ECIS commends European Commission for its Digital Agenda
That last part means that Microsoft could implement an open international standard like ODF if it wanted to, despite being a proprietary software business. So far, it doesn't do so in a way that really works, and the only obstacle I know of, as reflected in their remarks about Google Docs, is a lack of a desire to actually do so.
BRUSSELS, 19 May, 2010 - ECIS is gratified that the European
Commission's “Digital Agenda” released today sets a timetable for
making sure that government-purchased software adheres to open
standards, so it will work smoothly and easily together, thus ensuring
citizens have open access to their governments.
The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) is also
pleased that the Commission frowns on software that is hemmed in by
closed, proprietary standards.
“As our name suggests, interoperability is a central tenet of our
group,” said Thomas Vinje, counsel and spokesman for ECIS. “We're
pleased the European Commission has given broad support to
interoperability, and gratified it believes government acquisition of
software should adhere to open standards.”
The broad-ranging Digital Agenda focuses in part on the importance of
making software work together. Among its conclusions are that because
all technology is inherently standards-based, “Interoperability
between these standards is the only way to make our lives and doing
business easier – smoothing the way to a truly digital society.”
The Digital Agenda says member states should by 2013 carry out goals
enunciated in April by EU Telecommunication Ministers during their
meeting in Spain, whose Granada Declaration calls for the “systematic
promotion of open standards and interoperable systems” for governments
across the European Union.
“That approach assures that governments will avoid granting a monopoly
to a proprietary software company, which can then charge citizens for
the software they need to access and interact with their governments,”
Open standards permit inter-operation without the necessity of paying
special fees. For example, the common electric plug is designed to an
open standard. Anyone may build an electric plug without paying a
royalty to design prongs to the right size and shape for a power
point. In software, two of the best-known open standards are those
that created the Internet and those that created the World Wide Web.
Anyone may write software that works on the Internet or the Web,
without paying special fees.
“These open standards have transformed the way we do business,” said
Vinje of the Web and the Internet. They are clear examples of the way
that open standards promote creativity and competition.
“Open standards will help create such things as health records that
will be readable anywhere in the European Union, using a variety of
software from a number of providers,” said Vinje. “They set the stage
for economic growth. We're gratified that the Commission is backing
Open standards are distinct from “open source.” Using the latter, a
group or company makes public the underlying source code of its
program. Open standards are aimed at allowing pieces of software to
work seamlessly together. Proprietary software business models based
on open standards and open source business models both allow a high
degree of interoperability and consumer choice. ECIS strongly
believes that in adopting measures to implement the Digital Agenda,
the EU should take care in ensuring that one particular model is not
favoured over another, as long as the aims of openness and
interoperability are met.