This is really one of the most ridiculous get-out clauses, because it is so wide. The whole point of the FOI system is so that we can see precisely what is being said in these discussions, and to find out what companies are saying behind closed doors - and what ministers are replying. Although it's laudable that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills got in touch to correct its response to me, it's rather rich to do so and then simply refuse point-blank to release any of the information it has just found.
The only consolation is that whatever Microsoft whispered in the corridors of power to de-rail the move to ODF - since I hardly imagine it was a fervent supporter of the idea - it didn't work. However, there are doubtless many other occasions when it did, but we will never know. That's just unacceptable in a modern democracy.
I've been hoping to see this headline for some time now. At the first LibreOffice Conference, the Document Foundation announced its plans to migrate LibreOffice to mobile devices. The plan didn't include a total rewrite of the code, but repurposing at least 90% of the current code base. That meant the majority of the work was already done. That last remaining 10%? The user interface. The 90% already compiles on Android -- so there is a working model. Of course, what good is a working model without an interface to go along with it?
The developers from The Document Foundation have released a new stable build in the 4.2.x version of LibreOffice, just a few days after the main branch of the suite, 4.3, made its grand appearance.
“The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.2.6 ‘Still,’ the seventh and last minor release of the most solid version of the software, ready for enterprise deployments and conservative users. LibreOffice 4.2.6 arrives just one week after the successful launch of LibreOffice 4.3 ‘Fresh,’ the most feature rich version of the office suite,” reads the official announcement.
The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.3, the 8th major release of the free office suite since the birth of the project in September 2010. The application includes the combined effort of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of developers, and has reached a point of maturity that makes it suitable for every kind of deployment, if backed by value added services by the growing LibreOffice ecosystem.
LibreOffice 4.3 offers a large number of improvements and new features.
The WebODF library webodf.js comes with a rich API and lots of abstraction layers to allow adaption to different backends and enviroments. There is an increasing number of software using WebODF, some of that listed here.
Most of the migrations from one office suite to another tend to happen without any coherent document management policy. Many organizations moving from, say, Microsoft Office to LibreOffice do not necessarily adopt ODF as their default format and will carry on supporting whatever version of the MS Office file format internally. This usually leads to frustrations and compatibility problems. This time, the UK Government decision takes a different approach. By deciding about the formats first, the UK creates the conditions necessary to have real choices for its government and its citizens, thus setting a level playing field for everyone. Many people have understood this decision as being a move against Microsoft. It is not or at least it should not be. Microsoft Office implements ODF files and its latest editions, as I’m being told are actually quite good at it. What this move does, however, is to ensure no other solution will be at a competitive disadvantage because of a technical or legal (aka patents) lock-in. Of course, it remains to be seen what concrete actions the UK Government will take in order to ensure a smooth transition between proprietary formats and open standards; and it remains to be seen how well it will ensure a proper change management across all of its departments so that its agents feel comfortable with ODF documents and whatever new office suites that may be adopted as a result of the decision. Much could be lost at that stage, but much could be gained as well. And of course, just like with the Netherlands, the decision itself might end up being toned down or take a somewhat different meaning.
The U.K. Cabinet Office accomplished today what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts set out (unsuccessfully) to achieve ten years ago: it formally required compliance with the Open Document Format (ODF) by software to be purchased in the future across all government bodies. Compliance with any of the existing versions of OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant. The announcement was made today by The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.