US state embraces open standards

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.


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