Germany Has Had It with Some Microsoft Products

May 20, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

Can Schleswig-Holstein succeed where Munich and Lower Saxony failed? Those two German states tried switching their official IT systems from Microsoft to open source software but were forced to reverse course. Emboldened by Microsoft’s shove to adopt Windows 11 and Office 365, informed by its neighbors’ defeats, and armed with three years of planning, Germany’s northernmost state is forging ahead. The Register frames the initiative as an epic battle in, “Open Source Versus Microsoft: The New Rebellion Begins.”

With cries of “Digital Sovereignty,” Schleswig-Holstein shakes its fist at its corporate overlord. Beginning with the aptly named LibreOffice suite, these IT warriors plan to replace Microsoft products top to bottom with open source alternatives. Writer Rupert Goodwins notes open source software has improved since Munich and Lower Saxony were forced to retreat, but will that be enough? He considers:

“Microsoft has a lot of cards to play here. Schleswig-Holstein will have to maintain compatibility with Windows within its own borders, with the German federation, with Europe, and the rest of the world. If a change to Windows happens to break that compatibility, guess who picks up the pain and the bills. Microsoft wouldn’t dream of doing that deliberately, no matter how high the stakes, yet these things happen. Freedom to innovate, don’t you know. If in five years the transition is a success, the benefits to the state, the people, and open source will be immeasurable. As well as bringing data protection back to those charged with providing it, it will give European laws new teeth. It will increase expertise, funding, and opportunities for open source. Schleswig-Holstein itself will become a new hub of technical excellence in an area that intensely interests the rest of the world, in public and private organizations. Microsoft cannot afford to let this happen. Schleswig-Holstein cannot back down, now it’s made it a battle for independence.”

See the write-up for more warfare language as well as Goodwins’ likening of user agreements to the classic suzerain-vassal relationship. Will Schleswig-Holstein emerge victorious, or will mighty Microsoft prevail? Governments depend on Microsoft. The US is now putting pressure on the Softies to do something more than making Windows 11 more annoying and creating a Six Flags Over Cyber Crime with their security methods. Will anything change? Nah.

Cynthia Murrell, May 22, 2024


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