Denmark Parliament recently made a surprising decision. On a session held on this Wednesday, the Parliament decided that starting with April 2011 onwards, Denmark government offices will save all of their documents in ODF format [Open Document Format].

This means the end of the road for proprietary formats the government used so far [XLS, DOC, PPT and so on]. As you might have guessed, this comes after almost four years of hard debate. The government will use Open Document Format in all communications between official government institutions. If Microsoft wants to keep doing business with the Government of Denmark, the company will have to support ODF in the same or better manner than competing packages such as Sun’s OpenOffice or Corel’s Word Perfect Office.

Denmark’s Minister of science Helge Sander stated that "My ambition for the future is to communicate using only open standards."
His opinion was mirrored by the Red-Green Alliance [Enhedslisten party], who also sided with this decision. Per Clausen from Enhedslisten party stated that "We believe that open source is step forward and it should replace patent stands we currently have."

Even though that from April 2011 onwards a switch to ODF formats will affect only national institutions, it is expected that all Denmark regions and districts will follow suit. Is this decision a stone that will start an avalanche and lead to slow but certain win of Open Source formats or is Microsoft preparing a fight back, remains to be seen.