first_imgThe French Gendarmerie, a branch of the French Armed Forces in charge of public safety, has been a leader in moving away from proprietary software in recent years.Back in 2004 it decided to stop using Microsoft Office and embraced OpenOffice and the Open Document Format instead. That meant 90,000 PCs moved to OpenOffice, and 20,000 Office licenses were no longer needed. Then they moved to using Firefox for web browsing and Thunderbird for email by 2006. And 2007 saw Gimp and VLC installed across the network.That move to open source software certainly saves money, but it only goes so far when it all runs on Windows. So the French Gendarmerie decided to go a step further and in 2008 began moving from Windows to Ubuntu. Initially 5,000 PCs were switched to Ubuntu in 2008, that went up to 20,000 by 2011, and currently sits at 37,000 Ubuntu PCs.The Gendarmerie says it will have 72,000 PCs moved over to Ubuntu by next summer, and they will continue to migrate because it saves so much money. And here’s the important bit: in their experience using open source software so far, the total cost of ownership falls 40 percent, which is massive when you are talking about tens of thousands of machines.The savings were revealed at the Evento Linux conference held in Lisbon last week. And unlike predicted costs, which Microsoft can claim are incorrect or not proven, the French Gendarmerie is talking from a point where they currently have 30,000 PCs transitioned to an open source solution, and have been running them for years.With such huge cost savings, it seems likely other companies and organizations will also at least consider making the move away from Windows. Windows 8 hasn’t exactly been well received, so when it comes time to re-license or upgrade, Microsoft may have more of a fight on its hands to keep key business customers.It’s also interesting to note how the French Gendarmerie handled this transition. They first moved over to open source applications before switching out the OS. That way their employees were used to the tools long before losing Windows, making for a much easier transition where Ubuntu fades into the background and “just works.”last_img read more