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back to article Downing St ambivalent on open standards

The UK government has made a statement offering cautious and qualified support for the adoption of open standards for government documents, but warns that there is no such thing as a document storage panacea. The statement forms part of Number 10's response to a petition calling on the government to promote the use of Open …

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Anonymous Coward

Bill and Tony

Translation: We think it's a great idea, but Tony's friend Bill G says "not so fast..."

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Ed

Has a single petition...

Has a single petition been answered by Number 10 that actually promises to do something about an issue raised in it? Every petition I've signed, plus a number that I've read through have had an "We're already doing what you suggest" or "Its not in our power to do what you suggest".

A complete waste of time. Its not meant to be a Question and Answer service for Number 10...

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Now we know who to lobby....

At least dear Tony gave us a link to who decides on formats:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pronom/

They don't seem to be very clever people though, a quick search for software that supports OpenDocument Text (*.odt) files produces a claim that no software whatsoever supports it!

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Responses from Downing St?

Ed, ya'll are still going to pay for driving on your streets. I think that answers your question.

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Oh how naïve . . .

"The petition author, John Imrie, wrote: Government documents must be available for tens if not hundreds of years."

Computers as we know them won't be around HUNDREDS of years from now. Maybe a somewhat working example somewhere, but now you would need the software.

No. What I find frustrating with this disposable digital IP world is that I doubt the photo CDs or DVDs I make will be playable 20 years from now, never mind hundreds(!) yet the images in my parents 60 year old photo album still look crisp and well defined PLUS we can look at them anytime -- no special equipment required. So far the digital world hasn't been able to live up to ensured longevity.

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Status?

Take a look at the Copyright Status field for the submissions page. shows a complete lack of understanding of copyrights and software:

Copyright Owner - i.e. Owner licensed

Shareware - i.e. Owner licensed

Freeware - i.e. Owner liciensed

The fact that freeware and shareware are just form of propritory copyright owner controlled software is a joke and shows pronom to be a joke too. this list should read:

Proprietary License

Internal not Licensed

Free and Open Source License

Public Domain

I'm sure there are more.

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Open Format?

To honest i can't see them using .OD* files of any format. The software services industry as a whole is more than a little wary of Open Source anything. These are the 'experts' that the people developing the document archive will turn to for advice. In my experience large software services companies have too many tie-ins with Microsoft for them not to recommend .doc (or whatever MS decided to call their next format). Failing that they will opt for .pdf, because "it's free". They invariably fail to mention (or possibly don't know?) that .OD* file readers and editors are also available for free.

Looking on my personal in the past most service suppliers are more concerned about getting their sales percentage from MS then delivering a Good Enough product to the end user. I've yet to find a normal secretary/receptionist that needs anything more OOWriter and Calc (some user's do need the macro functions of Excel though). However, if you even ask a sales guy he'll usually go pale and stutter about how MS product is so superior.

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Anonymous Coward

MS rules the government world

Open Document will never take off in UK government as it has too many connections to MS.

I work for a local government service that is pretty strapped for cash and spending loads of dosh on MS office licences drains the budget pretty quickly. I had the temerity once to suggest that we could save a fair bit of cash if we just used Open Office. Sure it's not as powerful as MS Office and given the choice, I would rather use MS Office, but it would do what we needed, had a built in pdf writer, and it would save us a few thousand per year. IT were horrified that I'd suggested such a thing and quickly went back to MS, with whom they had a partnership arrangement!! (I think I was lucky not to be stoned to death for blasphemy.)

Too many local authorities have partnership arrangements with MS. Not much is gonna change there.

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Anonymous Coward

Bristol City Council dumped MS Office

See http://www.opensourceacademy.gov.uk/osacademy/our_partners/bristol-city-council/bristol-city-council

The decision was made purely on cost grounds and not evangelism. They are encouraging other councils to look at the alternatives for saving costs by building a realistic business case.

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