The Australian government is considering mandating its agencies to use the Open Document Format (ODF) for all of their documents. The country’s chief technical officer says it eliminates the risk of a vendor ending support for a proprietary format.
Cue the next round of FUD about the true costs of Free and Open Source Software? Probably not.
Microsoft’s Office suite has support XML since the 2007 version. The XML-based format’s supported by Google Docs, Lotus, StarOffice and, of course, OpenOffice, the open source office suite from whence it sprang.
Vendor lock-in isn’t the only good reason to mandate ODF support. Proprietary formats are becoming an albatross. There has been a splintering of devices, operating systems and access methods with the rise of tablets, smart phones and netbooks. Proprietary formats (and even, in some cases, software) were once a workable retention strategy. With the ability and necessity to access the same document from a number of devices and operating systems, that’s no longer the case.
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