The German city of Freiburg will end its use of OpenOffice, an open source office suite, and go back to a proprietary office suite, according to one well-informed source. The source blames a lack of support for open document standards by other local, regional, federal and European public administrations as the main reason for the failure of the project.
The city board on Friday approved a suggestion made by external consultants to move all nearly 2000 desktop PCs back to a proprietary office suite. The city council will be informed next month.
The source says the consultants' main argument for the reversal are the problems with interoperability.
The city's IT department over the past few years repeatedly pleaded for German and European administrations to use the Open Document Format (ODF) when exchanging electronic documents. The city's civil workers faced too many interoperability problems receiving and handling documents sent by their counterparts in other public administrations saved in the proprietary vendor's formats.
Declining to be named, the source says that most publicly funded data centres continue to develop software that depends on proprietary software. "Public administrations do not use their market power to reduce vendor lock-in. Authorities at all levels ignore ODF. Against those odds it cannot be expected that municipal employees are enthusiastic about using free software for their daily work."
The administration of Freiburg started moving to open source office suites in 2007. Today it uses OpenOffice on all the desktop PCs used by the 2300 civil servants.
Freiburg's press department on Wednesday afternoon added that a decision on the continued use of OpenOffice or reverting to a proprietary alternative would be taken before the summer. "So far we only had an internal presentation on Monday about the results of the organisational review."