The German cities of Munich, Freiburg and Jena, the Swiss Federal Court and the IT support centre for the Swiss canton of Waadt are sponsoring the improved support for Microsoft's document format OOXML in LibreOffice and OpenOffice. Their 140 000 euro tender, renewed earlier this year, was just awarded to two firms, Suse, working on the Suse Linux distribution, and Lanedo, an open source IT service specialist.
The five public administrations organised the procurement in cooperation with the Open Source Business Alliance, a trade group.
Last year the group worked on a technical specification of features it would like to see in LibreOffice and OpenOffice that are present in documents made with Microsoft's proprietary office applications. The group hopes that this will improve document interoperability. The main problems are getting frames and images, tables and bullet lists correct in text and spreadsheet documents.
In a press release published today, the OSB Alliance says it is still looking for 30 000 euro, which it says will help pay for getting support for embedding fonts in documents.
In the press release Jutta Kreyss, IT architect of the Limux project at the city of Munich calls the contract awarding a milestone. "Improving on the basis of the Open Document Format ODF is an important step on the way to enhance the interoperability of document formats. It paves the way for equal opportunity and for smooth cooperation between all users."
It also quotes Bernd Mutter, responsible for IT support at the city of Freiburg, who stresses the importance of document interoperability. He says that documents made in Microsoft's proprietary applications must work and look exactly alike when opened in either OpenOffice or LibreOffice.
Matthias Stuermer, a Swiss advocate of the use of open source in public administrations, added: "Our main concern now is to find the remaining thirthy thousand euro."