Microsoft allows government-approved ODF in Office 365

The tantrum is over

Microsoft has finally relented in the face of the open document format (ODF) to allow documents created in Office 365 to be exported in the format thus adhering to UK government guidelines on document creation and sharing.

The decision, which comes after a great deal of discussion with the UK Government Digital Service (GDS), allows users of Office 365 to create documents that stick to GDS's strict new guidelines on using the ODF for documentation, according to Computer Weekly.

Microsoft's announcement went on to explain that documents can be created or imported in any format before being edited and then exported in ODF 1.2, and the new functionality will be rolled out in May.

It brings Microsoft in line with new government advice issued last year that standardised the document format used across the public sector to ODF. That decision was made even after Microsoft lobbied hard for its own Open Office XML format, which it claimed was far more popular than ODF. Once the decision had been made it even claimed that it was "unclear" how the new guidelines benefitted UK citizens.

Google's helping too

Microsoft isn't the only one working with the government to embrace ODF. Linda Humphries, senior technical adviser for the office of the CTO at GDS, revealed that, since December, Google has added ODF support for presentations and LibreOffice's upcoming cloud offering will have support for ODF.

A range of government departments have already begun to publish documents in ODF via the gov.uk website including communities, transport and local government, and the department of health, work and pensions is one of a handful of others working on implementing it shortly.

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