Related link: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,170724,00.html
ODF is an open standard, free for any organization — for-profit, non-profit, hobbyist — to implement. Presumably, any software product that implements the format is acceptable to use for working with the Massachusetts government. If the right price to feature ratio is $100 for an organization, so be it. If the right price to feature ratio is $0, there are products that do that too.
For example, AbiWord, a Free Software word processor developed by a handful of people, already supports ODF. The same goes for other free software and open source products.
Is there a technical reason preventing Microsoft, with tens of thousands of programmers and billions of dollars available, from adding ODF support to Microsoft Office? That’s a ridiculous question! Of course not.
Instead of supporting what a large customer values — open standards, free to anyone to implement, without fear of patent traps, royalties, and planned obsolescence — Microsoft has chosen not to compete on the merits of its software. (An alternate explanation is that Microsoft is completly incompetent and can’t duplicate or even merely license the work of a handful of open source programmers. I reject that idea; it appears more likely that Microsoft really wants to levy a tax on collaboration as an NGO.)
All that prevents Microsoft from supporting ODF is its will not to compete. Don’t misunderstand me — this is an act of will and a refusal to compete on anything but entrenched proprietary lock-in. In other words, the dominant provider of office software prefers to compete on its own incompatibilities than on the quality of its software. That’s… hardly new.
With tens of thousands of programmers and billions of dollars, the best Microsoft can do is complain? That’s not a company to which I’d tie my future. Good for Massachusetts.
What’s it worth (in money or in time) to take back your future from a greedy, abusive monopoly?