Massachusetts May Lift Gates For Open Source

    September 1, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The state proposes an open document format initiative where Microsoft Office would be replaced.

If it’s an electronic document, it has to be “created and saved” in an open format by 2007 in Massachusetts. The state recently updated its Enterprise Technical Reference Model to reflect this requirement:

It is the policy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that all official records of the Commonwealth be created and saved in an acceptable format as detailed below.

Further in the document, the State defines that format as the OpenDocument format, supported by products like OpenOffice and Star Office. Massachusetts wants to preserve its electronic documents without fear of a proprietary standard being discontinued in the future. It has told state agencies to begin planning for the change:

Given the majority of Executive Department agencies currently use office applications such as MS Office, Lotus Notes and WordPerfect that produce documents in proprietary formats, the magnitude of the migration effort to this new open standard is considerable. Agencies will need to develop phased migration plans with a target implementation date of January 1, 2007.

A Microsoft executive told the Financial Times that the state should think about the price of making that change. “I think it would be pretty risky for the state of Massachusetts to go in a direction like this without a clear look at the costs first,” said Alan Yates, general manager of the Office division at Microsoft. “It would seem to me that before taking such a big shift, they would look into it further.”

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.