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Massachusetts’ Plug-in Strategy for ODF

Computerworld reports on Massachusetts’ strategy to start its ODF implementation with a plugin for Microsoft Office.

From what I recall, the original plan was to move to ODF for document storage, and it did not specifically seek to change the applications used in the state. However, now there is an intention to start replacing Microsoft Office with in a measured rollout. It’s not being phrased that way now, perhaps as a “concession” to opponents:

“During a meeting today with state officials and advocates for people with disabilities, Louis Gutierrez, CIO of Massachusetts’ IT Division (ITD), said the state will postpone a Jan. 1 deadline to roll out open-source office applications that can save files in the OpenDocument Format (ODF). Instead, the state will on a near-term basis adopt a plug-in strategy to fulfill its policy calling for executive-branch agencies to make use of ODF.”

However, it looks like using Microsoft Office with a plugin to create ODF files is just an intermediate step. If the state is creating ODFs anyway, they ought to go all the way to using a native suite that also cuts licensing costs by 100% over the current tool! And the hints are that they will:
“The emergence of plug-ins that can be used to save documents in ODF prompted Gutierrez to issue a request for information on the technology. Now ITD will be following through with testing of the ODF plug-ins in preparation for a phased rollout, expected to begin later this year, according to sources at yesterday’s meeting.

Winske said that Gutierrez told the group there would be no mass migration to open-source office applications until they are proven to be accessible. But Gutierrez reaffirmed ITD’s commitment to its ODF policy, in keeping with its goal of moving away from proprietary formats for the long-term preservation of documents, according to Winske.”

Once accessibility reaches the state’s expectations, a migration to seems to be the next step. Massachusetts taxpayers will be among those to benefit here! Congratulations!

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