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08.28.10

Mark Ballard Shows Why British Government Must Move to ODF as Doorway to Software Freedom

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 10:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UK flag with Tux

Summary: Calls from within the United Kingdom to facilitate a promised migration to Free software, via international standards such as ODF

IN RECENT weeks we wrote a great deal about Free software in the UK public sector (lack thereof rather). A few days ago we showed that the government would save an enormous amount of money by moving to ODF. The following new article agrees to a certain degree and it was researched by the same person who helped expose misconduct in Newham (Microsoft moles [1, 2, 3]):

  • Tory council’s open source plans stymied as government considers policy

    A leading Tory council has been delayed in its attempt to replace Microsoft with open source software because the government is yet to fulfil an election pledge to introduce open standards.

    The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, one of the four “vanguard” councils testing the government’s Big Society project, also came to the attention of Microsoft after its IT strategy promised in April to “move away from the Microsoft Office platform and replace it with an open source or cloud alternative”.

    The council’s IT strategy proposed open source and open standards would cut its IT costs by a third. But Liam Maxwell, councillor responsible for IT policy at the borough, said the initiative depended on central government mandating the use of open standards in office software.

    “We are trying out open source. The problem is that Open Document Format (ODF) has not been adopted by the government yet,” said Maxwell, who helped draught Conservative technology policy before the election. “Why hasn’t ODF been adopted by government?” he said, calling for it to be done.

A migration to Free software in the British government is not far fetched at all. A lot of Europe is already doing it and even Data.gov.uk makes some commendable moves. From several days ago we have:

  • Data.gov.uk releases Open Source code

    As part of the government’s ongoing work around transparency, today we are releasing some of the custom software code we’ve developed – a CKAN module for Drupal. This is available for anyone to review, use, or modify. We’re excited to see how developers and colleagues across the world put this work to good use in their own applications and projects.

A short while ago we retold the story of France and OpenOffice.org, showing the role of Microsoft's office suite in stifling rapid migrations to GNU/Linux. A move to ODF is very crucial because of that. As for OOXML, it is a scam and as the i4i case helps show, it is probably not legal, either. Reuters tells the story of i4i at this moment:

“Microsoft sat in meetings with us where we explained how it works and we believed if you’ve got a patent, a patent is full disclosure and in return you guys have to respect that and that is the law,” said i4i co-founder Michel Vulpe, whose software patent was approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 1998.

In 2004 Vulpe became suspicious that the software giant was using their technology, without permission, in its popular Word software. In 2007, when Microsoft began touting its XML capabilities, i4i got serious and launched their patent infringement lawsuit.

At the time, Vulpe said the reaction from friends was a mixture of laughter and horror.

With ‘partners’ like these, who needs rivals?

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A Single Comment

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    August 29, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Gravatar

    So, then, are projects like OpenOffice.org and Koffice putting their resources into working together on ODF support or wasting resources to pollute the code pool with undocumented OOXML cruft which should have died before reaching the standards bodies?

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