The State of Massachusetts’ plan to adopt the OpenDocument file format as the standard for its office documents looks set to become the center of a political tug of war after Massachusetts’s Secretary of State voiced opposition to the plan.
Local news reports indicate that Secretary of State William Galvin, whose office is responsible for the State Records Center, the Massachusetts Archive, and the Public Records Division, among other things, does not plan to participate in the move to OpenDocument 1.0 as the standard for all office documents by January 2007.
Meanwhile, State Senator and chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, Marc Pacheco, has called for a hearing on Monday, October 31 to concerns related to costs as well as accessibility for users with limited eyesight, according to the Boston Globe.
The meeting is a new twist in the controversial decision to adopt OpenDocument as the standard format for Massachusetts’s office documents. The decision has already upset Microsoft Corp, which has no plans to adopt the format, which was adopted as a standard by Oasis in late may and has been submitted to the International Organization for Standardization for consideration as an international standard.
Massachusetts’ decision has been seen as a rejection of Microsoft’s Office in favor of the open source OpenOffice.org suite, the XML schema of which OpenDocument is based on, although Microsoft has the option to introduce the ability to open and save documents in the OpenDocument Format into Office 12, or submit the Office Open XML Formats to a recognized standards body if it wants to be considered for Massachusetts.
Both options have been rejected by Microsoft on the grounds that it would rather keep control of the formats used in Office so it can provide backward-compatibility for the estimated 400 million Office users worldwide.
Meanwhile, OpenDocument does not necessarily mean OpenOffice.org. As well as Sun Microsystems Inc’s StarOffice 8, which launched recently, OpenDocument will also be supported by Corel Corp, IBM Corp’s Workplace, and KOffice.
The debate over OpenDocument might also be a pawn in a larger political chess match. The plan to adopt OpenDocument has the backing of Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney, who is rumored to considering running as a candidate for the Republican party’s 2008 presidential campaign.
If he decides to go for a second term as Governor of Massachusetts instead, Romney could find himself running against Galvin, a Democrat, who is reported to be considering a run in the 2006 gubernatorial election.