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City of Munich throws Ubuntu lifeline to Windows XP holdouts

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Windows XP users in Germany’s third largest city are being offered free upgrades to Ubuntu ahead of termination of Microsoft support for the OS next Spring.

Administrators in the City of Munich have distributed 2,000 CDs carrying Ubuntu 12.04 LTS to libraries across the City, for users to borrow and download the Linux distro.

The Ubuntu OS is also being made available for download, with a link to the website.

The CDs in Munich are targeted at those members of the Munich citizenry who are unable or not skilled enough to install Ubuntu via a download, the City said.

The City stressed it would not be supporting converts, though, and you’re on your own once you switch.

Munich said it wanted to support customers of Microsoft who’d be affected by the end-of-support deadline for Windows XP next April.

If the pattern of Windows XP’s usage in Munich reflects the rest of the world, then that would mean about a third of desktop machines are still on Microsoft’s dated operating system.

Windows XP is the world’s second most popular OS after Windows 7, with users showing little sign of budging – despite the fact there will be no more security updates from Microsoft after 8 April, 2014.

Tempting users to Ubuntu would throw a spanner in the works of Microsoft's plans for Windows XP users to adopt Windows 8.1. Failing that, Windows 7, which most – especially in business – are doing in large numbers.

Munich is something of an advocate of Linux and open systems.

The City has spent years migrating 15,000 PCs in 22 departments at 51 locations from Microsoft’s Windows and Office. The City’s installing its own brand of Linux, an Ubuntu and Debian flavour it's calling LiMux, and has moved from Office to OpenOffice. The project, begun in 2007, was due for completion this year.

The City officially parted ways with Microsoft 10 years ago, in 2003, with a council vote to switch. The vote was at the height of Microsoft’s war with Linux and industry battle over document formats, with the rise of ODF suddenly challenging the use of Office’s closed file extensions.

The move towards open began among governments and local authorities, charged with spending tax-payers' money and suddenly concerned about maintaining open systems.

Munich elected to end its use of Microsoft to stop its reliance on a single company for its technology needs, which it called a "monopoly-like position".

Microsoft fought hard to retain Munich, offering deals and discounts and with chief executive Steve Ballmer interrupting a skiing holiday in Switzerland to pop across the border and personally lobby for the German city to stay in the Windows camp. ®

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