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Municipality Opts for OpenOffice.org

Jul 21, 2006, 15:00 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

The northern Netherlands municipality of Groningen has opted to drop Microsoft Office and switch to OpenOffice.org, saving a total of €330,000 [US$418,500] annually.

According to the municipality's Web site, Groningen's council made the decision to terminate the Microsoft Office contract on the July 12 recommendation of alderman Karin Dekker. The proposal was formally ratified this Wednesday. The municipality, a geopolitical body roughly equivalent to a US county, will no longer recieve new versions of Office and will begin a transition to OpenOffice.org. Groningen will be the largest municipality in The Netherlands thus far to undergo this migration to the open source office suite.

By making this move, the municipality will save €330,000 annually, according to the Dekker proposal. Half of this amount, €160,000 [US$202,890], will be used for the migration to OpenOffice.org, and the remaining savings will be reserved for licence fees if it becomes necessary to upgrade to new individual instances of Microsoft Office. The Council has indicated that this latter is not a preferred option, and ideally this reserved amount will eventually be earmarked for other projects.

The Groningen municipality has been striving for quite some time to shift to open source and open standards software, in order to reduce its dependence on one software producer. A recent study by the council has revealed that a full migration to Linux-based desktops is not feasible for them at this time, so the municipality has opted to renew its contract for Microsoft Windows support, at an annual cost of €150,000 [US$190,210].

Groningen is aiming to make all of its desktop systems completely non-proprietary, with a migration to Linux the ultimate goal.

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