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Switching From Microsoft Office To LibreOffice Saves Toulouse 1 Million Euros 296

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-napoleans dept.
jrepin sends this EU report: The French city of Toulouse saved 1 million euro by migrating all its desktops from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice. This project was rooted in a global digital policy which positions free software as a driver of local economic development and employment. Former IT policy-maker Erwane Monthubert said, "Software licenses for productivity suites cost Toulouse 1.8 million euro every three years. Migration cost us about 800,000 euro, due partly to some developments. One million euro has actually been saved in the first three years. It is a compelling proof in the actual context of local public finance. ... France has a high value in free software at the international level. Every decision-maker should know this."
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Switching From Microsoft Office To LibreOffice Saves Toulouse 1 Million Euros

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  • As We Speak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:11PM (#47534231) Journal

    As we speak, Microsoft is instructing its European "business partners" to give a certain French city a shitload of really cheap Office licenses.

    • As we speak, Microsoft is instructing its European "business partners" to give a certain French city a shitload of really cheap Office licenses.

      Either that or members of city council wake up with severed horse heads in their beds.

    • by mspohr (589790)

      Cheap is a better offer but it's hard to compete with free.

      • by satuon (1822492)

        But LibreOffice is still giving them value as a plausible threat, even if they're not using it. Besides, who knows how much time they must waste because of incompatibilities in documents they get from the outside world. If the offer is cheap enough, it might be worth it.

    • "As we speak, Microsoft is instructing its European "business partners" to give a certain French city a shitload of really cheap Office licenses."

      Cheaper than zero?

      • by JanneM (7445)

        Cheaper than zero?

        Bribes would effectively create a negative cost, at least for the peoplereceiving them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:12PM (#47534233)

    Try installing LibreOffice in America, and the users will whine, "why it not Microsoft????" They'll complain to your boss, you'll be fired and ostracized, and you'll have to learn French and relocate to France if you ever want to work again.

    • by OrangeTide (124937) on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:18PM (#47534287) Homepage Journal

      If I could get a job in France, I think I'd move. I'd have more vacation time and I can drink wine at lunch.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by roman_mir (125474)

        You can have all the vacation time you want anywhere you live, all you do is negotiate terms of your own contract. Vacation time is not something that government can force an employer to add on top of your salary, it is your salary, it is just a different way to pay you. You can get more money or more vacation time, your call. It is the same situation with anything that is mandated by a government that must be part of your employment contract. You want to get medical insurance through your employer then

        • by swb (14022) on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:54PM (#47534575)

          You can have all the vacation time you want anywhere you live

          Which is why every American takes 6 weeks in the summer.

          In my experience, most permanent job employers don't like to negotiate on vacation time. Sometimes they'll give on a day or two, but usually they're not crazy about vacation time that deviates from whatever the position qualifies for. The only explanation ever given to me was that because salary is "secret" it's easier to compensate employees differentially; vacation is visible to other employees at the same level and differential compensation creates tension.

          In a contract employment situation you can negotiate anything, but I've found in shorter term contracts there's usually some kind of deadline that's non-negotiable, making free-lance vacationing a little bit challenging.

          • In my experience, most permanent job employers don't like to negotiate on vacation time.

            It takes more negotiation skill. I recently negotiated a 4-day work week. I took a 20% pay cut for it (totally worth it). Essentially, instead of framing it as an adversarial negotiation, I considered it a problem for us to solve together. "I want to work here, you want me to work here, but this is what I need. How can we solve this problem?" Most of the time was spent helping them overcome concerns. At one point, I said, "yeah, that's a managerial problem, but I'm confident the managers here are capable o

            • by Rob Y. (110975)

              A negotiation in which you, presumably, had them over a barrel. You can bet your employers are kicking themselves for letting you become essential enough to be able to negotiate such a deal. I'm speaking from some experience, since I "negotiated" a 3-day workweek after mass layoffs and indescriminate outsourcing, the results of which finally proved to them that they indeed needed me there.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Vacation time is not something that government can force an employer to add on top of your salary, it is your salary, it is just a different way to pay you.

          I don't know for sure about France but in many European countries vacation is by law on top of your salary, so you're still getting your normal paycheck when you're on vacation. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case in France as well.

          • by Tim99 (984437)

            Vacation time is not something that government can force an employer to add on top of your salary, it is your salary, it is just a different way to pay you.

            I don't know for sure about France but in many European countries vacation is by law on top of your salary, so you're still getting your normal paycheck when you're on vacation. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case in France as well.

            In Australia, many employees are on a government mandated award. This has minimum salaries, overtime payments and holidays - So if you are say, a waiter or a retail assistant, you know what your minimum conditions will be.
            Most awards enforce a payment of 117.5% of your salary when you are on holiday (20 days + 10 days public holidays) because most people spend more when they are on holiday.

          • by Teun (17872)
            I'm not so sure about this 'on top of your salary'.

            In The Netherlands a minimum vacation of four weeks is the law, the payment during this period is a deferred payment.

            Meaning an annual salary is calculated and the first 6 months of the year 1/13th of it is kept back for payment of salary during your holidays.
            The 1/13th of other 6 months are advanced.

          • in many European countries vacation is by law on top of your salary, so you're still getting your normal paycheck when you're on vacation.

            That's a financially unsophisticated view. In such cases the salary always includes the vacation in so far as it's lower than it otherwise would be were the vacation not required by law to be part of the total compensation. A cost to a company is still a cost. It doesn't matter that half the cost is due to salary and half the cost is due to the otherwise salaried employee being unavailable to work because he's on vacation. It's the total cost that matters and the vacation must be a non-zero part of that. I'

          • It is, for most salaried employees, i.e. you get a set amount of paid vacation days as part of your salary.
            Or put another way, the boss pays you less, but you get your time off "for free".
            Since you pay tax and social charges on your salary, (and these are typically indexed to the amount you earn) it's actually a good deal, but most people don't think about it that way.

        • You want to get medical insurance through your employer then your hourly rate is going to be lower, same with any tax.

          Back in the '50s my father voted in favor of a proposal by his union to accept medical benefits instead of a raise in the hourly rate. Years later, he told me he considered it one of the best decisions he ever made.
          • by roman_mir (125474)

            Well of-course you should be able to negotiate how you want to get your compensation, but that's the point. What if government came out with a law telling you that you absolutely cannot negotiate the terms, you cannot be paid in medical insurance but instead you have to always be compensated in government bonds?

            The reason that it was a good deal for your father was because the part of the total compensation that was the medical insurance was not taxed the same way as money. Income taxes didn't apply to th

            • I didn't say you shouldn't be able to be paid in vacation days or in insurance or in gallons of milk. All I am saying is that you should be able to make those choices for yourself and not have government dictate to you how to get paid.

              Agreed. However, the whole point of my post was not just to show that there's more to your compensation than just what you see on your paycheck but to give an example of how such alternate forms of payment can be worth much more than most people think.
        • all you do is negotiate terms of your own contract.

          oh ffs,
          even if everyone on the planet had the best posible education and skills training that their brains and bodies could attain, the enormous majority would still be 'wage slaves' unable to negotiate the terms of a contract because the jobs where that would be possible would be so few compared to the number of job seekers, capitalism requires that there are winners, and winners are defined by the prescence of 'losers', and there need to be many more of t

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          There is a phrase that covers you "I'm alright jack" http://www.urbandictionary.com... [urbandictionary.com]!. I can assure you by far the majority of American workers get to negotiate fuck all and are lucky to get reasonable health coverage let alone anything else. So for them moving to any other modern democracy with universal health care, set protective employment conditions etc would make them far better off even when by far the majority of them are to ignorant to realise this. As for the minority, well, "I'm alright jack".

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You can do that in the US too. Just in the other order.

        Drink Wine at lunch => More "vacation" time :)

      • by Lennie (16154)

        Don't forget to mention something about healthcare.

      • Sadly, the long lunch, with good cheap food (and wine) has long disappeared from the French business culture.
        Sandwiches at the desk are more the norm.

        Luckily, the women are still (mostly) slim and elegant :)

    • by CQDX (2720013)

      That was true until MS brought the ribbon then it was "Why is IT forcing me to upgrade?"

      Now it's happening again with the latest Office with their Metro-ized GUI.

      First thing I did when I got a new shiny laptop with Office 2013 was install LibreOffice so I can focus on working, and not relearning how to do my usual tasks with a new UI.

      Actually what I really did first was install VMWare and get Xubuntu installed but you get my point.

  • Good to hear (Score:3, Informative)

    by redmid17 (1217076) on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:15PM (#47534263)
    Germany experienced both sides of the coin: http://www.infoworld.com/d/ope... [infoworld.com]

    The French police seem to have had a good amount of success as well: http://www.zdnet.com/french-po... [zdnet.com]

    There are probably always going to be use cases for the majority of users to be fine with Open or Libre office. Some specialized functionality in finance might merit excel. There is nothing I've found on Linux that easily replaces Visio or Project ( libre-project is fine for reading, but I've had many issues with creating them). It's what I use at home (lubuntu). At work, I do have to say I prefer Outlook/Exchange for integrated mail and calendar, but I could probably live without Word/Excel/PPT.

    Here's to hoping Libreoffice and the other forks can continue to expand and refine their software.

    • Re:Good to hear (Score:4, Informative)

      by just_another_sean (919159) on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:19PM (#47534295) Homepage Journal

      Most of what I've ever had to use it for was pretty simple so genuinely asking here; is Dia [sourceforge.net] not a good Visio replacement? Are there features in Visio that make it more attractive for even simple stuff or is it that Visio has advanced features that haven't been replicated elsewhere?

      • It's native objects can look rather childish, look at the cloud object that looks like something from ms paint for an example. But the big issue for me is it's missing the tools built around visio. Network discovery being the big one. Sure could I hack something together to use an existing tool and get the objects into Dia. I may be wrong as it's been awhile since I looked at it.

        • by Kilobug (213978)

          Well, if Dia is fine functionality-wise, but the art assets are not good enough, when you look at the involved budget for a big city ($1.8 million in that example), paying a graphical design studio or a couple of freelancer to make more adequate art asset wouldn't cost as much as the MS licenses.

    • From your first link, with emphasis addd:

      Five years and at least $600,000 on, with unhappy staff complaining of interoperability problems with Microsoft Office documents, city administrators called in a consultant from a Microsoft partner to support the city council in fixing the problem. The solution proposed: a complete reversal of course, switching back to Microsoft Office for a sum of at least $500,000, with a $360-per-seat cost for licensing Microsoft Office and no firm estimates for undoing the earlier migration.

      There are no details on what the "interoperability" problems were. Was it features lacking in LibreOffice? Was it bugs in LibreOffice? The article doesn't say.

      If businesses actually pooled their resources they could actually get LibreOffice "fixed" -- but they would rather piss money away on licensing costs.

    • by xeno (2667)

      Visio... ugh. I have a love-hate relationship with Visio, and got off the train at Visio 2010 -- which is ok, because it runs acceptably under Wine.

      Some detail: At work I have a major publication based on about 50 complex diagrams in Visio, now in its 5th edition over the past 5 years. Originally drafted using 2003, the move to 2010 was annoying but acceptable, as it brought no discernible benefit but took away no features I needed. I was also ok with 2010 because it runs acceptably under Wine, which me

  • And... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stargoat (658863)

    And how much time was lost from (1) employees needing to learn a new system, (2) reintegrating email onto a new client platform, and (3) finding a new way to conduct patching. (Microsoft, for all their deficiencies, is better than its competitors at keeping patches up-to-date. I'm looking at you, Apple.)

    I'm not saying that the move may not be correct in terms of dollars and sense, but please answer these questions before blowing sunshine up my ass.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Knightman (142928)

      Regarding point 1, I think users are relieved that there is no fscking ribbons in LibreOffice which makes it much easier to transition...

    • Re:And... (Score:5, Informative)

      by just_another_sean (919159) on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:32PM (#47534407) Homepage Journal

      Well, if you read TFA (no, I'm not new here) they have a sidebar call out that answers your question...

      "Software licenses for productivity suites cost Toulouse 1.8 million euro every three years. Migration cost us about 800,000 euro, due partly to some developments. One million euro has actually been saved in the first three years. It is a compelling proof in the actual context of local public finance," says Monthubert.

      So about 8K in migration costs vs. 18K in licensing. Assuming another 2-3K of unforeseen support over training issues or missing features that haven't been caught yet it should be a significant savings. And if you factor in the migration cost as a one time payment and assume support costs go down over time as people get used to the new system than the savings become very large indeed after the three years cited in the article.

    • Re:And... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dskoll (99328) on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:37PM (#47534449)

      In my small company, we all use Linux on the desktop. Here are our answers:

      Time to learn a new system: It took my employees maybe a day to learn LibreOffice (they already new MS Office). Anyone who needs more than a day to come up to speed with casual use of LibreOffice is too stupid to be employable, IMO.

      Reintegrating mail onto a new client platform: Well, I just said "Here's your email program" and gave them Claws Mail. They were up and running in about 30 minutes. Again, anyone who cannot learn a simple graphical mail client in a day or so is too stupid to be employable.

      Keeping patches up-to-date: One word for you: apt-get

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Em Adespoton (792954)

        In my small company, we all use Linux on the desktop.

        I really see no reason for using MS Office if you're a small company.

        However, for large companies, collaboration tools, internationalization of documents, corporate-wide style hints, advanced spreadsheet macros, shareable diagram objects, integrated calendars, meeting room tracking, distribution policy enforcement, etc. are important, and just aren't quite there on most of the alternatives. Google Docs does a reasonable job at some of that, but not all.

        • However, for large companies, collaboration tools, internationalization of documents, corporate-wide style hints, advanced spreadsheet macros, shareable diagram objects, integrated calendars, meeting room tracking, distribution policy enforcement, etc. are important, and just aren't quite there on most of the alternatives. Google Docs does a reasonable job at some of that, but not all.

          LibreOffice supports styles just fine and by that I mean it's just as bad as word, because you can't force people not to fuc

        • by dskoll (99328)

          LibreOffice can do most of that, with the exception of integrated calendars. Claws Mail has a plugin that can generate and accept Outlook invitations. Also, our CRM tool, (SugarCRM) has a usable shared calendar; it was pretty easy to hack to to generate Outlook-compatible invitations for our external partners.

          We use Subversion for revision control and collaboration. My first choice would have been git but I realize there are limits to what you can expect non-technical people to learn. :)

          I don't bel

  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:18PM (#47534285)

    The exemptions were given because some Word macros and sophisticated Excel files could not be reproduced in LibreOffice or other open source productivity suites. These are examples of what Serp calls “some less mature features” in free software: “When it comes to making some kinds of presentations, for example, there is often a little extra to do [compared to the same process in PowerPoint]. So for some people the process is not so clear, and this can cause adaptability problems in everyday work.”

    How about they use some of the saved money to either donate or contribute code to make the software work better?

    Instead we have companies and other organizations making and saving tens of billions of dollars off Open Source(like Google, Yahoo, Red Hat, Facebook, Twitter, Apple etc.) and then we end up with catastrophic security nightmares like HeartBleed because no one could be bothered to send a couple of bucks over to the overburdened couple of folks that everyone relies on for security. And then we have asshats on message boards like this one who likely never contributed to OpenSSL or looked at the code for bugs but feel entitled to call the coders stupid for the bugs after the fact.

  • by Starteck81 (917280) on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:28PM (#47534373)
    The real question is, what is the long term impact to productivity and work flow? Sure you can save money up front by switching to a different software suite but that doesn't matter if it disrupts your business in a significant way. Before the shouting starts I'm not implying that there is anything wrong. I'm would like to see an actual study done to determine the effect.
    • by myrdos2 (989497)
      In my experience, the opposite tends to be true. You initially get the cost of deploying a new platform and training users, then the savings kick in over the long term.
    • by khchung (462899)

      The real question is, what is the long term impact to productivity and work flow? Sure you can save money up front by switching to a different software suite but that doesn't matter if it disrupts your business in a significant way.

      And what is the long term impact of MS Office changing their UI every couple versions?

      Not to say open sourced software don't have this problem *cough* Firefox *cough*, but the point is these things happen all the time, and cannot be avoided just by sticking to MS Office. You just plan the migration at the right time in the cycle then it won't become an additional cost.

  • by WoOS (28173) on Friday July 25, 2014 @05:09PM (#47534707)

    Munich decided to move completely to Linux [wikipedia.org] (so not only from MS Office on MS Windows to LibreOffice on MS Windows) 10 years ago and managed to complete the move last year. One of the main complaints of users seems to be lack of compatibility when exchanging documents with the MS world.
    Now if more cities move to Open/LibreOffice, companies trading with them might have to produce more compatible documents and MS might finally loose its compatibility "strangle" on its user.

    • by Teun (17872)
      The incompatibility stems from MS Office's poor support for .odf.
      • Indeed. And this is unlikely to change unless many more people migrate to LibreOffice, then the compatibility issue will be reversed.
    • by stymy (1223496)
      You would use a 9-year-long migration as a success story? Also, Excel has many useful features not in Calc, that I couldn't live without. I'm an actuary, and none probably work for a municipality, but I can see accountants and the like getting a lot of use out of them.
  • Do you want to save the changes to your document before surrendering?

    • i wonder if members of the french resistance would get angry over hearing that tired goddamn joke time and time again? Anger in the
      Buzz Aldrin punching a dude in the face for saying the moon landing was a fraud.. that type of anger.

      • by dcollins (135727)

        Don't worry: someday they'll have another decades-long African occupation, or nuke somebody, and then Droolin' Joe Sixpack will be making the opposite joke for the next half-century.

  • by tomhath (637240) on Friday July 25, 2014 @05:20PM (#47534787)

    For local government purposes the city is part of Toulouse Métropole (“Greater Toulouse”), which includes 37 neighbouring communities and has a total population of around 714,000. Toulouse Métropole employs some 10,000 staff to manage its administrative operations.

    I don't know much about local government in the US or France. But that seems like a heck of a lot of administrators for that number of people.

  • Whenever i hear of local councils (or any bureaucracy) claim that project X has saved $Y i am cautious. They have every incentive to fudge the numbers, and no one has an incentive to debunk them except MS (who no one will believe). I have no reason to doubt their claims, but a third-party audit would be nice.

    I have heard of a few municipalities doing this now, perhaps some sort of coalition to exchange knowledge and coordinate development funding is warranted?

    I usually have LibreOffice installed on m

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