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Munich poised to select IBM, SuSE over Microsoft

Munich poised to select IBM, SuSE over Microsoft

In a last-ditch effort to keep the city of Munich from falling into the Linux camp, the German subsidiary of Microsoft has submitted changes to its initial bid and is asking city officials to consider the new offer that would keep computer systems on Windows despite an expired deadline.

"We are asking for fair competition," said Microsoft GmbH spokesman Thomas Baumgärtner on Monday. "Our competitors were allowed to improve their initial bid after the April 28 deadline. We're asking for the same privilege."

On Monday, a committee of the Social Democratic Party, which controls the Munich city government, voted for an offer made by IBM and SuSE Linux to migrate the city's 14,000 computers to the open-source Linux operating system from Microsoft Windows. A final decision by the city government is scheduled for Wednesday.

If Munich were to select Linux, it would be the first big German city to drop Microsoft's Windows operating system in favor of Linux. In December, the smaller southern Germany city of Schwäbisch Hall became the first city in the country to pull the plug on Windows and deploy Linux in more than 400 PCs. The move has stirred attention among city governments not only in Germany but also outside the country, according to a Schwäbisch hall city government official.

In Germany, federal, state and local governments as well as other public agencies have been considering Linux intensively ever since the Federal Ministry of the Interior agreed in June to a partnership with IBM to supply computers with Linux at favorable conditions.

Worried that a defeat in Munich could lead to a string of German city governments -- both big and small -- opting for Linux, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer made a personal visit to Munich city Mayor Christian Ude in March.

Weeks later, Microsoft officials met with the Ministry of the Interior to close a new framework agreement for the public sector, according to Baumgärtner. "This new agreement could bring savings of up to 30 percent to governments and other public sector groups, depending on size and other factors," he said. "Munich will benefit not only from this deal but also from our new offer that we've made today."

Under the new offer, Microsoft is prepared to sell fewer licenses to cover all computers in the city's entire network. "An analysis of the situation has shown that the city can get by with fewer licenses than we initially calculated," Baumgärtner said. "If it turns out that more licenses are required in the end, we won't charge for these."

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