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Majority in Freiburg city council for switch to proprietary software

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The German city of Freiburg will end its use of open source suite OpenOffice and is switching back to using a proprietary alternative The city also abandon's its default use of the Open Document Format, confirms Green Party city council member Timothy Simms.

Twittering the results of yesterday's city council meeting, Simms comments: "It is a shame". The city council approved the city board's proposal, with 25 votes in favour, 20 against and 2 abstentions.

According to Simms, the city in the past five years falteringly tried replace the ubiquitous proprietary office suite by an open source alternative, OpenOffice. Many city staffers continued to use an outdated version of the proprietary office suite.

According to an external consultant, the IT department struggled to support both office suites. This caused frustration in the other departments. The same report doubted that updates to the open source suite would fix the interoperability problems, caused when exchanging documents with other public administrations. Freiburg has been using the Open Document Format as default format for its electronic documents. This format will now be abandoned for Microsoft's alternative, OOXML.

Last week Simms already expected a minority of the council to be in favour of OpenOffice. This week Monday, he emailed that lobbying by the Open Source Business Alliance had helped to convince a few more council members to stay with free and open source software.

Freiburg has not answered questions on how it will procure licences for the proprietary office suite. In a letter to the city council made public last Friday, five open source advocacy groups warned the decision could break procurement rules, which forbid requesting specific brands or products. "Potential contractors and candidates may consider to take legal action."

More information:
Blog post by Timothy Simms (in German)
Heise news item (in German)
H-Online news item
Webwereld news item (in Dutch)