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Bristol Adopts OpenDocument Format, Cites Problems with Microsoft/OOXML Macros

Posted in Europe, Formats, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, VBA at 4:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Neelie Kroes
Europe for OpenDocument format and open source software

Just a couple of days after Europe’s quiet announcements (praising Free software and standards) we find yet another. It’s about Bristol, in the United Kingdom. [via Glyn Moody]

UK: Major cost reduction result of Bristol’s switch to Open Standards

Bristol City Council’s switch to StarOffice in 2005 has led to a major reduction of IT costs, says Gavin Beckett, the council’s ICT Strategy manager.

StarOffice is Sun Microsystems’ proprietary suite of office applications, which is based on the Open Source OpenOffice. In 2006 Bristol took the further step of adopting the ISO-approved Open Document Format (ODF).

Speaking at a conference on ODF in the Netherlands last month, Beckett said that implementing StarOffice for 5,500 desktops in Bristol saved 1.1 million GBP (1.4 million euro) in comparison to the total cost of implementing Microsoft Office. “The licences for StarOffice cost us 186,000 GBP (243,000 euro), in comparison to 1.4 million GBP (1.8 million euro) for MS Office.”

These major savings were offset slightly by extra time needed for implementing StarOffice. Implementation cost the city council 484,000 GBP (632,000 euro), double the estimate for MS Office. This was due to document conversion and training, said the IT Strategy manager. Explaining and troubleshooting the new office applications took several months more than planned.

If there was any setback or difficulty, guess what it was? Microsoft’s deliberate incompatibilities (boosted by the network effect), which are a result of the ‘extensions’ Microsoft last bragged about only a few days ago. Here is noooxml.org‘s response to it:

Microsoft New Zealand representative wants competitors to make reverse engineering over their products. Standardizing the whole format would not permit Microsoft to have a ‘competitive’ advantage.


Sorry, but the macros are stored in a file format, so not defining how to interpret this data will lead to a competitive advantage for the company of Redmond, and will be a killer for interoperability. I don’t want to buy a Windows license and an Intel PC just to be able to decode their crappy format.

In light of the new set of documents from the ODF Alliance, also consider the text about OOXML implementation being a ‘community’… of just one company.

Unless there are multiple, competing, full implementations of OOXML, citizens will be faced with a choice of one – and only one – office suite based on OOXML, Microsoft Office. Until OOXML moves beyond its current single-vendor status, National Bodies should vote “No” (disapprove).

It remains to be seen what gets decided after an utterly broken BRM [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12].

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  1. rmh said,

    March 16, 2008 at 5:56 pm


    Hi folks,

    Today I stumbled upon this request to get OpenDocument an accepted format when submitting content to Wikipedia:


    Anyone with a bugzilla account can support this request by voting for it (see link at the bottom)

    Btw, kudos for a great site. Keep up the good work!

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 16, 2008 at 8:23 pm



    Have you seen this report? Wikipedia seems to already be quite ODF-friendly.

    I have a Wikipedia account I hardly ever use but not a Bugzilla account, so I couldn’t vote quickly.

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