Danish Open Source Vendors declares victory in open standards war

Danish Open Source Vendors' Association (OSL)
Danish Open Source Vendors' Association (OSL)

Many years ago (10 December 2003), I helped to cofound an organisation with the aim of uniting all the good forces to promote the commercial use of open source in Denmark. The result was The Danish Open Source Vendors’ Association (aka OSL – an acronym from the Danish name Foreningen af Open Source Leverandører). Yesterday, OSL held another general meeting where among other more important things I was reelected to its board of directors for another 2 year period.

The mood at this year’s general meeting was joyous. In late January 2010, OSL could declare victory in maybe the most important and hard fought battle that OSL has been part of since its formation.

On 29 January 2010 the Danish Parliament (Folketinget) decided unanimously to place the ODF standard as the only compliant open standard for editable documents on the list of open standards to be used by the Danish public sector.

Open Document Format (ODF)
Open Document Format (ODF)

This decision reverses the prior opinion by the Danish National IT and Telecom Agency (NITA) and the panel of experts appointed by NITA that the list should be comprised by two competing standards – ODF and OOXML. Microsoft lobbyied hard for OOXML to kept on the list, but in the end common sense prevailed.

That Denmark has opted for ODF brings us on par with other countries such as the Netherlands.

True, the actual wording of the decision by the Danish Parliament leaves room for interpretation.  And surely, the proponents of OOXML will try to tweak this to their advantage in the future. So OSL and other believers and open standards will have  to stay alert.

But the status quo today is undeniably that

  • that there is clear political majority in the Danish Parliament in favour of ODF,
  • ODF is currently the only compliant standard on the list,
  • ODF is thus the current reference for open standards for editable documents, and
  • all other “competing” documentsformat will have to comply with the requirement that they should be fully compatible with other open standards.

Its been a lot work for OSL the last couple of years trying to turn a defeat (when it seemed that Microsoft had persuaded a majority of the Danish Parliament into opting for “a two standards solution”) into a victory. Truly a good reason for celebration. And credits and kudos go to the indefatigable Morten Kjærsgaard, long time chairman of OSL!

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