back to article German taxpayers faced with €800k Windows 7 support bill due to Deutschland dithering

German authorities are waking up to a Windows 7 headache, with approximately €800,000 required in order to keep the elderly software supported a little longer. First reported by German publication Handelsblatt, at least 33,000 PCs were still running the venerable operating system, which has come to the end of free security …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

    Yes, I know about retraining costs and all the rest.

    But once they've retrained everyone, no more problems and no more surprises. Oh, for sure, manglement is going to spend some time without the pretty charts and snazzy presentations, but it's a small price to pay when you've excised the Microsoft Tax from your budgets, is it not ?

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

      I agree, but unfortunately I've found that most (l)users are averse to thinking or learning. And so it's always easier to just pay the M$ tax .... once again .... after all this will be the last time they will need to, cos they won't need to upgrade it again after this.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

      But once they've retrained everyone, no more problems and no more surprises.

      It's not just a case of retraining through is it?

      There's also the matter of physically updating each client PC from Windows to Linux (either by OS update in situ, or purchasing new box, configuring Linux and swapping with Windows box). A far from trivial task in an organisation the size of the one in the article. And it wouldn't happen overnight, so raises issues around having part of the workforce on one platform and the rest on the other.

      And all of this is predicated on the business software packages in use being available for Linux, or usable under WINE).

      It's a sad fact of life that once an organisation of any reasonable size has embraced the Windows ecosystem, the logistics associated with a move to another platform are significant enough to preclude that move being made.

      More's the pity

      1. Snake Silver badge

        Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

        "And all of this is predicated on the business software packages in use being available for Linux, or usable under WINE)."

        And I keep saying this, but the Linux contingent (and Linus himself) doesn't want to hear it.

        OS fanatics will always be that - discussing and debating the fundamentals of "What is the best OS?!" until the world ends. It started (in PC-land, anyway) way back with DOS and hasn't abated since.

        But most users aren't concerned about what OS is 'best'. They just want to get their work done. And the OS is just a tool to that end, one of many, and not an exclusive choice either. It's part of the toolkit.

        Linux is a great, stable OS. But a lot of people just can't get the tools they need on Linux to get their work done. End of story. So Linux's desktop story will always be an incomplete one, because the OS fans who build the OS only worry about the OS, and never worry about building out the rest of the tools that users, of all types, need to make a full Linux ecosystem work for all those varied user's needs.

        Saying that has NEVER been popular. But it's the flat, honest truth.

        1. ITMA Silver badge

          Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

          "the OS is just a tool to that end, one of many, and not an exclusive choice either. It's part of the toolkit."

          Here here!

          Unfortunately I think the "fanboys" of all OS available tend, in their "enthusiasm", to forget one fundamental and immutable truth - most PCs are tools used to run businesses and provide public services.

          Customers of those businesses, and users of those public services, don't give a monkeys about what OS or apps are used to do it.

          Neither do those running those businesses and services. They don't care if they use Windows, Mac OS, Linux, DOS or cream cheese with day-glow green poker dots. As long as it does what they need in a reliable and cost effective manner.

          An FD I used to report to put this very succinctly - "It's a tin box. If it breaks or doesn't do what I need, I'll get a new/different tin box".

          1. Inkey

            Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

            Im inclined to see your point, however.. If an OS is just a tool to get work done then shouldn't there be a more involved consideration towards them... Who would you hire to build a boat for yourself.. A carpenter that borrowes tools from a mate or a carpenter who's spent time, money and effort to get the best he can afford and maintain.

            And also the long term viability of said tools, not just from the single business point of view but their combined out look... The vast majority of businesses are now so helplessly locked in to the bigger vendors that any kind of change scares them wittless.. Retraining is a mute point.. find icon... click icon...

            Business chose a tardy route to maximise profit, over the ability to be flexible towards changing environments and I think we can see the effects of having monolithic entities provide the backbone for these 'tools'.

            To go back to the FD who said

            "It's a tin box. If it breaks or doesn't do what I need, I'll get a new/different tin box"

            You kinda get the feeling that this way of thinking is some how to blame.

            Keeping things simple stupid.. is only really possible if you truly understand the complexity of the situation..

            Jumping to the convenient short term solution has to me any way, put a rope around business necks.. and what I keep hearing is business whining about how Linux can't give them the tools they need.

            Which is let's face it taking a the piss.... ala grande.

            To put it country simple.. if business had invested in Linux based solutions there would be thousands of shiny "can't do without to do business tools" to choose from.

            I'm tired of hearing business bash$hing Linux for it's own shortcomings. Let's face it had the Munich Council not been so short sighted and really persevered it would have worked...

        2. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

          >> What is the best OS?!

          But that's not what Linux fans argue about that. They consider that argument to be settled. They're happier arguing about the merits of their favourite text editor, GUI or boot loader thingy (I have a firm grasp on the details!).

        3. Inkey

          Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

          @snake :

          'And I keep saying this, but the Linux contingent (and Linus himself) doesn't want to hear it.'

          I keep hearing this however the the exact tools needed to "just get their work done" are never mentioned... The fact is that users who have no interest in the tin box that they rely on to do business with, will follow the heard all the way to the abittior.

          FFS... If a carpenter came to do work on your home but didn't have the right chisel would you hire him again (oh if only I had the right tools I'd switch)

          Here's a thought find a developer pay them the money you would've spaffed on this all singing all dancing application that for some reason is indespensably nich that only microshit can offer an OS for, and at the end of it you'll not only have a tailor made solution but would have undoubtedly made the world a little brighter ..

          You'd also have far greater control over what you create and spend,,, and get much more from your hardware.

          Business needs to stop whining about Linux development if they haven't been proactively involved with it. The truth of the matter is business swallowing the crap that M$ pushed out at them is why we find ourselves in the dark times we're in.

          Hardly Tovards or Linux's devs fault that those business who swim in M$ koolaid now find themselves nearing the chopping bloc...

          End rant..

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

        They tried that in Munich. After over ten years of migration effort they still had 20% of apps on Windows, the users hated Linux, compatibility and integration issues were endemic, and it cost far more than staying with Microsoft would have. Eventually they decided to can it and migrate to Windows 10 to the relief of their users.

        1. Inkey

          Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

          You must be a house plant truly... Coward

          You've just posted a reply in an article that reported on a massive outlay of money that going back to M$

          Will cost....

          Also it was 2 years not 10 and imho it was a text book how NOT to migrate a system and network to a new os...

          Love to hear you take on the issue in a few years when the update to win10 and the integration with legacies vis a vi the updates goes ... Be sure to drop a comment on how inexpensive that's going to be.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

      no more problems and no more surprises

      Doesn't sound like you've lived through any of the vendors update snafus… I know developers who've dropped Linux because updates just keep going wrong.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

        Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

        Heresy! Stone the infidel! STONE HIM!

      2. Updraft102

        Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

        Every distro handles updates in its own way. Some distros have rolling releases and generally feature the bleeding-edge stuff, while others are more conservative. There is a big difference between Arch and Debian!

        Even so, in Linux, you never have to worry about updates happening without your consent. If you're worried about updates borking something, wait a bit before installing them and let others take the risk. No one's making you do it right now.

        If you simply must have the latest and greatest, use rsync (or one of its front-ends, like Timeshift) to create snapshots that you can quickly restore if anything goes poorly. I do this with my own system... I use KDE Neon because I like the combination of the stable Ubuntu LTS base with the most recent stuff KDE has to offer, and if it goes badly, I can roll back to the pre-updated state in under five minutes. Kind of like Windows system restore, only it works reliably and doesn't disable itself when you upgrade to a new version of 10 (which is right when I would want to have the ability to roll back the most).

        I would think developers would know all of this. Updates in Linux are offered, not shoved down your throat. Take them or don't; it's up to you.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

          Snapshots aren't much help when a GRUB update hoses your disk. Waiting until it wasn't bleeding edge wasn't much help easier, as it was a weird bug that only occurred on a specific CPU/chipset.

          Still, at least installing an update marked as 'security' was my choice eh?

      3. JakeMS

        Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper


        Sadly. I have to agree, even as a die-hard tuxer. We had an EPOS system which ran Arch Linux, at the time it seemed like a great idea because the hardware wasn't very well supported in older kernels and the OS was stable, and it meant we didn't need to reinstall the OS to upgrade it.

        It worked well for around 3 years. Without any problems. Then sadly things started crashing for unexplained reasons after updates (Desktop panel for one).

        That's also bad for a system that needs to run on-demand and not stop.

        Luckily by this time Debian 10 had been released, so that system is now running Debian 10 stable (w/ XFCE), smooth as butter. Sadly this also means we no longer have any Arch systems.

        I've also had to switch distros in the past with Fedora on my Desktop, temporarily switching to CentOS 6 which had just been released because at that time Fedora was going through some drastic changes and stability wasn't even a word you could say. Now back to FC31 though :-).

        With all this said though, for all the many times Linux has indeed made me wonder what the hell is going on, or why a particular update has to change the entire way you need to configure something that causes you to disable it. (Hello NetworkManager, yes I remember you entering Fedora for the first time)

        It has also given me much stress relief and a decent stable OS in most cases and saved me a ton of money and I haven't needed to use Windows for many years.

        tl;dr; Linux can be both stable and reliable, but also entirely unstable and not so reliable. But as long as you're happy to switch distros when required, no big deal.

    4. Lorribot

      Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

      You obviously have never actually worked in an IT support role in a company of any size. Especially one with 80,000 users.

      Not only would the users require OS training but also application training and all the existing documents would need to be converted and line of business apps converted to run on Linux or delivered on scale via RDP or Citrix (one of our finance apps still uses SilverLight, its stupid but its a reality).

      The cost of replacing Win 7 with WIn 10 or Linux are similar, the same levels of App testing will needed, MS provide many free tools for this, Linux none.

      Also what version of Linux? Many would need to be tested and evaluated based on long term support for patching and updates, user interface stability (Ubuntu would first off the list) and available management and software delivery tools.

      Apple's OSX eco system works for some of these but they have much the same issues with OS updates as Windows (64 bit only apps anyone?) and cause as many issues for those that have to support them, you just don't hear about them as there fewer of them about but I would bet there are many Macs out there running unsupported versions of MacOS as no one bothered to update and Macs never get bugs or a virus of course.

      The issue is Companies (the directors) do not think it is as big a thing to do and do not allow enough time to or money most finance departments do not like projects that go over 3 or 4 year cycles and it gets put off and then expect IT to do it in a year but do not provide enough funds to do it.

      80,000 computers means replacing/updating 220 every day of the year with one day off.

      1. IceC0ld

        Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

        and no one yet has mentioned that even the ADMINS will need to be retrained

        YES, we will have some who are au fait with the dark side, but they will be in the minority, and it isn't just the admins, it's ALL the IT support guys, the cost / time is not a quick fix :o(

    5. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: migration to Linux

      They already tried it remember?

      8 years , millions of $$$ , to give up and crawl back to MS.

      Very brave , but I fear it'll put off any big institutions from trying that ever again.

      1. ITMA Silver badge

        Re: migration to Linux

        When RBS bought NatWest much of NatWest was on NT4 Workstation.

        They made a great song and dance about "world's biggest IT migration project successfully delivered on time blah blah blah". Except they were only talking about the core banking systems (largely mainframe based). Much of the back and front office stuff was still NT4 Workstation.

        One particular part of the "NatWest" family included in the purchase was Coutts Bank (and Coutts Group IT). There were at least three projects just to get Coutts off NT4 and onto XP. Project Monument, Monument 2 (the return) and Monument 3 (deja vu).

        Why three? Well because Monumnent 1 was a monumental screw up. Completely underestimated the scale of the task - and that was just one part of NatWest.

        So yeah, it's a LOT more complicated and involved than user training..

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: migration to Linux

        you mean that migration to MS that was clearly looking as it was a result of few "training" trips to Azores or similar destinations taken by the upper management?

        the one that the ROI for Linux and Windows was conflating Linux stuff but missing a lot on the Windows side?

        that migration?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: migration to Linux

        Maybe because the admins and support staff knew about windows, but didn’t know about Linux ?

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: migration to Linux

          how would they not see that coming? also they had years to learn.

    6. Warm Braw

      Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

      For the proportion of the market for which a Linux migration would be readily achievable - those who mostly use e-mail and browser-based applications - you would probably be better off migrating to Android: at least a significant proportion of your use based would already be familiar with it.

      The days of office workers being chained to a heavy lump of iron on their desks are hopefully coming to an end - though there's so much investment in that broken model that it's going to take some time.

    7. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: Well, looks like that migration to Linux is getting cheaper and cheaper

      @Pascal Monet: "once they've retrained everyone, no more problems and no more surprises"

      As someone else said, I don't think you've worked in enterprise level support.

      It's not just tin on desks, it's not just training (but that alone will scupper your plan, nobody you hire will know Linux / LibreOffice, you'll have to train each and every hire), but the entire infrastructure. Let's start with your SAN, how is your shared storage presented, and more importantly, permissioned? You've got NTFS groups and permissions, nested groups, you've got to map all that, and re-permission it using a different security model. Good luck. Then you have to back all that up. Of course, you have your application servers, we are very much virtual, on several hyperconverged clusters, hundreds of VMs, how are you going to get those converted to, or talking to Linux?

      Then there's management of the tin, which, in our organisation, geographically distributed. We use SCCM to deploy OSs and applications, it's taken quite some time to package all the Apps, so, you gonna first find every single Linux App, then find a way to centrally manage them all? Good luck! What's your email solution?

      It's taken us a couple of years to migrate several thousand seats from Win7 to Win10, and we haven't had to change much on our infrastructure. I don't think you could realistically move to Linux in less than double that, and I doubt you could move everything, or that once you are swimming in an enterprise level Linux pond, it's going to be any cheaper or easier in the long run. The clue was in the article, and Munich dropping Linux, here's the skinny from another story:

      "It is estimated that although the Linux project was complete, there were still 4,163 Windows based-PCs in the City network, compared to 20,000 Linux machines, as full compatibility with some vital services was never achieved." (

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    €800k is small change

    20,000 computers would cost much more than that to replace and license.

    1. Dave K

      Re: €800k is small change

      Agreed. I've seen some companies stick with paying for ESU because at £50 per machine, it is the cheapest option. The costs of replacing hardware early, or paying for additional contractors to carry out a re-image programme are usually higher than just stumping up the £50 to keep the patches flowing in.

      Of course, this is only true if the company then has a clear plan for how to replace/upgrade those machines over the next year or so. There will be some companies who pay the fee, forget about it then end up back in this same situation again in Jan 2021...

    2. Stork

      Re: €800k is small change

      The technical term is budget dust. At least that was the expression someone used at pentagon when discussing a few million

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vorsprung durch alte scheiße technik

    That is all.

    Kann ich meine Jacke ausziehen? Or shall I just find the nearest ausfahrt?

  4. Snake Silver badge

    Data security

    I think Microsoft has really given itself a large hurtle of overcome in rolling out Win10 to governmental, defence, medical and other industries that require, possibly by law, data security due to Win10's inherent, built-in telemetry sharing and 'Please use us!" cloud syncing. I'm sure there are a lot of legal issue that can arise if any of that data is leaked somehow, so these types of industries / governmental systems will just end up playing extremely cautious in Win10 rollout, or simply avoid it altogether (as seen here, most likely).

  5. austerelime

    Dear El Reg, can you please update your editorial guidelines so as not to start sentences with 'Heck' so often? It's grating. One article the other day had two such examples in succession!

    1. ITMA Silver badge

      I agree! What's wrong with the occasional, and possibly more "real world" FFS! LOL

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      so to answer that, its not the worst way of starting a sentence, and not the worst thing to end one with.

  6. Snowy Silver badge

    So much for German efficiency

    Just remember that is approximately €800,000 this year, next year it will double and again the following year. To be supported until 2023 that is approximately €5.6million.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: So much for German efficiency

      Well, compared to British efficiency, paying £6.5 million for a ferry service from a ferry company with no ferries, then paying £33 million to a ferry company with ferries that wasn’t invited to bid, they are doing quite well.

      1. TheVogon

        Re: So much for German efficiency

        Leasing ships is the norm. That they didn't have any ferries doesn't mean that they couldn't get any ferries.

        1. Geoffrey W

          Re: So much for German efficiency

          IIRC That company wasn't even in the ferry business, leased boats or not, and had no prior experience of ferrying. They could have gotten me for half that price.

        2. GruntyMcPugh

          Re: So much for German efficiency

          @The Vogon: "doesn't mean that they couldn't get any ferries."

          Having been delayed crossing over to Ireland on a non-existent service, because the leased ferry had to be returned and the owned ferry hadn't completed repairs, I don't see there being a pool of unutilised ferries laying about that can just be leased by a new venture.

          So, yeah, they probably couldn't get ferries.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: So much for German efficiency

      Peanuts in comparison to the "new" Berlin airport, Elphi, Stuttgart 21 or any SAP project.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: So much for German efficiency

        That airport is peanuts to our pie in the sky faster-train plan

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So much for German efficiency

      And the year after that... ?

  7. martinusher Silver badge

    Maybe worth the wait?

    Having been 'upgraded' to Win10 from Win7 recently in a work environment I'm reminded daily just how bad Win10 is for developers who are not building Microsoft centric applications. To say that this environment sucks is just not doing it justice.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Maybe worth the wait?

      why its pretty much the same under the cover isnt it?

    2. J27

      Re: Maybe worth the wait?

      I've been using Windows 10 for development for years, it adds many useful tools for cross-platform development that 7 never had like Windows Subsystem for Linux. Your comment seems very ignorant.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Maybe worth the wait?

        "Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a compatibility layer for running Linux binary executables (in ELF format) natively on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019."

        wow! who knew!

        now , if only there was some software available on Linux

    3. TheVogon

      Re: Maybe worth the wait?

      But if you need to support legacy apps it has full Linux integration and you can actually install user mode Linux to run under Windows 10?

  8. macjules


    More Brüste nach oben if you ask me.

  9. izntmac

    Would be nice if Windows 10 LTSC was available easier for businesses and consumers. Would solve a lot of problems with Windows 10. Microsoft of course want the telemetry and wants you to moving everything into the cloud. Their cloud. Software by subscription is the wave of the future unfortunately with telemetry included. Pretty bad.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Not sure if that really will solve the problems.

      With the continued move to walled gardens and subscription models and the shenanigans at ICAAN et al. IT is going to become a lot more expensive in the coming years.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Windows LTSC is NOT for standard desktop users. Specifically not for anyone using Microsoft Office for instance. Its for specialist use cases. Office 2019 is not supported at all on Widows 10 LTSC.

      The telemetry is easy to turn off if you don't want it. And if you don't want subscription, then you can buy full fat licenses.

  10. sanmigueelbeer

    €800k? Pfffft! Meanwhile, in a land down under ...

    €800k is nothing.

    Australian Defence & AustralianTax Office fork out millions to keep Windows 7 secure for another year.

  11. Hans 1

    Once and for all: Transition to Linux is possible

    Ok, there are a number of cities and public bodies who have switched large parts of their IT to open source; in France, there are MANY examples of successful migrations from Windows to Linux.

    The Gendarmerie (French police force), Finance Ministry, Education Nationale have all moved tens of thousands of seats to Linux.

    The Gendarmerie claims it saves €40 million every single year by moving as much as possible to open source solutions.

    It is NOT a problem of missing apps, more the contrary, there are too many to choose from.

    The Gendarmerie claim their successful transition followed this simple approach:

    1. Mandate platform-independent software, favor open source licenses

    2. Switch all applications used to platform-independent solutions

    3. Phase out proprietary OS where possible

    Main advantages (according to Gendarmerie)

    1. Saves a lot of money (license fees, IT staff, older hardware retained longer)

    2. Drastically lowered number of support calls

    3. Full control over the OS, GendBuntu, and the application deployment, patching, release

    PS: I am NOT making any of this up, the Gendarmerie has given many presentations on the subject.There is an Impress slideshow somehwere on the matter

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Once and for all: Transition to Linux is possible

      I guess seeing as more and more these days, in industry, things are done in web applications , the computers on peoples desks are becoming little more than a thin client running a browser.

      In which case i see little problem with those desktops going Linux

  12. thondwe


    Noting that the only Hollywood seems to have updated to Linux - almost all the screens in TV/Films seem to have some sort of custom GUI which I assume is on top of Linux (Or Unix "I know this") - though MS seems to have splattered a fair number of Surfaces into more recent programmes!

    1. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: Hollywood

      @thondwe: "custom GUI"

      I was watching the Sky series 'Cobra' recently, and there was one scene around the Cobra meeting room table, and a laptop showing several windows with text scrolling,.... for some reason TV / movie types think computer geeks can speed read several text streams at once,.....

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Hollywood

        the text green on black presumably?

        1. GruntyMcPugh

          Re: Hollywood

          Green on black, precisely! Hollywood trope in full effect. Mind you, I do set my powershell windows to that myself,.. but then I pine the simpler days of the VT100.

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