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OpenDocument Campaign

by Matt Lee Contributions Published on Nov 10, 2005 01:36 PM
Get informed on OpenDocument issues and take action against Microsoft's Office Open XML format.

The OOXML fight continues: here's one way you can help.

The fight against the adoption of OOXML as an ISO standard is continuing in many countries. In the UK, the UK Unix & Open Systems User Group (UKUUG) unsuccessfully sought a judicial review of the British Standards Institute's decision to vote yes. UKUUG are now seeking to appeal against that rejection of a review and you can help them.

More information

Take action: Support ODF Olympiad and their efforts to bring OpenDocument to schools.

What is OpenDocument?

Supported — The OpenDocument format (ODF) is a format for electronic office documents, such as spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word-processing documents. The OpenDocument format is supported by free software applications such as, AbiWord and KOffice.

Standard — OpenDocument is a free and open format, and an ISO standard. Anyone is free to write applications that support it, without fear of patent claims or licensing issues.

Accessible — The specification of OpenDocument has undergone an extensive accessibility review, and many of the components it is built on, such as Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language and Scalable Vector Graphics, have already gone through the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative processes.

Cross-platform — Free software supporting OpenDocument exists for every major operating system including GNU/Linux, *BSD, Windows and Mac OS X.

What you can do

It is important that our representatives hear from voices in support of these moves, and it is important that we keep the issue in the public eye. No matter where you are in the world, you can check this page for related news, and information on how you can help.

Support for OpenDocument has been steadily increasing, but there are still ways you can make a significant difference in promoting its adoption:

Who's using OpenDocument?

OpenDocument is used all over the world. See who's using OpenDocument in your area with our interactive map.

North America South America Africa Europe Australia and New Zealand Asia

North America

  • United States

    • Massachusetts: The Commonwealth had in September 2005, become the first state to formally endorse OpenDocument formats for its public records and, at the same time, reject Microsoft's proprietary XML format. This decision was made after a two-year examination of file formats, including many discussions with Microsoft, other vendors, and various experts. After this announcement by Massachusetts supporting OpenDocument, a large number of people and organizations spoke up about the policy, including Microsoft who sent in a letter highly critical of the measure, as well as a group named "Citizens Against Government Waste", who had received funding from Microsoft. While still permitting use of ODF, in 2007 Massachusetts unfortunately also amended its approved technical standards list to include Office Open XML.

    • New York: The state has sought comments on its proposed policy which seeks to gather stakeholder input regarding the mechanisms and processes for obtaining access to and reading electronic data so that such data can be created, maintained, exchanged, and preserved by the state in a manner that encourages appropriate government control, access, choice, interoperability, and vendor neutrality.

South America

  • Argentina: In September 2007 the Argentinian Province of Misiones decided that the use of ODF will be mandatory within the government. Around a million people live in this province, which is one of the 23 provinces of Argentina.


  • Belgium: All government departments must be able to read ODF and from September this year, all exchanges of documents between federal goverment agencies must use OpenDocument. Other agencies (regional, municipal, European, etc) are unaffected. Belgium is also considering OOXML.

  • Croatia:In April, 2008 The Croatian Standards Institute (Hrvatski zavod za norme, HZN) confirmed it had approved the Open Document Format ODF as a national standard.

  • Finland: The Ministry of Justice has chosen Open Office and thus the OpenDocument format as their main document format from the beginning of 2007. The decision was made after deep research of ODF possibilities. Other ministries may follow.

  • Germany: The Federal Foreign Office has migrated totally to OpenDocument, with 250 foreign offices outside of Germany also following. The cities of Freiburg and Munich have both adopted and many of the high courts in Germany, including the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice), are accepting OpenDocument communications.

  • Netherlands: From the beginning of 2009, the OpenDocument format and free software will be the standard for reading, publishing and the exchange of information for all governmental organizations. Where free software cannot be not used, special reasons must be given.

  • Norway: Norway's Ministry of Government Administration and Reform decided in December 2007 that ODF (ISO/IEC 26300) must be used from 2009 when publishing documents that are meant to be changed after downloading, i.e. forms that are to be filled in by the user.

  • United Kingdom: The British Education Communication Technology Agency, BECTA, made a recommendation that "Any office application used by institutions must be able to be saved to (and so viewed by others) using a commonly agreed format that ensures an institution is not locked into using specific software." In addition, Bristol City Council is using the OpenDocument format across its 5000+ desktop computers.

  • Slovakia: OpenDocument is listed alongside HTML, XML and PDF as an acceptable format by the Ministry of Transport, Posts and Telecommunications.


  • South Africa: On October 23, 2007, the Department of Public Service and Administration of the South African government released a report on interoperability standards in government information systems. It specifies ODF as the standard for "working office document formats" (with UTF-8/ASCII text and comma-separated values data as the only alternatives).


  • India: The Allahabad High Court of India has decided, as policy, to use OpenDocument format for its documents. A local Indian perspective on the vote against Microsoft's OOXML ahead of the March 29 deadline -- of 19 companies participating, only 5 voted in favor of OOXML. "It was the ultimate battle for control over global IT standard for documents — between Microsoft-promoted OOXML and Sun and IBM-backed Open Document Format. It was played out between Indian IT giants, namely Infosys, Wipro, TCS supported by Nasscom on one side and the global IT biggies like IBM, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat backed by te IITs, IIMs and IISc on the other, on their respective positions on Microsoft's OOXML standard. Microsoft understandably expressed its disspointment. 'While we are disappointed with the decision of the BIS committee, we are encouraged by the support from NASSCOM.'"

  • Japan: On June 29, 2007, the government of Japan published a new interoperability framework which gives preference to the procurement of products that follow open standards including the ODF standards.

  • Malaysia: In August, 2007, The Malaysian government announced plans to adopt open standards and the Open Document Format (ODF) within the country's public sector. The Malaysian Administration Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) issued a tender for a nine-month study to evaluate the usage of open standards. More information.

  • Vietnam: In September 2007, more than 20,000 computers used at Party agencies nationwide will replace Microsoft Office with

Australia and New Zealand

  • Australia: It was announced on March 31, 2006, that the National Archives of Australia had settled on OpenDocument as their choice for a cross-platform/application document format.

  • New Zealand: The e-Government programme notes, "ODF shows a lot of promise for open document accessibility and usability. At the time of writing, ODF is still in relatively early days and there are still variants. It is not considered mature enough as yet to include as an accessible format, however developments and uptake of ODF will be monitored and the position on ODF adjusted and expanded accordingly." Standards New Zealand also voted against Office Open XML, but noted "At the time, we announced that voting 'no' with comments provides the opportunity for any technical issues to be resolved. If all the concerns are resolved we will have the chance to change New Zealand’s vote to a 'yes'."

Who supports OpenDocument?

  • IBM
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Apple
  • Google
  • Wikimedia

Who opposes OpenDocument?

Proprietary software companies who believe they stand to lose from policies supporting OpenDocument have been loudly complaining about them. Hearings have been held to delay them, and legislative amendments have been introduced to quash them.

In particular, Microsoft has been arguing against OpenDocument and lobbying for their own format, Office Open XML (OOXML).

What's wrong with Office Open XML?

Microsoft is attempting to block an established, free and open format by heavily pushing one they have much more control over, and they're using all their lobbying power to try and fast track it through the standards process.

Unlike OpenDocument, which is well-supported and cross-platform, Microsoft's format is only supported by proprietary software from one vendor, and because it has been designed to implement every bug, glitch and historical feature from Microsoft's Office software, the specification to implement OOXML is over 6000 pages long, making it much harder for other software to implement the format.

FSF OpenDocument Action Items


FSF OpenDocument Resources

Other OpenDocument Resources

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