Massachusetts To Consider Microsoft's Open XML


Massachusetts was an early pioneer in the unofficial Escape From Microsoft movement, and has been vocal about its intention to move to open standards.

In 2005, Massachusetts began embracing the OpenDocument Format (ODF), an open standard that's drawing interest from state governments for its ability to free them from Microsoft's monopoly in the office document space.

Massachusetts had planned to complete its switch to ODF by this year due to its concerns over usage and archiving issues with documents, and a desire to keep them as accessible as possible over the long term, said Chris Letocq, and analyst with Guernsey Research, Los Altos, Calif.

However, the state on Monday issued a revised proposal that added OOXML to the list of formats it's considering for handling the creation of text documents, spreadsheets and presentations, a decision that Letocq characterized as "very practical."

Sponsored post

"They not only have the issue of archiving to look at, but also how their departments interact with businesses on an every day basis. Using ODF for that was probably going to make it a little difficult," said Letocq.

Microsoft developed OOXML for its Microsoft Office 2007 product suite, and is positioning it as an open standard. Last December OOXML was certified as an Ecma standard, and Microsoft is trying to get it certified with the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

Matt Scherocman, a director at PCMS IT Advisor, a Cincinnati-based Microsoft Gold partner, described the Massachusetts decision to use Office Open XML as "a very big win" for Microsoft.

"You're basically keeping an entire state from going to a non-Microsoft product. From Microsoft's perspective, when you start getting one group that's not standardized, that's going to continue to roll and roll," said Scherocman.

The Massachusetts proposal notes that OOXML is also supported by OpenOffice Novell Edition, NeoOffice 2.1, and Corel's WordPerfect 2007. Microsoft's Office Compatibility Pack allows companies running older versions such as Office 2003, XP and 2000, to translate documents to and from Open XML Format, according to the proposal.