Reject Microsoft Office Attachments Says Free Software Group

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Just say no to Word, Excel attachments say free and open software campaigners

The next time someone sends you an email Word attachment – ping it back to them with a polite refusal.

That’s the message from campaign group the Free Software Foundation, which this week called on computer users around the world to support Document Freedom Day and the OpenDocument format by saying no thanks to proprietary attachments.

Microsoft and Apple formats are against freedom, says FSF

Documents, spreadsheets and presentations sent in Microsoft Word or Excel native formats, or documents created in Apple’s iWorks, are proprietary and incompatible with freedom and an accessible web, the group says.

“If we are serious about gaining freedom and accessibility for all users of technology and the web, we must demand an end to proprietary document formats,” said FSF executive director Peter Brown. “The best way to get started is for each of us to take responsibility and begin rejecting their use. OpenDocument is available now, as is free software such as OpenOffice.org that allows anyone to create OpenDocument files at no cost.”

The FSF is calling on the 300 million individuals who have downloaded OpenOffice to reject proprietary attachments. “Let’s do this for freedom and the good of the web,” said FSF executive director Peter Brown.

The group maintains there are sound, long-term reasons for its campaign. “For governments, businesses, archivists and others, it’s critical that documents be stored in a way that guarantees they can be read for years to come. This hasn’t been a problem for printed matter, but proprietary digital file formats are secretive by nature and get changed every few years, putting at risk future access to needed documents. We must ensure that documents we store on our computers and that are made available on the web are accessible regardless of what computer you use,” said FSF campaigns manager Matt Lee.

Last month, the British Library and Microsoft developed an open source, online collaboration tool for researchers. The Research Information Centre (RIC) Framework v1.0 has been designed to help international researchers collaborate more effectively.

FSF campaigned against Apple’s policies at the launch of the iPad, and has also campaigned for Google to use open video formats on YouTube.

The FSF is providing graphics that supporters can use to promote the campaign at http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/opendocument/spread.

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