I just come across a blog post from Glyn Moody reporting the claimed cost from Microsoft on requiring ODF to be used by the UK government. I just sent him an email to let him know that his assumption are most likely wrong. Sharing it here in case some of my blog readers have seem the same numbers float around in the UK.
"They're all in Danish, not unreasonably, but even with the help of Google Translate I can't find any figures about the savings of "moving to a flexible two standard" as claimed by the Microsoft email. But I assume it is backed up somewhere, so let's take it, and the £500 million figure for the UK, on trust."
I can tell you that the Danish reports are inflated. I believe it is the same reports that were used in the Norwegian debate around 2007, and Gisle Hannemyr (a well known IT commentator in Norway) had a look at the content. In short, the reason it is claimed that using ODF will be so costly, is based on the assumption that this mean every existing document need to be converted from one of the MS Office formats to ODF, transferred to the receiver, and converted back from ODF to one of the MS Office formats, and that the conversion will cost 10 minutes of work time for both the sender and the receiver. In reality the sender would have a tool capable of saving to ODF, and the receiver would have a tool capable of reading it, and the time spent would at most be a few seconds for saving and loading, not 20 minutes of wasted effort.
Microsoft claimed all these costs were saved by allowing people to transfer the original files from MS Office instead of spending 10 minutes converting to ODF. :)