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OpenOffice Conference Barcelona – Final Sessions Recap
One of the first OpenOffice.org Conference sessions on Friday morning dealt with the use of ODF in governments and industries around the world. Massachusetts started the current flood with its 2005 decision to adopt ODF by January 1, 2007. Despite noisy opposition (all coming from only one company), that process continues to advance, with the ODF file format being implemented via plugins for the Commonwealth’s existing Microsoft Office licenses. (This helps to show that ODF and OpenOffice.org are separate ideas, even though they work very well together.)
Inspired or encouraged by Massachusetts, other US states including Minnesota, Texas, Oregon and California, have also tried to adopt ODF. Some have had setbacks while others, including New York State, are just beginning to explore this opportunity. Canada’s federal government, too, has been investigating ODF as its standard file format, but right now the biggest action is happening in Europe.
Erwin Tenhumberg stated that, from his perspective, Europe is at an ODF tipping point: so many governments are adopting ODF that it may soon become the default on this continent. Belgium and the Netherlands have set ODF as their national formats, while French government ministries have already deployed several hundred thousand copies of OpenOffice.org (mostly on Windows) in their agencies. The German Foreign Ministry, too, has moved all its computers at all its offices around the world to both Linux and OpenOffice.org.
Nor is its pricetag the primary reason to adopt OOo: multi-platform support, vendor neutrality, and security (since OOo lets you replace Windows with Linux, Solaris or Mac OS X) are possibly even more important factors for government and industry users.
Many sessions dealt with native language support, both building it into OpenOffice.org and how linguistic communities around the world have benefited from it. The Catalonian-speaking community uses OOo to help build its national identity, while South Africa, home to 11 official languages, has found Microsoft Office is only available in "one and a half" of these. Open source, through self-service translation by local communities, is the only viable option for many people to use software in their native languages!
Today’s final session contained representatives from the recently-enlarged family of companies that support the OpenOffice.org project: Sun, IBM, Novell, Red Hat, and RedFlag 2000. With this powerful squad of corporate backers, not to mention the dynamic and ever-growing community of individuals and small organizations using, promoting, and helping to develop OOo every day, the next year looks like a very promising one for this global open source project.