Massachusetts Kicked Out Microsoft: Should You?

In a move that has happened more than once in other countries, but few times in the USA, the State of Massachusetts has mandated that it will only work with vendors that agree to use the Open Document Format for Office Applications, or OpenDocument, which is developed by the standards body OASIS in business applications, reports Cnet.
Since Microsoft Office does NOT conform to the OpenDocument format, Massachusetts won’t use Microsoft Office.
Cnet writes that OpenDocument is used in open-source application products, such as OpenOffice and variants of it from companies including Sun Microsystems, IBM and Novell.
What’s going on here is that Massachusetts realizes that it no longer needs Microsoft Office but can use “open source” file formats, including RSS, HTML and even plain text for reading and writing documents. It does not have to use a proprietary Microsoft Office format.
It’s going to be a LONG time or maybe never before the dominance that Microsoft has on the desktop is loosed (well Google is speeding that up). However for YOUR business, consider if you can save a lot of money in licensing fees by not using Microsoft Office.
This is NOT a decision to take lightly. Since most businesses use Microsoft Office applications it probably won’t make sense for you to rush away from using Microsoft Office. Imagine if a prospective client gives you a Power Point presentation and you tell them you can’t read it? Or imagine if you give a client a word processed document to look at in an “open source” format and they tell you that they can’t read it as they don’t have an OpenDocument format compatible reader?
On the other hand, the more documents are created using XML, PDF (which is quasi-open standard), RSS, HTML, plain text the LESS businesses will rely on Microsoft Office. Power Point presentations are going to still be quite proprietary – but databases, spreadsheets and wordprocessors are going to increasingly be software vendor neutral.
Going back to Microsoft Office – there is NO open source (free) business application suite with the breadth of features and integration that Microsoft Office has. I’ve used “free” software and quickly went back to Office.
The next time you need to buy 20, 10, or 50 Microsoft Office licenses think if you can save a lot of money and download for free (or pay much less) for OpenOffice software.
Read the full Cnet article here.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook