World Bank Prodded On Open Standards

    September 12, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society thinks economic growth won’t happen with proprietary products.

For growing economies to expand, a consensus of government officials and Berkman Center members think open standards will get them there, according to The 33-page “road map” developed by the group told the World Bank to consider the benefits of technology not controlled by a single company.

Open standards and open source differ. Open source refers to an application where the source code is freely available; most software companies that operate for profit lock their software into binaries and forbid the viewing of the underlying code.

Open standards refer to a common way of handling a task. TCP/IP lets protocols like http and ftp traverse the Internet from one place to another. For developing economies, locking in to a technology controlled by a single vendor could be a costly and restricting decision.

Massachusetts has been in the news recently as two years of negotiations with Microsoft have led the state to declare its government agencies will be required to create and save documents in PDF or Open Document format. Microsoft does not support Open Document, and is at risk of losing not only the state’s business if it switches away from Office, but potentially the business of thousands of vendors who work with the state.

IBM and Oracle helped the Berkman Center sponsor a three-day summit of leaders from nations like China and India in February; both sponsors have been open source supporters and Microsoft rivals. Microsoft is a long-time sponsor of Harvard’s Berkman Center.

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