California has introduced a bill that would make the Open Document Format (ODF) a mandatory requirement for its state agencies when procuring software. This is putting heat on Microsoft which is promoting its own OOXML standard, according to a report in ITWire Monday.
"The new bill, introduced by Californian Democrat Mark Leno, does not name ODF specifically but has stipulated that by 2008 agencies must be equipped to store and exchange documents in an open, XML-based format. Although the name of Microsoftis Office Open XML [OOXML] suggests that it would match the requirement, it is in fact a proprietary format that would fail the open standards test," ITWire reported.
The Open Document Format is recognized as an ISO standard and can be implemented by any vendor. However, Microsoft has been promoting its own variation, called OOXML, and that has generated some debate in the industry.
Meanwhile, TMO notes, the ODF alliance has argued that as important government documents move from paper to electronic format, they must be in a form that is universally readable and will migrate well into the future.
Previously, Minnesota and Texas have also proposed an open XML standard for government documents. The Minnesota bill proposed a file format that is "interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications; fully published and available royalty-free; implemented by multiple vendors; and controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard."
As every computer user knows, Mac or PC, migrating their old documents, created by previous versions of their software, into the the future and keeping them readable is a continual problem. Governments are also starting to put their foot down and insure that all public documents remain readable for all time by all users by complying with the kinds of standard that the Minnesota legislature has defined above.