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EU institutions accused of doing nothing to free themselves from dependence on Microsoft

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The European Commission and European Parliament are doing nothing to rid themselves of their dependance on Microsoft, two lobby groups said Wednesday, Document Freedom Day.

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and Open Forum Europe urged EU institutions to support open standards in an open letter to Giancarlo Vilella, president of the European Parliament's Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support. He also chairs the body that coordinates IT activities for government agencies including Parliament, the Commission and the Council of the E.U.

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It’s Document Freedom Day 2014: What Does that Mean for You?

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You’ll recall that I noted above Document Freedom Day awareness is limited in the U.S. So is participation in DFD activities, as you can see from the image at left, which shows where they are being held this year. That’s a shame, because document freedom is a universal, and not a regional or national concern.

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ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words Chapter 3 – What a Difference a Decade Can Make

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Moreover, in the years to come, PC-based word processing products like WordStar, and then WordPerfect, would become far more popular than Microsoft’s own first word processing (originally called Multitool Word), providing low-cost alternatives to the proprietary minicomputer based software offerings of vendors like Wang Laboratories. IBM, too, provided a word processing program for the PC called DisplayWriter. That software was based on a similar program that IBM had developed for its mainframe systems customers. More importantly, another program was launched at just the right time to dramatically accelerate the sale of IBM PCs and their clones. That product was the legendary “killer app” of the IBM PC clone market: Lotus 1-2-3, the spreadsheet software upon which Mitch Kapor built the fortunes of his Lotus Development Corporation.

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MEP Tarand: "EU should switch to ODF standard"

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The European institutions should switch to using the Open Document Format ODF as their internal default document format, says Member of the European Parliament Indrek Tarand. Speaking at a meeting of the European Parliament's Free Software User Group (Epfsug), last week Wednesday, MEP Tarand said: "Moving to ODF would allow real innovation, and real procurement."

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ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words

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The story has other notable features as well: ODF is the first IT standard to be taken up as a popular cause, and also represents the first “cross over” standards issue that has attracted the broad support of the open source community. Then there are the societal dimensions: open formats are needed to safeguard our culture and our history from oblivion. And when implemented in open source software and deployed on Linux-based systems (not to mention One Laptop Per Child computers), the benefits and opportunities of IT become more available to those throughout the third world.

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Document Freedom Matters

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As the Document Freedom Day is approaching I realized that we don’t push ODF and open standards as loudly as before. Certainly most of the battles for the mind and market share are past, at least when it comes to office file formats. But the recent public consultation of the UK government brought back some of the most crucial issues surrounding ODF and it’s useful, I think, to check where stand these days on these matters.

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Breaking Microsoft’s Chains by Moving to LibreOffice

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Vignoli is one of the founders and a member of the Board of Directors of The Document Foundation, the organization behind LibreOffice, where his duties include marketing and communications as well as being an international spokesperson for the project. Before helping start The Document Project, he spent over six years on the marketing team for OpenOffice.org, which was the original code base for LibreOffice. In other words, this is a guy who knows his stuff and who has “been there/done that” when it comes to large enterprise level migrations from MS Office to LibreOffice or OpenOffice.

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Registration opens for Document Freedom Day 2014

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Today registration opens for Document Freedom Day 2014 events. This year the campaign day is March 26th, when people who believe in fair access to communications technology and Open Standards will again present, perform, and demonstrate. Event organisers can now register on the re-launched documentfreedom.org website.

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UK Gov garners 400 comments on ODF proposal, extends deadline

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On 28 January, the UK government asked for public comments on its proposal for standards involved in sharing and working with government documents. Introducing the proposal to use ODF and HTML: "Citizens, businesses and delivery partners, such as charities and voluntary groups, need to be able to interact with government officials, sharing and editing documents. Officials within government departments also need to work efficiently, sharing and collaborating with documents. Users must not have costs imposed upon them due to the format in which editable government information is shared or requested."

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My Comments as Posted to the UK Cabinet Office Standards Hub (now it's your turn)

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Last week I highlighted the fact that Microsoft was urging its business partners to comment at the British Cabinet Office's Standards Hub on a standards-related proposal. That proposal would limit government procurement to office software that complied with the ISO ODF standard, but makes no mention of the ISO OOXML standard promoted by Microsoft. I also noted that anyone could comment on the proposal, and that the deadline for comments would close on February 26, Greenwich time. I closed by urging readers to let their opinions on the subject be heard.

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Ubuntu 17.04: Unity's swan song?

For the most part, not much has changed on Ubuntu's Desktop edition in the past year. Unity 7 has more or less remained the same while work was progressing on the next version of the desktop, Unity 8. However, now that both desktops are being retired in favour of the GNOME desktop, running Ubuntu 17.04 feels a bit strange. This week I was running software that has probably reached the end of its life and this version of Ubuntu will only be supported for nine months. I could probably get the same desktop experience and most of the same hardware support running Ubuntu 16.04 and get security updates through to 2021 in the bargain. In short, I don't think Ubuntu 17.04 offers users anything significant over last year's 16.04 LTS release and it will be retired sooner. That being said, I could not help but be a little wistful about using Unity 7 again. Even though it has been about a year since I last used Unity, I quickly fell back into the routine and I was once more reminded how pleasant it can be to use Unity. The desktop is geared almost perfectly to my workflow and the controls are set up in a way that reduces my mouse usage to almost nothing. I find Unity a very comfortable desktop to use, especially when application menus have been moved from the top panel to inside their own windows. While there are some projects trying to carry on development of Unity, this release of Ubuntu feels like Unity's swan song and I have greatly enjoyed using the desktop this week. While there is not much new in Ubuntu 17.04, the release is pretty solid. Apart from the confusion that may arise from having three different package managers, I found Ubuntu to be capable, fairly newcomer friendly and stable. Everything worked well for me, at least on physical hardware. Unity is a bit slow to use in a virtual machine, but the distribution worked smoothly on my desktop computer. Read more

FOSS in European Public Services

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Leftovers: Gaming