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Libération: For Microsoft, It is Paris at All Costs

Jun 28, 2004, 15:15 (29 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Florent Latrive)

[ Thanks to Basil Fowler for this link. Translated by Brian Proffitt, Cynthia Proffitt, and Babel Fish. ]

According to the French publication Libération, the objective of Microsoft is clear: at the time when an increasing number of public administrations around the world are choosing to use free and open source software, Microsoft considers losing the City of Paris to open source out of question. And they'll do anything they can to prevent it.

According to a document to which Libération had access, Microsoft proposed a price reduction of almost 60% to the Paris city leaders for the 15,000-computer city contract.

The battle around the city's software was precipitated by the arrival of Mayor Betrand Delanoë's team at City Hall. The new administration found the current software systems "decayed," according to François Dagnaud, assistant in charge of the general administration. A new plan was implemented to modernize the system which, following the current majority of the administrations and companies worldwide, was a good fit with Microsoft's product offerings.

Then Munich occured: last month, that Social Democrat city government chose a radical turn. From now until 2008, 14,000 PCs will be equipped with Linux, the free operating system competitor of Windows. This was the largest such move away from a Microsoft installation, and a humiliation for Microsoft as well.

In spite of the costs of migration, Munich hopes to save money. In particular, it hopes to gain independence from a single and ultradominant supplier. One of the characteristics of free software is that it can be conceived by thousands of programmers, often voluntary, and the code can be copied and modified with leisure according to the user's needs.

In October 2003, the town hall of Paris decided to launch a study on the possibility of a migration from Windows towards free software. The study was entrusted to the service company Unilog, the same one which consulted for Munich. For Microsoft, the tension went up. On January 14 of this year, a "commercial proposal" from Microsoft was addressed to Philippe Schil, the data-processing director of Paris.

The proposal indicated that with Paris' 15,000 PCs, the cost of of Microsoft software would normally be approximately 13.27 million euros over three years. The actual price Microsoft proposed was 5.65 million euros, which is a 57.4% reduction... a figure which could still drop, so much does Microsoft fear the loss of Paris. "They fear the symbolic effect of losing Paris more than anything," indicated one of Mayor Delanoë's staff.

Original Story (in French)

Related Story:
Reuters: France Challenges Microsoft in Software Re-Fit(Jun 18, 2004)