Mexico, the United States and Japan—have now embraced open computing and Linux to save costs, consolidate workloads, increase efficiency and enact e-government transformation.
“With Munichs decision, one thing is clear—its open season for open computing. Linux represents freedom and flexibility. This is essential in e-government—they need more flexibility to serve their constituencies better and faster, and freedom of choice to do it at less cost to the public. Munich is leading the way,” he said.
Hans-Juergen Croissant, a spokesman for Microsoft in Germany, said on Wednesday that “with respect to the Munich administration, we will continue to work closely with them to explore additional programs and offerings that best meet the needs of Munichs citizens and businesses.”
Microsoft is always willing to discuss with governments or organizations how it can help bring the value of Microsoft products and services to the benefit of government agencies, consumers and businesses alike, he said.
In a counter-move, Microsoft on Wednesday also announced that the town of Frankfurt am Main and Microsoft Deutschland GmbH have signed a basic agreement for long-term cooperation in the IT field.
Under the agreement, Microsoft grants local municipalities inexpensive and flexible terms for purchasing and using Microsoft products. “The advantages for Frankfurt are, in particular, the reduction of expenditure and costs for software license management.
“The agreement also secures guaranteed prices for the contract duration, fixed annual installments as well as a set price per PC for the town over several years—a move which simplifies budget planning,” the company said in a statement.
Weighing in on the controversy surrounding the SCO Groups campaign to protect its Unix intellectual property and to sue IBM for $1 billion, SuSEs Seibt pointed to a recent research poll in Germany that showed that 88 percent of the respondents had no issue moving forward with Linux and did not believe that SCO could win its lawsuit against IBM. “They simply dont care,” he said.
Seibt also welcomed the contents of a letter from Jack Messman, the CEO of Novell, Inc. to SCO CEO Darl McBride, in which Messman publicly challenged SCOs assertion that it owns the copyrights and patents to Unix System V. Novell itself once owned the rights to Unix.
“This is a very important development as I think we will see very soon who is right and who is wrong. They are talking about a public contract document between the two parties. I have seen the contract, and it contains specific asset exclusions,” he said.
SCOs McBride told the media and analysts in a telephone conference call on Wednesday that many corporations across the world are taking a “timeout and want greater clarity about the legal situation before doing big Linux implementations.”
But SuSEs Seibt disputed that, saying he is seeing “absolutely no” slowdown in its corporate Linux business and that its customers are moving ahead with their plans. While customers are asking SuSE for assurances that its code is not affected by any intellectual property or code owned by anyone else, the company believes its Linux distributions does not violate anyone elses IP rights, he said.
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