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Australia Mandates Microsoft's Office Open XML

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the not-to-be-confused-with dept.

Australia 317

littlekorea writes "The Australian Government has released a common operating environment desktop policy that — among security controls aimed at reducing the potential for leaks of Government data — mandates the ECMA-376 version of Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) standard and productivity suites that can 'read and write' the .docx format, effectively locking the country's public servants into using Microsoft Office. The policy [PDF] also appears to limit desktop operating systems to large, off-the-shelf commercial offerings at the expense of smaller distributions."

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317 comments

Down under is going down, down, down (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34923916)

The land down under just went under.

Re:Down under is going down, down, down (3, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924080)

The land down under just went underer.

ftfy

Re:Down under is going down, down, down (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924332)

I wonder if this is at ends with australian government themselves, given that they're following a standard which is not implemented?

I keep seeing... (2)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34923936)

all these /. articles about gov't IT and Internet policy in OZ. It's hard to believe they're truly that clueless. (Not that us Yanks are much better off, it's just more centered around "security from terrorists," and ""intellectual property"". - same, only different)

Re:I keep seeing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34923990)

Government by bureaucrats and politicians is always guaranteed to be awful. That's what happens when you put control of everything into the hands of a few and then stop paying attention.

Amazingly, when radicals talk about opening governance [wikipedia.org] to everyone, lots of people quickly decry the idea, complaining about how idiotic "the people" are. Are all the people really any less idiotic than a small group of people? Really?

Re:I keep seeing... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924294)

Government by bureaucrats and politicians is always guaranteed to be awful. That's what happens when you put control of everything into the hands of a few and then stop paying attention.

Amazingly, when radicals talk about opening governance [wikipedia.org] to everyone, lots of people quickly decry the idea, complaining about how idiotic "the people" are. Are all the people really any less idiotic than a small group of people? Really?

Vox Populi, Vox Dei.

Re:I keep seeing... (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924380)

SOme of those ideas have some merit. But in general that smells a lot like direct Democracy and Democracy is a terrible idea. The US Founders considered it to be worse than any of the other options, Kings included. No, the answer is to keep government small enough that a) the voters have a decent shot of keeping up with what it is doing without it being a full time job and b) it doesn't have much opportunity to be evil in the first place.

Take this example. If the Australian government weren't so large that it's buying decisions pretty much dictate what everyone else uses because everyone does a large percentage of their business with the government it wouldn't matter as much what they picked. And it wouldn't be such a tempting target for backroom dirty dealing.

Re:I keep seeing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34923998)

Not clueless. These people are very smart, or at least they know how to obfuscate and obscure. But you have to wonder who is paying whom - follow the money!

While I'm here, anyone know if non-proprietary solutions were evaluated at all and how come Freedom didn't trump proprietary? Or was the whole process just a cosy little chat under the bedsheets behind locked doors with the vendor of said proprietary standard?

Re:I keep seeing... (5, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924068)

They're not clueless. They're very smart. It's just that their priorities aren't your priorities. Their priority is putting money in their pocket. Who do you figure hands out money? It's not the linux geeks I'll tell ya that much. :)

Re:I keep seeing... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924146)

Follow the cash flow. This keeps a lot of IT departments in cash and expanding. Running around fixing, converting, working with, upgrading, testing... MS keep the support teams very productive.
Where where the other US products Australia could have selected from?
Or Microsoft offered some very unique file tracking options.
From simple unique identifiers too ??
From schools to gov to states, to teaching hospitals, MS has been very busy in Australia.

Re:I keep seeing... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924328)

But MS Office doesn't even follow the standard, does it? Does that mean that the government has to shut down since it can't produce any documents?

Re:I keep seeing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924506)

It sounds MS has it's workers ruling Australia. With taxes from all over the world the monopoly has enough money to buy any government.
OOXML is MS-closed standard which it also bought to named as "open" standard. Funny open standard, which only MS can read/produce.

Re:I keep seeing... (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924166)

all these /. articles about gov't IT and Internet policy in OZ. It's hard to believe they're truly that clueless. (Not that us Yanks are much better off, it's just more centered around "security from terrorists," and ""intellectual property"". - same, only different)

I think most (or all?) aside from this have actually been speculation, rumors or things that have failed pretty epically long before implementation.

Re:I keep seeing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924342)

It's sniffing too much asbestos, uranium, opals and pearls which have caused these relapses of common sense. However mighty the mermaids, the magical elephant princesses or the traditions of the great sleep are, they can't save the Australian public from the IT humiliations caused by their governments hungry, hungry habits.

Re:I keep seeing... (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924466)

all these /. articles about gov't IT and Internet policy in OZ. It's hard to believe they're truly that clueless.

Do you think politicians anywhere aren't dumb?

US govt aso hands out no-bid contracts and sets some rather stupid standards. Same thing with the UK govt, Japanese govt, German govt ad nausium.

The thing about this standard is that I doubt it will be followed, the Australian Public Service is really a feudal nightmare on multiple levels. The king of IT will always be fighting the King of accounting. Then of course the king of Council A will fight with the King of Council B for funding, that the internal feuds have the fuel needed to continue. The same story continues up to the parliamentary level, with Abbott (opposition leader) and Gillard (Prime Minister) trading pointless jabs at each other in parliament question time.

Slashdot must have Aussie owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924522)

Rupert Murdoch? Whoever. But why else would every third story here be from or about Australia?

It just doesn't end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34923940)

It's just one crazy law after another down under..
Getting more and more limiting by the day.
Almost like they're releasing their own patriot act in little chunks instead of one bill.
Probably got a pile of these lined up, just itching for an attack to push them all out at once.

Re:It just doesn't end (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924276)

It's just one crazy law after another down under..

What crazy laws have there been? And this is just some govt policy, not a law.

does office even support the standard? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34923942)

iirc, even MS office doesn't use the standard as published ???

Re:does office even support the standard? (2)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924116)

Their implementation is not even reliable across different versions.

But then again I'm not really surprised. IE also has problems with some MS-specific aspects of Microsoft's own Javascript dialect, even if you follow the specifications to the letter.

Re:does office even support the standard? (1)

trampel (464001) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924182)

That was my thought as well - there were those stories that not even MS Office supported OOXML completely (that talk about no existing reference implementation).

I guess Australia will go back to typewriters and ledgers ...

Re:does office even support the standard? (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924546)

To be fair: how is the cross-application support for ODF? Does it really look the same in various word processors? Honest question, not trying to troll here.

I'm using OpenOffice.org myself exclusively - no fancy layout or any advanced features though - and it works fine. Only sharing within the office, all identical software.

But in this situation .doc(x) works fine too, especially when you do not share documents.

To me it seems that it is still a big problem to standardise and reliably implement a format for storing formatted, editable text. We all know how reliable the html format is, and that's not even meant to be editable.

good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34923960)

so there standardizing everything? sounds good to me...

Re:good? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924004)

so there standardizing everything? sounds good to me...

Too bad they haven't standardized their grade school grammar and capitalization tests.

This is why... (0, Troll)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34923968)

This is why I can never bring myself to move to Linux and cut ties with Windows entirely. It's just too much hassle when you end up having to interact with content produced using Windows-only software and you cannot guarantee perfect parsing of the file formats used.

I confess, Windows 7 with Office 2010 has basically meant I've given up. It's time to give up the fight against Microsoft and succumb. There are too many other stresses and important things in life to give a shit anymore about open-source and freedom and whatnot, particularly since you're surrounded by people (real, physical people and not Internet avatars) who don't care about such things and hence you can't have a useful discussion with them about.

The world is not moving towards greater openness. I don't think we can win anymore. It's fucking depressing.

Re:This is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34923996)

It's called capitalism, get used to it.
As long as the entire western world keeps sucking Americas !@#$ it's not going anywhere.

Re:This is why... (2)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924036)

It's not capitalism. Capitalism is based on open markets. When a government mandates a certain platform that is not open. Actually....it's more like socialism.

Re:This is why... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924130)

Government is mandating for itself, not for companies or anyone else. There is no political theory that prevents the government from choosing its own internal tools, it would make no sense (except completely stateless anarchism, I guess).

What could - but its hard to say - be happening here is corruption, which is possible in every organization (including private companies) regardless of the political ideology.

Re:This is why... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924250)

If you have to interact with government systems and the system confines you to one platform for that task it is by default a government mandate. You must use the platform specified to do business with the government. If you don't want to do any government business of course their is no problem. Nice.

Re:This is why... (4, Interesting)

bieber (998013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924026)

Speak for yourself. I haven't used Windows in years, and I haven't suffered for it. Anytime I'm forced to open an office document (which is more often than you would think over the course of a CS degree), I just use Openoffice and everything works.

At least at University, I'm seeing more and more students primarily using free operating systems. In my CS courses especially, it's all over the place: a show-of-hands survey in one of my upper-levels recently had probably upwards of ten Linux users in a class of thirty. Of course, it's a lot more prevalent among CS students, but even among the less technical students Linux usage is extremely common. When I first got here, I was shocked when I would see a Linux laptop or two near me in a class...nowadays I'm a little surprised if I don't.

Free software may not be catching on as well as we would like with the older generations, but it most certainly is with the younger folks.

Re:This is why... (5, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924028)

That's right. Freedom is a lot of trouble. Just give it up.

Re:This is why... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924120)

Freedom is only trouble because it steps on the toes of the powerful.

Re:This is why... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924282)

freedom is trouble because you have to get your fat ass off the couch to claim it.

Re:This is why... (1)

aiht (1017790) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924320)

freedom is trouble because you have to get your fat ass off the couch to claim it.

Freedom is trouble because you and enough other people to make a difference have to get your (our!) fat arses off the couch.


(That's right, I said "arses". I'm Australian, and I don't have an ass or any other equine.)

representative govt. and squeaky wheels (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924058)

The thing about government and politicians is a small number of loud and aggressive people can change things. Sure you can give up, but open standards are good for consumers, good for every business that doesn't have a locked down IT product, good for transparent government. Quit if you want to, but they haven't won.

Re:This is why... (1)

CommanderEl (765634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924066)

I'd argue that greater openness isn't what we should be striving to achieve. Openness stunts development because no one is trying to one-up each other and that having private, closed environments can be healthy in the development of new technologies.

If America and the USSR had open space programmes, do you think they'd still be assing around trying to get to the moon right now?

Re:This is why... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924158)

What about the ISS, the LHC and all those science programs which are based on international cooperation, and hence openness? Openness doesn't preclude competition. In fact, it stimulates it by ensuring you can't rest on previous achievements, since they'll all be copied soon.

Of course, I don't see what any of this has anything to do with the choice of software by the government - it's not their secrets that closeness is protecting, it's lock-in to manufacturers.

Re:This is why... (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924454)

I'd argue that greater openness isn't what we should be striving to achieve. Openness stunts development because no one is trying to one-up each other and that having private, closed environments can be healthy in the development of new technologies.

That may be true for product development, but it is a load of unadulterated steaming dog shit when it comes to standards.

For example, and here's where I get to use a car analogy, would you argue that there should be special roads for Toyota that Ford can't use at all and Mercedes Benz has only figured out how to drive backwards on? Perhaps Mercedes could require mandatory 6-monthly servicing to ensure that all other cars attempting to drive on their roads crash by frequently changing the way the roads are built?

How about a different type wall outlet for each appliance in your house, including different pin size, shape and arrangement as well as different voltages and frequencies? Some AC and some DC?

Sounds abso-fucking-lutely tremendous to me! So much opportunity to get rich!!! BRILLANT!

Or didn't you read the bit about this being about carriage and storage of information across a large group of often disparate organisations, much like roads are for the carriage and storage of cars?

A format is not a product. Software that reads and writes a format is and if a commercial company can compete on quality without having to resort to creating false "standards" good on them. If an information storage format is so dependant on kludges and proprietary code, then it clearly has no place in public service.

Re:This is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924070)

Open Office works for most things. In the rare case where it doesn't you have VMware, VirtualBox, WINE, etc.

I haven't used Windows as my primary OS in something like 12 years (not since VMware was beta). This despite having to work with lots of Windows-centric projects and vendors. VMware eliminated the need to have Windows loaded as the primary OS.

I can still use Windows when I absolutely have to but have the security, power and performance of Linux as my primary OS.

Re:This is why... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924072)

This is why I can never bring myself to move to Linux and cut ties with Windows entirely. It's just too much hassle when you end up having to interact with content produced using Windows-only software and you cannot guarantee perfect parsing of the file formats used.

This is indeed why I keep a Windows partition around, occasionally remote into a Windows terminal server or boot a VM.

But I'm not quiet about it. If they can write docx, that implies they've got a decently new version of Word. Decently new versions of Word natively support odt.

Fortunately, I find I have to do this less and less, both as I have fewer documents I have to read from people period, and as people get the hint and start producing PDFs that everyone can read.

It's time to give up the fight against Microsoft and succumb.

Remember IE6? Remember how fucking long we were stuck with IE6?

Because a few people kept fighting, we have Firefox. Call them crazy, call them zealots, but it worked. In the end, they dragged Microsoft kicking and screaming into this century.

That has to continue. Microsoft has repeatedly shown that they only really do their best work when they actually have competition. Let them completely dominate an area, and you end up with crap like Vista, and the long, long gap between IE6 and IE7.

I'm sorry you've given up. It also means you've become part of the problem -- you're yet another person who might one day decide to email me a docx instead of a pdf, an odf, or even html.

Re:This is why... (-1, Troll)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924174)

I'm sorry you've given up. It also means you've become part of the problem -- you're yet another person who might one day decide to email me a docx instead of a pdf, an odf, or even html.

Here's the thing - we're all gonna die in the end, so all these fights against proprietary formats won't mean jack. On my deathbed I doubt I'm gonna care any longer about whether I should have kept up the good fight and regret my decision to move to more proprietary systems. No-one will care.

In life we pick the battles we can fight. These are potentially important issues, but basically given you're effectively saying about 90% of people are part of the "problem", I don't give a fuck anymore. Life shouldn't have to be some damn crusade.

Re:This is why... (5, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924346)

Here's the thing - we're all gonna die in the end, so all these fights against proprietary formats won't mean jack.

In that case, so is replying. Yet you seem to care enough about justifying your position (perhaps to yourself) to reply, so don't give me this nihilistic bullshit.

In life we pick the battles we can fight. These are potentially important issues, but basically given you're effectively saying about 90% of people are part of the "problem", I don't give a fuck anymore.

When 90% of the people are part of the problem is when I absolutely do care.

Take another battle I've picked: Religion. There's a small minority which does some really [google.com] crazy [mgmbill.org] shit [youtube.com] . And they get away with it in the name of "religious tolerange", because a majority of the world believes enough crazy [photobucket.com] shit [motifake.com] of [southparkstudios.com] their [southparkstudios.com] own [creationmuseum.org] that it takes a lot to make us as a culture say, no, you can't let your child die because you'd rather fucking pray than get help. [whatstheharm.net]

Easily 80-90% of the US population is religious, which makes it a safe bet that you are, too -- probably also Christian, probably believe faith is a virtue. If so, merely by supporting the idea that faith is a virtue, you are encouraging yourself and those around you to turn off their critical thinking and skepticism when the situation calls for it. That kind of thinking leads to atrocities [whatstheharm.net] . Never mind that merely by calling yourself "Christian", you lend credibility to these fuckwits [godhatesfags.com] .

Am I going to win? Not really. I do hope to reinforce separation of church and state, to promote actual science education instead of "Intelligent Design", and to establish some basic rights the religious would deny, like the right to marry. I'd love to see people tolerate less of the extremists. I really doubt I'm going to see the religious become a minority in my lifetime.

But you know what? I'd like to think that when I'm lying on my deathbed, I lived for things that matter. I'd like to think that I'd still be the kind of person who would be ashamed to think I gave up because it was too hard, or because there were too many people who disagreed with me.

Life shouldn't have to be some damn crusade.

You're right, it shouldn't. But this is the world we live in, and there are some issues which tend towards exactly that -- either you're a good little worker propping up the status quo, or you're actually helping to move things forward.

And life should be meaningful -- and it's up to you to find that meaning. Maybe you honestly don't care, but that's not what I'm hearing. What I'm hearing is that you do care, you're just too lazy to do anything about it anymore.

Yet somehow, you're not too lazy to post, and to try to justify how much you don't care. That says a lot.

Re:This is why... (1)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924390)

In that case, so is replying. Yet you seem to care enough about justifying your position (perhaps to yourself) to reply, so don't give me this nihilistic bullshit.

It's called a rant. People do it on Facebook and Twitter all the time, and on forums for even longer. I care enough to reply, because it's bothered me for ages. Trust me, this will be the last I say of it but won't be the last anyone else says of it.

which makes it a safe bet that you are, too -- probably also Christian, probably believe faith is a virtue.

Technically I'm Greek Orthodox but I'm not practicing. I'm not ready to say there is no God, but I'm not prepared to believe in a God either.

Am I going to win? Not really. I do hope to reinforce separation of church and state, to promote actual science education instead of "Intelligent Design", and to establish some basic rights the religious would deny, like the right to marry. I'd love to see people tolerate less of the extremists. I really doubt I'm going to see the religious become a minority in my lifetime.

Good, you're realistic about your hopes and hence are someone who understands how the real world works (compared to some zealots who can't see reason).

But you know what? I'd like to think that when I'm lying on my deathbed, I lived for things that matter.

Ditto. I suppose we just have differing opinions as to what matters enough.

ou're right, it shouldn't. But this is the world we live in, and there are some issues which tend towards exactly that -- either you're a good little worker propping up the status quo, or you're actually helping to move things forward.

And life should be meaningful -- and it's up to you to find that meaning. Maybe you honestly don't care, but that's not what I'm hearing. What I'm hearing is that you do care, you're just too lazy to do anything about it anymore.

Yet somehow, you're not too lazy to post, and to try to justify how much you don't care. That says a lot.

I've tried to convert to Linux, on and off, for about 5 years. Believe me it's not for a lack of trying. However, time has caught up with me and it's become clear that instead of actually using my computer, I've instead focused more on trying to get the Linux desktop up to scratch with the standards I've become accustomed to in Windows. I've given up because I've realized how much time I've wasted try to achieve something I ALREADY HAVE (i.e. Windows), so why am I making life more difficult for myself?

I care because of all the suck effort I guess. All that time I won't get back for a pursuit that wasn't (for me) a worthy goal.

Re:This is why... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924536)

Not sure you realize this, but many people are STILL stuck with MSIE6.

And for Microsoft, competition is a "last resort" measure.

Re:This is why... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924078)

Or you could just use different tools for different jobs instead of trying to do everything with one. I use Xubuntu (or Wary Puppy if the machines is more than 2 years old) as a "Use this if you break your PC until you can get it to me" for those customers that can tear up a Sherman tank with a toothbrush, and it works just fine. I have also set up several older machines with Edubuntu for kids and any old 1.5GHz and up with 512Mb of RAM makes a great "my first PC" for the kiddies while giving them plenty of learning tools that are fun to use.

But to try to switch the masses to using Linux daily? Or interacting with businesses and government? You'd really have more luck pissing in the wind. There is always one app and unlike what many FOSS advocates think it is NEVER Windows or Office that ends up biting you in the ass, like Photoshop, Quickbooks, that app they need to run from work, etc that there NEVER seems to be even a halfass solution that will work on Linux, and of course all those proprietary data formats takes a big old bite out of your ass when dealing with businesses.

So don't try to build a house with just a screwdriver, use the right tools at the right times. If you want to use Linux at home just set up a dual boot or use a cheap KVM switch and have a dedicated Linux box. That way that "Windows only" app can't bite you in the ass and you can still play/surf/do whatever in Linux without consequences. I tried selling Linux boxes alongside Windows and quickly found out unless the customer was an ubergeek (in which case they wouldn't be buying B&M, they'd be DIY) there was simply too many gotchas involved. Now I simply hand out a Linux live CD with the PC and if they break their PC on a weekend it'll get them through until they can bring her in. But even then I found I never had a customer go "I want to keep that live CD thing, can you install it?" but instead got "I was able to check my mail okay but it won't run (insert Windows app) so I need my real PC fixed." I've found it is just better to accept it and move on and leave the evangelism for the militants.

Re:This is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924218)

Works for my father, has done for 3 or 4 years now.

I love a luddite country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34923988)

I love a luddite country
A land of vendor-locked red-tape ..

Re:I love a luddite country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924224)

A land of vendor-locked red-tape ..

Damn those open standards back to hell from whence they came! We want...wait what?

Compression must default to .zip (1)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34923992)

Urgh.

Even better, mandated support for .zip as the default compression format. LZMA is so much better, and free too.

7-zip does have a pretty horrible UI though. I can see why you might want to standardise on WinZip, but still use LZMA compression.

I also note that Firefox's crap central management support will probably also rule it out of being included in Aussie federal SOEs. Guess it'll be the latest version of IE for the government (again)...

Re:Compression must default to .zip (5, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924086)

The nice thing about .zip is that it is, in fact, supported everywhere, out of the box.

It's also nice in that it actually supports directory trees. The legacy lzma, and the newer xz, well, don't. I like tar in principle, and I use these formats for all sorts of things that I don't have to share with others, but there are definitely cases where zip is nice -- where it's nice to be able to effectively "mount" a zipfile, "seek" to an appropriate file within it, and read it, without having to decompress the whole thing. This is why zip is used by tons of games, where they might not even be using compression, but they can't trust most filesystems to handle that many small files properly. It's why it's used by both OpenDocument and MS OOXML -- it's the easiest way imaginable to embed multiple files into a single document, including multiple XML files that are compressed well.

It also depends what your goals are. Zip compresses and decompresses a hell of a lot faster than lzma. These days, I standardize on either lzop for speed or xz for compression ratio, but zip and gzip are nice compromises.

Re:Compression must default to .zip (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924392)

This is why they don't let nerds make decisions like this - you're generally clueless. Being free and getting a better compression ratio would be fairly low in their priority list.

Re:Compression must default to .zip (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924458)

Chrome s making some progress on the policy side in windows.

Locked in Already (1)

CommanderEl (765634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924012)

Is there any doubt that the Australian Government were locked in because of volume licenses and their user base familiarity to the Microsoft product anyway?

Is this really such a big issue? Microsoft isn't the personification of the devil, they're a business who are good at doing business. A little less tall poppy syndrome is in order.

Re:Locked in Already (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924150)

Is this really 'locked in' though? An ECMA and ISO certified standard.

Re:Locked in Already (1)

CommanderEl (765634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924214)

From a financial perspective and the decisions made in the past, they probably already have budget forecasts for the use of Microsoft Office suites for the next 25 years.

Re:Locked in Already (1)

sltd (1182933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924222)

Technically, you can read OOXML in the latest OpenOffice. However, they probably are just assuming that since it's a Microsoft-backed standard, Microsoft Office actually produces valid OOXML files. Unfortunately, that just isn't true, so if they ever make an attempt at interacting with another program, it won't work very well, which will result in this lock in.

Re:Locked in Already (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924370)

Is this really 'locked in' though? An ECMA and ISO certified standard.

Actually just the ECMA standard. Nobody, not even Microsoft supports the ISO standard. So yep, effectively locked in.

Re:Locked in Already (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924446)

Actually just the ECMA standard. .... So yep, effectively locked in.

Locked in to standards-conformant software...hrm...

Re:Locked in Already (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924586)

So indeed basically nothing changes because I don't believe they moved from OO to Word.

Re:Locked in Already (2)

ancienthart (924862) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924272)

But why go with a commercial format when OpenDocument formats have been around earlier, supported for longer and on just as many (if not more) software packages, including Microsoft Office? There's nothing saying that we can't use Microsoft Office and store/save in OpenDocument. All the IT managers would need to do is change a site-wide setting for default save format.

I get the feel that it's a bit more than the Government being locked in with volume licenses. I suspect that either:
1) There was a bit of pressure on them from Microsoft to support the format, either though threats of "renegotiating volume licenses" (Which Microsoft has done to the Australian Government in the past) or promises of lower costs;
2) Microsoft spread a bit of FUD to the government officials about their version being "better supported", which is completely ridiculous when you consider the concept of an OPEN document format. :/,
or my favourite supposition;
3) The people who make these decisions are misinformed, as well as too lazy/stupid to properly research alternatives.

As a government employee, I'd love the Australian Government to get the balls to publicly announce a project to trial opensource alternatives (Firefox instead of IE, OpenOffice/LibreOffice instead of Microsoft Office) in pilot schools/offices/whatever. Even if it didn't happen, I'd imagine that Microsoft would scrabble to keep such a big customer by offering some discounts. (If they didn't just bring out the big stick again.) Wow, we might be able to cut an IT expense that comes out of the taxpayer's pocket ... naahhh, that sounds too much like common sense.
Thank god we've switched to a web-based email/calender a'la Gmail/GCalender-like system. That's one set of Outlook license that we can hopefully get rid of in the future.

*sigh* If it wasn't so hot, dry and isolated in the Northern Territory, I'd be tempted to teach there simply because they've switched to Linux. I guess Microsoft wasn't concerned enough about keeping that territory as a customer to bring out the big twitchy stick.

Re:Locked in Already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924530)

If it wasn't so hot, dry and isolated in the Northern Territory...

You've obviously never been to Darwin in the wet season.

Naming of OOXML a really dirty trick by MS (5, Interesting)

mmj638 (905944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924014)

Sneaking the word "Open" into this specification was a really dirty trick by Microsoft because

- it implies that this standard is somewhat "open", and the word "open" has positive connotations
- it (seemingly deliberately) creates confusion with "Open Office" ie the product OpenOffice.org, or open source in general.

I wouldn't be surprised if a number of people were taken in by this, thinking that by making the decision to support OOXML they were somehow contributing to more "openness" in the sense of open government and/or open source.

Re:Naming of OOXML a really dirty trick by MS (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924052)

Nothing new...it's similar to calling a tyranical government a "people's" republic.

Re:Naming of OOXML a really dirty trick by MS (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924398)

That's usually accurate, for certain values of "people."

Re:Naming of OOXML a really dirty trick by MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924088)

Stalling tactic - new law requiring reading of the specification aloud. Have you seen the documentation [ecma-international.org] ? War and Peace is a few times smaller.

Ironically (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924304)

Said documentation is in .docx format...

Re:Naming of OOXML a really dirty trick by MS (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924172)

Like calling a windowing operating system "Windows"? Or an office suite "Office"? Or a word processor "Word"? Or a worldwide identity "Passport"? Or a competitor to Java called ".net"? How in the holy shit do you search for ".net"?

"I want to do [x] in .NET"

Results: you can do anything at zombo com. Anything at all.

Fuck their marketing department, it makes it impossible to search for anything relevant until the search engines optimize for their retardedness.

Re:Naming of OOXML a really dirty trick by MS (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924216)

dotNET works pretty good. That or the API name or one of the languages (C#, VB.NET, ADO.NET, etc.)

Re:Naming of OOXML a really dirty trick by MS (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924268)

How in the holy shit do you search for ".net"?

god forbid you need help doing something in GIMP.

Re:Naming of OOXML a really dirty trick by MS (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924480)

Or the time I was trying to flip a \ding{51} in LaTeX. That was an interesting search.

(LaTeX is the most interesting language to search for, which is why I use the book so much at work)

Re:Naming of OOXML a really dirty trick by MS (0)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924202)

Sneaking the word "Open" into this specification was a really dirty trick by Microsoft because

I'm not sure "sneaking" is the correct term here - the word is used several times in the specification, so it's not like they're trying to hide the word from view somehow.

Also, how is it a dirty trick? There's no dirt involved really, even if the standard isn't as open as we'd like. It's a simple tactic that worked, so maybe you're just annoyed that it worked.

Re:Naming of OOXML a really dirty trick by MS (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924514)

Using government and politics to push an unimplemented standard through the fastrack process is a dirty rule breaking move. The fastrack process is for "standards" that are in current use and has been fully implemented. OOXML is neither of those. The fact that ISO is supposed to be separate from political influences and was completely ursurped by it is another example.

Are you intentionally looking the other way or do you simply not know what happened?

That's why I always preferred MOOXML (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924484)

MOOXML, aka Microsoft Open Office XML

Quick! Spread the meme!

Typical (4, Interesting)

Twigmon (1095941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924044)

Unfortunately this seems pretty typical of this government. They like to make policies up on the spot and those policies don't have any thought put into them. We've had stimulus spending that - helped keep the economy going. They didn't actually plan what they were going to spend on though and they never put proper policies in place and we ended up spending way too much on stuff that didn't work.

I especially like the opt-out section:

51. This policy is subject to the process for administration of opt-outs from Whole-ofGovernment arrangements.
52. Initial opt-out considerations will be factored into the transition plan and are expected to
show how alignment to the policy will be achieved as part of the transition plan. Claims for
opting out will not be considered during the transition phase.
53. When seeking an opt-out, an agency will need to include a remediation plan to detail how it
will return to the WofG COE policy. Opt-outs are limited to a maximum of 3 years, after
which the original business case will be reassessed to ensure it is still valid.
54. While it is recognised that agencies may have a need to develop separate SOE images, it is
expected that these images will comply with the standards set out for the COE to ensure
that agencies can still share data and services in a seamless manner.

Whoa shite! Opting out is a massive process and has to be reviewed every 3 years.............

Re:Typical (1)

julioody (867484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924228)

Unfortunately this seems pretty typical of this government. They like to make policies up on the spot and those policies don't have any thought put into them.

Oh I like to think that there's just the right amount of thought put into this. Let me guess how it went: a MS rep took the right people out for dinner, blow, and hookers, and that's pretty much all it took.

Because frankly, there's no shortage of OSS advocates in touch with the government. That at least at some point in the discussion someone would've pointed out that when MS says free, they don't mean it, I can almost guarantee.

Sure, I got no proof of what I'm saying, but neither does the next guy who thinks that incompetence comes first than malice, when lobbying is a well documented phenomena.

Re:Typical (1)

AfroTrance (984230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924556)

Unfortunately this seems pretty typical of this government.

Which government? The stimulus stuff came from the executive branch of the government. This apparently comes from AGIMO. I assume the people who run this are not members of/affiliated with the Labor or Liberal party. I assume that they make their decisions mostly independent of whatever party is in control of the government.

Do you really think the same person(s) who thought of the stimulus also decided something as insignificant and mundane as what standard documents are stored as? Or that these two things are somehow (even remotely) related and a symptom of an inept 'government'?

Australia truely is the unlucky country (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924054)

~223 years on, they are still ruled by idiots.

Re:Australia truely is the unlucky country (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924110)

~223 years on, they are still ruled by idiots.

Was ever a country ruled by smart people? Please provide examples if possible.

Re:Australia truely is the unlucky country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924138)

You're presuming people want to be ruled. Fuck that. I want freedom from government.

Re:Australia truely is the unlucky country (1)

DeathFromSomewhere (940915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924528)

Must be pretty nice to be able to say that on a network developed by a government agency.

Re:Australia truely is the unlucky country (2)

GrpA (691294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924208)

~223 years on, they are still ruled by idiots.

Was ever a country ruled by smart people? Please provide examples if possible.

Hutt River Province... [principali...-river.com]

Seems rather pertinent under the circumstances.

It is, after all, the second biggest country in Australia.

GrpA

Re:Australia truely is the unlucky country (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924518)

~223 years on, they are still ruled by idiots.

Was ever a country ruled by smart people? Please provide examples if possible.

Hutt River Province... [principali...-river.com]

Seems rather pertinent under the circumstances.

It is, after all, the second biggest country in Australia.

GrpA

Is secession still possible?
How does it work with "compulsory land acquisition" laws - see the current Kimberley-related [gasland.com.au] matters?

Re:Australia truely is the unlucky country (2)

flanktwo (1041494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924580)

Can't comment on the "smart people" bit, but if a kingdom is ruled by a king and a principality is ruled by a prince, then a country is ruled by...

Re:Australia truely is the unlucky country (1)

blind monkey 3 (773904) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924450)

~223 years on, they are still ruled by idiots.
If only! Sycophants (Imagine a prime minister saying I did but see her passing by, and yet I love her till I die". About the Queen...)
and [smh.com.au] (G.W. Bush visit, US agents decide who gets into our parliament, allow CNN in despite Australian security saying no)
lackeys [abc.net.au] (Chinese officials allowed to question Chinese political dissidents .. in private... one by one...) would be far more accurate.

Wait ... (1)

bsquizzato (413710) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924196)

According to the policy PDF, the only limitation is that the office application used supports ECMA-376. It doesn't state whether it needs to be ECMA-376 Strict or Transitional conformance.

So why couldn't someone use one of these [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Wait ... (2)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924510)

It's even more confusing than that. Ecma-376 [ecma-international.org] has two editions, the first being rejected by ISO and the second being accepted as ISO/IEC 29500. The first was more or less Microsoft's old proprietary format, and the second includes either "transitional" or "strict" versions. I suppose the Aussie standard means ecma-376, 2nd edition (since it's newer), and either the transitional or strict formats contained therein. In that case, TFA seems to be close to correct--MS Office appears to be one of the only software suites that supports it.

Jumping the gun (1)

apoorv020 (1979200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924198)

Are we not jumping the gun with the claim that this will lock people into Microsoft Office? OpenOffice does open and write .docx format(if I remember correctly) and only the document standard is fixed, not the software to be used. I Don't see any other choice for a standard, since the standard has to be widely used and Microsoft Office is the market leader right now.

Re:Jumping the gun (2)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924298)

From the article,

Applications that only support .docx read capabilities include Apple's iWork, IBM's Lotus Notes, Oracle's OpenOffice.Org and Google Docs, amongst others.

I also just checked, and it's true--I can't save as .docx with OO.O Writer. Read-only capability isn't good enough, since "[software] must have the ability to read and write the endorsed file format".

Most public servants daily lives are unaffected... (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924232)

...as long as the Australian Government doesn't lock them into Myspace over Facebook.

Good, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924242)

Now Office 2007 would be incompliant .

I read this as... (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924300)

Australian government announces that it will officially keep doing what it has done for years.

aka - use microsoft products. Not sure how this is news, but I guess it gives the /. ers something to complain about.

Insist on FULL compliance with the standard (5, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924322)

If they insist on actual compliance with the standard, even MS will be out...

Is it really that hard? (1)

drdrgivemethenews (1525877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924368)

I'd like to see some experience from someone small who's tried to support OOXML as standardized by ISO. All this polemic is just that.

That's a GUARANTEE there will be leaks (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924394)

Was Australia not paying attention to the Stuxnet situation? It was a HIGHLY TARGETTED malware designed for the purpose of infiltration of very specific systems. The fact that Windows and office is a highly predictable execution environment guarantees that there will be vectors of attack that Australia will be vulnerable to. And there WILL be people who see this as easily as I do because I'm no genius in these matters. And of course, the empowerment of anonymity combined with the foolishness of youth, they just painted a big target on their backs if for no other reason than the "glory" of it all.

Re:That's a GUARANTEE there will be leaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924592)

Difference is, we're not making nuclear fuel against the wishes of powerful countries with our word processors :)

Re:That's a GUARANTEE there will be leaks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34924596)

Eh, their hackers are too drunk on fosters to notice. Not to mention they'll be too busy eating kangaroo smeared with vegemite and playing didgeridoos to get much hacking in.

Public information should be open (5, Informative)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924416)

As long as they provide information to the public in an open format such as HTML or PDF, I don't care what they adopt in an SOE.

The major beef I do have however, is the Windows only tax return software provided by the Australian Taxation Office. The fact that I have to use Windows if I want to file my tax return electronically is totally unacceptable.

Franklin's words seem apropos (1)

jargonburn (1950578) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924420)

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. *sigh*

Re:Franklin's words seem apropos (1)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924512)

No... no that doesn't really apply. But it is a GREAT quote :)

Business as usual. (1)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34924554)

This really isn't a drastic change from policy that was already in place within many government agencies in Australia.

As much as our Amercian cousins here on slashdot lament the stupidity of their representatives they are streets ahead of those who inhabit the parliaments of Australia in terms of their tech savvyness - our mob are truly luddites and assume that M$ are the only competent people in the whole IT industry.

It's especially true in the national capital... it's one of the few places in the country where you can get a job in IT with reasonable working conditions. The unfortunate down side is that unless it's defence or foreign affairs no one seems to have heard of any other OS apart from windows.

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