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ODF for Swiss Government

November 13th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Erwin Tenhumberg can read German, but I cannot. He found an article that includes a report suggesting the Swiss government adopt ODF as its default format for office application data.

Erwin writes, “Considering that Belgium, the state of Extremadura in Spain, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the US have already selected ODF as a standard for government use, and looking at all the similar efforts in France, Malaysia, India, Brazil and elsewhere, I’m pretty sure that Microsoft will fight against the eCH proposal fiercely as well.

Nevertheless, it’s good to see yet another country is seriously considering the adoption of ODF. I’m sure more countries will follow these examples.”

Novell Reaffirms Commitment to ODF

November 10th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

A formal Novell statement indicates their continued commitment to ODF, despite the recent agreement with Microsoft. In fact, the purpose of the agreement seems to be future compatibility for OOo with whatever new formats MS sets for upcoming versions of its office programs.

In Novell’s own words, “The agreement does not change our existing commitment to enhance OpenOffice.org, assist customers with deployment and support of OpenOffice.org on Windows┬« and Linux┬«, and encourage customers to standardize on OpenDocument Format (ODF). The agreement is designed to ensure that customers using OpenOffice.org will continue to be able to read and write documents using future Microsoft Office file formats, as they do with the existing closed and proprietary file formats employed by Microsoft Office today. OpenOffice.org Novell Edition will continue to use ODF by default.”

Sounds promising. Indeed, it would be a technical and political step backward to abandon ODF for proprietary formats at this point (which some have feared Novell might do), and it would be a strategic mistake to do so. Novell has been a champion of ODF and OpenOffice, and they are not backing down now, so close to victory.

OLPC Deliveries Starting in Brazil

November 9th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

PC Advisor (UK) announces the first delivery of OLPC machines (One Laptop Per Child, aka the $100 Laptop) will be made in Brazil in the next week.

“The first 50 devices will go to researchers in various Brazilian institutions, who will familiarize themselves with the systems in order to develop regional applications, according to the source.”

Another 1,000 will be delivered in January for deployment in schools the next month.

And we’ll see how it ramps up from there. This is an exciting project that could fundamentally improve education in the countries participating.

Free Software Magazine tests ODF

November 8th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Free Software Magazine tests ODF transfer between OpenOffice.org, KOffice, and AbiWord.

“Numerous office suites and word processors support the OpenDocument format (ODF). ODF is an open standard for saving and exchanging office documents. The standard has been developed to provide an open alternative to proprietary, for example Microsoft Office, document formats.”

There are some problems, but they are most likely due to the newness of ODF support in these applications. As support matures, these problems should be wiped away.

“State government CIOs vote for open source”

November 7th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

This is an oldie but a goodie. InfoWorld writes State government CIOs vote for open source.

According to the article, CIOs are moving their agencies toward heavy open source use. In the Tipping Point sense, I would say they are at the early majority stage, and appear to be growing fast.

The article’s data is not highly granular; for one thing, it does not distinguish between server and desktop use. But enough open source migrations have occurred in the world that we can identify a typical process, which is that server and web infrastructure migrates first (often led by Apache), followed by select desktop applications like Firefox and OpenOffice.org, and then eventually desktop OS replacement by Linux.

To see US governments following the footsteps of places like Brazil, Europe and developing countries means that the phenomenon is truly worldwide. Governments will break down the barricades, and then the private sector will rush through to reap the benefits too.

Erwin Tenhumberg on the French Ministry for Agriculture and Fishing

November 6th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Erwin Tenhumberg writes on his blog, French Ministry for Agriculture and Fishing choosing OpenOffice.org.

It looks like another French government agency is making the migration!

Someone kindly provided a rough translation of the original French article as a comment on Erwin’s blog, which indicates that 120 advisors of the ministry have chosen OOo and they are planning to migrate the organization itself in the near future.

With the number of large French government agencies adopting OpenOffice in the past 18 months, and the general enthusiasm for ODF across the EU, I fully expect France to became one of the biggest backers of ODF/OOo and to make a formal announcement of it soon. This will provide the movement with a great boost of momentum, and open the doors to Europe-wide adoption of OpenDocument as a government standard.

Next Generation Nokia 770

November 3rd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Once again, ThoughtFix has interesting news about the evolution of the Nokia 770. He’s found information (and a photo) of the next generation Nokia 770! (Which will be named the 870 or 880, apparently.) No news on when it will be released, but the hardware information was all submitted to the FCC for approval.

And to add more punch, FreeCiv has been ported to Maemo. Pure awesome.

OpenOffice.org Newsletter for October

November 2nd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The OpenOffice.org October Newsletter came out a few days ago.

Of particular interest is the report that our competitor plans to start a new “antipiracy” effort called Microsoft Office Genuine Advantage. PC World writes “The company’s Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) program will require mandatory validation of Office software starting October 27, the software vendor quietly disclosed today. After that date, any Office Online templates downloaded from within the Office 2007 Microsoft Office System applications will require validation of legitimacy.

Similarly, starting in January, users of Office Update will have to validate the legitimacy of their Office software before they can use the service, Microsoft added.”

Treating your customers as criminals will surely alienate them! The user comments attached to PC World’s article seem unanimous in their conclusion: switching to OpenOffice and Linux is going to become much more popular after this.

NewsForge on ODF in the EU

November 1st, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Tom Chance of NewsForge writes Where ODF stands in the EU.

The article’s a little dry (because it has to explain some of the EU bureaucracy), but it contains valuable information. For example:

“A key presentation on the ODF day came from Dr. Barbara Held, who is the Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General of the European Commission Program for Interoperable Delivery of pan-European eGovernment Services to Public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens (IDABC). Got that? Right. The IDABC basically exists to smooth over the technical problems within the European Union caused by the 25 member states exchanging data. The existence of multiple, incompatible file formats poses a formidable problem for the EU, so the IDABC was tasked with developing a strategy to overcome this.”

After some analysis, Chance advances his promising conclusion. ODF is gaining strength and support as a possible Europe-wide standard:

“To summarise the labyrinthine complexity of this, the EU is currently moving toward the standardisation of document formats, and internally many EU bodies and member states prefer ODF. But the EU is unable to require the use of ODF across the board.

So where do we go from here? The more stakeholders voice their support for ODF, the more likely it is that Europe will standardise on it, either with a legally binding decision or a series of unambiguous recommendations. Citizens of the EU can talk to their representatives in the European Parliament, pressing home the advantages of ODF by referring to the EIF and the IDABC’s recommendations made in 2004, and also talk to their national representatives, increasing the pressure to standardise on ODF on a national and even local level.”

Remember, the EU is the world’s largest economy. If its governments begin to standardize on ODF, corporations, universities and home users will start to follow. And very quickly, ODF may achieve the strongest strategic position in the coming contest for global standard adoption.