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Danes ditch Microsoft, take ODF road - at last

Cross party parliamentarians gang up against Redmond

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The Danish Parliament has agreed to ditch some Microsoft-based software in favour of the ODF standard from April next year.

According to version2.dk and courtesy of politken.dk, parliamentary parties decided - after four years of deliberation - to use the Open Document Format in all Danish state office documents.

“My ambition is that in the future we will only communicate using open standards,” Science Minister Helge Sander of moderate right wing party Venstre told Denmark’s Parliament.

The decision to axe Microsoft’s Office document formats won cross-party support.

“We believe that open source is the way forward and should replace the patent attitudes that we currently have,” said the Unity List’s Per Clausen.

For the time being, only national institutions will make the switch to ODF. Regional bodies will make the shift at a later, yet to be announced, date.

In February 2008 a Danish Unix user group - DKUUG - lashed out at Microsoft's Office 2007 file format, by filing a formal complaint to the European Union. It claimed MS was in breach of the EC Treaty article 81 on unfair competition over the Danish state mandatory regulation of ECMA-approved OOXML.

“DKUUG asks the commission to make a decision to make void the part on OOXML of the Danish regulation on mandatory standards [ECMA-376 or ISO/IEC DIS 29500] OOXML, so that other products can participate in the competition on office software for the Danish state," it demanded at the time.

“This is in line with regulations in other countries, for example in the federal Belgium, or Norway, where only the ISO standard ODF is specified for the subject.”

DKUUG vice chair Keld Simonsen claimed that the Danish state was allowing Redmond to maintain a private monopoly in Denmark, even though OOXML didn’t fulfill the “requirements on openness” that Parliament agreed upon in its decision B103 in 2006.

“A document standards decision may not matter to you today, but as someone who relies on constant access to editable documents, spreadsheets and presentations, it may matter immensely in the near future,” said Bhorat.

Of course, those comments came at a time when Microsoft was still battling to gain ISO approval of the OOXML format.

By April that year, MS finally sealed a deal to get OOXML recognised as an international standard alongside ODF.

Nearly two years on, and Denmark's parliamentary members have blown a big fat raspberry in Microsoft's "we're interoperable" face. ®

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