Around 30 academic institutions, professional organisations, companies and trade groups have formed the OpenDocument Format Alliance, to promote open source document standards in the public sector.
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The body, which supports the open source OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard, is concerned that government files are increasingly becoming reliant on proprietary software when being stored.
Alliance members fear that government bodies could become locked into proprietary software contracts when managing their documents, which could restrict the management of, and access to, data.
The alliance includes the American Library Association, the Indian Institute of Technology, IBM and Sun Microsystems. These two IT suppliers both actively support ODF as an alternative to Microsoft’s document formats contained in its widely used and proprietary Office suite.
Microsoft plans to make its new OpenXML Document Format the default format for saving documents in its forthcoming Office 2007 suite.
The move is designed to allay fears that its customers could become locked into existing proprietary Office file formats when saving documents. OpenXML has won the support of Intel, Apple, Toshiba, BP and the British Library, among others.