German Province Ditches Microsoft Office, Windows for Open..
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German Province Ditches Microsoft Office, Windows for Open..

German Province Ditches Microsoft Office, Windows for Open-Source Alternatives

 

A German state government is ditching Microsoft Office and Windows to embrace open-source and free alternatives LibreOffice and Linux.

Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein province announced the change as part of a push for “digital sovereignty,” or the ability to control the country’s technology and data. The state government says it’s “switching away from proprietary software and towards free, open-source systems” for approximately 30,000 employees.

“In addition to improved IT security, cost-effectiveness, and data protection, the use of open-source software also enables seamless collaboration between different systems,” officials say. “Alongside open-source software development, the goal is to release future development results of the country under free licenses.”

The state government doesn’t call out Microsoft directly, but it says proprietary software can be “significantly restricted in their use and further processing due to copyright and licensing conditions.”

“We have no influence over the operational processes of such solutions or the handling of data, including the possibility of data outflows to third-party countries,” the state government adds.

LibreOffice celebrated the announcement as a major win. “ Why should local governments use taxpayers’ money to buy proprietary, closed software from a single vendor?” it asked in a blog post. “With LibreOffice and free software, administrations have much more choice where to get the software and support, and can fund local developers to make improvements.”

It’s possible other government agencies in Germany could make the switch too. Schleswig-Holstei’s government intends on being a pioneer in the region by becoming the first state “to introduce a digitally sovereign IT workplace in its state administration.”

Earlier this month, the European Commission also ruled that its use of Microsoft 365 infringed on data protection laws.

The decision, however, comes shortly after Microsoft software engineer Andres Freund noticed a backdoor in XZ Utils, an open-source set of data-compression tools widely used across Linux and Unix-like operating systems. He caught it in time, but the incident highlights the need to secure open-source software, which is often maintained through volunteer contributors.

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