A newly elected government in Munich, Germany has said it will aim to use open source solutions in its offices. In doing so, the government is moving away from Windows and Microsoft Office despite committing to the products several years ago.

“Where it is technologically and financially possible, the city will put emphasis on open standards and free open-source licensed software,” says a recently agreed coalition between the elected Green party and the Social Democrats.

Under the terms of the agreement, the government will make all software code public unless there is personal information involved.

Munich is the hub of Bavaria and the third largest city in Germany with a population 1.5 million people. Its relationship with Microsoft products like Microsoft Office has been storied. In 2003, Microsoft announced plans to cut off support of its Windows NT 4.0.

By 2006, the city had started a concerted effort to move away from Microsoft products and onto Linux. Fast forward to 2013 and 80% of all workstations in the government and related organizations were running LiMux. However, Microsoft’s Windows and Office services were still used.

As we reported back in 2017, the government made a controversial decision to abandon open source and return to Windows.

“The mayor was against free software from the beginning,” said Matthias Kirschner, president of Free Software Foundation Europe said at the time. “When he was elected, he took pride in getting Microsoft to move their office to Munich. He even gave this study to Accenture, which is a Microsoft partner.”

Becoming Open

The decision to return to open source has been applauded by the open source community.

“We’re very happy that they’re taking on the points in the ‘Public Money, Public Code’ campaign we started two and a half years ago,” Alex Sander, EU public policy manager at the Berlin-based Free Software Foundation Europe, told ZDNet.

It is hoped Munich can roll out new open source infrastructure at a rapid pace due to experience with such systems. Sander called for Much to draft a roadmap detailing its plans for the roll out. Microsoft has lobbied hard in the past to secure its services in the city so it will be interesting to see how the company reacts.

In 2017, the company seemed to have shored up its products in Munich when Microsoft Office 365 Germany was launched. Because of local deployment, Office 365 Germany lets customers in the country adhere to EU data protection laws. Microsoft launched datacenters in Frankfurt/Main and Magdeburg last year. The first Microsoft service to be launched from the datacenters was Azure.