The administration is actively seeking the use of open document standards in their systems. Earlier they formally embraced PDF, and now ODF is added to that.
In a rather silly, but predictable response, Microsoft critisized this move openly, stating the state “limited itself by adopting a standard that is hardly used” and “rules out suppliers with a certain development or business model”.
Well. First of all, even while they are the biggest player in this market, who is Microsoft to criticize a (for them) foreign government, who has and is spending massive amounts of tax payers money on their software? Secondly, who put in all their power to push a completely unnecessary and next to incomprehensible own “standard” through ISO, instead of writing a decent plug-in to handle ODF, which, for heaven sake, Sun already did? It’s only the most ignorant people who fall for the argument that the format is favoring OpenOffice.org or pushing out Microsoft. MS could write that plug in in a rainy wednesday afternoon. The reason they choose not to is exactly the argument they use against using standard formats: it enables users to switch to a better, or cheaper, or more suiting product. As they arguably already have the best product, there is nothing they should fear. Spin, spin, spin.
Related: The city of Amsterdam has finished a study to see if using open source software would be feasible for their most simple straightforward workstations (about 30%). Think Ubuntu, although they used Suse in their study. Turned out it was, worked nicely and stable, and was cheaper in hardware, licensing and maintenance than closed software. The study will be extended to cover more complex workstations.