UK government Confirms Open Document Format

In a move that goes against proposals by Microsoft, the UK government has confirmed Open Document Format (ODF) as the standard government document format. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has today announced that the ODF will be the standard for sharing or collaborating on government documents, with PDF or HTML also approved for viewing.

The decision follows a long and often controversial process that first started in 2011, and led to a consultation that concluded in February. The possible open standards were published on the Government Standards Hub website, with requests for ideas and comments. Microsoft had urged the government to include Open XML (OOXML) which is the standard used for its Word documents, however opponents say is not a truly open, vendor-independent format.

According to the article in Computer Weekly, the government said that the benefits of Open Document Format would include:

  • Citizens, businesses and voluntary organisations will no longer need specialist software to open or work with government documents.
  • People working in government will be able to share and work with documents in the same format, reducing problems when they move between formats.
  • Government organisations will be able to choose the most suitable and cost effective applications, knowing their documents will work for people inside and outside of government.

It would be interesting to know how much the delays and procrastination over open standards, has cost all the users, citizens, businesses and voluntary organisations who interface with government. Meanwhile revenue for Microsoft continues unabated. Go figure!

To find out more about Open Standards Principles visit Government IT Standards Hub