Malaysia OKs move toward OpenDocument Format

It joins Belgium, Denmark and Massachusetts in embracing ODF

The Malaysian government is moving toward adoption of the OpenDocument Format (ODF), according to a U.S.-based activist group that backs the use of the free XML file format.

According to the Washington-based ODF Alliance, Malaysia’s standards body this week voted to propose ODF as a national standard. After a public comment period that ends in October, Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is expected to formally endorse ODF by year’s end for use by the public sector, according to the ODF Alliance.

Malaysia becomes the first Asian government to join the so-far mostly Western movement, which has picked up steam since ODF was recognized in May by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as an international standard.

India is also testing ODF in certain government departments now, according to the alliance.

The Belgian and Danish governments both announced last month that they will move to ODF. They join the commonwealth of Massachusetts, which said in September it would begin migrating state employees to ODF by Jan. 1, 2007.

Norway and France are also considering formally adopting ODF, which proponents argue is better at ensuring long-term accessibility to documents and opens the door for organizations to use alternatives to Microsoft Office, such as and Sun Microsystems Inc.’s StarOffice.

Google Inc., whose Writely online word processor uses ODF, and the English city of Bristol are among the organizations this month that joined the ODF Alliance, which now counts 280 members in 43 countries.

Microsoft said earlier this month that it would provide financial and technical support to third-party companies to develop a plug-in that would help convert documents from Microsoft Office formats to ODF. In his statement, Marino Marcich, executive director of the ODF Alliance, urged Microsoft to further embrace the format by providing native support for ODF in Office.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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