Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Operating Systems Windows Linux

German Foreign Office Going Back To Windows 901

vbraga writes "The German government has confirmed that the German Foreign Office is to switch back to Windows desktop systems. The Foreign Office started migrating its servers to Linux in 2001 and since 2005 has also used open source software such as Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice on its desktop systems. The government's response to the SPD's question states that, although open source has demonstrated its worth, particularly on servers, the cost of adapting and extending it, for example in writing printer and scanner drivers, and of training, have proved greater than anticipated. The extent to which the potential savings trumpeted in 2007 have proved realizable has, according to the government, been limited – though it declines to give any actual figures. Users have, it claims, also complained of missing functionality, a lack of usability and poor interoperability."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

German Foreign Office Going Back To Windows

Comments Filter:
  • Sad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:27AM (#35276248)
    I find it curious that Linux on the desktop should be so well accepted in some markets (especially Latin America) and resisted so vigorously in others. Anyway, this is sad news, whatever the reasons.
    • Re:Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @06:58AM (#35277536)
      I'm from Latin America. And honestly, most Linux users here use it for not having a choice (no money for a copy of Windows or by imposition of the work).

      And I must make it clear: The problem is the Linux desktop , not the Linux server. The server works perfectly, but the desktop depends on much more than a good kernel to be useful for the average user.
      • Re:Sad (Score:5, Informative)

        by cHALiTO ( 101461 ) <elchalo@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @09:02AM (#35278152) Homepage

        Well,, I'm from Argentina, and I disagree. I know TONS of people (even non-geeks) that use ubuntu or some other flavor of linux on the desktop willingly, and the cost of a copy of windows here is absolutely irrelevant, as almost everyone pirates it, unless it came preloaded with a notebook or a brand pc (and even then, many notebooks come with win7 home or starter and it gets replaced with a pirated copy of win7 pro or ultimate).

        Also while I agree there must be a few, I haven't seen any jobs where you're forced to use linux on the desktop, but so far I've worked on 3 companies that either let me install it on my desktop, or already had a corporate approved image with all the corresponding software to use at the workplace (i.e. with lotus notes etc)

      • by h00manist ( 800926 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @09:16AM (#35278236) Journal
        More software makes a better OS. Microsoft, Apple, Google, and every OS, project or language depends on the programmers. Linux has few programmers, some of who work only on a part-time basis. Efforts to get more coders, like Google's Summer of Code, are some of the most efficient efforts to promote open source. I favor efforts that reward or incentivate open-source coders, such as awards, competitions, the threshold pledge system [], or RSPP-Rational Street Performer Protocol, stuff like that. So people can freely code open-source stuff at leisure, and have reasonable expectations of achieving more than publishing the code and peer recognition, in case the project comes out good.
        • That's like saying practice makes perfect, so people go out and practice repeatedly and often. But of course practice DOES NOT make perfect. CORRECT practice makes perfect. Practicing the wrong thing over and over just makes you good at being bad. So adding programmers to add to the status quo will do nothing to help the situation.

          What MS, Apple, Google, et al have done to be successful has been to practice correctly. They have coherent and well defined User Interfaces that are predictable and do what they

    • Re:Sad (Score:5, Informative)

      by kiwimate ( 458274 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @10:34AM (#35278916) Journal

      Look, I understand the passion that people feel for Linux, FOSS, etc., but why is it sad news? If you step back and look at it from a 65,000 foot level, there are a few notes to take away.

      First, try and understand why they made the switch back. It's probably not licensing fees, right? So it's more likely to be difficulty in switching, missing functionality, etc. What are the lessons to be learned?

      Second, don't be sad. Seriously. I've said this before - it's supposed to be about choice. If someone chooses to use Windows/other Microsoft products/other closed source products, well then isn't that their choice? I know some people will say "but it's wrong, abc product always crashes, MS can't build secure software" and so on. But - a technologist's job is to find the best solution, for whatever value of best applies to the particular customer in their particular context. And sometimes that may be a Microsoft product, or some other closed source product.* No product is a one-size-fits-all item. If you try and force something to fit the problem, or argue from politics or ideals rather than logic, you're less likely to make a positive impression.

      Sometimes it seems as though people on this site want Linux to be everything to everyone, everywhere. I suppose it's not technically a monopoly, and maybe it's harder to argue that there's a lack of freedom of choice if there are different distributions - but I think it goes against the spirit of freedom and competition.

      * Except for CA. They're dreadful, and there is never a context where CA is the best solution.

      • Re:Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

        by smash ( 1351 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @11:01AM (#35279262) Homepage Journal


        OS platforms are tools. Much like hammers and screwdrivers, one tool does not fit all. Pick the best tool for the job, move on. Ideology be damned. Hammering nails with a screwdriver just because of some religious devotion when you could get the work done far quicker with a hammer is retarded. In the business world, that sort of shit will get you fired (eventually).

        There are things that linux (or bsd) do very well. There are others that they don't (and often these are areas where Windows or OS X excel). Work out what you want t do then choose the appropriate platform. Much of the time this will result in a mixed environment.

      • "Choice" is not quite the end all. The problem is in the class of Tragedy of the Commons problems, layered with companies with a vested in damaging choice.

        So it's "Sad" because Linux is clearly in the discussion with much to offer, and the German office tried it, but then went back to the company that caused 20 years of lock-in issues.

    • "I find it curious that Linux on the desktop should be so well accepted in some markets (especially Latin America) and resisted so vigorously in others. Anyway, this is sad news, whatever the reasons."

      People just don't want to learn new things, the truth is linux distro's that wanted to be desktops really should have copied windows UI and apps and just cloned them for wider acceptance, to take the learning curve out of it. Linux is evidence of what happens when you leave development of an OS to programmer

    • I find it curious that Linux on the desktop should be so well accepted in some markets (especially Latin America) and resisted so vigorously in others. Anyway, this is sad news, whatever the reasons.

      Statcounter publishes free global breakdowns of its webstats - and, to be perfectly honest about it, the numbers for Linux range from dismal to also-ran.

      South America []
      Argentina []
      Brazil []

      Europe []
      Finland []
      Germany []

      The most significant thing about both Apple and Microsoft is that both began with the stand-alone PC for the non-technical end user.

      The PC that was often sold directly to the end-user.

      There is some truth to the notion that the PC worked its way into the enterprise by stealth - from the bottom-u

  • Blame the report! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:29AM (#35276256)

    Let's blame the report rather than being introspective about real usability problem with Linux.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @09:25AM (#35278288) Homepage

      Yeah. Let's just ignore the flaws of a report that focuses on obviously bogus things like printer drivers for business class printers.

      That's what lame trolls fixate on when they have nothing better to come up with.

      • by smash ( 1351 )
        Who said the user who takes their laptop home to work from home is plugging into a business class printer?
    • Re:Blame the report! (Score:4, Informative)

      by gsslay ( 807818 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @09:44AM (#35278448)

      Oh, no, no, nooo!

      Standard procedure at this point is to blame the users; "I don't like using this." "What are you, a retard?"

      I love Linux, but facts are for the average user its desktop experience is not as pleasant as Windows. Now you can blame anyone you like about that; it's the users' because they can't/won't learn anything different, it's the hardware vendors for not providing appropriate drivers, it's the developers for writing impenetrable half-assed documentation, but the end result is the same. And the bottom line is never going to go away; if your software isn't liked by users then it's your problem, not theirs.

    • Re:Blame the report! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Crudely_Indecent ( 739699 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @10:03AM (#35278618) Journal

      Instead, lets blame the idiot vendor they're relying on to deliver their solutions.

      The 1 system not running Linux in my house is my wife's Macbook. My 2 daughters run Linux successfully. We all print to and scan from a multi-function scanner/printer/fax/copier. We can all network print. I have a scanner that I use for more detailed work. My wireless router is a homebrew running Linux which also functions as a print server.

      My business runs on Linux. My client solutions run on Linux. I'll just say it, my world runs on Linux.

      This article states there has been a change in leadership []. The new boss is apparently anti-Linux, despite their own studies showing that the current systems are viable.

  • by mykos ( 1627575 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:29AM (#35276260)
    I can't see how anything could possibly go wrong.

    On topic, this situation seems to be a chicken and the egg. Until a lot of people are using Linux, switching from Windows on a mass scale isn't feasible.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tsj5j ( 1159013 )

      It's not simply chicken and egg.

      I've recommended linux to my friends who are using netbook, i.e. mostly sharing common configurations with no obscure hardware expected.
      Whilst they don't have driver issues, the most common complaints are:

      - Poor and inconsistent UI. They particularly hated that Ubuntu was swapping the buttons around often.
      - Many open source software are feature-incomplete when compared to their commercial counterparts.
      - Linux desktop (esp. Ubuntu) is very unstable when it comes to updates; ha

  • by spqr0a1 ( 1504087 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:31AM (#35276274)

    Switzerland and Spain are doing great with OSS in government. What makes linux a bad match for the German Foreign Office? Or what are they doing wrong?

    • Like for example a new foreign minister who is only able to use windows.

      Incumbent Guido Westerwelle since 28 October 2009

      Coincidence of course.


    • by jprupp ( 697660 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @09:33AM (#35278348)

      I live in Geneva, and here everything government does supports Linux. The government is using open source software everywhere and they haven't complained a bit about it. Just the opposite. Software for taxes is available on Windows, Linux and MacOS X. Although I don't think is FOSS (haven't seen the license yet).

      I've been migrating people to open source servers and desktops in Latin America for years, and sometimes I've found the classical resistance from users. I mean, you really must give the users a great experience in order for them to like the switch. I've seen users complain vocally when forced to use old desktop environments (particularly old KDE releases). But usually if you move them to a more modern and better configured desktop system they appreciate it, especially if they're coming from Windows XP or older.

      Printer support was quite ugly in the olden days, not to mention the odd (but functional) Xsane software for scanning. Things have been getting better in the last two years, but still these German users probably had to deal with some pretty ugly things. They may have been switched too early.

      Linux is mostly ready for the desktop now: for an office clerk desktop is good enough, even better. For a programmer is excellent. For most people is fine. But there are some proprietary software that some people won't be able to do without. Fortunately it isn't Microsoft Office or Internet Explorer anymore, so we've gained some ground. People are happy with and Firefox/Chrome these days, they have even started dreading some bloated proprietary packages already (e.g. Internet Explorer).

      We're nerds, for us a command line is enough, but for users change is stressful enough. And there's the issue of the helpdesk people, who feel really threatened by the switch, especially when they're not so smart, like is usually the case in government positions. Supporting Windows means upgrading antivirus and formatting computers. Most users have administrator access in their machines, so no problems with file permissions or the like. Windows networking is dead simple, and desktop hardware support for Windows is really easy to get. It's ugly, inelegant, but it's there, and it sort-of works, and its quirks are well-known. Habits get engrained.

      The lesson to learn here would be to look at what the users need. Look at the shortcomings they might find, and anticipate them. If you know they'll need to use Xsane to scan, because they need some complex stuff, provide some documentation in a Wiki already before the migration. Provide little howtos on common tasks. Make the documents editable by them. Give them help and let them help one another. Move the users to the new system in small groups and have a technical person exclusively assigned to help the last migrated bunch of ten or so. Don't ram change down their throats, let them drive it.

      If the company is large enough, hire some expert programmers, or a programming outsourcing firm to improve on some open source packages that are essential for business. That will not cost so much.

      If there's technical people that dread change, that will refuse to upgrade their skills and embrace the new OS, _fire them_, Change is necessary and your team needs to be able to cope with it, especially the technology people.

  • So the human race ~is~ devoluting!

  • by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:33AM (#35276292)
    Please, clarify. I understood that desktops was still Windows, but they used open source apps - Mozilla, suites, etc. Where's printer and scanner drivers comes in?
  • They'll get the update complete just in time to miss the migration to mobile. What's with Germany?
  • Change of government (Score:5, Informative)

    by SmilingBoy ( 686281 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:34AM (#35276298)
    It is worth noting in this context that there were a number of changes of government in Germany, implying that party politics might also have played a role. Between 1998 and 2005, the German government was a coalition of social democrats and greens (with a green foreign minister); between 2005 and 2009, the government was a coalition of christian democrats (conservatives) and social democrats (with a social democrat foreign minister); and since 2009, the government has been a coalition of christian democrats and liberals (with a liberal foreign minister). The "SPD" mentioned in the article is the social democrat party.
  • suspicious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:36AM (#35276304)

    Henning Tillmann, a colleague of Oliver Kaczmarek, the SPD MP who raised the question, and a member of the SPD executive committee's web policy discussion group, told our associates at heise Open that the government's response was not satisfactory. "The reasons given for the return to Windows are implausible," says Tillmann, "We need the figures." The costs of licensing Windows and MS Office throughout the department would cover the costs of programming a hell of a lot of drivers, notes Tillmann. Oliver Kaczmarek has already announced his intention to take the matter further and demand a clear statement from the government.

    We have scanners and printers running no problem in our office on Ubuntu. Why exactly does he mention having to program printer and scanner drivers?

    They might have a legitimate problem but from the information presented it sounds like poor excuses when someone asks for the exact figures and he responds with the need to write drivers. It sounds like something Microsoft would say from their "get the facts" campaign.

    • Driver support hugely depends on the vendor (and sometimes even on the model).

      For example, at a previous company we had some of those souped-up copiers Canon sells for twelve grand a piece. The kind that is supposed to do everything short of making coffee.
      Canon's management software for the Windows servers (rights management based on LDAP groups and stuff like that) must have been written by half-blind chronic drunks, but it still worked somehow. But Canon treated the Linux driver as the company's bastard c

    • Re:suspicious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kevinNCSU ( 1531307 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @09:31AM (#35278338)

      We have scanners and printers running no problem in our office on Ubuntu. Why exactly does he mention having to program printer and scanner drivers?

      Now I'm just throwing this out there, but it might be possible that there's more then one printer company that makes more than one type of printer so that there might exist in one of the foreign offices of the German government a printer of a make and model which isn't the exact same as yours?

  • by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <> on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:37AM (#35276312) Homepage Journal

    A comment from someone in the government shows that this isn't going down without a fight. The FO's answers to inquiries claimed driver costs were high. Officials say that something's wrong if writing drivers costs more than refitting the entire bureau with new Win/Office licenses.

    • Those licenses aren't as expensive as you think, when you take loss of productivity into consideration.
  • it is difficult (Score:5, Informative)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:44AM (#35276346) Homepage Journal

    It's hard not only for governments. A retail operation was trying to switch to Ubuntu boxes and one of the problems became Zebra LP 2824 thermal printer drivers [], which are all for windows and none are for unix/linux. Of-course CUPS support these printers to an extent, but not completely and the worst part is printing in Cyrillic - it doesn't work. Barcodes do print and English prints though. Is this a show stopper for Linux on desktop? It well could be in this case.

  • by fibrewire ( 1132953 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:45AM (#35276356) Homepage

    Someone at the top of the ladder @ Microsoft must have seen where this was going. []

  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:46AM (#35276362)

    It makes me wonder what arcane version of Linux they were using - or what kind of obscure brand of printers and scanners they insist on using. Any serious manufacturer these days supports Linux.

    Now I know not all printers have Linux drivers available; yet this migration has been going on for five years and has been planned probably for years before that.Easy enough to replace equipment that comes to the end of its life span with equipment that's known to work with Linux. At least that is assuming they have a serious and competent IT department.

  • by zebslash ( 1107957 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:46AM (#35276366)

    I am sure that with the money they spend in Windows licenses, they could have bought new compatible printers and scanners. Come on, most high grade, networked all-in-one printers and scanners are compatible with Linux.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I am sure that with the money they spend in Windows licenses, they could have bought new compatible printers and scanners. Come on, most high grade, networked all-in-one printers and scanners are compatible with Linux.

      You're assuming that's the sort of gear that's at issue. My bank in Canada uses small receipt printers at each teller's desk. They've also had cheque scanners that read the codes at the bottom, often printed in MICR toner.

      While I don't know that the decision isn't ridiculous, I'm not going to assume it is. They may not be having problems with large-scale group printers that we all know can be made to work (well). It may be smaller, industry-specific gear that has lead to this problem. We don't know. S

    • by AdrianKemp ( 1988748 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @10:07AM (#35278644)

      I work at a university campus library, we're a tiny little outfit (a mere 140 staff). However we deal with public service as well as maintaining fairly sophisticated servers for the collections and providing cafe-style computer access to students.

      140 staff, another 100 student accessible machines. All are running windows, and those licenses run us $0. This is partly because the people in charge won't allow buying anything but IBM (lenovo) which means that all computers come with windows. The other part of it is Microsoft giving us the software we need free because they want people hooked.

      We have $64,000 in printers, $34,000 of which need to be replaced if we switch to linux, another $10,000 that should be replaced as support is existent but spotty. (I went through all of this when I tried to get a switch happening).

      Without going into staff training or anything else, that means a cost of at least $34,000 (around $250 per staff) in printers to switch to linux. I assure you that printers are a big part of linux's problem in the workplace.

      Is it unfair to linux that the extra cost of buying lenovo desktops can't be factored in (I could by locally for about half the price)? Yes.

      Is it unfair to linux that Microsoft gives away software (and developers to manufacturers) where needed to make the switch to linux harder to sell? A little, but that's business.

      Does it matter? No.

      The simple fact is that as much as I do like linux, Microsoft isn't lying when they say it's more expensive in the workplace. They're being slightly underhanded, but not lying.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:48AM (#35276386)

    ... the cost of adapting and extending it, for example in writing printer and scanner drivers ...

    Why are they writing their own drivers? As a sizable buyer of equipment (the government, not the single department) they could simply tell HP and other vendors that the government will only be considering equipment that has Linux drivers.

  • Calling bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:50AM (#35276396) Homepage

    While it's very likely that Microsoft-addicted users complained, I am absolutely certain that no resources were spent on "writing printer and scanner drivers", thus making the whole claim untrustworthy.

    Someone has to be investigated for corruption -- IIRC, in Germany it actually something that matters.

  • by sxpert ( 139117 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:54AM (#35276428)

    right... it's much easier to be interoperable when everyone is running the same (MS) crap... morons, that's not interoperability....
    as for writing printer drivers, well, their fault for not selecting a manufacturer that makes sure it's hardware is compatible, such as HP

  • Printer drivers? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:54AM (#35276432) Journal


    I mean, I suppose I don't really know much about this, but did they really have the sort of volume where a rollback to Windows was cheaper than writing printer drivers, and writing printer drivers was cheaper than buying a printer with open drivers? Seriously, what doesn't CUPS support these days?

    • by fishexe ( 168879 )

      ...did they really have the sort of volume where a rollback to Windows was cheaper than writing printer drivers, and writing printer drivers was cheaper than buying a printer with open drivers?

      Depends how steep a discount MS used to bribe them into switching back. My guess is "100% until you're out of office" was the offer.

    • by tiqui ( 1024021 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @10:00AM (#35278590)

      What follows will look like flamebait from a troll to anybody who wants to ignore the truth, but if the situation is ever going to improve, all of us who use Linux and want it to succeed need to stop ignoring reality. Linux users need to learn to take criticism properly. The simple fact is that for most non-geeks, Linux sucks (I have been using it for years and my business runs almost entirely on Linux, but even I find it almost more trouble than it's worth). If the end user has a problem with Linux, the proper response is to say "wow, we need to better understand the users and we need to fix these problems" rather than posting hostile messages on the web (not saying your particular post was hostile, but it often happens when people complain about Linux) that accuse users of being stupid, or posting responses to cries for help that amount to "RTFM!" or "use the force, read the source!"

      You ask "what doesn't CUPS support these days?", and I say: all but one of the printers my business uses, and support for that one is flaky..... and why should I need one of the worst applications ever written (CUPS) anyway? I dare you to setup a PC with Linux and CUPS and then ask your parents to do something important with it. Odds are, they'll get frustrated and give up without ever getting a single page out of the printer. If they ever have to add a new printer, they'll never succeed. It's a clumbsy, non-obvious pile of junk that has a non-intuitive user interface. Printing in Linux simply stinks; half the time you get blank pages, or pages of garbage ASCII characters instead of the nice output that any idiot can get from Windows or a Mac with a couple of mouse clicks. No average PC user thinks of firing up a web browser and entering a raw IP address into the URL line to get at the printer controls. In Windows, it's very easy to setup, control, and use printers. In Linux, printing appears to be an after-thought that was quickly hacked-in under extreme schedule pressure with the user interface being setup through the web browser because it was quick and easy for the programmers.

      Linux audio similarly sucks (can we please have a single standard programming interface that supports both open- and closed-source applications equally well?!?!?!, scanners suck too (Sane was a good first try.... ten years ago). Have an all-in-one scanner-printer unit? Odds are you'll have troubles. The nearly religious fanaticism for "open" code is only making things worse.... I have nvidia cards in most of my systems and use the nvidia binary drivers (they work and make the Linux boxes every bit as good as any windows box for our custom in-house cad software) but now new Linux distros insist on including crappy open-source nvidia drivers and making it hard to use the good binary drivers from nvidia! Why? Was it because there was no way to make both options easy? Nah, apparently just because some jerks appear to have decided that "open" did not just mean free and open code shipped with Linux, but that actual hostility to non-open code was to be encouraged. When we upgraded some systems and ran into this issue, we had to waste a bunch of time spelunking on the internet trying to find the solution (why did we even have to look? adding support for the new drivers, even as the default, should not have made the newer Linux release even harder to use than a previous release for people who need the closed drivers) That just does not fly for end users, no matter how happy (in an obnoxious "my way or the highway" sense) it might make some coders with an open source purity test complex.

      Maybe the Germans needed to add an app to some desktops. In Windows land, you stick an installer for the app on the machine, wait a few moments and you are ready to roll. In Linux land, you might get a tarball or RPM, stick it on the machine, find that there are 5942 dependency issues, you need 3 hours with a high-speed net connection to download and patch everything, need to change compiler versions, need to update glibc, need to update the Kernel, nee

  • by HW_Hack ( 1031622 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @03:54AM (#35276434)

    what the number of security / virus issues was (or wasn't ) during the period of using Linux in the office ? I do tech support for a medium sized school district and we are constantly getting pretty sophisticated phishing emails to some of our staff. And some staff still fall for them or send out emails or try to reply ... Fortunately we are 70% Mac based so most of that just blows by.

    The issue with teachers is that they regularly email parents and students who may have infected PCs and their email addresses are then harvested.

  • Wikileaks is already preparing for the deluge of sensitive German diplomatic information that is bound to come in when someone hacks the new Windows machines. I give it a month, tops.
  • You spend all that money training people and changing the culture of your office to become more open minded and active learners with regard to technology only to switch back after you spent all the resources. Of course people are going to complain, change isn't always easy but if you facilitate the transition through training or knowledge management it eventually pays itself off.

  • by Rivalz ( 1431453 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @04:00AM (#35276472)

    We still have some staff members using typewriters. I shit you not.
    Never underestimate just how reluctant people are to change.
    Especially when there is no incentive to do so.
    And you want them to work harder to learn something that does the exact same thing except its cheaper for you.
    And you expect them to get the same amount of work done different system.
    And you cut their pay.
    And their money isn't worth as much anymore.
    And they could probably earn more as a bar tender.

    Ways to make a change feasible.
    Rule #1: If it doesn't make sense to the person doing the work to switch ie. no discernible benefit your screwed before you even started.
    Rule #2: Build solitaire directly into clones of word and excel.
    Rule #3: Build facebook games directly into all office apps.

    • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @10:55AM (#35279184)

      In other words: They are able to do their jobs now with what they have and you want to "help" them continue doing their jobs by making them learn something new.

      I made money modernizing offices, and the attitude you have shown is counter-productive.

      The number one error that office managers seem to make is buying a PC with a word processor and a spreadsheet program and installing it on each employee's desk. After which they instruct the employee to learn how to use it, and quickly go to their superior and brag about how they modernized the office. The mistake being that no effort was made to understand why the employee was so productive, and giving the employee a general purpose tool to replace what they were accustomed to using. This results in the employee having to learn something new "to make someone else's job easier" and the employee "knowing" that the office manager is trying to make himself indispensable by introducing something into the workplace that only he understands.

      In one of the offices that I "modernized" there was an employee that used a typewriter to keep up with the inventory. It worked flawless for him, and since the trucks arrived very early in the morning, he had all workday to do the tallies. He would white out the totals and add new truckloads to the bottom of the list, cross out the truckloads that were no longer at the warehouse, add up all the numbers, and put a new total at the bottom of the list. He would then make photocopies of his "master list" and send them to the other office workers. He did this every day for the past 15 years, and he was able to do all this quickly (much faster than I thought possible). I was able to "win him over" by creating a specialized spreadsheet application that allowed him to continue to work the way he was accustomed to, and he saw that the instantaneous totals made his job easier. The key was to make the software conform to the worker.

      Today I see the reverse being done. Terminals that had forms that the data entry clerk could quickly fill in are being replaced with window machines running software that don't even come close to being the same thing. Worse I've seen terminals being replaced by windows machines running terminal emulators. This shows a lack of thought by IT. No wonder employees despise them. Of course IT people are accustomed to windows, so they don't see why the employees are so problematic...

      I did this all in the 80's when personal computers in the office were new. I'd thought people would have it easier today.

  • To miss the migration to mobile.
  • as the other departments were using windows and so the cost of writing the drivers wasn't being shared out amongst all of them, but kept in the single department... anyway, they should have been insisting on hardware only coming from manufacturers who provided Linux support... buying winprinters and expecting them to work on Linux is just stupid...
  • Implausible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Delgul ( 515042 ) <.gerard. .at.> on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @04:04AM (#35276496) Homepage

    As the article states, the reasons given are implausible. More likely, the move is politically motivated.

    • Re:Implausible (Score:5, Informative)

      by soccerisgod ( 585710 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @07:19AM (#35277628)
      The foreign office is in the hands of a party (FDP) that from its political standpoint would clearly favor proprietary software over open source. The open source initiative was started by the previous office holder, who came from the other end of the political spectrum (the German Green party) Whatever real problems there may or may not be, they almost certainly are not the reason for this switch.
  • "standardised proprietary client solutions" is what the article says they want to return to.
    By all means, they didn't get it: It is not about the software; but about standards. If I were a German taxpayer, I'd be up in arms: From now onwards, again, taxpayers' monies are used to produce documents that are inaccessible in future. Ask your parents, how nicely old MS-Office documents can opened in newer software versions: zero and nada.

    Something smells corrupt here.

    Oh, no, I suddenly - struck by enlightenment

  • Maybe next year will be the year of the linux desktop...

  • Nobody knows what is in the windows updates.... (beside maybe some Microsoft employee)
    I would think that a gov. body should consider security as a top priority !
    (Is anybody concerned that one day all WIndoze machines just stop and the whole department is stuck ?)

    Also, even assuming the TCO is the same Win-Linux (I do not believe this) but instead of shipping money to Redmond you keep them in Germany, something a government should think about, or not ?

    There can be a simpler explanation, as usual, a Microsoft

  • It all comes down to the lack of focus and consistency with a few Open Source projects. Unfortunately making a desktop environment does not lend itself to a every-developer-is-equal type environment. In order to succeed a desktop environment project needs to be ruled with an iron fist from top to bottom.

    See (albeit non-Open Source) examples: Windows, iOS.

    This does not sit well with at all Open Source developers in general. The concept of a dictatorship flies in the face of whatever they hold dear.

    So for thi

  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @04:07AM (#35276522)

    One of many reasons I don't run Windows is, in fact, the poor interoperability with some of my favorite Linux only programs. That extends very few programs however.

    It would be relevant to see which programs lack the stated poor interoperability.

  • as they were the only ones involved in the experiment, then their costs of writing drivers weren't being shared out... also, they should have absolutely insisted on hardware having to have Linux support out of the box from the suppliers. Expecting winprinters to work is rather stupid as winprinters aren't really printers at all as the manufacturer has shed a lot of cost by using the computer itself to do the hard work.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @04:08AM (#35276526) Homepage

    Almost no need for comments here in Slashdot as the second half of the article "balances" the initial assertions.

    Essentially, one group in a political party is against the use of F/OSS in favor of Microsoft and other BSA groups' products. They give arguments that do not contain any figures to support their claims. The article indicates this much but also asserts that the costs of creating various forms of support for hardware are CERTAINLY less than the costs of Windows and other software licenses. (You can almost certainly expect Microsoft to step in to offer discounted license costs to the German government to prove that's not true as they have in the past)

    With all that said, it certainly does show there is still an uphill war going on where hardware support is concerned. Without question, the battles have mostly been won though the determination of developers, hackers and crackers where the results are an extensive pool of hardware supported under Linux. Trouble is, hardware development hasn't stopped and new ways to shut out access to Linux users have been added as it goes on. One that gets under my skin most recently is NVidia's Optimus technology that has made the use of the nvidia gpu impossible on my little alienware.

    Until hardware makers are legally inhibited from doing so, this will go on for as long forever or until Windows becomes the next IBM or Novell. (Nobody believed IBM on the desktop could be killed off... nobody believed Novell on the server could be marginalzed either and they both happened. Why anyone thinks Microsoft Windows will still dominate in 5 years amazes me. They might, but they might not -- things are changing rapidly and there is still lots of government support and development of Linux around the world.)

  • Monopoly Vendor - meet locked-in Users. Locked-in Users - meet Monopoly Vendor.

  • The article or the linked pdf:s don't specify which programs cause the poor interoperability.

    In view of that, it may just be some (illegal?) lobbying from other OS owners.

  • Sounds like too many staff were experienced with Windows and didn't like learning something new... training, missing functionality, lack of usability and poor interoperability all sound like the complaints I've heard from users when asked to use a different system.

    Incidentally, what on earth were they writing printer or scanner drivers for? Could they not specify 'compatible with our environment' on the RFP?

  • The idiot users were to stubborn to learn how to use it so they gave up and dropped millions on windows

  • by moco ( 222985 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @04:15AM (#35276578)


    Henning Tillmann, a colleague of Oliver Kaczmarek, the SPD MP who raised the question, and a member of the SPD executive committee's web policy discussion group, told our associates at heise Open that the government's response was not satisfactory. "The reasons given for the return to Windows are implausible," says Tillmann, "We need the figures."

    It sounds more like a change in IT leadership to me.

  • for example in writing printer and scanner drivers

    So they either didn't check what they had or just carried on buying any old random scanner or printer. That's not the best route for success..

  • I wrote an article about this in 2005. Basically, the MS hegemony meant people learned where to click things, rather than what they do and the concepts behind them. []

    In the 80s you didn't need to be a geek to use a computer, but at the same time you learned basic ideas that would let you feel at home on any system or OS. Now people just think, "Go to the start menu. No start menu? What the fuck what do I do???"

  • Users have, it claims, also complained of missing functionality,

    True. I have long discounted Free/Open Source software for productivity tools. My servers run Debian, but I would never again use that on my desktop. Though I moved upwards to OS X, not downwards to windows, I can relate to those users.

    a lack of usability

    Also true, most Free/Open Source software is still made and designed by geeks for geeks, and hasn't had a desperately needed visit to a usability expert. Usability is not something you can do as an afterthought. Either you have it designed in from the start, or it won't be th

  • I can understand that they would not want to use Linux if they have to write printer drivers for it! But in my experience, network printers work out of the box with Linux both for duplex and four-color printing. What kind of special printing requirements would the German Foreign Office have where the regular printing setup isn't good enough? Does Windows come with specialized printing drivers?
  • While Linux and the open desktop have certainly come a ways since - even 5 years ago, it saddens me to say that neither are ready for the proverbial "prime time". While I can't imagine using anything but GNOME these days, I have a much larger threshold of putting up with things like unavailable codecs, incompatible drivers, and just plain software unavailability - possibly because in most such cases, I'm willing to make the effort to figure out how to make things work. We're getting there though, and the st
  • I never bothered to post here because all I had was Norwegian sources, but here in Norway there's been two major blows to OpenOffice adaption. Both the county and region that used to push it the hardest has announced plans to migrate back to MS Office, taking with it 4000 and 20000 users back to Microsoft. When the total public sector is some 800000 people and already 90%+ Microsoft, it's creeping back up towards 100% not down. And if you can't do without MS Office, you can't do without Windows. Linux on th

  • I'm sure there'll be one of those subtitled Hitler spoofs along real soon now.

  • Just tools (Score:3, Interesting)

    by giuseppemag ( 1100721 ) <> on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @04:36AM (#35276726)
    I suppose any moment now the hordes will arrive argumenting everything, from conspiracy theories to "this software is better".

    Here is the incredible truth:
    Software is just a tool used to accomplish something else. The Real People Out There use what works for them, not what they believe in.

    Computer people should stop with the religion wars already, it's frankly ridiculous...
  • by fadir ( 522518 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @04:44AM (#35276778)

    The foreign office is run by Guido Westerwelle, leader of the FDP (so called "liberals") who are pretty known for having close ties to companies and the industry in general. To be more blunt: pay them enough money and they do what you want them to do. Just recently they halved the taxes on hotel bills - after receiving a noticeable amount of money from a company running lots of hotels (Mövenpick) for their election campaign a few months prior.

    So it's safe to assume that some coffers with money changed owners in return for this step. They are corrupt (pretty much everyone knows this) and they use it where ever they can. So far they (mostly) managed to stay within the legal limits (which is not too hard considering that there are very few restrictions for politicians in Germany, so basically once elected you can do pretty much anything you like without too much fear of of any serious consequences).

  • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @04:50AM (#35276814) Journal
    is not that they're moving back to Windows, but that they're moving back to Windows XP. I could understand it better if it were WIndows 7. Although they'll inevitably upgrade at some point, it seems a lot of hassle to go back to an inferior operating system for a transitional period.

    The reason I think Windows 7 would make more sense than XP (aside from all the support and security issues), is that Windows 7 really does offer something that neither KDE nor Gnome do which is a very simple and easy to manage environment. I like both Windows 7 and my KDE desktop running on Gentoo. I like Windows 7 because it is really slick. I like my Linux box because it's powerful, has all the tools I need to do advance things I like to do. The trouble is that someone like me is an edge case. I wouldn't want to see KDE or Gnome attempt to emulate Windows so much that they lost the powerfulness that I like about them (KDE more than Gnome is my preference mind you). But similarly, I think you couldn't fully incorporate the power of Linux into Windows 7 without losing some of that slickness and simplicity. There seems to be a natural divide between the two where either attempting to bring in the qualities of the other is likely to spoil some of the good stuff. And unfortunately the German FO users are going to be the sort of users who want slick simplicity, rather than crunching power. I say unfortunately, because Windows will cost them more.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault