An unusual case was dealt with last year by a court in the central German state of Hessen. The local Ministry of Education wanted to stop using Microsoft Teams for video conferencing and the administrative work of Office 365 in schools and instead switch to German software. But the judges ruled that this was not possible. They evaluated Microsoft’s products as better, the German solution would allegedly be a problem for schoolchildren.
The change was to affect around 2,000 schools in Hesse, and the ministry wanted to start installing German software in them at the beginning of the year. Microsoft Teams and Office 365 (as well as other products from US companies) were to be banned according to the original proposal, because according to the ministry, they do not work completely properly with data protection. German applications, on the other hand, far honor the GDPR, the ministry argued.
At that time, in Germany, as in other parts of the world, distance learning was taking place in many schools due to the worsened epidemiological situation. And it was clear to everyone that even if the numbers of those infected began to improve, there could be a reversal at any time, so the Hessen Ministry of Education wanted to provide a comprehensive technical solution for distance learning in schools that could be reached in the future.
When the two argue, the third laughs
However, the intention to get rid of Microsoft’s applications came to court, although everything went according to plan at first – the supplier of the new software was selected on the basis of a tender, and the new applications were to be used in full at the beginning of the new school year. However, the company that lost the tender appealed against the results, after which the original winner was unable to defend his solution before the Frankfurt court and the tender had to be repeated.
However, the second public tender failed to end on time, and schools had to continue to use Microsoft products. Hessen then tried to launch the tender for the third time, but showed that the tender documentation was insufficient, it did not sufficiently describe the required technical specifications of the software for schools.
When this was added, it was found that the originally chosen German solution could not tighten 200,000 schoolchildren to videoconference at a time and 450,000 at the maximum possible, which brings us to this day. The court reprimanded the ministry again and ruled that Microsoft Teams and Office 365 must continue to be used in schools because they are simply better than German applications – no requirements have been met.
The whole case caused a relatively big stir in Hesse, the local media talk about the farce of the Ministry of Education, and the opposition talks about the failure of the digitization process. The German country wanted to use national software, instead of Microsoft, which did not even intervene in the proceedings, provided judicial confirmation that its products were working well and could handle a large-scale deployment.