The move to have ODF widely adopted is now driven by a consortium called the ODF Alliance, which has 36 members including all the major Linux distributors, as well as IBM and Google.
The new bill, introduced by Californian Democrat Mark Leno, does not name ODF specifically but has stipulated that by 2008 agencies must be equipped to store and exchange documents in an open, XML-based format. Although the name of Microsoft's Office Open XML suggests that it would match the requirement, it is in fact a proprietary format that would fail the open standards test.
The Californian legislation comes at a time for Microsoft when it already has its hands full trying to convince users to move to its new operating system Vista and upgrade to Office 2007, both of which involve considerable cost. Microsoft is also under regulatory pressure in Europe from the European Commission (EC), as well as a number of European Governments which have already adopted ODF.
The EC recently issued a Statement of Objections to Microsoft, with Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes saying, “Microsoft has agreed that the main basis for pricing should be whether its protocols are innovative. The Commission's current view is that there is no significant innovation in these protocols. I am therefore again obliged to take formal measures to ensure that Microsoft complies with its obligations.” Accordng to UK-based research group Ovum, the ruling raises the prospect of further fines being levied on Microsoft.