US state embraces open standards

US state embraces open standards

Summary: Massachusetts is planning to move away from closed formats by only allowing OpenDocument and PDF file formats


The state of Massachusetts plans to use software based on open standards from the beginning of 2007, according to the Financial Times.

In what could be a major blow to Microsoft's battle against open source software, Massachusetts state said on Wednesday that all documents "created and saved" by state employees from the beginning of next year "would have to be based on open formats".

In a paper laying out the state technology strategy, Massachusetts specified only two document types that could be used in the future — OpenDocument, used in open source applications like, and PDF — said the Financial Times.

OpenDocument, short for the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications, is an open document file format for saving office documents such as spreadsheets, memos, charts, and presentations. It is the default file format for OpenOffice 2.0, which is currently in beta.

The proposal is open for comment until next week.

The State of Massachusetts is the latest public body to look beyond Microsoft's software. The City of Munich is moving 14,000 desktops to Debian Linux, and Vienna is in the process of migrating some of its desktop users from Windows software.

In the UK, London's Newham Council considered Linux as an alternative to Microsoft's software, but chose to remain with Microsoft.

Topic: Operating Systems

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • Since when isn't Adobe's PDF file format proprietary -- and since when doesn't everyone hate the PDF file format?
  • Adobe publish the PDF file formats freely for anyone to use. Thus it is proprietary in that it is controlled by one entity, but since anyone else is free to make their own pdf readers and writers, it is effectively an open standard.