Open Document Format (ODF) could become an open standard for e-governance projects by the Indian government. This initiative would then go a long way help its supporters grab key government IT business,as said by government officials and industry sources.
ODF is a file format for electronic office documents such as spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents and this format was initially developed by Sun Microsystems.
A recent draft policy on open standards review uptil November 26, which if decides in favour of ODF would help its supporters to compete with Microsoft-backed Office Open XML (OOXML).
In India, OOXML is backed by players like Microsoft, TCS, Infosys and Nasscom, whereas, ODF is supported by IIT-Mumbai, IIT-Delhi, IIM-Ahmedabad, Red Hat, IBM and Sun Microsystems.If either of the standards is chosen in the final validation, then vendors for the e-governance projects need to support all the data in that standard only.
Officials close to the development said,even if ODF is chosen as a standard, then “Microsoft is willing to work on interoperability of the two standards to help vendors like Tata Consultancy Services to bid for government IT projects and web portals,” Recently, Microsoft and ODF supporter Novell announced an investment to build a “bridge between open source and proprietary software to deliver interoperability for organisations operating mixed-source IT environments”.
Jaijit Bhattacharya, country director of government strategy for Sun Microsystems India commenting on the entire issue said,”It is a much bigger issue than ODF versus OOXML standard, it is an issue of technical sovereignty. The open standard for e-governance projects should be royalty-free for life and even minuscule amount should not be charged for its use as higher volumes mean billions of dollars of tax payers money