Danish Competition Authority Recommends ODF and OOXML

Aug 21, 2009

The Danish Competition Authority has conducted a market analysis of office software so as to give governmental agencies recommendations for public purchases. The results are a definite "live and let live" between the competing standards ODF and OOXML.

Commissioned by the Danish government, the authority studied the office software market -- word processing, spreadsheets and presentation software in particular -- during March 2009. The goal was to provide governmental agencies some referral as to which of the current documentation standards should get purchasing priority, the free Open Document Format (ODF) or Microsoft-based Office Open XML (OOXML). The authority decided that it could not currently make a recommendation either way, but rather purchasing should consider either one or the other format, but be aware that the software should accept both text formats.

The deputy director general of the authority, Agnete Gersing, based this recommendation on the finding that, "At present, it will not improve competition to choose only one of the standards." Gersing continued, "Choosing OOXML will currently exclude all other suppliers but Microsoft, while, by choosing ODF, competition will unfold between the very same office suites as in a situation where both standards are chosen." Gersing opines that while the standards are relatively new, it's unpredictable which way the market will turn: "If only one of the standards is chosen and this standard does not turn out to become a market standard, there is a risk of substantial investment mistakes." Going with just ODF, Gersing reasons, "will not ensure the necessary interoperability between the office suites." Another recent study by the Fraunhofer Institute, with some help from Microsoft, had come to a similar conclusion.

Not surprising is the study's recognition that Microsoft Office runs on about 90% of Danish computers, as the official presentation of the authority revealed. The authority also discovered that most hardware vendors pre-installed their systems with Microsoft packages. The authors of the study added that MS Office 2007 SP2 was not rated yet. Microsoft had vowed to improve its compatibility with ODF with just this release, results of which unfortunately turned out to be debatable.

The Danish Competition Authority published its results of the office software market survey in a 157-page PDF document, available free on their website (in Danish).

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  • ISO 29500 or ECMA 376?

    I certainly hope they say only ISO 29500 OOXML is acceptable.
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