The key motivation for the switch is the upcoming end of support for Windows XP from Microsoft along with the need of saving money. Turin, in fact, is among the most indebited municipalities in Italy, with a debt floating around three billion euros, for a stunning per-capita debt of over € 3000.
The municipality uses 8300 computers, of which roughly 80% are equipped with Windows XP. Switching those thousands of computers to Windows 8 is expected to cost approximately 22 million Euros for the next five years, including licenses, installations and technical support. Switching all the current instances of Windows XP to Linux is said to guarantee savings of at least €300 per-machine immediately, for a total of 2.5 million Euros. According to Sandro Golzio, head of the informatic systems task force, the total expected saving of money in five years will be of approximately 6 million euros. Moreover, he is conviced that such a switch will allow a structural decrease of 20-40% in the global operating expenses of the IT department.
The transition is expected to be complete in 18 months, and Golzio said he is aware the change will be not painless. There has been no decision yet on the specific distribution, office suite, and browser that will be used, but apparently the combination of Ubuntu, Open Office, and Google Chrome seems the most likely to be chosen.
This way, Turin joins Munich as one of the pioneer of Windows-free public administrations. This is the first big local entity in Italy to perform such a deep switch involving both operating system and and applications: there have been other attempts, for instance the Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano switched to Linux all the public school computers in 2005, followed by a massive switch (12000 computers) to LibreOffice for the whole public administration in 2013.
This switch is very relevant for all Italian local administrations: if Turin proves that a switch is feasible and leads to noticeable savings for a municipality with a population of around one million people, we may expect more local entities to follow.