Who's afraid of the Dutch? Microsoft, for one

The Dutch are looking to go with the Open Document Format. Microsoft is scared witless.

Who's afraid of open formats like Open Document Format? Microsoft, for one. The company is locked in a furious lobbying battle with the Dutch government to block a proposal that would see the ODF format mandated to ensure that no single company owns its future. Imagine that. Macworld writes:

Proposed legislation that would mandate the use of the Open Document Format (ODF) across the entire Dutch government has infuriated Microsoft. A group promoting open standards sees no threat, however, and has invited Microsoft to join its ranks.

On Wednesday the Dutch parliament will discuss a plan to mandate use of the Open Document Format (ODF) at government agencies. The proposal is part of a wider plan to increase the sustainability of information and innovation, while lowering costs through the reuse of data.

Microsoft long ago forgot how to compete purely based on the strength of its products (despite these being quite good), and instead is focused on FUD'ing efforts like these into obsolescence. Its alternative would be to join forces, which ODF proponents in the Netherlands have welcomed:

This plan is not about Microsoft, it's about ensuring the perpetual availability of data without any obstacles. Currently there are issues with OpenXML, they aren?t an official ISO-standard yet. And the way they tried to get the specification certified is questionable at least. We would like to encourage Microsoft to join our ranks by becoming a participating member of our society. That would enable us to work with them to ensure an innovative and durable future so they can remain open for business.

A nice gesture, but not one that is likely to be accepted by Microsoft. It's unfortunate, too, since Microsoft has already figured out how to close off content networks with Sharepoint, there really is little reason for it to persist in locking out competition at the document format level. And yet it persists....

More commentary on Slashdot.

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