Statement by The Document Foundation about the upcoming, discussion at the City of Munich to step back to Windows and MS Office

Posted by Italo Vignoli-5 Italo Vignoli-5  
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The Document Foundation is an independent, charitable entity and the
home of LibreOffice. We have followed the developments in Munich with
great concerns and like to express our disappointment to see a minority
of politicians apparently ignoring the expert advice for which they've

Rumours of the City of Munich returning to Microsoft Windows and
Microsoft Office have been regularly leaking since the election of Mayor
Dieter Reiter, who was described as a “Microsoft fan” when interviewed
by StadtBild magazine in 2014.

Mayor Dieter Reiter asked Accenture, a Microsoft partner, to produce a
report about the situation of the City of Munich's IT infrastructure,
that resulted in a 450-page document where the main issues were
identified as organizational ones and not related to open source
operating systems and applications.

In the age of open data and transparency in political decision making,
we are glad that the report is now made available to the general public

According to the report, only a minor percentage of users (between 18%
and 28%, based on different applications) had severe issues related to
software, which could be solved by migrating these users to Windows and
MS Office. Incidentally, 15% of users acknowledged severe issues related
to MS Office.

In fact, the Accenture report suggests decoupling the operating system
and application to reduce dependencies at client level. To ensure this,
both Windows and LiMux should be deployed in a basic configuration,
which includes operating systems as well as applications, such as
LibreOffice, calendar and e-mail, required by all units and self-service
providers. The basic configuration should be extended depending on the

In spite of the suggestions, on Wednesday, February 15, Munich City
Council will discuss a proposal - filed by a minority of city
councillors - to install Windows 10 and MS Office 2016 on all
workstations by 2020. This would cost taxpayers close to 90 million euro
over the next six years, with a 35% aggravation over the 66 million euro
figure suggested by Accenture.

In addition, according to estimates provided by Green Party councillors,
another 15 million euros should be spent to replace or upgrade PCs which
are perfect for a small footprint operating system such as Linux, but
cannot support even a Windows 10 basic configuration.

Last, but not least, most expenditures related to the purchase of
Microsoft licenses will contribute to the GDP of Ireland (where all
Microsoft products sold in Europe are sourced from) rather than to local
enterprises who support the open source solutions deployed today. This
is a rather striking difference in the allocation of taxpayers money,
which should be carefully considered.

Apart from the cost aggravation, the proposal under discussion ignores
the main reason behind the decision to migrate from proprietary to open
source software by the City of Munich, i.e. independence from a single
software vendor and the move from proprietary to standard document formats.

In fact, although the proposal associates MS Office document formats
with the "industry standard" concept, it should be clear that all MS
Office documents are proprietary and obfuscated, and therefore
inappropriate for interoperability, even when they have been recognized
by international standard bodies such as ISO. A standard document
format, to be considered as such, must be implemented in the real world
and not only described on paper.

If the current proposal will be approved, the City of Munich will not
only lose the vendor independence it has sought over the last dozen of
years, but will pursue a strategy which ignores the current trend
mandating open document standards in countries such as UK, France,
Sweden, the Netherlands and Taiwan.

Instead of investing in the education about open document standards, to
increase the adoption and thus reduce interoperability costs, the City
of Munich will adopt a pseudo-standard document format which is known to
create issues even when upgrading from a previous release of the same MS
Office software.

Based on the above considerations, The Document Foundation thinks that
the proposal to be discussed on Wednesday, February 15, represents a
significant step backwards for the City of Munich, with a substantial
increase in expenditure, an unknown amount of hidden cost related to
interoperability, and a questionable usage of taxpayers money.

Italo Vignoli - Marketing & PR
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