micro$oft squirming

Microsoft is squirming over the recent Massachussetts decision to use open standard data formats. Note the argument is not specifically choosing OpenOffice over MSOffice. It’s about how the data is stored. They are choosing to use the OpenDocument format, simply because it is more free.

Microsoft is free to use this license; it is an open standard and can be implemented without restriction. That’s the whole point. Yet,

Microsoft Office does not support OpenDocument and company executives said this week they have no plans to support that format in future versions of Office.

Despite Microsoft’s refusal to support OpenDocument, Eric Kriss, Secretary of Administration & Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, says

“Microsoft could put capabilities within their XML Office suite right now to open, save and manipulate OpenDocument formats. It is certainly something they could do. ”

“What we’ve backed away from at this point is the use of a proprietary standard and we want standards that are published and free of legal encumbrances, and we don’t want two standards,” Kriss said.

Seems sensible to me. Yet Microsoft clouds the issue by claiming the XML is the main benefit of OpenDocument (XML is the language of OpenDocument, but it’s nothing more than a generic way to store data that is human-readable, like HTML):

Microsoft’s Yates said the company agrees with the adoption of XML but does not agree that the solution to “public records management is to force a single, less functional document format on all state agencies.”

So two smoke screens there. The other one is about forcing a single format. This isn’t quite so, they are framing it wrong. It’s about openness, not restriction; Microsoft’s argument implies that someone will be restricted. Just not the case.

And speaking of Linux, the Kubuntu desktop is looking quite nice.

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