Massachusetts Dreaming: Document Formats and Open Standards

by Kurt Cagle

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Massachusetts has become the latest skirmish in the Open Source wars. A decision made in early 2005 by Eric Kriss, Secretary of Administration and Finance in Massachusetts led to his recommendation that Massachusetts adopt the Open Document Format, an open standard promoted by OASIS, for all state government work, after a formal review of all document standards, including Microsoft Word's new XML format, a format designated (somewhat cynically, as the Microsoft Office Open XML Format (MOX - my own acronym)).

This announcement was greeted favorably by a number of other large vendors, including Sun (which has supported the Open Document Format (ODF) in Open 2.0) and Adobe, but was on the other hand not unexpectedly derided by Microsoft.

At that point, however, a couple of things happened; two additional advocacy groups -- "Citizens Against Government Waste" and "Americans for Technology Leadership" have also weighed in against the adoption of the ODF standard, claiming that as nearly 100% of the state currently runs Microsoft Word, this would cause an undue burden upon the state to shift to Open Office, necessitating intense training, especially since Microsoft has announced that it has no plans to support ODF. (Article Continues ...)

So do you think that this is the best way to get US Government officials to start implementing open source and open standards technologies?