WinInfo Daily UPDATE, January 18, 2005

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In the News

- Microsoft, Massachusetts Reach Office 2003 Accord

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft, Massachusetts Reach Office 2003 Accord

Microsoft has reached an agreement with Massachusetts that will result in the software giant easing its license restrictions for its Microsoft Office 2003 document formats in return for the state dropping a previous requirement to use only document formats based on open standards. In early 2004, Massachusetts announced that it would require all state agencies to create and store information in document types based on open standards such as HTML.
The goal of the format requirement was to ensure that the state could read digital documents in perpetuity and not have to worry about document conversions down the road if an agency adopted a format that was later abandoned by its maker. However, under terms of its agreement with Microsoft, Massachusetts has revised its requirement to include so-called "open formats" such as the XML-based document types supported by Office 2003 applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel.
"\[Microsoft has told\] us recently \[that\] they're planning to modify \[the Office 2003 document\] license," said Eric Kriss, secretary of administration and finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "If they're to do so, it is our expectation that when we issue the next iteration of standards, then Microsoft's proprietary formats will be deemed to be open formats because there are no longer restrictions on use."
In addition to Microsoft's XML-based document formats, Massachusetts will also use the PDF format, which is owned and controlled by Adobe, as well as other common document formats such as TXT and RTF. The change is a huge blow to open-source advocates, who saw last year's Massachusetts open-standards-requirement announcement as a win for open-source solutions such as Linux and OpenOffice.org. Worldwide, open-source solutions have been gaining traction in many country and local governments, but they have yet to see much success in US governmental bodies.

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