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Munich Shows How Open Source Saves Big Money

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Recently I've written about several moves towards mandating openness in various ways - in the UK, Spain and Portugal. That's all well and good, but what people want to know is whether moving to open solutions brings benefits - in particular, whether it saves money. Fortunately, we have a long-running experiment being carried out by the city of Munich that provides us with some hard data.

The latest calculations indicate that the city has saved over £8 million so far. The full details are contained in a report in German, but The H Open has provided a handy summary in English:

According to the calculation, Windows with Microsoft Office would so far have incurred about €11.6 million (£9.3 million) in operating-system-related costs. Microsoft Office and its upgrades would have cost €4.2 million (£3.3 million), and the Windows system about €2.6 million (£2.1 million). The LiMux project allowed a further €5 million (£4 million) for hardware upgrades in connection with the Windows 7 system upgrade. Application migration costs were estimated to be around €55,000 (£44,000). If the city council had chosen Windows but used OpenOffice, the estimated cost would have been about two thirds, or €7.4 million (£5.9 million).

That compares with just £218,000 that has been spent on the free software-based solution using the city's own LiMux distro. As well as zero costs for software upgrades, the open source approach also saved money because it was not necessary to upgrade hardware, unlike for Windows - something that is worth remembering.

Against that background, the decision of the city of Freiburg to move back to Microsoft Office, discussed recently, seems particularly perverse. Perhaps they should have asked their colleagues in Munich for a little advice first.