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jeremy 11-19-2013 03:06 PM

How Munich rejected Steve Ballmer and kicked Microsoft out of the city

Breaking up with Microsoft is hard to do. Just ask Peter Hofmann, the man leading the City of Munich's project to ditch Windows and Office in favour of open source alternatives.

The project took close to a decade to complete, has seen the city wrestle with legal uncertainties and earned Munich a visit from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, whose pleas to the mayor of Germany's third largest city not to switch fell on deaf ears.

Munich says the move to open source has saved it more than €10m, a claim contested by Microsoft, yet Hofmann says the point of making the switch was never about money, but about freedom.

"If you are only doing a migration because you think it saves you money there's always somebody who tells you afterwards that you didn't calculate it properly," he said.

"Our main goal was to become independent."
Peter Hoffman, project lead
"That was the experience of a lot of open source-based projects that have failed," Hofmann noted. They were only cost-driven and when the organisation got more money or somebody else said 'The costs are wrong' then the main reason for doing it had broken away. That was never the main goal within the City of Munich. Our main goal was to become independent."

Becoming independent meant Munich freeing itself from closed, proprietary software, more specifically the Microsoft Windows NT operating system and the Microsoft Office suite, and a host of other locked-down technologies the city relied on in 2002.

The decision to ditch Microsoft was also born of necessity. In 2002 the council knew official support for Windows NT, the OS used on 14,000 staff machines at the council, would soon run out. The council ordered a study of the merits of switching to XP and Office versus a GNU/Linux OS, OpenOffice and other free software.
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kishor joshi 11-20-2013 12:41 AM

A news from India
Although only 100 business days are left for the American software giant Microsoft Corporation to end support to Windows XP operating system, Indian public sector banks and government agencies are yet to migrate to new operating systems.

This means using Windows XP in their computers after April 8, 2014 would expose the users to potential security and compliance risks. After the deadline, the Redmond-headquartered company would not provide any new security updates, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates for the operating system. Windows XP is three generations behind the latest operating systems of the company.

According to a study conducted by market consulting and analytics firm Ascentius Consulting, over 34,000 branches of public sector banks are at risk.

Microsoft sources said about 52 per cent of computers in banks, 30 per cent in government offices, 26 per cent in manufacturing companies and 26 per cent in software firms are running on Windows XP.

“We see that software companies have a good plan to fully migrate by April, and even manufacturing companies have a fairly good plan to meet the deadline. But we see absolutely no plan in the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance sector,” Amrish Goyal, general manager Windows Business Group at Microsoft told Business Standard.

However, banks believe that the issue is being "blown out of proportion". According to the chief technology officer at a bank, all financial institutions have strong internal security systems, which would not be breached even if Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP.

“Absolutely nothing will happen if banks continue to use Windows XP even after Microsoft stopped supporting it. This issue is being over-hyped. There is a process of replacing each PC every five to seven years, so when we do that, the operating system will automatically get upgraded. The threat is not high enough to pay the kind of costs involved in migrating from one operating system to another," he said.

The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team , in June this year, asked all users of Windows XP to “immediately” plan for upgradation.

According to Ascentius Consulting, if banks continue to use Windows XP beyond April 8, their customers may be exposed to greater risks of identity theft and fraud. Also, branches running on Windows XP in the rural and semi-urban areas run the risk of going down, whereas branches in metros and urban areas may see around 55 per cent of their customers facing extended waiting times of up to 30 minutes for an average transaction.

“The fiscal impact of this could be as much as loss of business opportunity worth Rs 1,100 crore in a day and a loss of income of Rs 330 crore over a period of three days (assuming that a major incident may take three days for the systems to come up to normal functioning),” the study said.

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