OpenDocument Gaining A Foothold?

By on November 15, 2005

From Christian Science Monitor:

Deciding what kind of software Massachusetts wants to load on some 50,000 state computers may sound like something of interest only to uber-geeks. But that decision could spark a revolution in how software is developed and sold.

The Commonwealth wants to adopt an “open document” standard by 2007. It would allow vital electronic records to be readable far into the future because they wouldn’t depend on a single company’s exclusive product. At the same time, it would create a more competitive software industry.


Among products already compliant with the open-document system are OpenOffice, Sun Microsystems’ StarOffice, and IBM’s Workplace. Any Microsoft product that conformed to the open standard could compete as well.

Is this a significant step or just a blip on Microsoft’s radar? I have tried out OpenOffice and found it to be quite mature and intuitive. However, I have reverted to MS Office along with most of the rest of the world.

[Microsoft] Office has driven out competitors and controls 90 percent of the world market.

Here is the Wikipedia article on the OpenDocument format.



  1. I too like OpenOffice, but I wonder how someone doesn’t get sued. So many things are exactly like Office, that it’s a wonder Microsoft doesn’t sue someone.

  2. I read about the Massachusetts deal sometime last week, and the article noted that there are some that are very much opposed to the move. It apparently was mandated by the state IT guys without conferring with many of the affected users, and if I remember correctly, the politicians were about to step in.

    I wish I could remember where I read that… Dang!

  3. If Microsoft could sue someone, they definitely would have by now.

    Transitioning people to a new office suite is a big task. Transitioning people to a new anything that affects them a lot is a big task. Often done without much forethought or consultation with the affected people. This doesn’t mean the decision to change is wrong; it’s just not done correctly.

    I hope the folks making the decision will plan the transition well, make it phased, provide lots of information, and do all the other things that the change management folks know about.

    As for reverting to Microsoft Office–well, humans are like that. We do what’s easy and familiar. Money is often a motivator. Just as the oil crisis of the 70s brought about more efficient cars, money will get a lot of people to switch to (I”m a former MS Word user and can’t stand it anymore–love Writer because it’s familiar and doesn’t randomly do stuff I didn’t tell it to do.)

    ~ Solveig

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