back to article Another German state plans switch back from Linux to Windows

The German state of Lower Saxony plans to follow Munich's example, and migrate a reported 13,000 users from Linux back to Windows. Apparently undaunted by the cost of the Munich switch (which we reported in January could be as much as €100m), Lower Saxony is considering making the change in its tax office. The state seems to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For you Microsoft,

    the War is over.

  2. kryptylomese

    Lots of companies run Linux including Google

    Of course the folks that work at Google were not already living with Microsoft's offerings so migration was not necessary. New companies can benefit from running Linux - old companies have people that think they need Windows (and probably do for some very old esoteric reasons).

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

      The council in question might be interacting with the public in all sorts of ways. Members of the public might be running Windows for lots of reasons, including popular SOHO accountancy programs and compatability with people they themselves do business with ( a small engineering firm using AutoCAD for example).

      A Google software engineer might have no problems getting their head round WINE if they must (though Google no doubt have Windows machines if only for testing purposes). This isn't necessarily true of a small business in Saxony.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

        The council in question might be interacting with the public in all sorts of ways. Members of the public might be running Windows for lots of reasons, including popular SOHO accountancy programs and compatability with people they themselves do business with ( a small and old engineering firm using AutoCAD for example)

        ftfy. New and small startups tend to search for alternatives to save cost, since they are not tied to the old stuff. I do know of an engineering firm started using a working AutoCAD alternative to save cost. Oddly, that example software also supports some linux distribution.

        So in years time, the landscape might shift a lot more than we currently expect.

        1. Paul 195
          Coat

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          > So in years time, the landscape might shift a lot more than we currently expect.

          Yes! It will be the Year Of Linux On The Desktop. (again).

          1. Col_Panek

            Re: Linux desktop

            Is your phone sitting on your desktop right now?

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          " I do know of an engineering firm started using a working AutoCAD alternative to save cost."

          A lot of the high end high cost alternatives run on Linux (or other *nixes too), with Windows tending to be an afterthought.

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

        A Google software engineer might have no problems getting their head round WINE if they must (though Google no doubt have Windows machines if only for testing purposes). This isn't necessarily true of a small business in Saxony.

        Why would anyone expect a small business to bend over backwards, it's the council that should be, with undoubtedly more staff and resources, Format conversion, via through Wine or otherwise is often as simple as a flat or comma delim file (which simple instructions could tell business how to deliver, assuming such programs have such simple file export and haven't decided on a lock-in approach to their users data).

        It is after all wiser to keep data exchanges simple and limited in complexity, and XXX proprietary package with some weird-ass private file format is probably the worse thing possible.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

      >>Lots of companies run Linux including Google

      For very small values of "lots" as a desktop.

      >>New companies can benefit from running Linux "

      It costs you a higher TCO in most use cases to do less and is way more painful to use. Hardly a benefit.

      >>old companies have people that think they need Windows

      People do need Windows if you want to be able to use best of breed local client applications in just about every market sector. Just for example - Condeco - the meeting room booking system used by the vast majority of corporates - requires MS Outlook to work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

        t costs you a higher TCO in most use cases to do less and is way more painful to use. Hardly a benefit.

        [citation needed]. Stop spreading FUD. That's Microsoft's job.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          Stop spreading FUD. That's Microsoft's job.

          Given that what the FUDster posted looked to be copied and pasted from Microsoft Marketing, he/she/it probably was from Microsoft.

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: he/she/it probably was from Microsoft.

            Of course he was. What other reason could there possibly be for suggesting MS is a better fit for corporate IT? Well, experience I guess......

            (Just waiting for my brown envelope now.)

          2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Condeco

            never heard of it either.

            So you're telling me the big companies need special software to book meeting rooms?

            They dont have some sort of electronic calendar?

            Its my dream to produce a simple as fuck piece of software and hit the big time with it.

            Round here a lot of the NHS offices use a piece of software called "The green button" - its installed peer to peer on the machines around the building / dept and if you click the button it alerts the others you need immediate assistance. I'd have called it "the red button" personally

            The RENT this incredibley simple piece of software out multiple times to multiplie sites.

            money for old rope!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "They dont have some sort of electronic calendar?"

              It's the integration. Exchange will manage the booking, people/resource availability, notifications, rescheduling, delegation, mobile device support, etc. etc.

              You may not have those needs, but many others have. And Linux counterparts are less user-friendly, especially for the lack of good clients, and web solutions are a pain to use when your needs are beyond basic ones.

              1. Lomax
                Windows

                Re: "They dont have some sort of electronic calendar?"

                > "It's the integration. Exchange will manage the booking, people/resource availability, notifications, rescheduling, delegation, mobile device support, etc. etc."

                Which of these are not supported by CalDav/CardDav/GroupDav? All open standards and widely supported across platforms. https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6638

                FWIW, our company recently switched from a self hosted groupware solution to KolabNow - now six months without a hitch, and our ops team able to devote their time to the infrastructure that makes money. With a mix of Windows, Mac and Linux desktops, laptops and servers, it's nice to have a truly cross-platform solution. Some people use Outlook, some Thunderbird, some use the Kolab web UI. I use it with my SailfishOS mobile and Evolution Mail on Linux and love it so far. YMMV.

                1. Orv Silver badge

                  Re: "They dont have some sort of electronic calendar?"

                  Which of these are not supported by CalDav/CardDav/GroupDav?

                  My experience is that CalDav sync is usually only reliable in a one-way sync environment. For example, you used to be able to sync a Mac calendar to Google Calendar via CalDav, but due to numerous problems they had to cut that back to only one-way sync. (You can view events in Mac calendar, but not change them.) The problem here is different companies interpret the standards differently, where there even are standards. (vCalendar is not really standardized, for example, in spite of its popularity.)

                  Another issue is free/busy status, which kept a lot of people on Outlook at some of my previous employers. Sure, Mozilla Mail could receive a VCS attachment fine, but you couldn't see when anyone else was likely to be available.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  'Which of these are not supported by CalDav/CardDav/GroupDav?'

                  You missed the point. Standards are useless if you don't have software that put them all together, and integrates the different needs.

                  If I setup a meeting, I need confirmation request to be sent automatically and responses processed qs well. And I like my mobile sync with all of it. While being able to share documents in the meeting setup.

                  Preferably, without a web interface only which is a pain to use on mobes/tablets, and often on desktop as well.

                  Kolab has still a lot to do to match Exchange. Our collaboration infrastructure is part of the money making, and, really, doesn't require much specific management being integrated with AD.

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "They dont have some sort of electronic calendar?"

                  "Which of these are not supported by CalDav/CardDav/GroupDav? All open standards and widely supported across platforms. https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6638"

                  The integration isn't. It just doesn't exist.

            2. TheVogon Silver badge

              Re: Condeco

              "So you're telling me the big companies need special software to book meeting rooms?"

              Yep.

              "They dont have some sort of electronic calendar?"

              Sure - they all use Outlook, but they need a system that also allows for updating the display panel outside each meeting room and allows confirmation and amending bookings from there. Also they commonly need to allow for certain meeting rooms to have booking approvers. They need to allow for catering to be ordered, and a cost code supplied. They need something that can request guest names and notify reception. etc. etc. Condeco does all of that and lots more.

        2. TotallyInfo

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          "t costs you a higher TCO in most use cases to do less and is way more painful to use. Hardly a benefit."

          "[citation needed]. Stop spreading FUD. That's Microsoft's job."

          Genuine TCO/ROI data is remarkably hard to get hold of because there is far too much emotion and too many vested interests involved.

          While, in terms of raw OS licensing, costs are certainly lower. Costs for technical, architectural and support skills are not only at least comparable but may well be higher or indeed **may be unobtainable** - since enterprise quality skills in desktop Linux are pretty rare - of course they are, hardly anyone does that! Decent IT skills are hard enough to come by, specialist ones far more so. That might well leave you tight to a choice of a small number of specialist 3rd-party support organisations who, themselves, would likely struggle to grow in the face of a large corporate switch to Linux desktop.

          Then you have to factor in end user skills and knowledge. Few, if any, enterprise users have knowledge and experience of Linux desktop. Even worse when you factor in the need to use non-standard software such as Open/Libre Office instead of MS Office.

          Many enterprises (and certainly public sector) have to operate at minimal staffing levels at the best of times, trying to free up front-line staff in order to retrain them to an alternative OS and software would see you laughed out of the board room. And rightly so.

          None of this is FUD, all of it is real. Based on experience over several decades. And yes, based on practical experience of trying to move away from Microsoft products in the past. Also based on writing business cases for past and current services.

          Let us all do ourselves a favour and leave the emotion out of this argument. The decisions for change vs status quo aren't just based on TCO, nor even on ROI - but rather on all of the business and human factors as well.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

        I've never heard of Condeco. We book meeting rooms through outlook.office.com, which is a Microsoft service but works with Firefox on any OS that Firefox runs on. Personally I use Linux, though lots of people prefer a Mac.

        The desktop wars are over. Nobody really cares any more what OS your browser runs on. Perhaps. Though I'm a computer scientist, not an IT person, so I don't really understand this stuff.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          " Though I'm a computer scientist, not an IT person, so I don't really understand this stuff."

          cor! Whats a Computer Scientist?

          1. rg287

            Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

            cor! Whats a Computer Scientist?

            It's a branch of microbiology - they can tell you exactly which strains of e-coli you've got in your keyboard.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

              But THEY cant fix, repair or replace your keyboard.

              They know WHY it's failed and could write a 10,000 word essay on the subject, but not how to get it back up and running again.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

                "But THEY cant fix, repair or replace your keyboard."

                Why would they bother when it's <£10 to just buy another.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          "I've never heard of Condeco. We book meeting rooms through outlook.office.com"

          And how do you get outlook.office.com to update the display panel outside each meeting room?

          1. dmacleo

            Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

            And how do you get outlook.office.com to update the display panel outside each meeting room?

            http://www.sharpie.com/

        3. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          "Though I'm a computer scientist, not an IT person, so I don't really understand this stuff."

          I choked and died, you bastard. You'll be hearing from my solicitor.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          "The desktop wars are over. Nobody really cares any more what OS your browser runs on. Perhaps. Though I'm a computer scientist, not an IT person, so I don't really understand this stuff."

          I'm afraid that you don't, indeed understand this stuff. Which is worrying and disappointing since you refer to yourself as a "computer scientist".

          The OS your computer runs makes a reasonable difference to how you work, how you are trained and what skills you have and need. More importantly, it makes a MASSIVE difference to how your computer will be supported in an enterprise environment.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

        People do need Windows if you want to be able to use best of breed local client applications in just about every market sector.

        Haven't heard "best of breed" in a while. That was a favourite term of corporate astroturfers back in the day, but I thought they'd moved on to more contemporary buzz-phrases since then. Or are you now retired, and just FUDding as a hobby?

        But it really depends on how you define "best". If your idea of "best" includes "locks me into a platform tightly controlled by a monopolist with a history of anti-competitive practices" then yes, "best of breed" it is.

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          > Haven't heard "best of breed" in a while.

          Best of breed is terminology taken from the dog show world. I think it means: if your software runs like a dog then it's in with a chance of being declared best of breed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

            For the record, Google not only uses its own internal distribution of Linux but its build systems are so tied to it that the few who develop Google's Mac, iOS and Windows products must tether themselves to a Linux machine. The standard setup is to have a Linux box under your desk and a Mac or Windows laptop on top of it. The Linux machine acts as an intermediary for all source control interactions.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

              Microsoft ran Linux for many years - they found it nearly impossible to migrate Hotmail off it for a long time as their NT systems could cope with the load.

              1. Orv Silver badge

                Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

                Many companies run Linux...as a server OS. Linux on the desktop is a lot more rare.

          2. blondie101

            Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

            "from the dog show world"

            And when you look at the dogs that are considered by the experts (the dog owners/jury,...) top dogs you immediately wonder what is "top" about a dog that can't breath or walk properly. Dog people are so living in their bubble they can't see the big picture anymore. So in a sense it is a good analogy.

        2. wallaby

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          I remember from years gone by

          Linux aficionados saying it should be about choice

          They chose - get over it

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          > Haven't heard "best of breed" in a while.

          Yeah, but the breed might be "sewer rats", when what you actually need is "ploughing horses"

          That was my experience whenever I ran into outfits using that term - it just meant they weren't looking far past their own walls at how anyone else was solving problems and defined themselves based on comparisons with anyone else in the same very narrow speciality.

          A best of breed buggy whip maker isn't going to sell much product to Eddie Stobart...

      4. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

        Condeco - the meeting room booking system

        All you need to know about what's wrong with corporate logic can be inferred from an argument that begins "we need to be able to schedule the use of meeting rooms" and ends "so therefore we need Windows, Outlook and another bunch of proprietary software and hardware".

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

        "Condeco - the meeting room booking system used by the vast majority of corporates - requires MS Outlook to work"

        Bollocks. Condeco (which we also use for room and desk booking) is primarily web based. There is an outlook plugin that you can use if you wish, but it is NOT required to work.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          "There is an outlook plugin that you can use if you wish, but it is NOT required to work."

          Sure, if dont mind your calendar being entirely seperate from your room booking system and having to enter everything twice. If you want it to work as designed, Outlook is required.

          1. hplasm Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

            "Sure, if dont mind your calendar being entirely seperate from your room booking system and having to enter everything twice. If you want it to work as designed, Outlook is required."

            First World Problems...

        2. Vetis

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          Most people will moan about opening a web page just for that. We have enough trouble having them do it for a secure email portal.

      6. Walter Bishop Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

        "It costs you a higher TCO in most use cases to do less and is way more painful to use. Hardly a benefit."

        INSERT MICROS~1 FUD ..

        "if you want to be able to use best of breed local client applications"

        Say that in front of a group of techies and watch the smug grins develop.

        "Just for example - Condeco - the meeting room booking system"

        Yes, it's the lack of the ability to book a meeting room online that's holding back businesses :]

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          "Yes, it's the too easy ability to book a meeting room online that's holding back businesses ..."

          FTFY

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

        Sorry, Enterprise Architect for a global Fortune 200 company of companies here: never heard of Condeco. And that's saying something. We used to joke with incoming contractors who asked what software products we ran, "Pretty much _everything_ you can think of, you'd be better off if we gave you the short list of what we _don't_ run". Having just moved our multitudes onto O365 E5, we've now made Microsoft happy by finally using their stuff for everything, including meeting room bookings. The really nice thing about O365 is that everything works great on a standard Ubuntu or Red Hat desktop with either Firefox or Chrome (Chrome has a bit of an edge right now). Of course GSuite would work better, but the corporate suites must have their Microsoft, which near as I can tell is the new IBM for hipster execs.

        1. Unbelievable!
          Big Brother

          RE Sorry, Enterprise Architect for a global Fortune 200 company of companies here:

          CONSTELLATION GROUP at all friend?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          "Enterprise Architect for a global Fortune 200 company of companies here: never heard of Condeco."

          What do you use to manage the booking system / the display panel for each meeting room then? Pretty much everyone thats updated anything in their meeting rooms in the last decade uses Condeco. Last 3 companies I worked for (all FTSE 100) all used it everywhere.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          "Sorry, Enterprise Architect for a global Fortune 200 company of companies here: never heard of Condeco."

          It's by miles the market leader, so that does imply you are not well imformed. And the solution that you use instead for managing meeting room displays and bookings is?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

      This isn't about what's best, it's about who has the biggest brown envelope fund.

      Munich, the only city in the world, where you can legally pay to make a bribe case go away.

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-28656050

      1. wallaby

        Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

        "This isn't about what's best, it's about who has the biggest brown envelope fund."

        accusing the public officials who made the decision of taking bribes there ????????

        Citation (relevant to this) needed - or a retraction

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          Its not so much brown envelopes, more a case of you scratch my back and i'll scratch yours where coalitions are involved. Each side can pick and choose what is important to them in return for support in passing somthing important to the other side. ie tradeoffs

          I would argue that this "expected trading" was ultimately the cause of the Brexit farce, the Cons had a pledge for a vote on staying in the EU expecting to be able to nix it for lib dem support (whom they expected to to be sharing power with again) on a more important matter at some point. Problem was the Cons won the election so they made good on the pledge as a matter of political honor and tried to win the ref early on instead of setting a future ref date that would have allowed better assessment and public awareness or at the very least, a vote that wasn't simply black or white.

        2. Hans 1 Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

          Citation (relevant to this) needed - or a retraction

          Actually, we all know somebody in the say got something out of it or they would not have migrated away ... simples.

          I have personally seen IT execs receive "gifts" from Microsoft at numerous occasions.... to help them "make up their mind" ... been there, seen that too many times ...

          As for Munich: Microsoft Germany jobs moved to .... guess where .... Munich, the decision was made at around the same time the city government chose to switch to Microsoft .... coincidence, of course ....

          https://www.muenchen.de/aktuell/2016-10/microsoft-zentrale-wird-eroeffnet.html (in Teutonic)

  3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    The excuse is a reason to stay with Linux

    I thought one of the features of GDPR was that employees were not supposed to keep customers' private data on there home computers. If Microsoft's incompatibility makes that difficult then Lower Saxony should stay with Linux to avoid accidental disclosure.

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: The excuse is a reason to stay with Linux

      With or without GDPR - I can't really follow the argument with teleworkers; I don't buy this. If it's about teleworkes, give them some remote desktop solution! Easier to maintain, easier to keep (more) secure.

      This rather seems to be an excuse. For what I don't know. Even after 15 years I wouldn't underestimate the resistance to change or to adapt to Linux. Especially not after having been in between the fronts of a long-lasting Win vs. Mac war. And neither would I exclude some other motivation for the change...

      1. rg287

        Re: The excuse is a reason to stay with Linux

        This rather seems to be an excuse. For what I don't know. Even after 15 years I wouldn't underestimate the resistance to change or to adapt to Linux.

        I wonder how many people would believe you if you plonked them in front of Mint and told them

        "So we run Windows, but it's got a custom desktop package on which is why it looks a little bit different to what you have at home. Works the same though - menu there, just like the start button, then your programs."

        Bet an awful lot of non-techie admin/office manager types would just think it was a bit odd, accept it and get on.

        But tell them it's Linux - bastion of the command line and geek-cred and they freak out.

        1. DCFusor Silver badge

          Re: The excuse is a reason to stay with Linux

          I actually DID park a job candidate for admin assistant in front of a linux box at the interview. I didn't say a word about that...It already had open office open, but otherwise the usual Mate stuff.

          She performed the requested tasks flawlessly and quickly, took dictation straight to the screen (heck of a typist along with the rest) while adding the usual business letter fluff to the thing, got it printed...(and got hired).

          She asked me "what version of windows are you running, I like this a lot better than the one I'm used to".

          I never could tell if she was having fun at my expense, but..it was no problem.

          If their issue is things like teleworkers, hmmm, last time I did any of that I had to conform to what my customer wanted, not the other way around.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The excuse is a reason to stay with Linux

      "then Lower Saxony should stay with Linux to avoid accidental disclosure."

      Probably one of the primary reasons they are moving. The Microsoft suite has lots of DLP options, and there is extensive analysis from Microsoft as to it's GDPR compliance. With Linux you are going to have to use bolt ons and investigate and write such documents yourself from scratch.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem is not Linux itself...

    ... it's the lack of applications on Linux, and the compatibility of existing ones with their Windows and Mac counterpart. Web applications are only a partial solution. Think Android without enough apps, it wouldn't have gone anywhere, just like Windows Phone.

    Until this issue is solved, and Linux represents 4-5% of the desktop market only, it will be too hard to deploy a Linux-only office solution. It would require a large percentage of that 95% switching to Linux and its applications at once, and that's not going to happen.

    Some companies like Google can do it, but they are large development companies with the resources to build and adapt what they need, and being kept internal only, they don't incur in GPL issues for commercial distribution. Still, AFAIK there are not few macOS systems at Google as well

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

      When you consider OTHER decisions that have been made by German government agencies, such as "where will Germany be getting its energy resources from", you have to REALLY wonder what the motivations are behind "change", especially with all of the PEOPLE'S MONEY being spent to DO it!

      So: Are politicians (or former politicians, or their friends) raking in some dough over this? Yeah, maybe some non-profit corporation getting "contributions" on the side or something... or being placed in charge of the project (as a CEO or something) now that you're no longer in office.

      I know that U.S. gummint politicians are often "the best that money can buy". Not surprising if OTHER countries have similar problems. Yeah, just pointing out the obvious. Some journalism in this area would shed a LOT of light on the topic.

      I doubt very seriously that "efficient use of the people's money" is behind ANY of this.

    2. Milton Silver badge

      Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

      "The problem is not Linux itself ... it's the lack of applications on Linux, and the compatibility of existing ones with their Windows and Mac counterpart."

      I'm a tad puzzled by that statement, and the rationale advanced by the Lower Saxony tax office quoted in the article—

      "... decision is driven by compatibility: field workers and teleworkers overwhelmingly use Windows, while the OpenSUSE variants are installed on its office workstations"

      If we are talking about specific business applications which exist only for Windows, what are they, and does this mean that the tax office has extant Windows servers running some back-office Win-only stuff? Presumably any such systems have long since been integrated with the users' workstations—so that could not be the rationale for such a statement.

      Presumably also, "field workers and teleworkers" are absolutely not using unauthorised business-specific apps on their computers. So we are talking about standard office functionality, aren't we? The remote workers use email and office applications, such as Outlook, Word, Excel, maybe something for PDFs, and naturally enough tend to default to banging out *.docx, *.xlsx, *.pptx and/or perhaps their predecessor formats depending on versions installed.

      Is it immensely expensive to train remote workers in the fiendishly complex and exhausting process of, say, selecting *.odt as their output format instead of *.docx? Or, better, is it beyond a German state government's resources and skills to tell remote workers to download, install and henceforth use LibreOffice on their Windows machines? I'd point out that it is technically trivial to identify incoming file extensions, filter these and send a polite rejection to the sender if the type is wrong. There'll be AV filtering and other security running already anyway.

      Both office and remote staff will surely be using web-based diary, calendaring, meeting and workflow solutions, so that cannot be the problem either.

      The direct, indirect and consequential security costs of adopting Windows are astronomical compared with the abundance of good (and usually more secure) FOSS stuff that performs the same functions.

      The purported rationale for the migration makes no sense.

      So ... what is going on?

      . "Sorry, you've sent us an MS Excel (.xlsx) file: we don't use those. Please resave the file in the correct OpenDocument (.ods) format, or better still for future ease of use, import it into LibreSheet and use that application instead. For help on doing this, installation of Libre, and avoiding this problem in the future, see the Document Compatibility Help link <u>here</u>, and the Department Software Policy for Staff <u>here</u>. Danke schön!"

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

        So ... what is going on?

        Politics. Another SPD-CDU coalition has decided to migrate to Windows, this time before the cost-benefit analysis has even come out (wonder who's going to write that one anyway):

        Windows scores a win over Linux as another state decides to switch

        The Munich decision was made by the city's ruling coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and centre-right Christian Social Union (CSU), a party that only operates in Bavaria, and that is the long-running junior partner to Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

        Again, Lower Saxony is governed by an SPD-CDU coalition, which was formed last year with an agreement that included turning the state's back on Linux. Other administrative departments there, including the police, are already using a Windows 8.1-based client developed by a local company.

        Lower Saxony's tax authority will now conduct a cost-benefit analysis on the migration. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), which is highly critical of the decision to turn away from Linux, welcomed the procedural formality, but program manager Max Mehl said it was important to keep an eye on who conducts the analysis.

        The Munich migration followed the recommendations of a report from consultants at Accenture, a Microsoft partner.

        "It is already apparent that the desired consolidation of the IT landscape is going in the wrong direction," said Mehl. "Instead of taking the chance to expand the existing infrastructure of Linux systems, the state voluntarily goes back into a cage of artificial dependencies from individual manufacturers."

        Mehl pointed to Lower Saxony's neighbour, Schleswig-Holstein, for an example of a more "future-oriented IT strategy". Schleswig Holstein has been governed since last year by a 'Jamaica' coalition of the CDU, the Greens, and the liberal Free Democrats (the party colours of which match the Jamaican flag), which decided last month to go in entirely the opposite direction, abandoning Windows for free software.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > "The Munich migration followed the recommendations of a report from Accenture"

          Accenture is a Microsoft shop.

          German politicians incl Markel are puppets. Germany is still a colony of USA, since WW II.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

        "Sorry, you've sent us an MS Excel (.xlsx) file: we don't use those. Please resave the file in the correct OpenDocument (.ods) format, or better still for future ease of use, import it into LibreSheet and use that application instead."

        Sorry, we don't have that option as like most corporates it's disabled so that we use the standard MS Office file formats that 99% of the planet uses. Here is a PDF. Feel free to type the data in yourself.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

          The British Goverment specified only PDF and ODF formats for use over 4 years ago. They report that there is a significant drop in the upload of "closed" document formats for 2016/17 so that message has had an affect but there is still work to do - https://gdstechnology.blog.gov.uk/2018/04/27/open-document-format-in-government-an-update/

        2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

          "Sorry, you've sent us an MS Excel (.xlsx) file: we don't use those. Please resave the file in the correct OpenDocument (.ods) format.."

          Um, when was the last time you actually used Open Office or Libre Office? It opens and saves in .xlsx and other formats, and IMHO, crashes a lot less and is much more responsive than Office 2013 and 2016. MS Office may have a few features that the free alternatives do not, but 99% of Office users likely never use them or even know they exist. SharePoint is kind of useful, I'll admit, when it feels like cooperating.

          And why switch the whole infrastructure over? Surely an incentive was given by MS to do so, as there's no reason both platforms couldn't coexist.

          Some Microsoft salesperson is likely getting a big bonus this quarter..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

            "And why switch the whole infrastructure over?"

            Running a zoo costs money.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

          Hello:

          "Sorry, you've sent us an MS Excel (.xlsx) file: we don't use those. Please resave the file in the correct OpenDocument (.ods) format, or better still for future ease of use, import it into LibreSheet and use that application instead."

          Exactly.

          I have said this where I have been working for the last 18 years (mid level public servant post at one of the main ministries) to no avail.

          Three years ago, one of the very first "brown envelope decisions" of the newly elected (Tory type) government was to ditch all the perfectly working and home developed inter-ministerial communications and email software to set up (oh, surprise?) Office365 as a replacement.

          A slow, complicated to use and expensive POS, but all in the taxpayer's interest and with the goal of increasing government's efficiency.

          Also because it apparently cannot be avoided, there's so much pork* to go around.

          Annonymous for the obvious reasons.

          (*) Look it up, it's not livestock.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

            Three years ago, one of the very first "brown envelope decisions" of the newly elected (Tory type) government was to ditch all the perfectly working and home developed inter-ministerial communications and email software to set up (oh, surprise?) Office365 as a replacement.

            Sounds suspiciously like preparation for outsourcing IT. You can't outsource effectively if you're not using standard stuff.

        4. PyLETS

          Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

          "Sorry, you've sent us an MS Excel (.xlsx) file: we don't use those. Please resave the file in the correct OpenDocument (.ods) format, or better still for future ease of use, import it into LibreSheet and use that application instead."

          If you accept and run macros within office documents received from random senders outside your organisation, then you deserve to get infected and hacked by whatever's coming to you. If the office documents don't have or need to run macros, they will almost always render fine in LibreOffice.

        5. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

          Why would an MS spreadsheet format matter? OpenOffice was pretty good at dealing with that kind of thing even when it was still called Star Office. I originally switched back in the day because it had the best MS format support of any of the any alternatives (most notably the commercial Win32 alternatives).

          The only real issue here was the odd weird obscure feature some MS power user might come up with.

      3. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

        > Presumably also, "field workers and teleworkers" are absolutely not using unauthorised business-specific apps on their computers. So we are talking about standard office functionality, aren't we?

        No, we're not necessarily talking about standard office functionality.

        Consider a roads inspector out and about inspecting repairs or reporting on repairs required. Ideally he'll have a tablet (or at least a laptop) with access to mapping software showing underground utilities - pipes, power cables etc. so that he can cost-up the impact the proximity of utility infrastructure will have on the job there and then rather than later, back at the office, when there is no chance to go back and have a second look.

        Historically that kind of software was Windows only - whether on a laptop or back in the office. Ironically for Lower Saxony, the ready availability of powerful tablets means that type of capability is now becoming tablet only, i.e. iOS and Android!

        1. rg287

          Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

          "Historically that kind of software was Windows only - whether on a laptop or back in the office. Ironically for Lower Saxony, the ready availability of powerful tablets means that type of capability is now becoming tablet only, i.e. iOS and Android!"

          Or Windows on Lenovo Yoga, MS Surface or any of the other touch-screen lablet/tabtop convertible things.

          The potential difficulty of getting such devices without MS pre-installed, and then Linux onto them (with drivers for things like multi-touch) is quite possibly one of the reasons why they're apparently common with field workers.

    3. TVU Silver badge

      Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

      "... it's the lack of applications on Linux, and the compatibility of existing ones with their Windows and Mac counterpart. Web applications are only a partial solution"

      There are a number of native Linux applications, such as the WPS and SoftMaker office suites, that actually do have pretty good Microsoft compatibility.

    4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: ... it's the lack of applications

      Not a problem I have ever had with Linux. If anything the problem has been picking the best out of at least three good choices.

      It has been a couple of decades since I last used Windows, but if I recall correctly you had to spend money, find out if the product worked at all then repeat until you found something acceptable. If you did, your requirements could change next year then you would find no source code available and any new features would come at monopoly prices with your data locked into an obfuscated format.

      Back then I used to regularly hear people swearing at Microsoft Word because it messed up reading Microsoft Word documents (created by other versions of Microsoft Word). The fix was always simple: use openoffice (now libreoffice).

      Here we have a technical decision being made by politicians. Anyone else smell pork?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Not a problem I have ever had with Linux."

        Probably. Depend in which field(s) you work and what kind of applications you need to use. For example, if you're a network admin or web developer Linux will suit you very well. In others, you're out of luck.

        Never imply your little world is like the bigger one. There are many fields and many different needs, and unluckily Linux has been unable to become a full solution for many of them.

        Instead of just complaining how much Windows and Office are bad, it would need a true and unbiased assessment about that lack of coverage, and if the Linux has technological and business model issues that hinder to close that gap.

    5. PorkFriedTech

      Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

      If you work at Google...or any other tech company in Silicon Valley...your desktop is Mac. Some of your coworkers may use Windows. Seeing a Linux desktop on campus is like finding a cat riding a unicorn being chased by a leprechaun.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: The problem is not Linux itself...

        Almost everywhere I've worked the setup of choice for tech staff was MacBooks for office use and Linux on servers. The two get on especially well, since you can forward X applications to OS X as long as you have XQuartz installed.

        I have, at various times, tried using a Linux laptop for my work. Ultimately it came down to having to chase down too many small issues. I can't do my job properly if I'm constantly having to fix my tools.

  5. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Amazing.

    This will be the first state tax office I'm aware of that doesn't just say 'We're using this, make sure you can communicate with it ...or else'.

    Everywhere else gives a compliance date and the daily non-compliance fines thereafter.

    As Lower Saxony is bigger (GDP) than a lot of the smaller countries (like Greece & Portugal) I'd like to see a breakdown of the tax office annual running costs for the last few years under Linux.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I am not sure if I lived in lower Saxony I would be happy to know that there are so many remote and teleworkers handling my tax data that they need to switch the entire organisations OS to accommodate them. Surely in an organisation like tax office they should limit the number of remote users to a bare minimum and perhaps even then they should only be using a VPN to connect via remote desktop solutions if they MUST run Windows software is much safer and easier.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Or, the remote workers could use a Windows laptop over Direct Access, get a strict security policy via GPO, use Bitlocker to secure the local HD, and use the power of their local processor.

      Remote working is not some mystic art. It is not difficult to enable securely. I worked from home for nearly a decade, supporting servers that I required Full SC Security clearance to access.

      1. msage

        Windows laptop over Direct Access, get a strict security policy via GPO, use Bitlocker to secure the local HD, and use the power of their local processor.

        - I agree and what does the FOSS equivalent stack of this look like? I don't think it exists. DA is seamless (when setup correctly) the user doesn't even know it's happening. Bitlocker can be integrated into AD for easy resets. Intune can manage the device as if it's local and push out new policy.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Remote use?

      I find the argument that home users are "used to Windows" is odd these days, most non-technical folk I know of use tablets and rarely touch a laptop/desktop (gaming aside). At one point MS argued that the stable and predictable GUI was a big reason to stick to them, and for Win95/98/NT/2k/XP (without the Fisher-Price style, which was a simple option to select) that was true. But given the general fscking of the user interface over the last decade or two (from 'the ribbon' the the disaster that was win8) that is long gone.

      Sure you can lock down a remote device, but that would not be a home user's device but a corporate laptop. Who would allow their work to administer and lock down their own laptop? To restrict the pr0n-browsing opportunity?

  7. Updraft102 Silver badge

    Surprise may be coming

    These German governments that haven't been Windows shops since before there was such a thing as Windows 10 are undoubtedly comparing their previous Windows experiences with current Linux ones. That's not the kind of experience they are going to have now that Windows is a "service."

    Good luck, and may God have mercy on your soul, Lower Saxony.

    1. yoganmahew

      Re: Surprise may be coming

      Indeed, the cloudy o365 if far inferior to vanilla desktop versions for 90+% of the average workday. For all the talk, the truth is that most of the day is not spent collaborating, it's spent working and response time is and the consequent flow interruption of lag is the biggest irritant.

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Surprise may be coming

        "the cloudy o365 if far inferior to vanilla desktop versions for 90+% of the average workday."

        It's almost the exact same software. Just licenced per user instead of per device.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tax office...

    1) teleworkers are using an official laptop, which is (in this state at least) locked down quite heavily, encrypted drives, limited usage of USB drives etc.

    2) Unfortunately in Lower Saxony they gave out Windows laptops while in the office they used Linux. So two operating systems install sets + software need to be maintained

    3) a number of the new tools (for calculating and checking tax declarations) are developed for Windows clients (with Linux servers, partly, and ancient mainframe architecture mostly)

    1. Milton Silver badge

      Re: Tax office...

      Thanks for that information, but it seems only to deepen the puzzle.

      1) teleworkers are using an official laptop, which is (in this state at least) locked down quite heavily, encrypted drives, limited usage of USB drives etc.

      —isn't really relevant to compatibility, and is surely a minimum expected standard for government work anyway.

      2) Unfortunately in Lower Saxony they gave out Windows laptops while in the office they used Linux. So two operating systems install sets + software need to be maintained

      —one inexplicably stupid blunder isn't a particularly good reason to make another; and if the laptops belong to the state, why not simply have one OS, Linux? What's the point of having Windows on them at all? Is using a VM out of the question, for that matter?

      3) a number of the new tools (for calculating and checking tax declarations) are developed for Windows clients (with Linux servers, partly, and ancient mainframe architecture mostly)

      —are we to believe that stand-alone Windows tools are required for remote tax workers to be able to do their jobs? Colour me sceptical, but surely the tax office has a server-based system, lovingly maintained to keep up with legislation, allowances, interest rates etc, and this is what all users rely upon for "calculating and checking tax declarations"? When you're with a client, you are surely using a web-based system for the back-end submissions and verification stuff, and a spreadsheet to do basic sums and estimations?

      The whole thing smells like a bad case of "We've mismanaged things and made some bad decisions, and intend to continue doing just that" ... also known as "We dug a hole and we're gonna keep digging".

      Could it be that the plan is really about executive level face-saving? It's a practice notorious for its cost, wastage and futility.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "you are surely using a web-based system"

        Web application may require much more work when you have to build a complex client for a database backend compared to many Windows tools. And browser compatibility is often as hard as cross platform one, and you can't really to ask to use a given version of Google Chrome only, can you?

        Germany has also a large availability of good Windows developers.

        Thereby I won't bet "you are surely using a web-based system".

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Devil

          Re: "you are surely using a web-based system"

          German IT crawls at a snail's pace. So they may simply be behind the curve when it comes to tech in general. They might have not yet discovered this whole "web" and "cloud" thing. They may still be stuck in a "client-server" mentality.

    2. TVU Silver badge

      Re: Tax office...

      "2) Unfortunately in Lower Saxony they gave out Windows laptops while in the office they used Linux. So two operating systems install sets + software need to be maintained"

      As with Munich, that smacks of poor IT mismanagement so the the pressure then understandably grows for a coherent system.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love the sound of brown envelopes flapping in the wind. It's not like you can get them from Linux.

  10. DrXym Silver badge

    The OS shouldn't matter

    What matters is the document formats that people exchange with each other. If one person working from home wants to run Windows then fine, let them do it. But it should be on the proviso that all their submissions are PDF, web based, or open document standards.

    I don't see why switching to Windows is a good idea for the council here. It certainly won't be easier to administer and it is virtually guaranteed that the time and cost required to buy new hardware, administer the machines, scan for viruses, fix malware, monitor for threats will sky rocket.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It certainly won't be easier to administer"

      Actually, administering Windows may be easier than Linux - there are far better tools, starting from Active Directory and beyond.

      Linux would get a bit boost if it could create a common, powerful standard comparable to AD supported automatically by all main distro. Sure, you can build something alike with a lot of plumbing using Kerberos, PAM, LDAP, etc. etc. but is far less easy than AD.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "It certainly won't be easier to administer"

        "Linux would get a bit boost if it could create a common, powerful standard comparable to AD supported automatically by all main distro. "

        Heard of FreeIPA? It's excellent.

        1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: "It certainly won't be easier to administer"

          For that matter, you can use Linux desktops in an AD domain, run a Linux machine as a domain controller, and interoperate both worlds. I understand the want to consolidate things and only support one family of OSes. From a user point of view, the experience probably won't be much different, other than I'd predict everything will run a bit slower and possibly less stable. Hardware requirements will go up too. From an admin point of view, there's going to be a learning curve whether you go from LInux to Win or vice-versa, and there will be some teething problems.

          Since management usually only understands cost and not technical things (even some IT management), and Linux is a lot cheaper than Windows, Office, etc., it has to be that MS made them a really sweet deal. Probably something along the lines of "We won't charge you licensing for the first year, and you get free support from us, plus discounts on hardware from one of our partners." It's after that, that there will likely be hell to pay.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            'you can use Linux desktops in an AD domain'

            You need additional software, which may include 'pay for' enterprise commercial licenses if you need some features, while many Linux applications don't understand AD. Samba has added AD domains, but it still lacks the management tools, and some of the capabilities.

            As i already explained, it can be done, but it's more complex, not easier. If Linux distro could agree on a solution, and have it built in, it would be a great step forward for manageability. Or it can keep on pretending is a non issue and keep its 5% desktop share.

            For Linux being a 'lot cheaper' look at RedHat licensing....

            Hardware requirements today depends more on applications needs than the OS itself, unless you are using very old hardware.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "It certainly won't be easier to administer"

          "Heard of FreeIPA? It's excellent."

          And can I set it up and run it without ever leaving a GUI? Does it manage all my group policies too? Is it a single product from a single vendor?

          No, didn't think so.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "It certainly won't be easier to administer"

            "And can I set it up and run it without ever leaving a GUI?"

            If you are administering a directory service for large scale deployment and require a GUI for initial setup then you're in the wrong profession. I suppose you are one of those folks who apparently laments the lack of GUI while preaching the benefits of Windows Server Core at the same time?

            "Does it manage all my group policies too?"

            No, Group Policy is specifically Active Directory as any SA knows. If you are talking about configuration management then there are lots of excellent options depending on your business needs. Puppet, Ansible, Chef, etc. Unlike AD and GPO, you can also use these tools for managing other devices too (e.g. switches or even Windows) so you get the benefit of a common management tool for all the things.

            "Is it a single product from a single vendor?"

            No. That said, I've never come across an environment that didn't involve multiple vendors. Competition is a good thing. Plus does AD do 2FA out of the box, from a single vendor? No, I didn't think so.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "It certainly won't be easier to administer"

              ". Plus does AD do 2FA out of the box, from a single vendor?"

              Yep. Just connect it to azure AD.

  11. _LC_
    Stop

    Corruption is the word

    This is the state that brought us "retroactive custom made Volkswagen laws". It is one of the most corrupt states, with possibly the highest secret service activity (former border to eastern Germany). It brought us chancellors like Gerhard Schröder, now known as "oil Gerhard", because he was bought up by the Russian oil multi Rosneft shortly after selling out the German population...

    1. Bavaria Blu
      WTF?

      Re: Corruption is the word

      OK, perhaps vested interests but corrupt is a strange word to use about Germany. The people are very principled and somewhat nerotic about many things. The fairly luxurious lifestyle means people can afford organic food and tax breaks on cars mean owning a BMW, Porsche or Merc is not unusual. Perhaps wanting Linux instead of Windows could be compared - like organic food, it seems like the right thing to do!

      The Diesel scandal was an exception which proves the rule of a generally strictly law abiding place. The UK is just the same in protecting the arms industry when bribes were allegedly paid to our best customers in the middle east.

      1. _LC_

        Re: Corruption is the word

        I had to laugh a lot while I was reading that. This is how Germany portraits itself, which is not the reality.

        In Germany, money laundering is mostly legal (even drug money), for instance. You will see money laundering going on rather openly here, which has already been criticized by the EU. "The Diesel scandal" was far from an exception. In fact, it is already being followed by the "benzene scandal":

        https://www.n-tv.de/wirtschaft/Autokartell-traf-auch-Absprachen-fuer-Benziner-article20539368.html

        (just push it through Google's translate, if you don't understand German)

        We already had this game in Munich, where they killed off their Linux migration after elections had shifted the powers. There, it sounded like this:

        "Gerüchten zufolge ist das Aus von Limux auch mit der Verlegung des Microsoft Deutschland-Sitzes aus dem Umland nach München verknüpft - was man seitens der Stadt aber natürlich dementierte."

        Translation:

        "Rumours have it that the departure from Limux is also linked to the relocation of Microsoft's German headquarters from the surrounding area to Munich - which, of course, was denied by the city."

        The more you know, the more it becomes obvious. ;-)

    2. TVU Silver badge

      Re: Corruption is the word

      I don't know, I have a soft spot for Lower Saxony. Not only was there a significant British military presence during the Cold War, it also had a Scottish-origin state premier - Ministerpräsident David McAllister.

      If we go back even further, we see that today's Lower Saxony is effectively the province of Hannover reincarnated which also had historic ties with the UK (Hi, William Herschel!).

      1. Gwaptiva

        Re: Corruption is the word

        In that case, your sympathies should be even greater for Schleswig-Holstein; not only is it moving to Linux etc, but it's also part of the real surname of the British queen, who married Mr Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg

  12. msage

    Mobile Devices

    I suspect they handed out Windows laptops / tablets, because they couldn't find an equivalent. It is very hard to buy a laptop without a Windows license and Linux "convertibles" just don't exist in the same quantity / quality of Windows ones.

    Take the Surface / Surface Clone market, these devices really do make a difference to field workers, I have yet to find one that works as well with Linux. If you want your staff in front of the citizen (which you do for a lot of local authorities activities) then you don't really have a choice.

    I can see from this fragmentation that support becomes more complex (your first line need to be able to do first line fix on Linux and Windows).

    Another genuine question is, is there a good MDM for Linux? There are plenty of enterprise grade solutions for Windows.

    I hate to say it, I don't think this one is Microsoft's fault lads and ladies.

  13. Bavaria Blu
    Holmes

    Mainstream cloud and systems seen as suspect in the German public sector

    The German public sector (having some experience) has very comfortable working conditions for the workers. A works council will have the right to veto anything suspect. Windows 10 or Office 2016 might take weeks of negotiation to get approval. Linux is seem as the clean, cloud free and free to use solution.

    Microsoft have created the "German Cloud" with Deutsche Telekom to help assuage worries about control. So hopefully more can move into the cloud and make these platform battles redundant.

    Buying locally written software is also commonplace - I agree in principle with buying local, and for manufactured goods that makes sense. German software and computer hardware is not always the best, also SAP is the exception.

    1. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Mainstream cloud and systems seen as suspect in the German public sector

      "Windows 10 or Office 2016 might take weeks of negotiation to get approval. Linux is seem as the clean, cloud free and free to use solution."

      The primary reason they ditched Linux in Munich was that the users hated it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mainstream cloud and systems seen as suspect in the German public sector

        "The primary reason they ditched Linux in Munich was that the users hated it."

        Citation needed.

  14. Bavaria Blu
    Headmaster

    all German Nouns are spelled with a capital letter

    So Pinguin statt pinguin

  15. mpentler

    I love that whenever somebody switches back to Windows people shout "corruption! bungs! referee!"

    Could be people just hated the experience, but your ideologies can't even fathom that possibility. Cognitive bias at its finest.

    1. Arctic fox
      Windows

      @mpentler Re: "..... but your ideologies can't even fathom that possibility..."

      What one has to take into account here is that the anti-Redmond hatebois cannot conceive of any honest reason for preferring Windows under any circumstances. The inevitable result is of course drive-by shill accusations, howls of "FUD" and general aspersions cast against the virtue of the mother of whoever has been foolish enough to challenge their world-view. They are not content with the huge role that Linux has throughout the whole of our planet's IT-infrastructure; nothing will satisfy them other than the complete eradication of anything and everything emanating from "The Demon Lords of Redmond".

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: @mpentler "..... but your ideologies can't even fathom that possibility..."

        What one has to take into account here is that the anti-Redmond hatebois cannot conceive of any honest reason for preferring Windows under any circumstances.

        I can, but only up to and including Windows 7.

      2. Konk

        Re: @mpentler "..... but your ideologies can't even fathom that possibility..."

        I can't understand the hate towards Microsoft on The Register. There are different tools for different jobs, and Linux is great for servers and certain other tasks where you might want to write scripts for example while personally I have been impressed with Windows 10 and prefer to run it on the desktop rather than Linux. If you want to run Linux on the desktop then you have that choice.

        In terms of why people pick Windows, sure there is inerita and critical mass, but there is also the the fact that is is easier to use (i.e. everything has a graphic in the consistent way in the GUI which Linux still struggles with, and certain troubleshooting always comes back to text files), has Office which is better than the open source alternatives for business (sorry but if you are a power Excel user than Libre is not good enough) and as well as good consumer hardware compatibility.

        It just depends what you want from your OS, and we are all free to pick.

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge

      I love that whenever somebody switches back to Windows people shout "corruption! bungs! referee!"

      Have you also noticed how many of them come from Anon Cowards?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Have you also noticed how many of them come from Anon Cowards?"

        They are obviously funded shills paid for by the communist Linux conglomerates.

  16. TheGreatCabbage

    They can do what they want, but I'm going to be laughing when they botch a Windows update :P

    1. TVU Silver badge

      "They can do what they want, but I'm going to be laughing when they botch a Windows update :P"

      For their sins, so shall they be visited for nine and ninety years by a pestilence of borking Windows 10 updates.

  17. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Invisible migration

    In fact more and more work seems to be done on the "invisible" Linux and Unix distributions based around Android and iOS.

  18. DrBed
    Trollface

    The Movement

    Steve Bannon's "The Movement" likes it.

    All your base are belong to us!

  19. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Linux

    No compelling technical reasons for switching to Windows

    March 2007: “We do not see any technical reasons for switching to Windows and Microsoft Office .. We solve compatibility and interoperability issues by providing MS Office - mostly virtualized - at the workstations that need to work together with external agencies on office documents.” : Karl-Heinz Schneider City of Munich head of IT.

    Munich open source switch 'completed successfully'

    1. _LC_

      Re: No compelling technical reasons for switching to Windows

      Yes. Then came an election and everything the others did before, has to be wrong now. Therefore (and because of *bling*), they are currently switching back to Winsyphilis.

  20. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
    Windows

    Gulliver's German Lilliputians

    So which part of the IT egg, will the politicians declare is the correct end next year?

    Apparently this can be chosen regardless of cost.

  21. GnuTzu Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    Microsoft Salespeople are like the Priors of the Ori

    And, I've seen the damage they can do, tricking acquisitions to buy before doing any feasibility studies or security reviews, thereby disrupting established infrastructure and imposing hidden costs. No band of Linux zealots will ever be able to carry this kind of persuasive force, as found in the professional sales teams of a massive monopolistic tyrant. {Sigh}

    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Microsoft Salespeople are like the Priors of the Ori

      Have an upvote for the SG1 reference.

  22. Jim-234

    Short sighted idiots

    If you look at how much you are going to be forking over to Microsoft over the next 20 years (at their nice ever increasing rate), you could budget 1/4th of that to pay for competent programmers to write the software that you want the way you want it to run under Linux & once it's OpenSource, then it gets a lot easier to have the community help with bugfixes and security patches etc.

    1. psychonaut

      Re: Short sighted idiots

      i seriously doubt govt type organisations are interested in having "the community" do anything at all with their systems.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The nerd rage here is hilarious. This is the year of the Linux desktop!!

  24. FrankAlphaXII Silver badge
    Devil

    I'm not sure why but I never really liked working with Linux.

    I just don't like it as a Desktop OS at all. It's not for a lack of love for UNIXlikes, I use FreeBSD and TrueOS all the time and they don't give me the same feeling. I used to use Linux for testing on a project I worked on but it always felt weirdly half finished as a desktop OS, no matter which distro I was using (Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint, OpenSuSE, Debian, Arch, etc). Gentoo was about the only one I somewhat enjoyed, but it was so much like a BSD (but without pf and ZFS) that it was sort of pointless to not just use FreeBSD.

    Its got nothing to do with some high minded philosophical or FSF-esq political bullshit either, though I fundamentally prefer BSD-style permissive licenses. Its just what works well for me and doesn't require a ton of post installation configuration, I mean there's always some with any OS, but its not like I'm having to fuck around in the terminal or hunting down text files to edit for hours to get things close to where I want them, combined with constant redesign of things that don't need to redesigned.

    For servers its fine, never had a complaint really there, but even then I'd rather use a *BSD. I mean built in ZFS, DTRACE and pf and the lack of constant immature squabbling over stupid bullshit like the init system and display server just make it that much more attractive to me.

    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
      Pint

      @FrankAlphaXII

      "I'm not sure why but I never really liked working with Linux.

      To each their own. I use Linux at home, and having supported both OSes, I'd say both can be a pain. But it's little things that I like about Linux--the way when you plug in a mouse or other device, that Linux instantly identifies it and it works--no waiting 5 minutes for Windows to decide whether it has a driver for it or not. The way it doesn't constantly pop up pointless notifications. The way it never steals focus from the window you're using. And the quick, relatively graceful patching process that actually tells you what it's doing compared to Windows, which is about as graceful as a drunken hippo in a log rolling competition when patching. If it feels unfinished to some, it's more like because there's enough there and not more than you need, IMHO.

      There are days after getting frustrated by a long hard day of supporting Windows machines that I boot up my Linux desktop and enjoy the serenity of it. Conversely there are days when dealing with some stubborn Linux issue, such as getting DRM to interoperate, that it's a joy to boot into Windows and have it just work too.

      You can bet though, that if I had a scheduled flight on a new aircraft, that I'd feel a lot less apprehensive if I found the autopilot ran on Linux and not anything from Microsoft.

    2. trisul

      "I'm not sure why but I never really liked working with Linux."

      I do not think we need public employees to "like" the OS they are using. There's not much these bureaucrats like, except vacations, promotion and benefits.

  25. RoboJ1M

    As a software engineer

    Windows is toast.

    Software has moved to the web.

    Your os is a browser.

    Microsoft has even ported it's languages to Linux.

    They don't even want it anymore.

  26. TechDrone
    Thumb Down

    Linux not always cheaper to run in the enterprise

    I always assumed Linux would be cheaper to run 'cos you can install it for free (as I have for my personal use) but there are two big costs:

    1. RHEL / Suse "subscriptions" which you have to have to get support from certain application vendors. Who only support those two distros even though it'll work quite nicely on CentOS and OpenSUSE.

    2. Windows admins are everywhere, onshore and offshore so relatively (or even very) cheap. Linux admins are a much rarer breed, especially good ones, and so cost a lot more.

    We have priced up deals where Windows was cheaper overall, which everyone agreed just didn't seem right somehow.

    1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Linux not always cheaper to run in the enterprise

      "Windows admins are everywhere, onshore and offshore so relatively (or even very) cheap. Linux admins are a much rarer breed, especially good ones, and so cost a lot more."

      In my experience you can *only* get good linux/unix admins, the demand outstrips supply and so they are no cheap ones. Thus there is never really an option to get a cheaper lower skilled version.

      Windows admins come in all flavors, the certifications can sometimes mean the opposite to what they should. A tech who has done a couple of years support but no certs will almost always be massively better than someone with certs by no experience.

      I've had support jobs with people who used to MS trainers. In both cases, those ex-trainers got moved away from anything technical within a month, and ended up doing something else. One did accounts, another ended up as a mix of admin assistant and payroll. Perfectly intelligent, OK with tech, but fundamentally unable to deal with "real world" IT as compared to idealized lab setups.

  27. DCFusor Silver badge

    Not a lack of apps at all

    As a once field tech who graduated to engineering...

    It's not a lack of apps at all, in fact the reverse is true as pointed out well above this post. And that's the problem - the winner take all effect hasn't happened (yet?) in linux and there aren't the 5 or 10 apps "everyone already knows" from the usual suspects - it's more like hundreds. Makes finding candidates who already know (or know how to lie on their CV) the particular set you're using harder. Woe betide someone expecting mere employees to learn anything, even proper use of their milk tongue.

    Topping that off..as a hardware engineer we used to joke (but it was no joke) back in the analog days that if you put two adjustments on a thing and they interacted - no one but the engineer could adjust it right or in a decent length of time. DEC among others found this out the hard way in their hardware.

    Linux is SO customize-able that the nightmare of getting everyone on the same page is magnified. I remember a significant problem with windows in that people diddled it all day to customize things, and often picked up badware even back in the day from free cursor downloads and other silly crap.

    Now with linux, the sky is the limit, if there is one at all...people WILL fool with stuff and then whine when they break their toys.

    So no need to be defensive, people don't WANT the best, they want simple-stupid. Either that will change for the better, or they'll finish ruining the planet. Either way...not much to be done.

    Now in this case, I'd just add that as a minor footnote to the brown envelope theory, myself, as it's not even the first time round this bush - with either end of this transaction.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Competition

    How did the choice software become anyone else's business? There are competing ecosystems. Somebody chose one. That means the people who have chosen the other will complain and say, "you're stupid to choose <competing brand here>."

    What arrogance! Whether a company or a city or a state wants to choose Windows or LInux or "Purple Flying Unicorn" is up to them. They will use it. They will pay for it. And if they make a mistake, the shareholders or taxpayers will hold them accountable. (Okay, the taxpayers never hold any politician or bureaucrat accountable. I was dreaming.)

    But those who criticize are tin-pot despots and petty tyrants who stamp their little feet and clench their tiny fists and cry that their geenyus and whizzzdum wasn't followed.

    Grow up!

    [Of course, ElReg publishes this kind of story just to fire up the fanbois. You win, Vulture Central. You always win.]

  29. Cavehomme_

    As a Mint and Windows 10 user I can understand why organisations stick with MS, it’s ubiquitous and the support is well understood by helpdesks and most workers have it at home too.

    MS Office compatibility across versions is much less of a risk than OO / LO screwing things up too. With there being so many 2-in-1 devices out there in the marketplace as well as th Surface, it also makes sense for touchscreen users to have one of these devices for when they need to write reports or working on spreadsheets back in the office. Mint on my HP 2 in 1 is not fully supported for example.

    I love Mint, and like OO / LO and used it since the days when it was a German product called Star Office in the 90’s which Sun eventually acquired, but for professional work I work with Windows.

  30. Jaffafa

    Even Windows 10 is rubbish these days and Linux is just a new and steep learning curve and it does not have all the software used on Windows, the alternatives are useless.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      A steep learning curve is good. A steep learning curve means that you gain a lot of competence very quickly and with minimal effort in the early stages of the learning process.

  31. DerekCurrie
    Facepalm

    Back Into The Fire...

    There may be some critical Windows-only software required for what they're doing, something not accessible via WINE. Otherwise, welcome back to the nightmare. I can't imagine Linux was actually worse. What nightmare? Let's start with Windows SECURITY.

  32. trisul

    Linux HQ

    "After 15 years under the yoke of the Penguinistas, Munich voted in February 2017 to start the long march back to Microsoft."

    Munich did it because Microsoft moved its HQ to Munich. This is just corporate bribery.

  33. vincent himpe

    application compatibility

    That is the key problem.

    If all these linux developers would put their brains and might under developing an operating system that could run windows binaries we would have a winner.

    Every time i looked at linux ( at least once every two to three months ) there is just too much stuff that has no equivalent. No matter what your opinion : there is just no substitute for certain software. Take something like Solidworks for example. Or Altium Designer. Or Adobe Premiere. Or microcontroller toolchains. There may be something in the linux world that comes close but it is not the same. And that's where the misery begins. Plug-ins and add-ons for those tools don't run in the 'equivalents' : they need the real tools.

    That would be solved by making an open source 'windows' that implements the full windows API.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: application compatibility

      "That would be solved by making an open source 'windows' that implements the full windows API."

      The documented one or the full one with the undocumented bits?

      We've been there. Open/LibreOffice have the problem that there are so many undocumented gotchas in Office that keeping up with them is not feasible. When the open xml document standard came out, Microsoft tried to replace it with theirs - a massive kluge which included things like corner cases for W95. Office is more like Gormenghast than a cathedral, and one imagines Windows is much the same.

      I'm sure it would actually save Microsoft effort in the long run to move everything over to Linux, but nobody is going to sacrifice such a competitive advantage.

      1. vincent himpe

        Re: application compatibility

        I am not talking about 'moving things over' . I am talking about a built from scratch operating system that can run EXISTING WINDOWS BINARIES. No need to recompile , no need to learn something different.

        Kind of what they did with the Dos clones. One could make a highly secure operating system that simply exposes the windows API to the applications. Since today we have 10 Terabyte HDD's. You could set it up so that each application has its own storage pool and stores its stuff in 1 directory. There would be no DLL hell as applications have the stuff they came with and other installs cannot overwrite that. Deleting an application would simply be deleting a 'container'. The container holds the registry for only that app, the app files and the app settings in subdirectories. Moving to a different machine would be as simple as copying the container. The operating system could expose the API required to run. if you need to be able to run an old windows 3.11 program: Create a container for that API , install and run.

        Yes windows has a lot of undocumented stuff but very few programs really use that.

        Wine is not a solution : all the 'big boy' applications are marked as 'garbage' It just doesn't work properly. The moment you want to open the taps on real software, wine falls apart.

        1. _LC_

          Re: application compatibility

          Wine runs most of the stuff out of the box. ReactOS would be the whole OS, but I doubt this will ever leave the Alpha/Beta stage for reasons mentioned above (Microsoft and its undocumented functions).

          1. hoola

            Re: application compatibility

            Wine may run it but if the supplier of the software does not support it running on Wine then you are stuffed. My experience of Wine is that some stuff works, some partially works and a lot simply will not run. Then you have the issue of enterprise support. Opensource might be fine at home in a small business but unless you have commercial support with appropriate SLAs in place then it is going nowhere. Once you start paying for commercial licensing and support then the underlying OS becomes even more important as few are in the support matrix, REHL being the most common.

            Add all those costs together and a commercial Linux solution is not going to be so different to a Microsoft solution. At that point you go with what fits and the unfortunate truth is that Windows wins over Linux most times. All the points mentioned in previous posts about replacements for AD are correct, they just don't exist in forms that are currently viable. These used to be Novell with eDirectory that was a serious AD killer, it even ran on Windows. Novell ported to a SLES derivative with Open Enterprise Server but it was still doomed. As with all these things, it probably was the best and the NSS filesystem left anything from Linux or Windows in the dark ages.

            If Linux does get corporate adoption in the way Windows has it will be with a single commercial distro. What happens then, is all the ranting is to switch to the "Free" distros? Much of the hatred for Windows appears to be because it is not opensource & free. In the corporate world support and longevity matters.

            1. _LC_

              Re: application compatibility

              We had hospitals going down because of Windows (malware). We had companies going broke due to the same problematic. We even had a basketball team losing a game due to a Windows update... It is just insane as you get to pay for it once it hits you – and that bill can be fatal. ;-)

              These days, most software strives to run on both Windows and MacOS. If the software is 'that' portable already, it can typically be compiled on Linux/BSD as well.

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