QuoteFor years, IT has struggled with how best to maintain the flow of data across heterogeneous environments without incurring data loss. Monoculture or no, customers often want to save documents in a variety of formats. This has not always worked to Microsoft's advantage. In fact, last year, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency filed a complaint with the European Commission in which it alleged that Office 2007 would impede educational initiatives because it failed to natively support open standards, in particular, ODF.
Doug Mahugh, a project manager at Microsoft who deals with interoperability issues connected with the Office software suite, described the steps taken today within the broader context of disclosure, transparency, and format support. "To get there, we found that it was not just sufficient to conform to a standard. We needed transparency about all the design decisions involved in getting to that standard...it was a way of pulling together lot of the things we were doing in interoperability." Rightly or not, the perception was that Microsoft Office did not treat ODF as first class citizen. "That kind of feedback is why we built ODF support into SP 2," Mahugh said.
QuoteIn its 2007 session, the New York State Legislature directed NYS Chief Information Officer/Director of the Office For Technology, Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, to gather stakeholder input regarding the mechanisms and processes for obtaining access to and reading electronic data so that such data can be created, maintained, exchanged, and preserved by the state in a manner that encourages appropriate government control, access, choice, interoperability, and vendor neutrality.
QuoteMassachusetts today released draft specifications that would allow state workers to continue using Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) format. The latest proposal comes about two years after state IT officials kicked off a raging political battle by unveiling specifications that would have required state workers to use applications that support only "open" technologies like the OpenDocument format (ODF). "Open XML does meet our established criteria for an open standard," said Bethann Pepoli, the state's acting CIO, in an e-mail to Computerworld. "There is industry support for Open XML and we believe that by adopting the standard we will be able to accelerate the pace of migration to XML document formats."
QuoteBut Kriss insisted that the ODF policy wasn't intended to be anti-Microsoft. He said technical people at Microsoft told him it would be "trivial" to add support for ODF to the new Office 2007. The resistance to doing so came from the vendorís business side, according to Kriss. Yates told Computerworld in an interview last month that ODF "came up late in the development process for Office 2007" and that the standard "really isn't finished." He also said Microsoft was "surprised" when Massachusetts issued the ODF mandate and dropped what he claimed was an earlier agreement for the state to accept Office file formats as being open.
QuoteOn Thursday, Microsoft is set to release to businesses Office 2007, an upgrade of its productivity suite which introduces an XML-based file format called Office Open XML. Because so many more documents will be created in that format, Corel has decided to make opening and editing those document types an option in the WordPerfect word processor as well as in the company's presentation application and Quattro Pro spreadsheet, said Richard Carriere, general manager of office productivity for Corel. In addition, Corel in the middle of next year will allow people to open and view word processor documents stored in the OpenDocument format, or ODF.
QuoteGutierrez found himself in a bind in February when he assumed the CIO's position in Massachusetts. The state's ODF policy called for executive-branch agencies by Jan. 1, 2007, to use office applications that are conformant with ODF and to configure those applications to save documents in ODF by default. But the only office applications that could do that -- such as the open-source OpenOffice and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s StarOffice -- are not fully supported by the major screen readers and magnifiers that people with disabilities use. That sparked an outcry from various organizations representing that community. The emergence of plug-ins that can be used to save documents in ODF prompted Gutierrez to issue a request for information on the technology. Now ITD will be following through with testing of the ODF plug-ins in preparation for a phased rollout, expected to begin later this year, according to sources at yesterday's meeting.
Quote"Many enterprises are not thrilled about paying Microsoft what they do for Office, but feel like they have to. ODF by itself does not remove those concerns, but it does begin to open doors that were not there previously, if only from a negotiating standpoint," O'Grady said. Although Gutierrez was not involved in the original decision to choose OpenDocument, he lauded the decision as the right thing to do.
QuoteThe less (as in "not") noticed event relates to the passage of an important economic stimulus bill that for months had been stalled while Beacon Hill legislators debated a universal health coverage bill with a higher priority. The passage of the bill, of course, was widely reported. What wasn't noted (except by IBM's Bob Sutor at his blog and few, if any, others) is the fact that a certain amendment that had been added to the Senate version of the same bill last fall did not survive the final reconciliation of the Senate and House versions of the legislation. That amendment, if approved, would have dramatically curtailed the power of the State CIO to set IT standards policies (or any other IT or CT policy, for that matter). You can read all about that saga in this and a number of later entries in the OpenDocument blog entry folder.