Microsoft has fought back at the government’s plans to use open source software alternatives to Microsoft Office, claiming the move would be damaging to tech suppliers to the public sector.
Earlier this month, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announced plans for the government to start using products such as OpenOffice and Google Docs with the “open document format” (ODF), claiming this would break the “oligopoly of IT suppliers” in the government.
However, in a blog post, the company said the government is currently making selections about which open formats to mandate the use of in the future, claiming the decision will definitely impact businesses in the country doing or wanting to do business with the government as they may be “forced” to comply.
The IT giant claims that the adoption of the Office Open XML (OOXML) format it developed is more widespread and is concerned that the proposal to mandate the use of ODF will exclude the most supported standard for document formats.
“[This move] sets a worrying precedent because the government is, in effect, refusing to support another internationally recognised open standard and may do so for other similar popular standards in the future, potentially impacting anyone who wishes to sell to government,” it claimed in its article.
“We believe very strongly that the current proposal is likely to increase costs, cause dissatisfaction amongst citizens and businesses, add complexity to the process of dealing with government and negatively impact some suppliers to government,” it added.
Microsoft closed the post by urging those concerned to respond to the consultation process the government has started on the change to open source.