Microsoft Opposes UK Government’s Decision To Mandate ODF Format For Government Documents

Last month we reported about UK government’s plans for switching to software which can produce open-source files in the “open document format” (ODF). UK government believes that they can cut costs by doing this way. Microsoft is opposing this proposal related to sharing and collaborating with government documents.

The government proposes to mandate Open Document format (ODF) and exclude the most widely supported and used open standard for document formats, Open XML (OOXML). We believe this will cause problems for citizens and businesses who use office suites which don’t support ODF, including many people who do not use a recent version of Microsoft Office or, for example, Pages on iOS and even Google Docs.

Microsoft Office has supported ODF since 2007, but adoption of OOXML has been more widespread amongst other products than ODF. This move has the potential to impact businesses selling to government, who may be forced to comply. It also sets a worrying precedent because government is, in effect, refusing to support another internationally recognised open standard and may do so for other similar popular standards in the future, potentially impacting anyone who wishes to sell to Government.

You can send in your thoughts to UK government on this proposal. Read about it below.

Please take a few minutes to read the email and seriously consider responding to this consultation. Whether you agree with our proposal or feel that the government proposal is correct, please do take a few minutes to have your voice heard and respond before the consultation closes on 26th February 2014.

It’s worth remembering that the government is seeking responses from anyone, organisations and citizens, so it is possible for you to respond in a number of capacities. Although our response is very detailed yours can be much shorter and simpler, just covering the key points you want to make. You will need to register on the Open Standards Hub site before you can submit your response.

Source: Microsoft

Office 365gov

About the author  ⁄ pradeep

Pradeep, a Computer Science & Engineering graduate.

  • NITSUK

    Sadly this has clearly not been thought through very well, Microsoft Office much better supported globally also as Microsoft is fast making improvements in the cloud based systems this would be a very silly move if they did go ahead with it. UK Has a good IT budget and it is wasted in various other projects which are left redundant half way.

    This is perfect example of wrong people being the decision maker for different departments, IT is fat moving and Microsoft has the budget and resources to accommodate all needs we believe at our company however as there so many products and services also now devices; it takes longer for them to start a fresh canvas which they have done so since Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

  • jimski27

    Seems to me like the UK is posturing to get a sweet deal out of Microsoft. If this proposal does go through though, as usual the regular folks will be hurt by it the most.

    • KelvBlue

      They are not going to get a sweet deal out of Microsoft. They are paving the way for Microsoft. As stated, Microsoft already supported the ODF format in Microsoft Office since 2007. If the format gone through, those that suffer will be iOS (Pages) and Google Doc, and the Office pre 2007.

      • freeman

        I can upload, open, edit and download odf documents in Google Docs. Maybe you should check your facts before regurgitating ill-informed internet articles.

  • Asgard

    The problem is that UK gov associates OOXML with MS Office. But this is not true and everybody except Linux fans know this. The fact is that if they see MS Office too expensive they can switch to something else while still supporting the most (and almost only) used doc format.

    • Alexander Wilms

      In order to contribute to ODF one needs to become an OASIS member. In order to contribute to OOXML one needs to be Microsoft. Proponents of open standards know this, but apparently you don’t.

    • freeman

      Again factually incorrect. Its never ceases to amaze me how little fanbois know about companies or products the are fans off. OOXML transitional which is what Office since 2010 writes to. They no longer fully support the open ISO strict version. The problem isn’t that the standard is open or closed or who defines it. The problem is its consistent, stable and documented. OOXML transitional just isn’t. PDF is a widely accepted closed document format as it meets the conditions I mentioned. Even the dogs in the streets know why Microsoft are doing this and that’s why the UK and others are using a non lock in format. How do Microsoft expect others to see value in Office if they can’t.

  • freeman

    Lazy article from a an extreme fanboi viewpoint. It fails to recognise the reasons for odf or ooxml and what they actually are.

    If ooxml was a truly open standard Libre/Open Office would have provided support for it years ago. Office doesn’t even truly support the ooxml standard. The implementation of ooxml in Office and the standard are not the same.

    ” Office 2010 provides read support for ECMA-376, read/write support for ISO/IEC 29500 Transitional, and read support for ISO/IEC 29500 Strict.”
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc179190.aspx

    The key here is the part and read support for ISO/IEC 29500 Strict. It reads but does not write the ISO standards version Strict. Instead it saves to the transitional version which is not open or accepted by ISO. This is the reason when you open an ooxml document saved by office in open office or Google Docs it does not render correctly.

    So any version of Office from 2010 onwards does not fully support the ooxml. This leaves Libre/Open Office developers etc continually trying to support a non standards version of ooxml.

    Recently trends show many people turning to PDF as format especially for read only documents. While also not open its well documented, consistent and performs well across all platforms. This shows that there is demand for a truly open document format and currently the only one in town is ODF.

    Microsoft instead of building products that people want are trying to lock people into office via propriety document formats. To say they support open standards is like saying the oil companies support green energy.

    • KelvBlue

      Blind hatred much? With the plugin from various parties Office 2003 or XP can well support ODF format, which means Microsoft Office ass is well covered if the UK government proceed with that format. The consequences is plenty of others are being showed the middle finger, not Microsoft.

      Choosing a format with wider acceptance and fortified on it, enforce on the standard to make Microsoft follow with it instead of forcing everyone else jump ship. If you setup a wrong precedence, the not so major players are going to suffer, this time is ODF, next one?

      • free2

        Clearly you can’t grasp the basic concept of the post. First since office 2010 saving an ooxml document saves to ooxml transitional. This is not an open standard & in many peoples opinion its an abuse of monopoly power to force office use through a proprietary document format. There is no problem with ooxml strict which is standards compliant, but as I proved office does not write to that standard.

        ODF is an ISO open standard which every piece of software can support if it doesn’t already including office. This simply is not the case with ooxml transitional. You claim it shows others the middle finger even in one post claiming ODF is not supported in Google Docs which is factually incorrect. The reality is it allows them to challenge on feature set, value etc instead of being locked out by a proprietary format.

        What this means for the UK government departments is they can choice a suite including Office based on value and need rather the ability to view documents. Interoperability of documents across different products is good for consumers.

  • NGM123

    All you guys arguing over ooxyls and moxyls or whatever, really need to get out more.