Massachusetts To Move Toward Open-Standards Computing

A state official says the decision has nothing to do with the fact that Massachusetts is the lone holdout still suing Microsoft for antitrust violations.
BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts, the lone holdout state still suing Microsoft Corp. for antitrust violations, will become the first state to adopt a broad-based strategy of moving its computer systems toward open standards, including Linux, the rival operating system to Microsoft's Windows.

State Administration and Finance Secretary Eric Kriss said Thursday that the decision, adopted at a meeting of state information officers, was made on "technical grounds" and had nothing to do with Attorney General Thomas Reilly's pursuit of Microsoft.

In the technology industry, the term "open standards" refers to nonproprietary software. Microsoft's software is considered "closed" because application developers and other programmers don't have free access to the blueprints.

Kriss said the state's decision was driven by a desire to reduce licensing fees but also "by a philosophy that what the state has is a public good and should be open to all," Kriss told The Associated Press. He characterized the decision as the "most visible concrete action by a state government" to move toward open standards.

A Microsoft spokesman had no immediate comment.

Microsoft is facing increasing challenges from Linux, which has been developed over the past decade by a global community of programmers who share their work on the condition that it be redistributed freely. It has become appealing to cost-conscious companies looking for an inexpensive means to run their servers.

Government agencies from Germany to France to Peru have adopted or are considering Linux-based software as a cheaper alternative to Microsoft products.