Massachusetts government officials on Thursday unveiled plans to phase out Microsoft Office in favor of office productivity suites that support an open-document format from the OASIS standards body, according to a statement from the commonwealth.
Massachusetts will support the newly ratified Open Document Format for Office Applications, or OpenDocument, as the standard for its office documents, according to the statement posted on the governmental Web site by Peter Quinn, chief information officer for Massachusetts.
Developed within Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), OpenDocument is an XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based file format that covers the features required by text, spreadsheets, charts, and graphical documents, reports PC World.
"The magnitude of the migration effort to this new open standard is considerable," the report says. "Agencies will need to develop phased migration plans with a target implementation date of January 1, 2007."
According to Boston Globe, If Massachusetts follows through, it will be the first US state to require that all documents be created in an open format. Such a move would boost the credibility of open file formats and encourage fresh competition against Microsoft Office, which holds over 90 percent of the world market in office productivity software.
"The way they've gone about this is brilliant," said Sam Hiser, an open source software consultant who took part in the deliberations leading up to the report. ''The state is really leading the charge here."
The policy change wouldn't affect only Microsoft. The state uses other programs, such as IBM's Lotus Notes and the word processing program WordPerfect, that employ proprietary file formats. These products would also have to be replaced, or upgraded to versions that work with the OpenDocument standard.