UK government adopts ODF for sharing and collaboration

Moves away from proprietary formats

Microsoft Excel

The British government has officially adopted PDF/A and HTML for viewing government documents while ODF (Open Document Format) has been selected for collaborating and sharing government documents.

The move, which was announced by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, is expected to save British taxpayers an estimated £1.2 billion (around $1.9 billion, AU$2 billion).

More than 500 comments were received ahead of the selection process with money being the recurring leitmotiv behind move.

The official press release metions that "citizens, businesses and voluntary organisations will no longer need specialist software to open or work with government documents".

The decision marks a setback for Microsoft who had been pushing for OOXML (Office Open XML) to be adopted instead. But, as Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange, suggested, pointing to the Germans who adopted ODF back in 2008, the transition might be a long and treacherous one.

"As long as Microsoft Office has a home on government PCs", he added, "proprietary file formats will remain a fact of life".

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