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Microsoft's Ballmer fights Linux battle in Munich

Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer paid a personal visit to Munich city mayor Christian Ude last month to drum up support for the company's operating system software.

Munich, which is widely viewed to be the IT capital of Germany, is considering a switch from Microsoft to Linux following a study that claimed the city would save money and increase security with open-source software.

Microsoft is worried that if a large city like Munich moved into the Linux camp, others would follow.

"We can confirm that Steve Ballmer was in Munich at the end of last month to visit the mayor," said a spokesman from Microsoft's German office. "Their conversation was confidential, so there's nothing more we can say."

The spokesman declined to comment on whether the Munich city government is reviewing its software strategy. Officials at the city government could not be reached.

Last year, government officials in Munich commissioned German consultancy Unilog Integrata to conduct a study on software options. The consultancy recommended the Linux operating system, together with free open-source office software.

In an effort to retain the city government as a paying customer, Ballmer has, apparently, agreed to be flexible on prices.

Ballmer's visit appears to have paid off. The Munich city government, in a closed meeting on Friday, decided to postpone its software decision until 28 May.


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