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Linux zealots all over Munich have strapped on their lederhosen and knocked back a few liters of beer after the open source operating system beat out Microsoft's Windows for a major city contract.

Munich will dump 14,000 PCs running Windows and install Linux instead in what is one of the biggest moves away from Redmond to date. The importance of the deal prompted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to make a last minute pitch and reportedly to undercut an offer from IBM and SuSE.

Ballmer's efforts failed.

The umpah band will play first in Lower Saxony where 11,000 police computers will change OSes next year. More computers will undergo "the change" in due course.

It's no surprise that Ballmer would be called in to defend Microsoft's turf in Deutschland. Despite heavy discounts when competing against Linux, Microsoft Germany has given up significant ground to open source software.

Both the federal and state governments in Germany have taken a close look at replacing propietary software with open code. The Federal Ministry of the Interior last year signed a deal with IBM to use Linux computers. The city of Schwabisch Hall in December also decided to repurpose a few hundred Microsoft PCs with Linux.

Media outlets have estimated that Microsoft bid close to $32 million for Munich's business, beating out IBM and SuSE's offer by a few million. Despite the lower offer and Ballmer's rhetoric, Munich Mayor Christian Ude rebuffed Microsoft.

"Mit diesem richtungsweisenden Grundsatzbeschluss sichert sich München nicht nur als erste deutsche Großstadt eine größere Herstellerunabhängigkeit ihrer IT-Infrastruktur, sondern setzt auch ein klares Zeichen für mehr Wettbewerb im Software-Markt," Ude said in a statement.

Roughly translated, this means Ude has championed the use of Linux as a way to cut back on Munich's dependence on a single IT vendor and a way to spur competition.

Bavarians have a way with words. ®

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