NY commits to open formats as MSFT supports ODF

New York's CIO, Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart (left), submitted a report to the governor and legislature, embracing open document formats but steering clear of picking favorites.

New York's CIO, Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart (left), submitted a report to the governor and legislature, embracing open document formats but steering clear of picking favorites.

Open document formats are a necessity since NY law requires the state to "conduct its business in an open, interoperable and transparent manner." But, unlike Massachusetts, New York isn't about to announce that there is one standard the entire government must use.

"In the office suite format debate, there currently is no compelling solution for the State’s openness needs."
Openness is only one factor in the state's overall requirements. Another key factor is the need to preserve documents in a form as close to the original format as possible.
"State Archives emphasizes creating records in open formats makes it easier to preserve their essential characteristics and demonstrates they are authentic."
This comes just days after Microsoft announce it would support the open source format ODF, as well as Adobe's PDF, natively in future versions of Office – and the ISO version of OOXML in Office 14. After all of the accusation and recriminations around ISO approval of OOXML, people should realize that Microsoft is serious and genuine around supporting standards-based formats, said Peter O'Kelly of the Burton Group in a phone call this morning.
New York is saying, let's check the facts here. People are saying Microsoft is trying to subvert the standards. But as objective entities like New York check the facts, the reality is there are very good formats in this area and which one you choose is a function of the kind of work you're doing.
There will always be multiple formats, multiple implementations and multiple standards bodies. "What's important is that we've moved from proprietary and binary formats to open XML formats, O'Kelly said.
States will be the market leaders because they don't have an agenda. ... It's the irrefutably neutral position of government agencies that will finally get reasonable people to consensus. The surprise for some people will be that Microsoft really did play fair. They have to play fair as a convicted monopolist. Microsoft has made commitments to do things that are good for both ODF and OOXML. You can't cheat with the ISO– if you contribute, its in there, in perpetuity. It's no longer Microsoft-controlled. Ultimately, its not about ODF or OOXML; its about communities who conflate open standards with open source and people who – not without justification –think that Microsoft would cheat if it could. The reality is Microsoft isn't cheating; they're spending a lot of resources holding themselves to a higher standard.
Ultimately, we'll have to see what Office's support for ODF look like. But O'Kelly expects it so be strong.
They can't deliver an ODF implementation that is deficient compared to competitors. Much to some people's chagrin, they will ship very good ODF support. There will be some things you simply can't do in ODF you can do in OOXML.
But that's the nature of the standards. OOXML, as many have criticized, is hugely more lengthy than ODF. "The onus is on Microsoft to play fair and be at parity with the best ODF support out there," O'Kelly said.