Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Government and File Format, A New Look At Patents

Recently, Massachusetts announced that it will move to what are known as Open Source file formats for all documents filed in the state. These formats were pioneered by the group behind the OpenOffice.Org software bundle, an office suite designed under a type of freeware license. While OpenOffice remains light years behind the development of other office suites like MS Word or Corel Word Perfect, it does support a newer form of dynamic file format based on XML.

Interestingly, the article cites concerns over the security of Microsoft's XML file format, and preventing patent infringement. Ideally, this move would allow the use of more ubiquitous formats and release Microsoft's strangle hold on the software market in state government.

This movement could turn the tide and bring open source software to the forefront of consideration for general use application. Fundamentally, Open Source projects could shift the market to focus on programming and pricing that benefits the end user instead of continuing to severely limit the ownership rights of individual end-users. We will just have to wait and see.

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