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EU Politics

EU Should Switch To ODF Standard, Says MEP 111

Posted by timothy
from the so-should-the-u.s. dept.
DTentilhao (3484023) writes "The European institutions should switch to using the Open Document Format (ODF) as their internal default document format, says Member of the European Parliament Indrek Tarand. Speaking at a meeting of the European Parliament's Free Software User Group (Epfsug), last week Wednesday, MEP Tarand said: 'Moving to ODF would allow real innovation, and real procurement.'"
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EU Should Switch To ODF Standard, Says MEP

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  • by turp182 (1020263) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @02:52PM (#46677907) Journal

    I also believe that there should have been more abbreviations in the title, something like this:
    EU SST To ODF Standard, says MEP (SST = Should Switch To)

    • Your geek card is hereby rescinded.

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      In Britain, MEP is a very widely-understood initialism so I'm not really finding this joke funny. :-) You Yanks use acronyms all the time anyway, don'tcha?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The MS Office file formats are far more powerful, flexible, entrenched, and every bit as open as ODF.


    Switching formats will just make old documents unreadable. Where will that leave Europe?
    • by someone1234 (830754) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @03:02PM (#46677997)

      I guess, it will leave EU Independent from a US megacorp?

      • by PPH (736903)

        The Ukraine wasn't enough. And Europe doesn't have much oil. But this justifies military involvement.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Too bad M$ Office doesn't properly and fully support their own 'open' file formats.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2014 @03:08PM (#46678051)

      You really haven't been paying attention have you?

      OOXML is an outrage and became a "standard" through bribery and corruption - all of which is well documented - and MS Office itself did not actually conform.

    • by udippel (562132)

      My dear AC, though I usually don't reply to ACs, even less mod up any AC, in this particular case I offer my excuses for having exhausted my mod points very recently.
      I really would love to mod you up. Seriously, I did have a good laugh; and I am confident that you were targeting a 'Funny, +5'.
      Alas, the mods today are a tad not-so-humorous and that's quite sad. :-(

    • by amck (34780)

      Here's a challenge: Find any two versions of Word that will open, between them, all MS doc documents.

      I have a friend who has a sideline business reading old Word files. Seriously, we need to get rid of that shit.

  • So it will be repelled, nerfed, or used in the opposite way it was originally planned to as usual.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2014 @03:12PM (#46678085)

      EU has managed to pass a network neutrality law as well as cancel all roaming chargers starting 2015. I'd give them more credit than you do.

      • Enjoy no more roaming after 2015. Also learn the definition of 'unintended consequence'.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Enjoy no more roaming after 2015. Also learn the definition of 'unintended consequence'.

          If that happens the European telecoms will be in deep shit.

          Telecoms doesn't have extra costs associated with roaming and what they charge the customers for it is atrocious.
          EU knows this and if telecoms starts to dick around it will be the equivalent of trying to be a smartass in court.
          Sure, you can make the judge look like a fool for a minute or two, until you end up in jail.

          • They won't stick a finger in the judges eye. They'll just offer discounted no-roaming plans. Then raise the price on the roaming plans.

            • by TheP4st (1164315) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:29AM (#46681407)

              They'll just offer discounted no-roaming plans.

              If they do which I doubt it will be a gigantic failure, EU citizens in difference from US citizens tend to travel a lot outside of the borders of their home country as doing so for many often is just a few hours car ride or at the most a 1 hour flight. That combined with many (most?) EU citizens having 3-4 weeks of paid vacation a year is the reason you find many Scandinavians going to the south of Europe for their vacation, Belgians going to the Alps for skiing in the winter and then Italy or France in the summer, Dutch and Germans going to Scandinavia and so on. Nearly every single person I know tend to go to another country several times a year and that is including low income earners. Last year alone I visited 4 EU countries for vacation another for work and 1 non-EU country for a wedding. While that might be a bit more than the average EU citizen it certainly is not something unusual and no-one here even raise an eyebrow if told about it.

              With that level of cross-border mobility only the most ignorant PHB would believe such a crippled mobile plan ever having a chance of gaining any traction.

        • Even before that, my carrier has started allowing included minutes (and texts and data) to be used in several other countries without incurring a roaming charge. The EU is just nudging it along a bit. The smarter carriers know that roaming charges just piss off their customers and they're running out of space to cut prices for domestic calls so need something else to wave as proof that they're cheaper than the competition.
  • Ooh look, a MEP said something! I think we should have a front page post on /. anytime Boehner says something too. I mean, seriously? Someone said something and it used a TLA so therefore it's /. news, apparently.
    • When Boehner says something intelligent about a subject of interest to most Slashdotters, he might very well make the front page, too.

      What's with all the Euro-hate, anyway?

      • by Shimbo (100005)

        What's with all the Euro-hate, anyway?

        I don't think a random MP or MEP saying something particularly intelligent or unintelligent counts as news. MPs or MEPs will be found talking to almost every lobby group you can imagine at some point. And, because they are elected by proportional representation across a variety of languages and cultures, MEPs in particular will have a very diverse range of views.

        To be honest, I would be happier if /. didn't run any such stories, because on average politicians say a lot more stupid things than sensible ones.

        • Some of us are actually interested in news about the push for open formats. If this story doesn't interest or seem especially newsworthy to you, you are free to skip it.

          • by drhamad (868567)
            That's the point though... this really isn't a push for open formats. We could scour the web looking for mentions in a lot of places. Until it's actually close to a policy it means absolutely nothing.
  • I have an entire wishlist for Satya here, and cleaning up the OOXML fiasco is one of them.:
    http://hal2020.com/2014/03/03/... [hal2020.com]

    • I have an entire wishlist for Satya here, and cleaning up the OOXML fiasco is one of them.

      Perhaps you forget that billg still pulls his strings.

  • I read the article, but it escapes me how switching document formats "would allow real innovation, and real procurement."

    Maybe it would get them away from using as many capitalist pig Microsoft products (which I'm sure Greens like this guy want). But claims it would help innovation, procurement, or even cost savings are suspect at best.

    • Re:Innovation? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Immerman (2627577) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:12PM (#46678485)

      It's simple enough - if you use Microsoft's formats you're limited to using Microsoft's products (nothing else fully supports the formats as they're incompletely documented and intentionally obfuscated). That means any product innovation happens purely at Microsoft's discretion - which these days seems to mostly tend toward zero except where lock-in and payment extraction is concerned. It also means procurement processes are limited to purchasing Product A from either vendor X, Y or Z, all of whome are selling at very close to the monopolist-set retail price.

      With open formats you have the option to choose between multiple supporting products to find the one that best suits your specific needs. Maybe for most people that's Libre Office. But Google Docs has much to recommend it in some situations. As does Abiword, or dozens of other ODF-supporting applications. And every one of them is developing in slightly different directions, allowing them to be mixed and matched on a case-by-case basis, and in the case of open-source applications it even becomes possible to add in organization-specific features if you so desire. All while keeping the documents themselves completely compatible with everyone else. Pretty innovative compared to a mega-corp-controlled monoculture.

      As for procurement and cost, well hopefully it's obvious that having dozens of different products optionally supported by hundreds of different suppliers gives you a lot more procurement options than in a monoculture. And when some of those products, some of the best of them even, are completely free to use (without contractual support obviously) there is far more incentive for suppliers to not artificially inflate their prices. Consider this: in a truly free market profits tend toward zero - obviously everybody still has to get paid, but any profit margin above and beyond production costs gets eliminated by competition with alternate suppliers. Now, how much did Microsoft make from MS Office last year?

      • by tomhath (637240)

        Now, how much did Microsoft make from MS Office last year?

        That's a red herring. They could avoid sending money to Microsoft by foregoing computers and doing all their work with pencil and paper.

        The question is how much does it cost to use some other standard versus ODF? It's hard to tell because so much FUD is being spread on both sides (including this article). But if there were significant savings the switch would likely have been made a long time ago.

        Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the idea. I use Apache Open Office [openoffice.org] and I'm quite happy with it.

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          My point was that if Microsoft is making *profit* from MS Office then, by definition, that is money which is extracted above and beyond the free market value, and hence represents potential cost savings inherent in moving to a free-market product.

          • This is not correct. I rent out a property in Florida at the fairest market price, let us say. Whether or not I make a profit depends on how much I invested, when I invested etc. The profit or loss I make depends on my history of activity. It has no impact on the ability of my renter to get cheaper rent. Fair market price is determined by the supply and demand equilibrium. Profit or loss for the players in the market is determined by their history. The fact A makes a profit or loss does not determine whethe
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I can see your point about innovation, but why would it not help procurement?
      If they want "proper" support for Microsoft formats they basically have to buy from Microsoft.
      ODF means there are multiple providers (in fact quite many, as anyone who is willing and able to provide support for Open- or LibreOffice is one), that seems like a clear and obvious procurement improvement?
      I guess the "innovation" part comes from there actually being several real providers and actual competition, which in theory should im

    • I read the article, but it escapes me how switching document formats "would allow real innovation, and real procurement." ... But claims it would help innovation, procurement, or even cost savings are suspect at best.

      Many businesses (and other organizations) have data created using Office that they need to get into some external application. Often these businesses have processes that they've been using for many years, and have a huge investment in, but which result in data that is not well suited for import into third party tools. Even when a custom data-entry application could be developed, users will often prefer to do their data entry in a familiar tool, so the process of putting data into Office documents is ongoi

  • by chentiangemalc (1710624) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @03:45PM (#46678305) Homepage
    At first I thought this MEP was exaggerating the benefits of switching to ODF...but then since making the switch to PDF this morning I immediately began "real innovation" Before lunch I already had applied for 12 patents, written an innovative sci-fi novel, and designed a spring & summer fashin collection. In addition, with the help of Amazon & eBay I began experiencing the orgasmic elation of "real procurement"
  • The UK Cabinet Office was proposing this a couple of months ago:-

    http://standards.data.gov.uk/p... [data.gov.uk]

    Everybody who commented was in favour. I've no idea what happens next.

    • by udippel (562132)

      Oh, come on! We all know, and you can take an educated guess as well, I'm sure.
      It starts by ignoring, if need be lobbying, and - if the latter fails - brown envelopes to the decision makers.
      That's what is going to happen next. In this sequence.

  • This is a big deal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trachman (3499895) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @07:29PM (#46679563)
    If EU switches to open document format, significant part of the market will consider European advice. They get many things wrong but this one they got right. The proprietary documet standard could be comparable to the proprietary railway track gauge. Can you imagine paying an extra royalty because you are using "specially measured" difference between the wheels. The problem for Microsoft is that at some point, very soon they will figure out that it does not matter which operating system is on user's PC. I fully expect that in 5-10 years most of the users will not know what operating system they are using.
    • I fully expect that in 5-10 years most of the users will not know what operating system they are using.

      What makes you think that the average home user knows what OS they're using right now? If they're on a PC, they'll know they're using Windows, because that's what came pre-installed, but they probably don't know which version, nor care. If they're on a Mac, they'll probably know that it's OSX, but again, not which version. And, they won't care because as long as it works for them, that's all that ma
      • I put Linux Mint on my mum's laptop. After adding the default Windows XP "green meadow" background and renaming the desktop links for LibreOffice Writer, Calc, and Presentation to "Word" "Excel" and "Powerpoint" she didn't have any problems. She didn't even realise the "Start" button didn't say "Start" anymore.
  • A few years back, the FSF made up some nifty badges [fsf.org] for organizations/individuals to use on their websites to promote the use of ODF.

    Enjoy!

  • They should instead switch to an online format, where users (citizens) can provide feedback on the documents.

  • How would moving to ODF allow real innovation compared to using the latest word format (for instance), does changing the format make writers more innovating? only a moron can come up with such a stupid reason, and the bad news is, most members are just such morons... The real innovation would come if they decided to get rid of a lot of moneywasting meetings/reports/dinnerparties, and actually cutting costs by really doing work instead of just lobbying and wasting everybodies money...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think it comes down to the 'right to read' a document.

      If you can read a document for free (ODF is a free format, there is no cost to getting a reader once you have even a rudimentary computer) you can build on the knowledge in that document without having to pay that toll.

      The toll may not seem like much, but added up over all the people that want to read, it keeps MS afloat, which isn't the goal of a proper document.

  • When Apple embarked on creating the iWork suite, I asked a team member why they didn't target ODF, and instead created a brand new document format from scratch (because the world didn't have enough document formats, I guess). The answer was because ODF didn't give them the flexibility or breadth they required. Now that Apple AGAIN disrupted their users with the latest update of iWork '13, which included removing a substantial number of features to target "cross platform compatibility" (Mac and iOS), I am le

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