German Foreign Office switches back to Windows

Open Source in GermanyI have read a news yesterday that left me astonished. The German government confirmed that the Foreign German Office is switching back to Windows after 10 years of Linux and Open Source software.

During the last 10 years the German Foreign Office gradually incremented the use of open source software both on server and desktop sides to save money.

Officially, the reasons behind the recent change of direction are mainly regarding the desktop area. Despite the fact Linux has proved really worth on server side, costs to write drivers for printers and scanners plus the costs of training the staff, quickly got bigger than the potential saving estimated in 2007. On top of this, users complained about missing functionalities, lack of usability and poor interoperability.

I’ve tried to find good explanations for this but I’ve failed.
I remember that Germany was one of the first countries in Europe to widely use Linux and Open Source in general. They started with extensive use in universities and spreading in public administration after not a long time.

I can understand that 10 years ago it was complicated to find drivers for many devices but I also think that things evolved a lot in 10 years and Linux proved to be a good choice.
What really surprised me are users thoughts about functionalities, usability and interoperability.

I start from interoperability that is clearly the biggest mistake: Linux is definitely the most open to interoperability system when talking about file formats, protocols, file systems and so on. In particular, if compared to Windows, the latter is the one to be almost always limited to its own standards and to require third party software to guarantee interoperability.

Regarding functionalities, I can accept that Linux can still be considered young when it comes to specialized softwares but definitely it is ready to do everything could be required in PA.

The only point slightly valid in users feedback is the usability. Such aspect has been greatly improved over the past years and it reached remarkable levels. I believe that “usability” issues are due to the majority of people being so used to Windows that they’ve lost every ability to adapt. This makes things so that every tiny difference, even just the application bar position, confuses the average user.

Such considerations does not justify anyway a return to Windows after 10 years of investments especially considering that 10 years should be more than enough for anyone to get used to a different system.

At this point, I wonder if something else is behind this decision… if this is a “political” decision.

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