Midsize German firms go for Linux

Momentum to migrate from Microsoft Corp. products to open source software is rapidly gaining in Germany, where numerous enterprises are reacting to the U.S. software giant’s licensing policy.

Small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), in particular, have begun to replace as much Microsoft software as possible with open-source software, such as the Linux operating system, in an effort to slash their IT costs, according to IT managers attending the LinuxWorld conference and exhibition in Frankfurt.

“Let me be very frank – German midsize companies don’t care much about IT today because they’re being forced more than ever to focus on their core business,” said Lars Kloppsteck, IT manager at Heinrich Berndes Haushaltstechnik GmbH & Co. KG, a manufacturer of cooking utensils in Arnsberg, Germany. “They have two primary criteria: IT must perform; and, above all, it shouldn’t cost much. That’s why open-source software is high on just about everyone’s agenda.”

The potentially lower cost of deploying and maintaining open-source software, such as Linux and OpenOffice, “is clearly what prompted us to seek an alternative to Microsoft,” Kloppsteck said. “And I know many other small and medium-size companies in Germany are dropping Microsoft for the same reason.”

Berndes runs Linux on most of its servers and thin-client computers, although it continues to rely on Microsoft’s Windows operating system for its notebook computers. “We know that Linux also works on these machines but it’s still not quite as easy to use for our road warriors when they need to install peripheral devices, such as printers and digital cameras,” said Berndes. “So for now, we’ll stick with Windows on these machines.”

Speaking at a forum addressing midsize enterprises, Alfons St