The British Cabinet Office has formally required compliance with the Open Document Format (ODF) in any software to be purchased in the future across all government bodies. Compliance with OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant.
The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude said that ODF compliance will be required for documents intended to be shared or subject to collaboration. PDF/A or HTML compliance will be required for viewable government documents. The reason that the British have given for snubbing Microsoft is that citizens, businesses and voluntary organisations should not need specialist software to open or work with government documents.
It means that people working in government will be able to share and work with documents in the same format, reducing problems when they move between formats. Government organisations can chose the most suitable and cost effective applications, knowing their documents will work for people inside and outside of government.
Of course the move was strongly opposed by Microsoft, but the Cabinet Office’s expects the move to save £1.2 billion in this Parliament for citizens, businesses and taxpayers.