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Microsoft Mum on Munich Migration Study

By Katherine Noyes
Jan 28, 2013 5:00 AM PT

Munich's multiyear migration to Linux has been nothing if not an ongoing saga over the past decade or so, beset as it has been by stops, starts, and various twists and turns.

Microsoft Mum on Munich Migration Study

The story appeared to have a happy ending in November when Munich reported that using Linux had already saved it more than 10 million euros, but last week Microsoft spoke up with a different tale.

Munich would have saved more than 40 million euros if it had stuck with Windows and Office 2003 rather than switching to its LiMux distribution with OpenOffice, German weekly Focus apparently reported.

'For Internal Purposes Only'

Linux Girl

Turns out Redmond commissioned a special study of the topic after Munich's enviable savings were publicized last fall, but here's the kicker: It now refuses to release that study to the public or the press.

"The study was commissioned by Microsoft to HP Consulting for internal purposes only," Microsoft's German communications manager Astrid Aupperle reportedly told ITworld.

Bottom line? Something's rotten in the state of Munich, more than a few Linux bloggers now suspect.

'They Mostly Made Stuff Up'

"A useful saying in cases like this is that 'Figures never lie, but liars always figure,'" Google+ blogger Kevin O'Brien told Linux Girl.

"The tell here is that they refuse to release the study," O'Brien explained. "If Microsoft had a valid study showing this, they would be paying to print it in every newspaper in the world."

By refusing to release it, however, "they make it clear that they mostly made stuff up," he concluded.

'You Can Smell the Bovine Fecal Matter'

Similarly, "don't believe Microsoft for a second," Google+ blogger Linux Rants agreed. "Even looking at what has been released to the public, you can smell the bovine fecal matter emanating from this 'Study.'

"Microsoft pays for a study to have HP go in and find that Microsoft would have been cheaper, but the study isn't public? It would have been cheaper for Munich to stay with Windows XP and Office 2003? For how long?" Linux Rants mused.

"XP came out in 2001 and Office in 2003 (obviously)," he pointed out. "Microsoft is expecting Munich to stay with more than 10-year-old software for the next 10 years just to come close to competing with the price point of switching the whole operation to Linux, and that's only because Munich already owns that software!" he exclaimed. "The original purchase expense doesn't factor in!"

In short, "even Microsoft's bought-and-paid-for study can't make a convincing argument," Linux Rants concluded. "Obviously nothing to see here. We should all just move along."

'Utterly Silly'

Indeed, "remember 'Get the FUD' and other classics from M$?" blogger Robert Pogson pointed out. "This is more of the same. No doubt M$ helped edit the final drafts.

"It's utterly silly to ignore licensing costs of M$'s OS when Munich would have upgraded to XP and '7' from NT over the years," Pogson added. "If they are not releasing this thing publicly, I expect they will let their salesmen distribute it to special customers as needed to stave off massive migrations to GNU/Linux."

All in all, "no matter how large the cost of migration, avoiding paying M$ licensing fees forever makes it worthwhile because upgrading with a package-manager rather than re-installing is so much easier," he concluded.

'One-off Software'

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet wasn't so sure.

"If ALL your company uses is a browser and a spreadsheet and it doesn't have to be MS Office compatible? Then yeah, Linux can probably do the job," hairyfeet opined.

"But most businesses are NOT like that; they have a ton of 'one-off' software custom-written for them, so ALL of that will have to be converted," he added. "Depending on the size of the org, that can be several hundred thousand to several million."

'More Can Be Done on Linux'

Last but not least, Chris Travers, a blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project, took a higher-level view.

"Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if the study was correct on figures, but my experience is that such numbers tend to be used by Microsoft in misleading ways," Travers told Linux Girl.

"The fact is that migration tends to be expensive both in the short and medium run," he explained. "The cost isn't what's required to get back to the base functionality, but the fact that often more can be done on Linux, which tends to cost more in IT but may save money elsewhere, or lead to other important benefits.

"Often outsiders think that you just replace Windows with Linux and a migration can be done this way, but to really leverage Linux, often a great deal more has to be done in terms of rethinking the general IT structure," he pointed out.

'A Strategic Investment'

In fact, "the studies I have seen (and this does include the various studies that Microsoft pushed in their previous 'Get the Facts' campaign) show that many organizations which migrate end up treating it not as a simple cost-saving migration but as a strategic investment," Travers pointed out.

"This means extra costs for consultants, but it also means that one often gets a much more closely tailored solution than one could get with commercial software," he noted.

"This strongly suggests to me that if folks are paying more, it is not because they have to so much as they expect benefits from that investment," Travers concluded. "These benefits are often realized down the road, and they come in many forms, ranging from greater flexibility in operations to more efficient operations."

Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.

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