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By GCN Staff

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Mass retreat?

Today the state of Massachusetts posted the final version of the new technical reference model, which mandated the use of both the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft Office Open XML (OOXML) for both office documents. It's not a surprising decision for anyone who has been following this much-discussed topic.

"The Commonwealth continues on its path toward open, XML-based document formats without reflecting a vendor or commercial bias," wrote state department of revenue interim commissioner Henry Dormitzer and state acting chief information officer Bethann Pepoli in a statement.

And yet there is more than meets the eye in this seemingly simple statement ' or less, according to Massachusetts-based standards attorney Andrew Updegrove, who has been following the issue.

He noted that the state has moved from demanding internationally recognized standard formats to simply "XML-based document formats." The commonwealth is, in effect, "abandoning the moral high ground of insisting on international adoption."

While OOXML is already an Ecma standard, it is not a standard yet in the eyes of the International Standards Organization, a much more formal body. ISO will make that decision next month ' and the approval seems anything but assured.

"The current administration has opted instead to punt ' a substantial and regrettable retreat from the stance that brought OOXML this far along the open standards road," Updegrove wrote on his blog.

Does the new reference model in fact retreat from the ambitious ground staked out in 2005 by then-CIO Peter Quinn? Or does it adequately satisfy original goals of using open formats in the first place ' interoperability and accessibility?

Posted by Joab Jackson on Aug 02, 2007 at 9:39 AM


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