Feeds

Massachusetts kowtows to Microsoft

Redmond's 'open' standards approved

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Massachusetts is back on the Microsoft bandwagon. Nearly two years ago, the US state unveiled a policy that required its agencies to abandon Microsoft's Office applications in favor of apps that use "open" standards, such as the OpenDocument format (ODF).

Now, the state's Information Technology Division has released a draft proposal that would approve Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) format as an open standard, bowing to pressure from Microsoft and the Massachusetts state legislature.

Released today, the proposed update to the Massachusetts Enterprise Technical Reference is under review until July 20.

The state first announced its switch to open standards in the fall of 2005, under then CIO Peter Quinn. At the time Microsoft's Office 2003 suite did not support ODF, and the company had yet to release Office 2007, which would mark the debut of OOXML. Clearly, the state was pushing for the introduction of Microsoft alternatives, such as the open source OpenOffice.org and Sun Microsystems' for-pay version, StarOffice.

Unprecedented among state governments, the move caused quite a stir, as Microsoft lobbied the state legislature to change policy. Little more than four months later Quinn resigned his post: his successor, Louis Gutierrez, stayed in the job less than a year. Now, under interim CIO Bethann Pepoli, the state has reversed its stance.

In the two years since the state's original 2005 announcement, Microsoft released Office 2007, and OOXML was approved as an open standard by ECMA, an international standards group. Naturally, Microsoft has applauded Massachusetts 2.0.

"We support the Commonwealth's proposal to add ECMA Office Open XML File Formats to the list of approved standards, as this would give users the ability to choose the open file format standard that best serves their needs," said Tom Robertson, general manager, interoperability and standards at Microsoft.

Massachusetts had previously said that it would adopt "translator software" that would allow for the use of ODF through Office 2003. According to the new draft proposal, this is how most state agencies will make the switch to open standards. "All agencies are expected to migrate away from proprietary, binary office document formats to open, XML-based office document formats," the proposal reads. "Microsoft Office 2003, currently deployed by the majority of agencies, will support the use of ODF document formats through a translator software solution ."

Meanwhile, Microsoft is courting ECMA again, seeking to introduce an open standard that challenges Adobe's PDF format, long a de facto standard for electronic document exchange. The proposed standard is called XPS (XML Paper format).

"If you loved OOXML and the way that ECMA did exactly what Microsoft wanted, you"ll love the new working group around XPS," reads a blog post from Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president for open source and standards. "OOXML was not an anomaly, we now have a pattern. You can either object and do something about this, and that includes helping to stop OOXML, or else you can wake up one morning and find 'international standard' being increasingly synonymous with 'defined in Redmond, WA.' You have a choice." ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cloudy CoreOS Linux distro declares itself production-ready
Lightweight, container-happy Linux gets first Stable release
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.