The Dutch city of Arnhem has, for now, given up searching for alternatives for its office productivity tools, after settling a claim with a dominant software vendor for unlicensed use of its office software. To compensate for not having adequately licensed the software used by the town’s civil servant’s who were working from home, Arnhem has paid 600,000 euro for new licences. These allow the use of the ubiquitous proprietary office software for the next three years, says the city’s CIO, Simon Does.
From this week, it has promised to publish PDFs and Word documents in PDF/A and ODS formats respectively.
However, on Excel, which are most commonly published as “live” data tables, it said: “Content producers should convert to ODS format before submitting to digital content teams.
“However the statisticians have identified problems with certain spreadsheets – where drop-down filters fail to work when converted – more work needs to be done on finding a solution to this problem and DCLG will to commit to the spreadsheets where possible will be published from 1 November 2014 being in an ODS format.”
DCLG said that it is committed to opening up government and providing a level playing field for open source systems, providing the citizen with free access to government information.
The Document Foundation role is to support and grow the LibreOffice & Document Liberation project and promote Free Software and Open Standards. You will notice in this statement two key points; first, it is not directly the role of the Document Foundation to develop the LibreOffice code: the community of volunteers is in charge of that and second, the actual role of the foundation is actually to protect and cater to the community’s needs and logistics.
Microsoft consistently opposed the policy, which the software giant saw as its last chance to overturn the UK government’s broader plans for open standards. As emails seen by Computer Weekly reveal, the decision became an issue in the supplier’s Seattle boardroom, and brought the lobbying powers of the software giant into full force in Whitehall.
There has been speculation about the role played by senior government minister David Willetts, then minister of state for universities and science in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), but who later left the post in David Cameron’s 2014 summer reshuffle.
An investigation by Computer Weekly has revealed that – according to well-placed sources – Microsoft turned to Willetts to help win its case, with the supplier’s global chief operating officer (COO) Kevin Turner getting involved. But neither BIS nor David Willetts himself is willing to discuss the role the minister played in Microsoft's attempts to influence this obscure but vitally important part of government IT policy.
Willetts was the government’s liaison point for Microsoft, as a major employer and investor in the UK economy. He also served as co-chair of the Information Economy Council, a body set up to enable dialogue between Whitehall and the IT industry over future policy.
For our first magazine interview, we got some cheap flights and headed out to Kaufbeuren, an attractive Swabian city an hour’s train ride from Munich. This is where we met Florian Effenberger, Executive Director at The Document Foundation (he was chairman at the time of this interview), and Alexander Werner from the Foundation’s membership committee. This is the non-profit organisation at the heart of LibreOffice, the famous fork of OpenOffice.org now dominant in every Linux distribution. We were able to ask Florian about the split, about arguments over a new name and what wheat beer he’d recommend as a souvenir for our journey home.
A new minor release of the hugely popular open-source office suite LibreOffice has been made available for immediate download.
LibreOffice 4.3.3, the third minor update in the 4.3.x series and the first since the September release of 4.3.2, comes packed with plenty of stability and performance fixes, but no major new features to sing of.
Comparing LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice is like comparing identical twins. Even people who know them well have trouble distinguishing one from the other, and, when you find a difference, it is often trivial. All the same, the differences are growing, and LibreOffice has at least eleven advantages over OpenOffice – see the list below.
Both of these free office suites are descendants of OpenOffice.org (just don't ask in a crowd of Linux users which is true descendant of OpenOffice.org unless you're fond of flame wars). They have identical system requirements and feature sets. Both are supported by libraries of templates and extensions, and, if one acquires a new feature, the other frequently adds the feature in the next release.
Those who know me know that I am partial to OpenOffice, an open source project that I contribute to. So I am extremely pleased to see it continue to advance in all fronts. Since coming to Apache, OpenOffice’s name recognition has grown from 24% to 39% and the user share has grown from 11% to 18%, while keeping user satisfaction constant. This is a testament to the hard work of the many talented volunteers at Apache.