Public service & administration minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi has endorsed the OpenDocument format (ODF) as a basic standard for office documents in the public sector. At the same time, the minister has ignored a rival, Microsoft-backed format called Ecma Open XML (also often referred to as Office Open XML).
Public service & administration minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi
The endorsement of ODF is contained in version 4.1 of the Minimum Interoperability Standards (Mios) for Information Systems in Government. The document makes no reference to Open XML, the document standard used in Microsoft Office 2007, a move that could elicit a storm of protest from the software giant.
The move is a big blow to Microsoft, which has been lobbying hard to have Open XML ratified as a standard by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO member states recently voted against an application by Microsoft to have Open XML fast-tracked to approval as an ISO standard.
The endorsement of ODF paves the way for open-source office suites, such as OpenOffice.org, to gain mainstream adoption within government. It’s not immediately clear whether the Mios document will require the removal of Microsoft Office and other productivity software applications that do not support ODF from government computers.
According to the document: “The main thrust of the framework (in line with international best practice), is the adoption of a structured approach with regard to information systems. To achieve this approach, and to ensure the enhancement of interoperability across government, a minimum set of standards are included in this document as a required government-wide standard. To this end, this updated version of Mios contains an explicit definition of open standards as well as the inclusion of ODF.”
The full document is available here.