Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Massachusetts Debates the future of Documents

Andrew Updegrove has been covering much of the debate in Mass about it's decision to use the OpenDocument format as a standard instead of the Microsoft Office format. For those of you that haven't followed the drama, shortly after that decision, MS stirred up a lynch mob to go after Peter Quinn, the state CIO.

The comment that caught my eye, and really put the whole debate in a nutshell, was this one:
It is vital that our national records are not saved in a format owned by any single company. Ask yourself the question: what would we do if we needed vital documents created on a Wang processor 20 years ago.

Most people reading this will never have heard of Wang (that's the point), but 20 years ago they were where Microsoft is today -- Wang sold desktop computers and word-processing software, and they owned the majority of the word-processing market. Five years later their computers weren't worth their weight in scrap metal, leaving users with a bunch of Wang-format documents that needed to be converted to the format of the new market-leading word processor.


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