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Dutch Government Adopts Open Source Software Initiative

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the who-doesn't-love-a-good-open-government dept.

Software 118

christian.einfeldt writes "The Dutch government has set a target date of April 2008 for its agencies to start preferentially using open standards-based software. Organizations in the government will still be able to use proprietary software and formats ... but will have to justify it. A Microsoft Netherlands spokesman claims that Microsoft's Office productivity suite will still be used widely in the Dutch government until April, and that Microsoft Office will comply with the new Dutch rules once Microsoft's so-called "Open Office XML" standard is approved as an international ISO standard in February."

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I love it (1, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697106)

I love my country, now and then. This is such a moment.

And I love Microsoft's comment as well. Now lets first see that they manage to make OOXML an open standard! But at least someone still beliefs in it. It's so heartwarming. And actually a bid sad.

Re:I love it (4, Insightful)

DFJA (680282) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697178)

I can't help thinking that we are seeing a tide starting to turn in mainland Europe - governments and public organisations are starting to wake up. It's a case of 2 steps forward, one step back, but progress none-the-less.

Now if only the Dutch could export this way of thinking across the North Sea to us non-mainland Europeans, we'd all be happy......

Brazil too, if I recall correctly (1)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697310)

Brazil too has directed ms crap not be used if I recall correctly. ms was furious over that one ( tee hee, cheer cheer cheer ! ) ya know how to send a message to the capt. of a battleship? use a torpedo

Re:Brazil too, if I recall correctly (5, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697800)

This is not about 'MS crap'. This is about open standards. If MS adopts open standards for use in their programs, their software can still be used.

Re:Brazil too, if I recall correctly (1)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698042)

it most assuredly IS about ms crap

Re:Brazil too, if I recall correctly (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699382)

I suggest you read the article and think before splurting out clueless nonsense like you did here.

Re:Brazil too, if I recall correctly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21700806)

it most assuredly IS about ms crap
Look at how stupid you are.

Re:Brazil too, if I recall correctly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21698828)

"If MS adopts open standards for use in their programs, their software can still be used."

I'd be happy to eat my words. But it will be a cold day in Hell before that happens. It will always be some variation of an open standard coming from Microsoft.

Re:I love it (2, Interesting)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697436)

Now if only the Dutch could export this way of thinking across the North Sea to us non-mainland Europeans, we'd all be happy...
Assuming you mean the UK, you should perhaps have a read of the eGIF rules sometime. They're quite explicit - while proprietary software is not forbidden, open standards and formats are very strongly encouraged. Failing to comply with the rules can result in funding being pulled.

Now I don't know how vigorously the rules are enforced, but certainly the times that I've worked with various governmental bodies they have been very keen indeed on using open standards and software as far as possible. It's a pragmatic approach though - if a proprietary solution really is the best, all things considered, then that's what'll be used.

IBM didn't sink overnight either (2, Insightful)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698102)

IBM didn't sink from prominence overnight. It took from about 1980 to about 2000

at first there was a whisper of dissent along the hall in acedemia

and then new voices joined the complaint

and the pundits all screamed we are set upon by fools

and as it turned out the king actually did not have any clothes at all.

Re:IBM didn't sink overnight either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21700738)

Wow, mod +1 Insightful...

Re:IBM didn't sink overnight either (2, Insightful)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700768)

Did IBM sink?
FWIW, I've heard that they're worth a lot more now than they were in 1980. They just don't control as large a proportion of the computing industry. But the industry's gotten a lot bigger.

My information says that IBM is a larger and more profitable company than MS. They just aren't quite a centralized, so they don't have as many superstars. (I.e., MS has two, Gates and Balmer. IBM doesn't have any.)

OTOH, what IBM *did* do during that period was reinvent itself.

Re:I love it (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697852)

I can't help thinking that we are seeing a tide starting to turn in mainland Europe

Yes [bbc.co.uk] : "Open source gets European boost"

Quote: "The European Commission has added its voice to the debate about the use of open source software. A report funded by the Commission concludes that the software could offer considerable savings to organisations with little effect on their business."

It is viral :)

CC.

Re:I love it (5, Insightful)

fjhb (1169335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697246)

It doesn't matter how "open" OOXML is, or if it'll become an "open standard". The bottom line is, that whatever it becomes, it'll never be a specification of all the secrets that Microsoft Office puts in its file formats. Things like autoSpaceLikeWord95, etc, must remain secrets since their secrecy is the only thing that makes MS-Office worth buying.

Re:I love it (2, Informative)

Sczi (1030288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697552)

See, I don't think that secrecy is the only thing that makes ms office worth buying. It really is a fairly nice package in most respects (except price.. $400?!), and of course it integrates well with Windows. The latest versions come with lots of options and clip art and little niceties that users like, and I think even if MS switched to ODF by default, they would still sell just as many copies of Office. Hell, they could sell a suite of conversion tools to batch convert from proprietary formats to odf across Windows networks. So the question then becomes: if you can make just as much money by playing nice, why do you still feel the need to throw sand in everyone's face at every turn? If only MS would use its powers for good instead of evil... instead, it's a big game of monopoly (literally and figuratively) where they haven't won unless they get every single dollar.

Re:I love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21697696)

I don't think that the comment above spoke about MS Office but about the format use by this software. Personally I don't care if people prefer to spend a lot of money on an Office suite but I care a lot to be able to read a document whith the software I want to use and not to be force to upgrade every time the compagny which is doing the software decide. Do you really think that 95% of the people need the "new" feature of MS Office? I think they are forced to upgrade because they need to open some stupid new file!

Re:I love it (2, Interesting)

Sczi (1030288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699072)

Well, sure, there's a bit of that, but I have another theory aside from people thinking they "need" it. I especially hate it here at work, because I have Office 07 due to being in the nerd quarter, whereas everyone else is on 2000 or 2003.. So we have clients that will send us docx or xlsx files, and I have to convert them. Well a VAST majority of the time, and so far I would say 100% of the time, the docx's in particular could have been written in notepad, since they have basically no formatting. The xlsx files could have just as easily been created in any version back to lotus 123. Based on the corporate pant-load asshats that send us these files, my personal theory is that MS has somehow elevated their software to be a status symbol, especially the $400 versions. These too-rich dingleberries who send us .docx files are basically showing off and getting a little power trip off of making us convert their files. I've actually had smarmy corporate types giggle at me on the phone and say things like "can't afford to migrate the whole office to 07 yet, eh? yuk yuk".. these are people who are doing things for the wrong reason, of course. I just don't think there is yet a "right reason" to use docx or xlsx for 99% of business. Maybe we need a class action lawsuit that prescribes a remedy such that MS is required to install an option to choose the default format, and be able to set the format via group policy?

smarmy corporate types (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700088)

I've actually had smarmy corporate types giggle at me on the phone and say things like "can't afford to migrate the whole office to 07 yet, eh?

I'm glad I don't have to deal with such people, who don't know how to run a business.

Falcon

Re:I love it (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701188)

When my mother's (albeit computer-illiterate, or almost so) clients can't read something[1], if she doesn't re-send the data in an acceptable format, she loses business.

OTOH, in your case it would be considered rude to simply bounce the .xlsx and .docx files as unreadable.
I therefore suggest routing them all through a computer-illiterate employee with Office 97. If (s)he cannot open the file, something must be wrong, please re-send in a tried and tested format like Office 97, thank you so very much.

But really, don't people have any manners anymore?
Isn't sending files in an unknown/unreadable/not-yet-universally-accepted format impolite?
I avoid sending anything in MS formats; if PDF won't do, and ODF is not an option, then I save as RTF. But even when I do send MS-formatted files, it's never newer than Office 97, because many people still use that and have no need for anything newer.

[1] up to and including unzipping... imagine attaching 20 different files in one e-mail just because your clients can't be bothered to learn how to fscking Extract here. *sob*

Re:I love it (1)

Sczi (1030288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701438)

But really, don't people have any manners anymore?
Isn't sending files in an unknown/unreadable/not-yet-universally-accepted format impolite?


One would think so. It is either rudeness or incompetence, and I go back and forth by the day on which I think I would prefer. I wholeheartedly agree with you, though. It really should be a matter of simple manners and courtesy. That is part of the reason why I said we are standard on 2000 AND 2003.. the administrative staff is on 03 for maximum compatibility with incoming documents (they may get 07 soon), and the sales staff is on 2000 for maximum compatibility on outgoing documents. 2000 and 2003 are actually pretty compatible, though. I think 03 saves in 00 format in most cases by default. 07 is intentionally being a prick about the whole thing.

Re:I love it (4, Insightful)

yo_tuco (795102) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698930)

"I think even if MS switched to ODF by default, they would still sell just as many copies of Office. "

Me too. So why in the Hell does MS fight ODF tooth and nail at every turn? They just can't wrap their head around the concept of winning their customer based on the merit of their product. The user has choice? OMG, the sky is falling!

Re:I love it (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700980)

So why in the Hell does MS fight ODF tooth and nail at every turn?
A colleague of mine recently asked me "somebody recently sent me a .docx document, does that mean I should buy a copy of MSO 2007?"

Many people won't replace software until it is broken, or there is an anticipation that it will break if not replaced. If MS were to (properly) support ODF, there would be nothing to come after it to 'break' their software and force an unnecessary upgrade. People could still be encouraged to upgrade, and many would, but many will resist until it is absolutely necessary.

- RG>

Re:I love it (1)

viscus (1178513) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699216)

Precisely. Microsoft using ODF wouldn't put a dent in their Office sales, especially since Outlook and Exchange Server is so established in enterprise operations (besides MS Office, I've only ever used Lotus Notes at work and it sucked in comparison). But this isn't about MS Office sales, it's about crushing OpenOffice.org and TOTAL CONTROL.

Re:I love it (1)

oupinsourse (1203246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698106)

I agree and over time economics will cause open standards to be a requirement and organizations will require complete interoperability. I'm not sure I agree with forcing anyone to use open standards through litigation, but I'm glad to see the government as an organization leaning that way strictly for it's internal policy.

You are a zealot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21700740)

People use MS Office because it is a professional tool, unlike Open Office, which is a joke in comparison.

Re:You are a zealot (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702086)

People use MS Office because it is a professional tool, unlike Open Office, which is a joke in comparison.
So Microsoft should have no problem supporting ODF then. Its not as if some joke like Open Office could possibly be a danger.

Re:I love it - the name OOXML is a misnomer (4, Informative)

jkrise (535370) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697470)

The Associated Press article yet again misquotes the MS standard as "Open Office XML". It is Office Open XML; and the tragedy is that neither is it Open; nor does Office 2007 fully support the OOXML; as documented.

The only saving grace would be for the BRM to reject this from becoming an ISO standard in February. Else Microsoft's efforts to confuse the market with their skewed terminology looks set to continue.

OOXML is a misnomer, use MSXML instead. (0, Flamebait)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698328)

Yes, OOXML is a misnomer. Because no one else can modify or fully implement ooxml the name should be "msxml". I suggest that we all use this term to describe the thing M$ is trying to push. It's short and impossible to confuse with anything else.

Re:OOXML is a misnomer, use MSXML instead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21698678)

Using your logic; we should call it the M$XML then?

Re:OOXML is a misnomer, use MSXML instead. (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698808)

MSXML is an ActiveX control for dealing with XML stuff, such as AJAX. I suggest Microsoft Office XML (without the Open) instead.

Re:OOXML is a misnomer, use MSXML instead. (-1, Flamebait)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698994)

MSXML is an ActiveX control for dealing with XML stuff, such as AJAX.

Few people actually know that and no one really cares. MSXML is easy to write and say and it gets the point across. Five syllables is better than eight.

Re:OOXML is a misnomer, use MSXML instead. (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699824)

Few people actually know that and no one really cares.

Actually twitter, millions of developers who work on Windows with Microsoft (oh, I'm sorry - "M$") tools know exactly what MSXML is.

Since your self-appointed holy goal is to evangelize to them, I suggest you stick with OOXML, otherwise you'll just confuse them. That is of course if they actually give a rat's ass about what someone like you has to say.

This is a given... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700642)

Microsoft's efforts to confuse the market with their skewed terminology looks set to continue.

Dude, that's what Microsoft DOES. It's been part of their core strategy for decades.

Re:I love it - the name OOXML is a misnomer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21702638)

> Microsoft's efforts to confuse the market

They also try to confuse the market (and it has worked) by confusing the Office 2003 XML as being MSOOXML (they are completely different XML formats).

Also they claim that there are 'billions' of documents which are supported by MSOOXML. These billions are all various differing .doc formats and RTF. The only connection is that they have been written by MS Office of various versions. This firmly illustrates that MS is itself confused between the application and the format.

MSOOXML is 'what Office 2007 does' (or nearly). Thus they can only think that ODF is 'what OpenOffice.org does'.

Those crazy germans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21697710)

Open sores in germany what is new ?

I love it too but I don't believe in it (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701288)

I posted a similar comment before, but I'll say it again: this won't change *anything*. There will always be an excuse to stick with Microsoft, making it "better" than the open source alternative in at least some way (it could be vendor support, training costs, exact compatibility with Microsoft Office, or just about anything else). And the weasels that are in charge of our computers will stick with the warm, fuzzy glow they get from using only Microsoft software.

I applaud this initiative, but after dealing with these people for a long time I find it hard to believe anything good will come of it.

Amsterdam is moving 10000 desktops to Ooo (1)

slashbart (316113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21703042)

It's happening already!

Erm? (4, Informative)

DeeQ (1194763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697122)

Microsoft Netherlands spokesman Hans Bos noted that its Word documents were still allowed as equal alternatives for the moment and said he expects the company to receive approval soon for its Open Office XML to qualify as open source
Don't they mean Office Open XML [wikipedia.org] Not Open office XML?

Re:Erm? (1)

DFJA (680282) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697148)

No, they must mean that their stinking Office product is shortly to support the OpenOffice XML format, i.e. ODF. Well who'd have guessed it?

Re:Erm? (3, Informative)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697262)

once Microsoft's so-called "Open Office XML" standard is approved as an international ISO standard in February
No, they must mean that their stinking Office product is shortly to support the OpenOffice XML format, i.e. ODF. Well who'd have guessed it?
I'm afraid you're wrong. The summary is wrong as well. It should read "Office OpenXML". ODF is already approved as ISO standard. OpenXML has yet to be approved. But Sun has created an ODF plugin for Office, so you only need to install that to comply.

Re:Erm? (3, Interesting)

DFJA (680282) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697510)

I'm afraid you're wrong.

Sorry I missed off the humour tags here.

In all seriousness, this type of confusion is *exactly* what Microsoft intended when they wanted to call it this. Get people to inadvertently get it the wrong way round so that people think it's the same thing and so forth. Basically just another type of FUD.

Re:Erm? (1)

rolfc (842110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697154)

Probably and they probably mean open standard instead of open source.

Microsoft doesn't get much right these days.

Re:Erm? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698590)

Perfect anti-competitive naming. Everyone that tunes out after the first half technical sentence will think OOXML, Open Office's XML format and ODF are one and the same. You got to give Microsoft's marketing department some credit for this one, it's a extremely good case of "If you can't beat them, confuse them".

Re:Erm? (1)

jhanderson (1200461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700770)

Did anyone else read that as "Microsoft Neanderthal spokesman..."?

Pansies (-1, Flamebait)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697124)

Government organizations will still be able to use proprietary software and formats but will have to justify it under the new policy, ministry spokesman Edwin van Scherrenburg said.

What a bunch of tulip smelling, wooden show wearing, low lying pansies. If you go open, go open all the way. This makes sick. Smell your tulips, wear your wooden shoes, and pronounce your j's as y's while the world laughs at your lack of decisiveness. Bunch of orange clad pansies if you ask me.

Re:Pansies (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21697204)

What a bunch of tulip smelling, wooden show wearing, low lying pansies. If you go open, go open all the way. This makes sick. Smell your tulips, wear your wooden shoes, and pronounce your j's as y's while the world laughs at your lack of decisiveness. Bunch of orange clad pansies if you ask me.

And precisely what is your home country doing that's so superior, Mr Wanker?

Re:Pansies (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697264)

Escape from the Windows/Office lock in is difficult, and, as the Munich city proved, time consuming, delayed and over budget.
      One step at the time - and if Microsoft can document fully their OOXML format, it's still a win for OpenOffice and the rest of the office suites out there - compatibility with Microsoft Office will be easier to obtain.

Re:Pansies (3, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697348)

One step at the time - and if Microsoft can document fully their OOXML format, it's still a win for OpenOffice and the rest of the office suites out there - compatibility with Microsoft Office will be easier to obtain.

I'm unconvinced - from what I've seen of the OOXML "spec", I am not sure maintaining compatibility by following it would be any easier than the current reverse engineering done on the existing formats. So the only change I think we're going to see if OOXML gets approved as a standard is that the third party software writers will _look_ worse since they will lose the "well it isn't documented so we're doing the best we can" excuse.

Re:Pansies (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21697392)

Please stop smoking pot!

Oh, wait. Whatever.

Re:Pansies (1)

Sczi (1030288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697634)

You tell 'em! There's only two things I hate in this world: people who are intolerant of other people's cultures and the Dutch.

Maybe they didn't want to be "Open Failures" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21698966)

What a bunch of tulip smelling, wooden show wearing, low lying pansies. If you go open, go open all the way. This makes sick. Smell your tulips, wear your wooden shoes, and pronounce your j's as y's while the world laughs at your lack of decisiveness. Bunch of orange clad pansies if you ask me.

Maybe they were afraid to end up like the City of Munich, who has been stuck in an unending nightmare of FOSSie total conversion. Their IT infrastructure has been completely shut down since 2002, because the idiots in charge wanted, like yourself, to go 100% FOSS. And now they went 100% FAIL.

That's why FOSSies have been trying to avoid competing in the marketplace, and have been focusing their energies on destroying governmental IT: because the private sector has already rejected FOSSie software. It doesn't make the grade. But a government doesn't have to worry about being run out of business by using (well, choosing since it isn't usable) FOSS.

Look for Munich to eventually bite the bullet and come crying back to Windows. I'm surprised they've held out as long as they have. Maybe IBM is bribing public officials or something, since IBM views Teh Lunix as their chance to rebuild their tech monopoly.

Re:Maybe they didn't want to be "Open Failures" (3, Interesting)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699914)

First, it was "In May 2003 Munich's city council voted to switch its 14,000 desktop and notebook computers from Microsoft products to the Linux operating system and open-source desktop applications", not 2002. Next there was a pilot, then they delayed a year, but the mayor has said last yeat at the Systems IT trade show in Munich,"But we're very happy with the results so far. I'm no technology freak but even I must admit how easy it's been to migrate to the new software." By the end of the year, some 200 workstations close to Lord Mayor Christian Ude and a number of nearby organizational units will be running on a special LiMux client. If everything runs according to schedule, most of the approximately 14,000 PCs will be migrated to Open Source in the next two years.

Note that the delay began with debates over patent issues, and companies fighting for contracts (the pilot was based on SuSE but "the city finally chose Softcon and Gonicus to install open source software provided through the Debian GNU/Linux project.") There was certainly resistance to change, but the delays have been more political than technical in nature.

slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21697136)

heres the google cache [google.com]

posted AC, im not a karma whore

Open Standards != Open Source (5, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697180)

Let us not confuse the issue. Open Standards are common minimum goal for all advocates of open source software, new comers promoting closed software, free software and new entrants selling software. Let us not play into the hands of advocates of walled gardens, established players desperately clinging to straws by conflating the two. If the public and government officials confuse between the two, the other side can argue against Open Source to defeat Open Standards.

Supporters of open source should tone down the rhetoric about it and fight for open standards. If open source is better, as they believe, it will win if the playing field is level. What levels the field is open standards. Same is true about the free/paid software issue.

We should not fall for the well engineered PR spin of conflating these two.

Re:Open Standards != Open Source (3, Interesting)

the_brobdingnagian (917699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698402)

Although the primary goal is the use of open standards for documents, they are working on promoting open source software.Last Wednesday I attended a meeting in Den Haag where this plan was discussed. The general attitude of the different political parties was very positive. Most questions where about details. This is going to happen, and I expect most of the government will be switched in between 2 and 5 years. Now open source: It will be used if the quality is equal to the current closed source alternative. All software written for the government will be the intellectual property of the gouvernment and the plan is to release it as open source. But this will probably be more difficult because of vendors using closed source components in the software. And for OOXML: I never heard OOXML in the meeting. They used ODF as example of open documents and did not seem to be happy with Microsoft.

Re:Open Standards != Open Source (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700412)

Wasn't SAP going to integrate with OpenOffice? I haven't see ln anything about how that worked out, and googling didn't work for me.

Everyone understands Freedom. (-1, Troll)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698660)

the other side can argue against Open Source to defeat Open Standards.

There's nothing very clever about this, M$ is offering neither and will continue to argue against both. It's stupid and people are not falling for it. There will be a lot of namecalling over this legislation and that will only hasten the adoption of similar legislation by other countries. People are fed up with the intentional waste that non free software continuously imposes. Those who make money off this waste have their silly arguments about "choice" and "market forces" but the nature of their monopoly and non free software deny both.

The reason standards are important to businesses and governments is to assure continued perfect access to their work and data stored in archives and libraries. Without software freedom, this goal is impossible and everyone knows it. MSXML is failing as an ISO standard because it's incomplete and controlled by a single company, so it fails both as "open" and as a standard. ODF and other real standards are being adopted because they meet the goal. Multiple implementations and lower costs of real competition are icing on the cake.

If M$ continues to thwart standards on their platform people will soon abandon it too. Their refusal to adopt ODF is telling but so is the sorry state of IE7. Not even a billion dollars a month in advertising can hide the simple facts of software freedom.

Supporters of open source should tone down the rhetoric about it and fight for open standards.

It's hard for me to understand what this means. The message of software freedom is simple, non threatening and easy to deliver. The concept of peer review is appreciated by management types with higher education and the concept of freedom is universal. People like real choices and control. People hate monopolies. The details of any specific issue can be explored but they are boring and put people off.

Re:Everyone understands Freedom. (2, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699782)

Supporters of open source should tone down the rhetoric about it and fight for open standards.

It's hard for me to understand what this means

Security through obscurity does not work. You know it, I know it and most slashdotters and security professionals know it. But still some non engineers in the top management don't buy it. Many top politicians don't buy it. Selling closed/proprietary software as "more secure" works for them. Blocking open source as "insecure" works there. Now we are in a no-win situation. Either explain and prove them wrong and thus antagonize them, (these top dogs don't like to be proven wrong) or leave them alone and get blocked by them.

In the case of open standards, it is much more difficult to argue against it. That is why even MSFT is coming out with, "ours is also an open standard" line. That is why I was asking people not to get into open/close source argument and give the other side less foot hold.

Let us face a pragmatic reality. There are many closed source vendors who would like to get just a piece of MSFT's market share. It would be foolish for the open-standards advocates not to include them in the big tent. Don't antagonize these people whose interests are aligned with ours.

Re:Everyone understands Freedom. (-1, Flamebait)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21703526)

I'm not buying into self restraint when it comes to freedom.

Either explain and prove them wrong and thus antagonize them, (these top dogs don't like to be proven wrong) or leave them alone and get blocked by them.

You can say that about anything, not just the example "security through obscurity" non argument. When you get an audience with a "top dog," you owe it to the dog and yourself to speak your mind. OpenBSD has a reputation that pretty much kills this problem. Moves by IBM, Sun and Apple also go a long way. Speaking out of both sides of your mouth is the surest way to get bounced. Why bother, when it's easy enough to present the benefits of freedom politely?

even MSFT is coming out with, "ours is also an open standard" line

Have they ever said anything different? M$ has always used smoke and mirror language like, "industry standard" and "compatible" to promote itself.

There are many closed source vendors who would like to get just a piece of MSFT's market share. It would be foolish for the open-standards advocates not to include them in the big tent. Don't antagonize these people whose interests are aligned with ours.

Who's left that thinks like that? Sun, Apple, IBM, HP, Sharp, Sony and everyone else is rushing into the free software world. M$'s actions have made clear the downside of non free software and they all know where their interests really are. Marketshare means nothing if you have to sacrifice your freedom to gain it. Whoever takes control will also take the market and present everyone with M$ under a different name.

mmmm (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697210)

I wonder what happens if MS's OOXML doesn't become an ISO Standard in time. Will their complacency cost them too much? Will they crumble under the weight of rushing to swap everything over to a real open system?

This should prove an entertaining(and educational) event to watch unfold.

Re:mmmm (5, Informative)

Skinkie (815924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697426)

I was at the commission meeting, lets say the Christian Democrats really don't get what Open Source is. They think in terms of 'Experimental' and 'Gratis'. The other parties understand the concept completely, thank God ;) ODF is the preferred way to go. Open Source should have preference if the software is equal on the requirements. Next to this, software specially made for the government shouldn't be licensed to, but completely owned by the government. This was the procedure but many 'errors' were made at some ministries.

The Socialist Party wants the cost of a PC split in a software part and a hardware part. This concept of course is the way to go, but I don't see this happen soon.

Microsoft should not worry at all, since the users in the government use the plug-in at some departments already. I didn't hear anyone mentioning OpenOffice.

Re:mmmm (2, Informative)

Eelco (8198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697742)

Microsoft need no worry on the short term, because most departments will most likely resort to the Sun ODF plugin for MS Office. But a lot of cities and smaller goverment bodies are switching or have switched to OpenOffice.org. As for as their ooxml format: the new policy specifically names ODF as the standard for office documents. So it doesn't matter al that much if ooxml is approved as an ISO standard or not. I'm just curious how many countries need to adopt policies like this before Microsoft takes it loss and starts supporting ODF natively.

Fixing the faulty ISO process should be next on the list for the Dutch government ;)

Re:mmmm (1)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699698)

As I understand it the NEN [iso.org] (Dutch Standards Orginisation) isn't a government organization. Any influence would therefore have to be indirect.

Re:mmmm (1)

AnarchyDuck (1202741) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697866)

For the Dutch government we created software for them based on a BSD Licence. If the organisation we build the software for would like to have the sourcecode audited, or replaced by something, the can do that. Despite the licence, we also agreed that *we* as a providing company would not open that source unless they'd like us to. For custom-made software solutions this is, in my opinion, great solution for openness to the right party, giving the customer all freedom that s/he needs. That is Open Source kind of in a way, Free as in Beer, but Free as in Speech as soon as the client wants to have the sourcecode disclosed. As to Open Standards, I would love our government to only use open standards for documents, but especially video broadcasts from parliamental meetings. These are now in a format my favorite operating system would not natively understand. It would also be great if microsoft gets to think a bit differently and adapt to open standards an just compete by being better than others, rather than more prevalent in the market.

Re:mmmm (1)

Skinkie (815924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697980)

The video thingie was mentioned for Uitzending Gemist [uitzendinggemist.nl] I really hope BBC's Dirac [sf.net] gets momentum ASAP to replace WMV entirely. The current Dirac performance has been increased by the Schrodinger [sourceforge.net] project. Now is it an open standard... nope, but it could be soon.

Re:mmmm (1)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698126)

Hello,

Is there a place where I can read (I read Dutch) the minutes or a summary of what was discussed?

Or if that is not available, do you know where I can find the text of the decision itself?

Cheers!

Re:mmmm (1)

Skinkie (815924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698238)

Not yet published it seems. But you can find it on: Parlando [parlando.sdu.nl] .

Re:mmmm (1)

the_brobdingnagian (917699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698788)

I was at the meeting too. The Christian Democrats didn't really understand open source, but seemed positive towards open standards. OOXML was not mentioned, but ODF was. The Dutch government is getting positive results from trials with Linux and OpenOffice. Open source will be preferred when the quality is equal. And getting rid of Microsoft seemed to be thought of as a positive thing. I think there will be more change than a simple plugin.

Re:mmmm (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698334)

OOXML will never become an accepted ISO standard. It does not meet the requirements of being an ISO standard and Microsoft will not budge to mee those requirements because, at present, secrecy of their formats is an important part of maintaining their monopoly. When they start divulging those secrets, not only will other software be able to read MSOffice created OOXML documents, but also the "backward compatible" document formats as well.

After all, one of the factors contributing to Microsoft's dominance over Word Perfect was the fact that they could faithfully read a Word Perfect formatted document and faithfully write it back. It seems quite obvious that if the same were to happen to Microsoft, then their over-priced office suite would fall into jeopardy. And the reality is that the competitor would be Open Source and once the majority switches to something like that, they won't be able to compete with free.

Nice one (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697218)

In the short term, there will not be realy much change, I asume, but in the long term there will be.

Also everybdoy will be thinking about word, but I am also thinking about Excel sheets and all the scripting that goes with it very often.

Re:Nice one (1)

rmcd (53236) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698086)

You're right that VBA compatability is a huge issue. However, there is a real opportunity for OpenOffice because Microsoft has dropped VBA from Office 2008 for OS X. If the OpenOffice developers can improve VBA compatability, I could see OpenOffice becoming a true cross-platform standard.

The good news is that porting VBA to StarBasic is feasible (I just ported a handful of functions that I use in teaching). The available documentation is not good, but the help available on the OpenOffice forums is first-rate.

we've seen this before (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21697222)

This is just an attempt by the government to get favorable pricing from Microsoft.

No one is actually serious about going with open sores, I wish people would quit posting this shit and getting zonk all worked up.

Re:we've seen this before (2, Insightful)

CDR-80 (587551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702702)

Sorry dude, your wrong I spoke to several "top brass" guys at the ministries and the are dead serious. Open standards is the way to go, open source the thing to follow it up. The reaction to Microsoft's FUD letter on the conference the day after was very clear. The balance has been shifted....

Open Standards please (4, Insightful)

Twisted Willie (1035374) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697308)

This action plan (it's not legislation, yet) is intended to get government agencies to use both open source software, and open standards.

I don't really care wheter or not our government uses open source or proprietary software, whatever works best for the task at hand. I do however care a lot about them using open standards. It sure would be nice if we can still figure out how to open a certain document in 50 years time, without depending on a single software vendor to help us out.

Re:Open Standards please (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697536)

yes, the initiative focusses on open standards [overheid.nl] . The idea is that if data is locked in .doc documents noboy can read them without MS word. Instead open standards should be used instead.

Note that even property programs like from microsoft can be open, if the standard is fully published.

Open standards != open source (3, Insightful)

naich (781425) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697488)

For fucks sake, can't anyone in the media tell the difference? There is nothing to stop a closed source software using an open standard.

Re:Open standards != open source (1)

WallyDrinkBeer (1136165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697618)

Absolutely right, the story and headline gets it all wrong over and over... geez

Re:Open standards != open source (0, Redundant)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699842)

And there's nothing stopping Microsoft from using an open standard ... except the guy wielding the chair.

Why is it hard to see...? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21697530)

This is something that should have been settled along time ago (many years ago), yet just because someone wants to control the market and the interfaces between programs, it is taking much longer then it should.

I believe that ODF allows for a new point of adjustment to the current way things are perceived in the Office suite environment.

I have a hard time understanding why people don't see the benefit of standardizing ODF as the standard, it allows for so much progress. The fact that it is not controlled by a money hungry company that has made many attempts to capitalize on anything they do. They have been caught red handed many times in bad business practices, they do not like competition or having to compete, should be a major factor for everyone to adopt ODF format.

Keeping it as open as possible is extremely important for the liberty of the users, developers, and businesses alike to make sure that no one gets the raw end of the deal. It truly could allow for a true transparency between office suites. It will also make all office suites keep in check with interoperability between each other.

It truly is an important decision, yet it should be an easy one, when it make so much more availability to all users, contributers, and business people alike to allow ODF as a betterment for business, community and choice.

here we go again .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21697578)

dont worry dutch govt... Microsoft will still welcome you back in a year or two when the project fails or you realise you only have 5 people running the new system.

yawn ... it seems like clockwork that you see these items come through ... and clockwork that they all change their minds eventually... you just dont see those items on the homepage ;)

Course material (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21697658)

That article by Toby Sterling should be used as course material on how many mistakes you can find.
I believe the author had good intentions, but he mixes up the terminology.

1) It's "Office Open XML" (this OOXML), not Open Office XML.
Microsoft did not think the choice of name might confuse...
2) An open standard and open source are different

Re:Course material (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700784)

It wasn't just this one article, the quote is being reported all over. It appears to have been a direct quote so the confusion should be attributed to the Netherlands Economic Affairs Ministry, to whom the quote is attributed. Note that from TFA MS says:

Microsoft Netherlands spokesman Hans Bos noted that its Word documents were still allowed as equal alternatives for the moment and said he expects the company to receive approval soon for its Open Office XML to qualify as open source.
But he said the company was worried about and opposed other aspects of the Dutch policy, especially the provision that agencies should prefer open source.
So perhaps this is just the tip of the iceberg and is indeed more like Munich than Massachusetts.

There's a typo in the summary. (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697830)

A Microsoft Netherlands spokesman claims that Microsoft's Office productivity suite will still be used widely in the Dutch government until April, and that Microsoft Office will comply with the new Dutch rules if Microsoft's so-called "Office Open XML" standard is approved as an international ISO standard in February."
Fixed.

Re:There's a typo in the summary. (1)

DannyO152 (544940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702236)

Unless the original speaker knew of another fix in place.

trademark infringement (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21697862)

It seems apparent that "Open Office XML" sufficiently resembles "OpenOffice.org", and moreover, that the standard sufficiently relates to the same market as OpenOffice.org, that anyone wishing to retain the OpenOffice.org trademark should demand Microsoft stop confusing the marketplace with the name of their coincidentally no-so-open standard.

Interview with the general manager of Microsoft NL (3, Interesting)

MadJo (674225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697918)

In a recent Dutch Podcast ictroddels.nl [ictroddels.nl] Microsoft was complaining that this brief would hurt their business, and that it was unwise of the Dutch government to opt for the ODF, because MSOffice could not read it natively, and that they should also include OOXML in the brief.
In the same interview, Theo Rinsema, general manager of MS Netherlands also said that MS doesn't want to compete on Office formats.
He also mentioned that the .doc format was also open enough, because many open source solutions could read and write to that format.

Bad Article (2, Informative)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21697928)

I talked about this with a friend yesterday, and we noticed that this was a very badly written article that gets basically everything wrong. But that's tech journalism for ya.

Here are some relevant links from his blog [wordpress.com] :

Interesting tag (2, Informative)

athdemo (1153305) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698004)

What's with the !oktoberfest tag? I mean, yeah, oktoberfest is over, and this article isn't about it, but I think that kind of applies to just about everything.

OOXML will not be allowed for now (1)

Yeti7226 (473207) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698120)

OOXML will not be an allowed document format according to the current policy. ODF is the mandatory standards. If and when OOXML is ISO approved the Dutch government *may* add this format. But there is very little reason to do so. No applications use OOXML (the version up for ISO-approval anyway) and all applications (even MS-Office) support ODF. So MS-office will be usable as a tool as long as ODF is used to store documents.

Rgds,
Arjen

OOXML != open source, not matter ISO decides (2, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698338)

Ripped from groklaw posts regarding Denmark's decision (also applies here):

Even if MSOOXML gets the ISO stamp, it doesn't make it "open", merely
a standard. On the "open" front it's pretty much pretense all the way.
Not that ISO even pretends to usually care if a standard is open or not, even if
in this case even they seem to be party to the shell game. ...open standards in all new IT solutions, unless it will significantly increase
the costs of the project.
- new Office, not really ooxml: $$$
- new OpenOffice.org: Free

Moreover, all authorities must be able to receive office documents in two open
document standards - namely ODF and OOXML. This allows citizens to communicate
with government using open standards.
- rx ODF with OpenOffice.org: True
- rx OOXML with any version of MSOFFice: false

The openness of a standard implies that:
* the standard must be fully documented and publicly available;
- ODF: True
- OOXML: False, proposed "standard" includes by reference
undocumented components

* the standard must be freely implementable without economic, political or legal
constraints on its implementation and use, now or in the future;
- ODF: True
- OOXML: False Legal Constraints

* the standard should be managed and maintained in an open forum via an open
process (standardisation organisation).
- ODF: True
- OOXML: False see recent articles on OOXML Bait and Switch

Forget ISO, define "open" instead (2, Insightful)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21698876)

Microsoft Office will comply with the new Dutch rules once Microsoft's so-called "Open Office XML" standard is approved as an international ISO standard in February.

This sounds optimistic to me, but it could easily be true. Actually, it would be very good news if it became n ISO standard ... if Microsoft gets the standard by improving and clarifying it, and by explicitly dropping all patent restrictions on its features. But it's entirely possible that they won't do that but will get an ISO standard anyway, in which case we'll have an "open" standard that can't be implemented properly by any third parties, and can't be implemented legally in the United States without licensing patents on the standard from Microsoft.

This is why I think it's important for governments to clearly define what they mean by "open." The definition should have nothing to do with any standards body like ISO or Ecma. As we've all seen, ISO votes can be rigged, so "open" should mean that a standard is well-documented and contains no patent, copyright or trademark restrictions that would prevent a third party from implementing it without working with the developer of the standard. It should also require that the original developer of the standard not be the sole authority in charge of developing it further, and keeps their own products compliant with it. (How many people have imagined Microsoft "deviating" from their own OOXML standard in undocumented ways when they release the next version of Office?)

strategy and tactics (2, Insightful)

udippel (562132) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699442)

"We think it's not in the best interest of the wider software market to single out one model for endorsement like this" the spokesperson for Microsoft said.

Think about it, think hard. A single model ? That is like the mafia boss telling the judge "it is unfair to single out the model of law-abiding citizenry as only allowable one".
Nobody hinders Microsoft to compete in the market of open standards; just like Nokia and Ericsson compete in the world of the open standards of telecommunication. Sure, they'd prefer if each had a monopoly, and nobody else could even manufacture handsets.

The Dutch policy directs government organizations at the national level to be ready to use the Open Document Format to save documents by April
No reason for Microsoft to whine. ODF is some ISO standard, and they are more than welcome to place their ISO/IEC 26300-compliant product in the market. Nobody hinders Microsoft to make the big buck at supporting their software.

Now Microsoft need to price their product... (1)

Hymer (856453) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699458)

...somewhere in between their competitors... between free, free and almost free.

--

I've been using OpenOffice in a corporate, MS only, environment for 3 years now... go on and try to tell me that it is impossible.

Re:Now Microsoft need to price their product... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21700516)

I've been using OpenOffice in a corporate, MS only, environment for 3 years now... go on and try to tell me that it is impossible.

Same here. My new (1 year ago) workstation didn't get MS Office installed on it. I've been using OpenOffice.org without problems.

Microsoft is going to have to come up with a better product at a better price if it hopes to get any more Office licenses out of my boss.

Accuracy in naming (1)

eman1961 (642519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699526)

FWIW, the name of the Microsoft proposed ISO standard is "Office Open XML", not "Open Office XML", nor OOXML. Be accurate, please.

Standards = Libraries (1)

debrain (29228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21699552)

A standard ought to include an open reference implementation. The open implementation need not be the only implementation, but if the only reference implementation is confidential and proprietary, it's not an open standard at all.

Yuo FQail It (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21699790)

that comprise or mislead tEhe walk up to a play we all know, users. Surprise any doubt: FrreBSD came as a complete of challenges that won't be shouting hot on the heels of

Get the facts ;) (5, Insightful)

CDR-80 (587551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702564)

Hi All,
I attended the conference of ososs.nl (http://www.ososs.nl/ [ososs.nl] , mainly Dutch), which was held the day after the documents passed Dutch parlement. Ososs was set up by the Dutch government and they are co-writes of the document of the Netherlands Economic Affairs Ministry

To get the facts ;), this is what it boils down to:
1) Any govenmental agency must by default use solutions and products that use open standards. Only with a very good reason one can choose a closed standards product. If currently a closed standards solution is used, replacing it should be done with an open standards version ("ist" to "soll" situation).
2) Open-Source products must be considered in any aquisition of new products. It must be weighted on equal terms with closed-source products.
3) All things being equal, open-source is the preferred choice.
4) Interoperability, govenmental transparancy and innovation are at least as important as the price of the solution.
4) There is a deadline of April 2008 to implement the use of Open Document Format for all external communications within all branches of the govenment
5) All semi-govenmental agencies have until 2011 to implement ODF
6) The parlement explicitly stated that education must be included in this initiative. Not only for their internal ICT, but as an integral part of education of pupils and students in ICT.
7) The parlement will keep watching progress being made.

I personally feel that the most intresting point is not just the points above, but the fact that the govenment is using a top-down approach, which has full support of both the Home office as well as the Economic Affairs Ministry. I feel this is a landslide victory for open standards and open source in the Netherlands.
Futhermore, I'd like to add that all parties in the parlement, left to right, were in favour of this act; this has not happened in a very long time...

Open Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21703430)

Aargh .... there is more to open standard than certification at ISO. But the Thing does not get it. Oh well.
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