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article imageBarcelona Council abandons Microsoft for open-source software

By James Walker     Jan 17, 2018 in Technology
The Spanish city of Barcelona has announced it will phase out its use of Microsoft software in favour of open-source alternatives. Over the next few years, the city will transition away from Microsoft's services to guarantee its "technical sovereignty."
Technological sovereignty
In a press release this week, the city council said the first phase of the plan will be implemented within a year. It will see all Barcelona City Council computers provided with "open source equivalents" instead of Microsoft-provided software packages. Microsoft Office, including the suite's Outlook email client, will be amongst the applications replaced with an open alternative.
Initially, the city will continue to use Windows as its primary operating system. This is intended to allow a gradual phase out of Microsoft technology while maintaining the platform as "a base" for open-source desktop apps.
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Eventually, Windows will also be thrown out. A Linux distribution will be installed on all city council computers, completing the transition away from Microsoft's services. Ubuntu is already being trialled on around 1,000 municipal computers in a combination which also includes OpenOffice and Mozilla Firefox.
"The gradual switch to this type of software will enable Barcelona City Council to guarantee its technological sovereignty," said the City Council in a press release.
"The presence of IT giant Bill Gates in municipal computers will be progressively reduced by the end of this municipal term of office," Francesca Bria, Barcelona's Commissioner for Technology and Digital Innovation, was quoted as saying.
Centralisation concerns
Barcelona's not the first city to have turned its back on Microsoft. In Germany, the City of Munich transitioned to Linux over nine years ago but is now mulling a return to Windows after facing complaints from employees.
More recently, Moscow has developed its own alternative to Microsoft's Outlook email program. In the UK, there are also calls for public authorities to favour open software over proprietary market leaders.
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Barcelona is making the transition to open-source a priority in its digital transformation plan. The strategy also includes automation elements and a higher priority on the use of IT.
Digital transformation is now one of Microsoft's main markets as it promotes new services, including its cloud-based Office 365 productivity suite. Not every organisation is comfortable with moving to centralised cloud networks though. As companies and public bodies rely more heavily on digital infrastructure, concerns are growing about the market dominance tech companies hold.
Choosing open-source products can help organisations to avoid becoming wholly dependent on a single provider. Barcelona said it will favour small businesses and local IT firms when granting future digital contracts. It will also employ 65 in-house experts to develop new systems and progress its transformation program.
More about digital transformation, opensource, Software, Digital, Cloud