I have written several times about OpenOffice.org, a free suite of programs that is comparable to Microsoft Office. OpenOffice.org contains an excellent word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a presentation program. This free program competes directly with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
I like OpenOffice.org. In fact, this article is being written with it, even though I also have Microsoft Word installed on the same system. Now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has cooked up a modern-day Boston Tea Party by planning to dump Microsoft's Office suite and switch to open source software in all state agencies. This may not be the equivalent of dumping all the .doc and .xls files into Boston Harbor to send a message to King Billy (Gates), but the state is dumping them nonetheless, and King Billy may see a revolution in the making.
The state government has decided that all electronic documents created by state employees have to use open formats starting on January 1, 2007. After that date, every state document must be in PDF or use OpenOffice.org formats. As of today, Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint running on Microsoft Windows cannot do that. In fact, the Microsoft programs cannot even read documents created in those formats. That will be an issue for all the companies that do business with the state.
The idea behind this move is to make sure that every citizen can open and read electronic documents without having to buy expensive, proprietary software.
Microsoft is clearly worried. A lot of people live in Massachusetts, and a lot of high tech companies are based there. This is a big thumbs up for open source.
You can read more this story at http://tinyurl.com/dytuh.