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
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 Sun's 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
"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 Munich's decision, one thing is clear—it's 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 Munich's citizens and
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 Group's campaign to protect its Unix intellectual property and to sue IBM for $1 billion,
SuSE's 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 don't 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 SCO's 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.
SCO's 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 SuSE's 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 else's IP rights, he said.
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