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German Foreign Office kills desktop Linux, hugs Windows XP

Cites 'efficiency gains' and 'interoperability problems'

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Openistas beware! Politicos at the German Foreign Office are reportedly ditching Linux in favour of returning their desktop PCs to Windows XP-based systems.

According to a report on netzpolitik.org, which was diligently spotted by The H, the German Foreign Office recently decided to dump their Linux-based machines.

That move came despite the office being reassured in two separate appraisals carried out by consulting outfit McKinsey that Linux and open source software formed a perfectly adequate part of the German Foreign Office's IT strategy.

McKinsey did highlight some areas of concern during its first study of the FOSS strategy in 2009, but concluded that it "could generally be considered sound".

Somewhat surprisingly, one problem highlighted by McKinsey was interoperability with some office documents. But it was clearly noted that a simple update on all Linux desktops to the latest versions of OpenOffice could fix that particular issue.

A second study last year by the consultancy group found that a shift to a pure Windows environment on the German Foreign Office's desktop computers would be costly and work-intensive.

But by the end of last year the FO's IT commissioner Dr Michael Groß told ministry staff that a decision had been reached in August 2010 to revert the entire desktop estate back to Windows XP due to "massive user criticism" about "unsolved interoperability problems".

And in case you're wondering why the migration didn't move directly to Microsoft's latest operating system, Groß said that Windows XP, which turns 10 later this year, was the "uniform basis for the actual step towards implementing a new system using Windows 7 and Office 2010".

Questions have been raised in Germany's Bundestag parliament about the sudden switch back to Windows XP.

The German government claimed the OS shake-up wouldn't lead to it having to foot the bill for "indirect costs", and retorted that the migration to "standardised software products" was likely to result in "efficiency gains".

All that despite McKinsey confirming in 2009 that the German Foreign Office had splurged less cash on its individual IT workspaces then any other federal authority in the country while running a Linux desktop shop. Shurely shome mishtake? ®

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