The Danish Competition Authority wants to discuss with the European Commission how to enhance competition in the market for office software. It thinks the Danish public sector is too small to do this by itself.
An appointment with the Commission has not yet been made. "We have awaited the translation of the report", says Michael Fibiger, chief special advisor to the Danish Competition Authority.
The agency is unsure what Denmark can do about the lack of competition in this software market, it writes in its introduction of a report published on 12 August, in Danish.
This Tuesday the agency made an English translation available: 'The market for office software Competition and the importance of open standards'.
"The question is what can be done to enhance competition in the market for office software", the competition authority reasons. It assumes that measures by Denmark on the supply side will be ineffective, as the Danish market is very modest. "Public procurement of office suites accounts for about 10 percent of the total demand in Denmark."
The market for office software is international and therefore the Danish competition authority sees little use in the country to for instance grant competitors access to the dominant supplier's infrastructure or technical user interfaces. "Introducing special Danish measures will entail a risk that the measures are not effective."
The report by the Danish competition authority was requested by the Danish parliament in April this year. The parliament in June 2007 start a debate on whether Denmark's public administrations should use the open document standard ODF and/or Microsoft's alternative, OOXML.
The agency recommends they use both. "Public procurement should be based on both standards so that solutions support either OOXML or ODF and accept text documents in both formats."
Comments Fibiger: "We recommend that the Danish government use its influence as a customer to buy office suites based on open standards."
According to Morten Kjærsgaard, chairman of OSL, a association of Danish open source IT service companies, the government should follow the example of Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands. "These countries are giving ODF priority and have put OOXML on hold".
Commenting on the report by the competition authority, Kjærsgaard says: "The devil is in the details. Our minister told the parliament Microsoft's current format, docx, is the same as OOXML. It is not, and if I can imagine some of the MPs are not amused by this mistake."
The market for office software (in English, pdf)
Competition Authortity statement