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Little progress in states' ODF considerations

By Matt Hines, InfoWorld

The debate over use of the open document format among U.S. states appears to have hit a wall as experts representing both sides of the issue offered few new insights into the subject at a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL).

During a conference session in Boston on Monday, where the NCSL is holding its annual meetings, representatives supporting adoption of ODF -- a non-proprietary electronic document file format -- and those who oppose such efforts injected few new details or considerations into the ongoing discussion over whether or not states should adopt such a standard in the name of reducing their reliance on vendor-driven technologies.

At the heart of the debate lies the belief by some experts that states could dramatically lower their IT overhead and guarantee access to older file formats by moving away from proprietary technologies, such as Microsoft's Office productivity suite, and instead adopting cheaper technologies, including open-source products.

By sticking to Microsoft file formats, ODF proponents maintain, states are also ceding too much control to the software giant by forcing future software upgrades in order to keep their records accessible by the latest technologies. In shifting to an ODF model, backers say, the states could retain access to current document files long after the timeframe when Microsoft and other vendors typically end support for their individual products.

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