From news.com: Massachusetts has decided to use only products that conform to the Open Document Format for Office Applications which is developed by the standards body OASIS. (…)The move to adopt OpenDocument shuts Microsoft out of the state’s procurement process because the software giant, which dominates the office application market, has said it does not intend to support the OpenDocument format.
Microsoft of course is trying to stop a precedent that would be possible followed by many other states all over the world (and terminate its global monopoly). So Microsoft manager Alan Yates wrote a letter (15 pages PDF available on mass.gov site).
I hightlight just one paragraph of the Microsoft letter: In short, the proposed policy is costly and unnecessary and would limit the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to a desktop software policy that is less functional, less open, and less flexible than the Commonwealth’s current policy.
Tim Bray comments on this precise claim: That barn-floor stench threatens to overcome me. In particular, the claim that office technology based on an open, standardized, file format that has already been implemented multiple times is necessarily “less functional, less open, and less flexible” is outrageous.
Summaryzing, “Openness is Closeness”. I think Big Brother Microsoft is suggesting to add this new slogan to the 3 Orwellian ones, “War is Peace”, “Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Strength” [by the way, if you have not read 1984, I strongly recommend it. And of course, after reading it, you may want to join SOS: Students for an Orwellian Society.]
More from news.com article: “Here we have a true conflict between the notion of intellectual property and the notion of sovereignty, and I’d say that 100 percent of the time in a democracy, sovereignty trumps intellectual property,” Kriss said. “That’s the issue we’re grappling with.”
It is not saving on costs that is leading States to choose Free Software (or at least Open Formats). It is freedom and provider independence. This is similar to the reasons motivating the migration of 2,460 Windows XP desktops to GNU/Linux in Bolzano province schools. From punto-informatico: “A spingerci verso il software libero – spiega l’ispettore Lorenzi – non ci sono ragioni economiche legate ai costi delle licenze proprietarie. L’unica molla che ci ha spinto al cambiamento è stato un approccio per così dire filosofico che seguiamo nei processi di istruzione. Crediamo che le tecnologie abbiano un ruolo fondamentale nella costruzione dei saperi e poter contare su tecnologie non proprietarie consente di allargare le possibilità di crescita”.
That again is the same point made by Prof. Di Cosmo in the lecture he gave here in Trento time ago: Public Administration must choose Free Software (even if it is more expensive than proprietary software). Check the very interesting Video (in Italian). It is a matter of freedom, not price.