Microsoft Windows is the most used operating system in the world, at least when talking about desktop and laptop computers. In addition to the usual consumer and enterprise customers, it is also used in government offices and computers. That may have been the status quo but more and more governments are looking to other solutions for one reason or another. The latest to start that journey is South Korea, whose government is planning to migrate its computers to the open source operating system Linux.
Windows has its fair share of problems, some due to its popularity and legacy, but the biggest cost for governments is the literal one. Windows licenses aren’t exactly cheap, especially when you consider hundreds if not thousands of systems running it. Come January next year, Korea and other governments will be forced to upgrade to Windows 10, along with the price that comes with its, because Windows 7’s official support will end then.
Officials are using that as an opportunity to investigate alternative solutions, which usually means Linux. The operating system that run the majority of the world’s servers and is the foundation for the world’s largest mobile operating system, Android, is known for its resilience, security, and, in this context, affordable price. It is by no means perfect in those areas but, especially considering Windows 10’s recent update problems, Linux has the potential to offer a more stable system that can be supported far longer than Windows.
It’s not yet a done deal, though. The South Korean government still needs to test whether Linux will meet their networking and security requirements. One of the biggest pain points might be support for websites and software that have been specifically developed with Windows only in mind, though Linux has definitely improved there in the past years.
Korea’s Ministry of Interior and Safety estimates that a transition would cost the government 780 billion KRW, around $655 million. That might look like a hefty price, but the cost for updating and maintaining Windows is a lot higher. But while most Linux distributions don’t have an upfront price tag, most businesses and governments will prefer to pay for a support contract along with the OS.