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ODF Alliance and European Commission close ranks against Microsoft on open document standards

Antony Savvas

The Open Document Format (ODF) Alliance has closed ranks with the European Commission against Microsoft in support of open document standards.

Last week, European commissioner Neelie Kroes reiterated the commission's policy of supporting products that support open, well-documented standards as a critical component of interoperability.

The commissioner for competition policy warned against the harmful effect of government lock-ins to proprietary software, in a thinly veiled attack on Microsoft's Office productivity suite.

Kroes said, "As purchasers, we need to be smart when we buy technology. We need to be aware of the long-term costs of lock-in: you are often locked-in to subsequent generations of that technology.

"[The European Commission] must not rely on one supplier, it must not accept closed standards, and it must refuse to become locked into a particular technology - jeopardising maintenance of full control over the information in its possession."

Marino Marcich, managing director of the ODF Alliance, which promotes the ODF standard and open-source software in general, said, "The end is near for the era of public information being locked into a closed format.

"ODF, with its status as the only internationally recognised open standard document format with a wide range of supporting applications, is a critical tool for governments to help end the era of lock-in."

Microsoft's latest Office suite will eventually offer ODF support, but not until next year at the earliest.





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