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Massachusetts reverses Microsoft ban

Confuses press release with reality...

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Massachusetts has reversed its decision to stop government departments using Microsoft file formats.

The state set a deadline of 2007 for all departments to move away from proprietary technology and embrace open formats. But Microsoft's announcement last week that it would submit its file formats to a European standards body has satisfied the state that Microsoft has embraced open standards.

Sun Microsystems was a little more cynical. Sun's vice president of blogs and government affairs Piper Cole noted: "There is a lot to be done between a press release and the realization of a truly open standard, and Office XML is far from being an open standard now."

Sun's head of corporate standards wrote an open letter to Massachusetts Office of Administration urging them not to confuse a promise to apply for open standard status with actual open standard status.

The letter said: "Only after a specification has been approved by a broadly supported standards body – one that demonstrates acceptable levels of openness by being available to all competing products – should the Commonwealth consider including that open standard as one of its own." More details here.

In separate news Massachusetts IT director Peter Quinn is under investigation for visting 12 out-of-state conferences in the last year, some of them without proper authorisation. More on Boston.com here.®

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