Microsoft adds ODF 1.2 to Office 365 to adhere to government demands

Microsoft will roll out the ability export documents in open document format (ODF) in Office 365, regardless of original file format, to adhere to government policy

Microsoft will include the ability to export documents in the latest version of the Open Document Format (ODF) standard in Office 365, regardless of their original file format, to adhere to UK government policy.

The tech giant announced that, after much discussion with the Government Digital Service (GDS), it was important to ensure more support for open documents to make Office 365 compliant with government document sharing standards.

“While we already have great ODF support in Office 365, we’ve worked with GDS to understand the need to be able to create or import a document in another format and export it as ODF 1.2 and will be rolling out this new functionality to Office 365 in May,” said Microsoft’s announcement.

These changes ensure that Microsoft Office 365 will be compliant with the government policy for sharing and collaborating on documents and available for all public sector organisations.

Linda Humphries, senior technical adviser for the office of the CTO at GDS, said in a blog post that since December several other vendors have also contributed to making ODF easier for government.

According to Humphries, Google has provided ODF support for presentations and LibreOffice will soon be available online as a cloud service, and will have ODF support by the end of the year.

Read more about open document standards: 

  • Whitehall departments have begun publishing plans on implementing the government’s open-document standards policy.
  • Microsoft told the Labour Party not to mandate a single standard for open documents.

A number of government departments have already started publishing in ODF on Gov.uk, including transport, communities and local government, and the departments of health, work and pensions, with others working on implementation plans now.

But when the Cabinet Office first announced its plans to adopt ODF as its standard document format, Microsoft was less than pleased, claiming it was not clear how this would benefit users.

Microsoft consistently claimed its own standard, Open Office XML, was more widely used than ODF, although consultations with firms not related to Microsoft claimed to favour the standard.

The government went forward with its plans for ODF, despite Microsoft’s attempts to derail its strategy, and rejected Microsoft’s proposals for an alternative standard.

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