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South Korean government plans to ditch Windows

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The South Korean government is planning to switch its operating system (OS) from Windows to Linux, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety has announced.

According to the Korea Herald, the changeover will begin with a test-run of Linux OS on PCs within the Ministry of the Interior and Safety on private networked devices. Linux will be introduced more widely across government systems if a trial period passes with no issues arising with regards to security, or compatibility using software developed to run on Windows.

It is not known which Linux OS the government will adopt.

The move is likely to be motivated by concerns about the rising cost of safely continuing to use a Windows OS. Microsoft recently announced that it would be putting an end to a decade of free technical support for Windows 7 in mid-January 2020 to “focus our investment on supporting newer technologies and great new experiences”. Microsoft is strongly advising customers to upgrade to Windows 10.

According to a report by Gartner published in April, 75 per cent of professional PCs are expected to be running Windows 10 by 2021. This is likely to leave a substantive number of businesses unsupported and at risk.

The Interior Ministry of South Korea expects that transitioning from Windows to a Linux OS – all of which are open source – will cost approximately ₩780bn (£510m). Choi Jang-hyuk, head of the department’s digital services office, said that the ministry expected overall cost reductions through the introduction of a free, open-source OS. Choi added that the ministry hoped to avoid dependence on a single OS.

Increasingly, Microsoft is emphasising its Azure cloud services for enterprise over its traditional model of selling licences for its OS: a business model strongly influenced by Microsoft in previous decades. In 2016, Microsoft bought app development program Xamarin and open-sourced its software development kit, and partnered with software company Canonical to bring Linux’s Ubuntu to Windows 10: a move intended to encourage developers to write for Ubuntu using Azure

The company’s acquisition of online code repository GitHub in June 2018 represented a further step towards embracing open-source and collaborative software.

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