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Advocacy group protests government’s approving of OOXML

OSORApril, a French free and open source software advocacy group, is protesting the French government’s approval of Microsoft’s OOXML as a government document standard, alongside the open document format ODF.

France on 11 November published its Référentiel Général d’Interopératibilité (General interoperability framework for public administrations and local governments, RGI). To allow public administrators to exchange documents without trouble, the RGI recommends they use an ISO-approved document format based on XML. “Two such office formats coexist today, ODF (Open Document Format) and OOXML (Office Open XML).”

For OOMXL, RGI notes, there is currently no implementation. “Pending full support for both standards in the office applications that are used, there are options available that allow transformation, such as the ODF converter and the SUN ODF plugin.”

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April protests that the RGI does not end the confusion regarding office documents standards. “RGI hands public administrations over to Microsoft’s deceptions and dooms their data to be kept locked in proprietary formats”, says April’s spokeswoman, Alix Cazenave, in a statement.

The advocacy group reasons that by not choosing for ODF, the government fails to create competition in the market for office applications. “We have just missed a historical opportunity to support openness and innovation in the software market”, Frédéric Couchet, April’s executive director, says in the statement.

The group worries that France’s step towards allowing OOXML to be used as a document format, will damage national and European work on interoperability in public administrations.

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The group is calling on members of the French parliament to clarify the RGI.

Cazenave says that the French government has not responded to the group’s protest so far.

The French association of city mayors (Maires de Grandes Villes), commented on its IT blog on 13 November: “The RGI does not resolve the controversy between software publishers and supporters of free software. Both standards office are placed ‘under observation’, and their use remains at the discretion of each administrative authority.”

Article was originally published at the Open Source Observatory and Repository Europe.

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