Microsoft won't release study that challenged success of Munich's Linux migration

The study claimed that staying with Microsoft was cheaper than migrating to Linux, a German publication reported

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  Open Source

Microsoft and Hewlett Packard won't share a study claiming that the German city of Munich had its numbers wrong when it calculated switching from Windows to Linux saved the city millions -- although an HP employee did provide the data to a German publication that reported on the results.

By switching from Windows to its own Linux distribution, LiMux, Munich has saved over €11 million (US$14.3 million) so far, the city announced in November. But a Microsoft-commissioned Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) study conducted by HP suggests that the city's numbers are wrong, and claims that Munich would have saved €43.7 million if it had stuck with Microsoft, German weekly Focus reported earlier this week.

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If Munich had stayed with Windows XP combined with Office 2003 instead of choosing Linux combined with OpenOffice.org, it would have saved money, the study apparently claimed. Operating the Microsoft software (not including licensing fees) would cost €17 million, while the alternative will amount to almost €61 million, the report stated, according to Focus.

The city's own calculations did not consider all migration costs, according to the report. It apparently claimed that Munich compared the migration to a 10-year-old Linux version with a migration to a newer version of Windows, probably Windows 7, and said that if the city had stuck with Windows, no new software would have been necessary.

Furthermore, 25 percent of the desktops are still running Windows, because not all applications can be migrated to Linux, the report claimed.

But while the HP employee responsible for the study provided the German publication with details of the report, HP and Microsoft are now unwilling to disseminate it more broadly.

"The study was commissioned by Microsoft to HP Consulting for internal purposes only," said Microsoft's German communications manager Astrid Aupperle on Tuesday. Microsoft commissioned the TCO study on Munich's migration to Linux because the company would "like to have some recommendations for other projects," she said. She declined any further comment on the study.

Since the report was commissioned by Microsoft, HP also declined to comment, said Anette Nachbar, spokeswoman for HP.

"I would struggle to see how a Windows deployment would be cheaper than a Linux installment," said Roy Illsley, principal analyst at Ovum, who added that he couldn't imagine why Microsoft wouldn't release a study that actually proved that Microsoft is cheaper than Linux. "I would suspect that they read it and they suspected that there are some errors in there," he said.

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