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belgian government demands use of the Open Document Format !


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thnx to Cooper for translating !

The Belgian federal government decided that as of december 2008 all documents are to be stored using the Open Document Format. The use of propriatary file formats, and of course in particular those used by Microsoft, will no longer be allowed. Director-general Peter Strickx speaking on behalf of the ICT service of the federal government, the Fedict, told ZDnet that this remarkable decision was made because they didn't want to be dependant on a single software supplier. After the ISO approved the ODF-standard this measure was an obvious one.

"No Word-documents allowed"


Because of this Microsoft now finds itself with a troublesome dilemma: either support ODF, or get its own Open XML ratified as a standard. This is because the Belgians chose 'definitively, but not exclusively' for ODF. Currently however Open XML isn't elligable as a standard because not a single program supports it. However once the software appears and the ISO grants its blessing to the Microsoft format the road will be cleared. Remarkably, the team behind ODF, the Open Document Foundation, is working on a plug-in that will make ODF-files accessible by Microsoft software.


So far the impact of the measure seems limited: the federal government employs considerably less civil servants than the Flemish and Wallonian governments, and the outlawing of Microsoft products won't be a topic for discussion thanks to the efforts by the people behind ODF. The eventual impact of this decision, however, can become enormous. The competative position of packages such as OpenOffice.org is greatly enhanced by the measure, and if its implementation proves succesful it's likely that other governments will follow the federal example. Microsoft would lose the 'must-have' status of its Office software.

More important is probably the principal character of the Fedict measure. The american state of Massachusetts banned Microsoft software some time ago already, but that measure was more practical in nature. Belgium is the first country in the world that takes such farreaching measures on a national level, and the decision will undoubtedly provide a lot of food for thought to many managers.

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Awesome :D

It's great to see goverments talking sense. It's bugged me for too long that offical documents are often stored in proprietary formats.

We use standards for HTML and CSS etc (granted Microsoft still have their own 'take' on some of these standards)... So why not documents? With the focus on web based applications for creating documents getting bigger, it makes complete sense :)

I actually hope Microsoft decide to implement support for the ODF. As much as people bash them, they do make some good software, and it would be a shame to see them fight against harmony.

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It also makes sence to use open standard formates with open source software from a security stand point. How many 'zero-day' vunrabilitys where anounced between Excel and Word these past two weeks? About 10 was it?

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This is a good move, MS should deffinatly add support for ODF files at the very least thanks to this, hopefully the EU can enforce Open Standards for all offical documents in all memeber states.

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