"Something really interesting is going on in Germany. Some time
ago, the city of Munich decided to review what should be done about
upgrading the municipality's computing infrastructure--and
specifically the software running on its 14,000 PCs. A thorough
examination by consultants UnilogIntegrata AG recommended that the
city could save money and increase security by switching from
Microsoft to open source software--ie systems based on the Linux
operating system and OpenOffice applications.
"Outside Berlin, Munich is Germany's most prominent local
authority, and the boys at Redmond were not amused at the prospect
of such a major customer defecting to communism--which is how they
regard free software. In fact they were so unamused that shortly
before the decision was finalised, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was
dispatched to Munich to dissuade the Mayor, Christian Ude, from
taking the free software plunge. The conversation between Ude and
Ballmer was confidential, but anyone who knows the Microsoft CEO
can guess how it went. Let us say negotiation is not his forte.
Ballmer is no more designed for the art of persuasion than the
Abrams tank is for delivering meals on wheels..."