Massachusetts has a new state policy that requires state agencies to use an "Open Document" format in their business applications. Not surprisingly, propriety software giant Microsoft has filed complaints with the state concerning the policy.
Back in 2003, the Massachusetts Office of Administration and Finance directed the state agencies to look at open source and open document applications instead of relying on a single software vendor to supply office software. Microsoft issued a 15 page memo, and in it Microsoft's general manager Alan Yates lamented, "Were this proposal to be adopted, the significant costs incurred by the Commonwealth, its citizens, and the private sector would be matched only by the levels of confusion and incompatability that would result from the fact that the OpenDocument format is such a nascent and immature format." Wow, what a mouthful!
I personally have made the switch from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice, a product developed by OpenOffice.org. I can read in the Microsoft materials just fine, and save to them if necessary. Matter of fact, I find that most people prefer that I send them attachments as a PDF document, something that OpenOffice does automagically without the separate Acrobat publisher. Granted, I cannot optimize to the levels of Adobe's product, I can get a PDF off quickly and accurately with one mouse click.
I plan on installing OpenOffice for my Grandma soon, and as wonderful as her cookies and needlepoint work are, she is the pinnicle of computer confusion. We'll see about Yate's confusion claim.