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Crosstalk: Opinions From the Open XML Debate

About two years ago, the Massachusetts Information Technology Division made headlines around the world when it required state agencies to move away from proprietary document formats for state records. More recently, on Aug. 1, the IT Division approved Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) document format as an acceptable open standard under the state's IT guidelines.

During a short public comment period that began on July 5, the commonwealth logged comments from 460 people and organizations from around the world. The comments run 852 pages in the PDF file published by the commonwealth. Here's a sampling.

Against
"Please review thoroughly the definition of 'Standards.' It appears there is some confusion over its definition. Perhaps someone in the department has a technical dictionary?" --Seth Tuthill

"History has taught us that Microsoft has no shame when it comes to embracing something just long enough to kill the competition and then abandoning it." --Jeffrey Kesselman

"If you truly want an open standard, see what Microsoft is pushing, then run from it as fast as you can and choose the real open standard." --Paul Richards

For
"Accepting the Open XML standard will enable wider choice, which will spur competition and innovation. Please support Open XML." --Robin Kavanaugh

"There is an enormous investment in current documents and systems based on the standards other than the currently approved standard [ODF] in the Commonwealth. This new standard will preserve that existing investment." --Alan Day

"Without Open XML approval, Microsoft and companies like mine who specialize in Microsoft implementations would have been locked out of government contracting, to the detriment of government employees and citizens." --George LaVenture

About the Author

Thomas Caywood is a senior writer at Redmond Developer News.

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