If Microsoft had any hope of seeing Munich back away from its landmark decision last year to abandon Windows software in favor of open source Linux, that hope faded Wednesday when city officials decided to move ahead with their migration project.If\u00a0Microsoft\u00a0had any hope of seeing Munich back away from its landmark decision last year to abandon Windows software in favor of open source\u00a0Linux, that hope faded Wednesday when city officials decided to move ahead with their migration project.Munich, Germany's third largest city, decided to take a calculated risk and proceed with its plan to equip all 14,000 computers in its public administration with Linux and other open source office applications, despite concerns of possible software patent infringements raised in the debate over new European Union patent legislation."We commissioned a group of legal experts to study the implications of using Linux ahead of proposed EU legislation, and they came to the conclusion that there is only a very small risk of software patent infringement," said Stefan Hauf, a spokesman for the City of Munich. "The experts told us that almost every user of software faces some risk."The study was conducted by Bernhard Frohwitter, a well known legal expert on intellectual property, and other members of the Munich-based legal firm Bardehle, Pagenberg, Dost, Altenburg, Frohwitter, Geissler.Prior to its decision to go ahead with Linux, Munich also held talks with the federal government, which has launched a program to support the use of open source software in the country's huge public sector, according to Hauf. The position of the federal government on open source software, he said, remains positive despite the E.U.'s ongoing discussion on patent legislation.Although Munich declared its support for open source a year ago, its rollout program, called LiMux,\u00a0ground to a halt in August\u00a0when the city launched an investigation into legal and financial issues associated with the migration. Munich Mayor Christian Ude's administration asked legal experts to determine whether proposed EU legislation, known as the "computer-implemented inventions" directive, could cause legal problems for the city when it comes into force.The EU overarching patent legislation includes but is not confined to software. It would bring into line the different interpretations being given by different national courts throughout Europe.The issue has been highly contentious, with supporters of open source and free software asserting that copyright laws are enough to protect business innovations and calling for all patents to be outlawed, while large businesses push for a U.S.-style approach that allows for so-called business methods to be patented.Last year, a group of economists blasted the proposed EU law on software patents, characterizing it as damaging to technological innovation and Europe's software industry."I think it's really wise that Munich decided to conduct its own legal investigation into possible software patent infringements and move ahead," said Gary Barnett, an analyst with the London consultancy Ovum. "This sends out a powerful signal to other groups that want to deploy open source software now and not wait for the EU to end its debate on patent legislation."Munich aims to begin migrating its computer systems to Linux toward year-end or early next and complete the migration project by the end of 2008, according to Hauf.