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Open Source of Our Discontent?

Leaders of the state of Massachusetts have indicated that they may decide to stop using Microsoft Office unless its maker starts using a file format that can be used easily in conjunction with other software packages. Various state agencies use different applications — and often cannot share information because their files aren’t compatible.

In a report issued by the Information Technology Division, leaders recommend that state agencies use the OpenDocument format, which is compatible with a number of programs — and which can be adopted freely by other companies. Microsoft’s file formats are proprietary.

As a longtime user of Microsoft Outlook, I’ve occasionally been frustrated by the barriers to switching to another email application — because it’s a challenge to migrate my six-plus years of email archives. What do you think the solution to this quandary is? Should organizations move to more flexible standards? Should Microsoft make its file formats more compatible? Have you faced similar challenges where you work?

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