Munich Approves €49.3m Windows 10 Migration Plan

Munich’s city council has approved a plan to spend more than €50 million (£44m) migrating to Microsoft’s Windows 10, in a move that formally ends the city’s ambitious Linux desktop programme, first announced in 2004.

The “LiMux” programme saw a customised version of Ubuntu Linux rolled out to about 14,800 of the city’s 29,000 users and LibreOffice used by more than 15,000, in a bid to reduce the government’s dependence upon Microsoft.

In 2012 then-mayor Christian Ude said LiMux had saved Munich more than €4m in licensing costs.

The rollout was completed in 2013, nearly 10 years after it began, but a political shift the following year saw leadership turn in favour of a return to Windows.

IT overhaul

The current mayor, the SPD’s Dieter Reiter, has spearheaded the current Windows push and has been supported by the CSU, which with the SPD makes up the city’s present ruling coalition.

In Thursday’s vote the CSU and SPD voted in favour, with opposition parties including the Greens, FDP and ÖDP voting against.

The cost of introducing 29,000 Windows 10 desktops would be €49.3m, as part of a wider €89m IT overhaul that would include €3.1m spent on testing and retraining staff, according to a plan introduced by the council earlier this month.

But the switch would also incur ancillary costs such as €14m for staff, €24m for consultants, €13.4m on internal IT services, €4.8m for hardware and €29.9m for software licenses.

Preparation of the new Windows 10 client is to begin early next year, with rolout beginning in 2020 and the migration expected to complete at the end of 2022 or early 2023. LiMux is to continue to be supported alongside Windows during the transition period.

The shift doesn’t include transitioning to Microsoft Office, which could be particularly challenging and expensive due to the council’s reliance on LibreOffice macros and a custom templating system called WollMux, which includes thousands of templates that would have to be migrated.

Separate Microsoft Office migration

Under the Windows plan a separate trial of Microsoft Office is to be conducted and assessed by an external auditor, with the results to be presented to the council by the end of next year.

Opposition politicians criticised the move as unnecessary and expensive, and even the council warned the migration could be difficult.

“If the measures are going to successfully implemented, it’s important from the outset that they are accompanied by targeted expectation and change management to reduce negative effects and minimise the consequences of the reorganisation,” the council said in its outline of the project.

Florian Roth of the Greens called the plan a “great example of wasting money”, while Thomas Ranft of the FDP said the council was abandoning its partially acquired vendor independence.

Tobias Ruff of the ÖDP said it made no sense to spend so much money on desktops when the IT industry is shifting toward cloud-based computing.

The council has said it plans to take advantage of the reorganisation to move toward cloud applications, but said the Windows clients were necessary.

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has argued the city’s issues with its software are organisational in nature and that “switching operating systems will not solve them”.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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