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By | Paul Kunert 24th February 2014 16:43

UK citizens to Microsoft: Oi. We WANT ODF as our doc standard

Open source zealots beat down on OOXML as consultation continues

Even if Microsoft bosses collectively whistled Always Look on the Bright Side of Life they'd still struggle to drown out people backing Cabinet Office proposals to adopt the Open Document Format as the official standard for UK.gov missives.

The good folk of Blighty have until 26 February to make their position known as part of an open consultation.

Of the 192 who have logged an opinion so far, many want to see an end to proprietary file formats.

"By using a format like ODF, you gain the benefits of future-proofing the data, supporting open standard for everyone, saving tens or hundreds of millions on needless software licensing, opening the way to improve software removing a single point of failure, [and] reducing reliance on huge companies which abuse their market position," said JJ Beard.

Microsoft last week wrote to channel partners via the Partner Blog asking them to respond to draft proposals; not that it was telling them to vote in favour of ODF or Open XML. Oh no.

It did, however, say the ODF route will "likely... increase costs, cause dissatisfaction amongst citizens and businesses, add complexity to the process of dealing with government and negatively impact some suppliers to government".

The people at Microsoft initially branded the government position as "ill conceived" but this draft of the blog was not officially signed off, Microsoft's PRs tell us, and the post was duly updated to remove those words.

Some 34 comments have been posted below the Partner Blog, but it seems the detractors flooded this forum too, with those in favour of open source branding OOXML as not being very, er, open.

"I agree we should be heard," said one user under the handle “UK Subject”. "Let's email in and say how wonderful it is that the UK is embracing openness and freedom by ditching the proprietary and closed OOXML."

The XML documents Microsoft developed since 2007 as default standard for Office, but various people on both forums dismissed it: "ODF is a vendor neutral standard… its universally supported".

The open source brigade didn't have it entirely all their own way, with some mentioning costs of training and document conversion in moving to ODF, but they were rapidly shot down and corrected.

In the war of words, it is 1-0 to the open source zealots. ®

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