Munich mk2? Germany's Schleswig-Holstein plans to switch 25,000 PCs to LibreOffice

Another German region tries to ditch closed code for open source


From the department of If At First You Don't Succeed Try Try Again comes news that a German state is to have a crack at shifting thousands of PCs from proprietary software to an open-source alternative.

In this instance, it is the north-German state of Schleswig-Holstein that is aiming to ditch proprietary code, including Microsoft Office, in favour of open-source software. According to open-source productivity platform LibreOffice, 25,000 PCs will be running its wares by the end of 2026.

In an interview, digital minister for the region, Jan Philipp Albrecht, explained while LibreOffice would be the locally installed option, in the longer term the expectation was that most work would be done within the browser.

Albrecht, however, did not commit to a date to replace Microsoft Windows, although he said that a number of Linux distributions were in the running. The high bar set by the Redmond team for the Windows 11 hardware requirements was cited as a factor.

Observers would be forgiven for a feeling of déjà vu. After all, didn't the German city of Munich attempt this very thing a few short years before? Yes. It did.

By 2013, the Bavarian city was trumpeting its independence from the big, bad proprietary code-slingers. And, in 2014 it was even rolling its own groupware cloud before performing an abrupt about-turn and scurrying back into the welcoming arms of Microsoft.

Albrecht insisted that the Munich experience would not be repeated in Schleswig-Holstein, and that a phased approach would be taken. Systems would be run in parallel before eventually being transitioned once departments and workers were ready.

He also sounded a realistic note and pointed out that the costs would probably end up being around the same. However, he did expect that the shift to open-source would bring forth greater flexibility and security. And, perhaps most importantly, greater digital sovereignty.

The Register contacted Microsoft for its take on the plans and will update should the Windows maker respond. ®

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