Microsoft to introduce Office 365 Open Document Format

Microsoft is to update its Office 365 platform to support the Open Document Format (ODF), following discussions with the Government Digital Service.

The change, which has been championed by the GDS and Francis Maude, will allow users to export files as ODF regardless of whether they were created on a Microsoft, Android or Apple platform.

Jesse Stanchak, Microsoft’s community manager, said the update is expected for May of this year, she explained, “while we already have great ODF support in O365, we’ve worked with GDS to understand the need to be able to create or import a document in another format and export it as ODF 1.2.

These changes ensure that Microsoft Office 365 will be compliant with the policy for sharing and collaborating on government documents and available for all public sector organisations,” Stanchak added.

Given the range of public sector devices and platforms, the GDS is keen to move away from specific file formats and introduce ODF across all departments so that they can remotely access and share documents created on separate platforms.

Maude explained how ODF can benefit the public sector: “this will give people more choice about the software they use… it supports our digital-by-default agenda.”

Microsoft had previously argued that its own Open XML format is more popular and therefore used instead of ODF on the government’s recommended format.

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