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[Fsfe-uk] Govtalk Interoperability Group minutes

From: Ramin Nakisa
Subject: [Fsfe-uk] Govtalk Interoperability Group minutes
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2002 22:18:37 +0100

I was looking at the govtalk e-gif website and saw these minutes of a
meeting of the Interoperability Group in Whitehall on March 5th:


Amusingly, the document about interoperability is only available in
Word format (the server is running on NT4/Windows 98 and uses ASP).
The committee seemed to be aware of the danger of being seen to
promote proprietary applications, which is promising.  Here's an
excerpt from Item 2:
 Table 5 included material most  of which had previously been in Table
 4. Victor  McFetridge  said  he   was  surprised  to  see  Excel  and
 Powerpoint  mentioned. John  Borras said  that the  document  did not
 require  that others  used  them  but indicated  that  this was  what
 government preferred. It was queried whether this was sending out the
 right signals  to manufacturers of alternative  software. John Borras
 said that taking these out would create problems and that the reality
 of  their  market position  had  to  be  accepted. A  suggestion  was
 made that a sub-group be  formed to  look at  the use  of proprietary
 brand names in  this way and this was supported.  Jitu Patel said the
 danger  was that  it would  look as  though the  e-GIF  was mandating
 Microsoft products. John Borras said that the wording would be either
 rephrased  or  deleted.  It  was  requested that  the  term  Personal
 Computer  in the  title of  Table 5  be put  in lower  case. Actions:
 Wording on Powerpoint and Excel to  be altered in e-GIF4 Part Two and
 a new sub-group on proprietary names to be formed.

"Item 6: Open Source Software result of consultation" is also
interesting.  When they talk about responses that "mandate open source
as the only choice" are they talking about responses of Joe Public on
the gov talk web site or experts from QinetiQ?  Here's the item:

 John Borras said that the consultation period would finish next week.
 Some  responses indicated  a desire  to go  further and  mandate open
 source  as  the  only  choice.  There  appeared  to  be  no  negative
 responses. The proposals would probably be taken to ministers (as OGC
 is concerned there  are two ministers involved) as  they stood. There
 were also  indications that Brussels  was looking towards  a European
 standard and the  OeE was involved in that  debate. Publication, in a
 separate document, was expected around the same time as e-GIF4 and by
 the end of April at the latest. Action: Open Source Software document
 to be published.

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