Denmark goes ODF. Only ODF. Sorry, OOXML

Breaking news. If your danish is good enough, read here, here, here, here.

The Konlusionspapiret has all the details.

So from April 2011 all intergovernmental documents will be in ODF. If this will also mean a change to OpenOffice remains to be seen however.

OOXML however is out. It is considered to not be good enough to be treated as an open standard. And trust me, Microsoft really tried to convince the danish politicians. But as it seems their arguments in support of OOXML (and also their numerous attempts to discredit ODF) have failed.

Will other countries learn? Tell them. Ask them. This is a good day for open standards.

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8 thoughts on “Denmark goes ODF. Only ODF. Sorry, OOXML”

  1. This maybe has to do with this: Transparency International, a global organization fighting corruption, ranked Denmark number 2 of the least corrupt countries in the world in their 2009 report (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/6589735/Transparency-Internationals-2009-corruption-index-the-full-ranking-of-180-countries.html)

    In France, however, Steve Ballmer can count on the support of 7 (!) ministers who came at Microsoft’s new buildings opening in Paris. Many of these ministers had absolutely nothing to do with technology whatsoever (what was the minister for “immigration and national identity” doing there ?) (http://www.lepost.fr/article/2009/10/08/1731807_mais-que-font-autant-de-ministres-chez-microsoft-france.html in French).

    Let me guess which document format will France choose for its civil servant administration…

  2. After the OOXML corruption scandal, it is sad to see that this format was even considered by politicians as a format to talk to their citizens.

  3. The interpretation that ODF has won is not correct as such. The Danish government, faced with an embarrassing defeat in the matter to an ODF backing opposition majority, struck a deal that lets Microsoft breathe a sigh of relief.

    Rather than selecting any of the two competing formats, the expert committee tasked with comparing the two formats in the first place is to continue its work now maintaining a list of formats that meet several criteria:

    *Fully documented and available to the public.
    *Able to be implemented freely without any economic, political, or legal restrictions as to its implementation and use.
    *Approved by an internationally acknowledged standards organisation, such as the ISO, and standardised and maintained in an open forum by an open process.
    *It must be proved that the standard may be implemented directly by anybody in its entirety on several platforms.
    *Interoperable within the functionality benchmark set by other standards on the list.

    This means that while ODF is the only format explicitly mentioned as of now, Microsoft and government politicians in unison have plenty of time until the April 2011 transition deadline to present ways of interpreting OOXML as being fully compliant with these demands.

    What most people, and certainly the experts committee, have so far failed to adequately appreciate is that this is not as much an issue of which format offers a technical advantage over the other or which format enjoys the most widespread acceptance among users.

    Document formats are the key to Microsoft’s iron grip on the word processing market, and by striking this deal, the government has aptly ensured that for the time being there is no reason for the government apparatus, administration and various ministries to NOT continue using Microsoft Office. Rest assured, if the entire state apparatus were to switch from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice or something else you would see a spillover effect into the consumer segment where an increasing number of people would start using a non-Microsoft office suite instead. Fear of this particular development is what prompted Microsoft to develop its pseudo-open standard in the first place – to remove incentive for switching away from its Office suite.

    This agreement thus not only ensures a that anti-competitive practices and powerful lobbying may continue unabated, but also that consumer rights and concerns of a free and open market have been sidelined once more.

    The government argument for choosing this solution was the liberal ideal – choosing one just a single state backed format would distort competition.
    How ironical then that we are to defend free competition by sticking with… Microsoft.

  4. @chris you are right wrt OOXML still having a chance. But the precedent points clearly to ODF. How OOXML will fulfill the “Able to be implemented freely without any economic, political, or legal restrictions as to its implementation and use.” clause remains to be seen. If you look at the i4i patent case that MSFT lost, I have my doubts that there are no restrictions.

    Also note that there is no OOXML “as such”. Currently we see a whole mixture of different standards and implementations that call themselves OOXML. Just to name a few of them: ECMA-376, OOXML-Strict, -transitional, corrected and the new format used by Microsoft Office that is yet another variant.

    It remains our task to defend the criteria and show which standard fulfills them in the best way. I guess you know which standard I would prefer.

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