There was some excitement late on Friday as the Twittersphere with buzzing about the Danish government's statement about open standards - with several tweeters claiming that the Danes had give the old heave-ho to Microsoft.
Danish speakers being in a minority on Twitter, it took some time for the facts to emerge from a miasma of confusion and misinformation. Eventually, when the details finally surfaced what had happened was much more prosaic, in a classic example of political fudge, the decision had been delayed until a panel of experts selected which standards were to be approved.
The interesting question is why so much excitement in a policy decision from one of Europe's smaller countries. And the reason is there is so much interest in governmental stances on open standards (and by extension open source). If you couple this with the ill-feeling generated by the way that Microsoft pushed through ISO ratification of OOXML and you'll have lots of people gunning for the company - hence the wave of schadenfreude (or whatever the Danish word is) when it was thought that Microsoft had been excluded.
As I mentioned last week, the industry is looking for governments all over Europe to set some examples. It could be in the procurement process in an attempt to promote open source. It could be in document management - as In the Danish case. It could even be in specifying browsers, as the French and German government's did a fortnight ago, when their warnings about IE6 led to additional take-up of Mozilla and Opera.
Governments are traditionally been wary of committing to anything to do with standards or laying down the law on protocols - the feeling has been that such decisions are best made by the market. There's a real sense now that that's an old-fashioned view and while governments will never dictate exactly what software is to be used or bought, they're getting involved much more than they did in the past,.
And that's why there was a flurry of interest in what the Danes were up to. Expect to see a lot more in the coming months as governments start realising that they have some muscles to flex.
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