Yates & Gates

Submitted by robataka on Sat, 12/17/2005 - 16:05.

I was reading over at Groklaw, PJ's analysis of Microsoft's Alan Yates' comments at a meeting to discuss the State of Massachussetts decision to transition to plain text, pdf, and ODF(open document format) as standards for all State of Massachussetts documents.

The bruhaha, of course, is that Microsoft's file formats, and their new one for Office12 is not included in the standards chosen by the State of Massachussets. Which, of course, Microsoft would like to fight tooth and nail....they don't like it when something threaten their cash cow....or threaten their business in general...which is all fine and good, and I would do the same if I were in their shoes.

PJ's analysis of it is, as always, extremely good. Long but good. She also has some links to other articles and blog entries on the issue. The funny thing about all of this is that Microsoft is a member of OASIS, which issued the Open Document Format, and since it is an open format they could implement it easily into their Office Suite. Can you guess why they don't want to do that?

The killer thing for Microsoft is that Mass' position is basically unassailable. The standards chose are supported by multiple vendors, avoiding potentially very expensive vendor lock-in, and since they are open, they are "future proof". The will be able to access those documents in the future regardless of what vendor is chosen at any given time. Additionally from a cost perspective, they have the option of choosing free-of-charge Open Office, or other open source word processor options such as KWord or AbiwordSun's Star Office, or IBM Workplace Managed Client 2.6, or Corel's Wordperfect when they finish adding ODF support.

Man would I love it if Frank Jackson took a bold step and started the process to choose the same formats as the State of Massachussetts for the City of Cleveland. At a minimum, he would achieve a massive discount a la Munich, Germany, to which Microsoft offered something like 18 million dollars in discounts(Munich chose the more expensive open source option for pretty much the same reasons Mass is choosing open standards - vendor lock-in avoidance). But he would also garner national attention from the tech industry.

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