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UK government confirms ODF as standard document format, rejecting Microsoft proposals

Computer Weekly - The government has confirmed plans to standardise document formats across the public sector – and has resisted extensive lobbying by Microsoft by rejecting the software giant’s preferred standard.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announced today that the Open Document Format (ODF) will be the standard for sharing or collaborating on government documents, with PDF or HTML also approved for viewing documents.

The decision follows a long and often controversial process that first started in 2011, and led to a consultation that concluded in February.

The move goes against heavy lobbying from Microsoft, which urged the government to include Open XML (OOXML) – the standard used for its Word documents, but which critics say is not a truly open, vendor-independent format.

Computer Weekly sources suggested that the announcement of ODF as the chosen format was delayed by further lobbying from the software giant.

Nonetheless, the dominant system in government is Microsoft Word, and Whitehall IT chiefs hope that by adopting ODF other products will be also used, reducing the dependence on a single supplier.