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Document Interoperability

'Becta, the government's education technology agency,
recently made a complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for
alleged anti-competitive practices by Microsoft in the schools
software marketplace and in relation to Microsoft's approach to
document interoperability. Becta's advice to schools in relation to
the deployment of Office 2007 remains that schools and colleges
should only deploy Office 2007 when its interoperability with
alternative products is satisfactory. That would necessarily imply
effective support by Microsoft of the internationally approved ODF
file format.Becta's final report, on Microsoft's Academic Licensing
Programmes, which was scheduled for January 2008, will now be
deferred until after the outcome of our complaint to the Office of
Fair Trading is known. Becta's final report on Vista and Office 2007
is scheduled for publication in January 2008.'

Could this mean that BECTA is likely to (deservedly) push
open source office applications and new web 2.0 office apps? In a bid
to steer the majority of educational establishments away from a once
popular, clever but now unnecessarily costly package?

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There are plans to develop a common file format for interactive whiteboards, in consultation with industry, to allow resources to be easily shared. The lack of a common file format remains a major barrier to sharing interactive whiteboard resources. There has not been an open format available to allow a user to develop content on one platform and present it on another.

With a common file format, resources can be developed once, then immediately distributed, without conversion, for presentation on any interactive whiteboard configuration. Institutions will no longer be locked into buying hardware from a particular vendor to support content developed on their existing systems. They will be free to purchase hardware and software from any supplier, or from a range of suppliers, assured that their files will be supported.
Another good example of vendors creating a standard for interoperabilty! This move will no doubt aid the sharing of resources on various learning platforms.

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