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20 November 2012, 19:19

Freiburg to switch back to MS Office

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Freiburg icon Freiburg officials are set to abandon OpenOffice and migrate back to Microsoft Office. Councillor Timothy Simms, a Green Party member of the city council, has tweetedGerman language link that today's session of Freiburg City Council voted in favour of the proposed change. According to a tweetGerman language link by the Pirate Party's Martin Brink-Abeler, there were 25 votes in favour of the switch, 20 against and 2 abstentions.

The decision followed a resolution put forward by the council which followed the recommendations of an expert appraisal in recommending migrating to MS Office 2010 and revoking a previous council resolution that prescribed the use of the Open Document Format (ODF) as standard within the council. Various organisations, including the Open Source Business Alliance, the Free Software Foundation Europe and the German Information and Communication Technology Federation had spoken out against migrating to MS Office in the lead up to the resolution.

In 2007, Freiburg voted to pursue an open standards strategy, specified ODF as the standard document format within the council and introduced OpenOffice in place of the existing MS Office 2000. As a result of problems with specialist applications that were only compatible with MS Office and problems sharing documents with external organisations, in practice, council offices have been running OpenOffice and MS Office 2000 in parallel. In particular cases, where the relevant office was able to show that there was a need, more recent MS Office versions have also been procured.

A 2012 expert appraisal of Freiburg's IT organisation also assessed the use of office packages within the council – according to the resolution now passed, council offices had repeatedly complained about problems with OpenOffice. The expert appraisal claims that running both MS Office and OpenOffice in parallel had led to an increased workload for both IT departments and users. MS Office 2000 is, according to the appraisal, outdated, and the authors expressed doubt that the problems with OpenOffice would be fixed within the foreseeable future. The appraisal therefore recommended abandoning the two-product strategy and introducing MS Office 2010 across the board.


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