Here's a little story to start your day, and as you read it, think about Microsoft and Massachusetts and OpenDocument Format, will you?
As you know, Microsoft is being investigated for antitrust violations by South Korea's Fair Trade Commission. Microsoft paid RealNetworks $761 million, and RealNetworks announced it would drop its lawsuits against Microsoft, including the litigation in Korea, but Korea said it intended to continue the investigation anyway. Microsoft has a message for South Korea -- let us do things our way, or we'll take our software and go home. You think I'm kidding? Read it for yourself from the Reuters story:
Microsoft Corp. has threatened to withdraw its Windows software from South Korea if the country's antitrust agency orders it to unbundle its Instant Messenger and Media Player from the operating system. . . .
"If the KFTC enters an order requiring Microsoft to remove code or redesign Windows uniquely for the Korean market, it might be necessary to withdraw Windows from the Korean market or delay offering new versions in Korea," Microsoft said in a U.S. regulatory filing on Thursday."
So, if Microsoft withdrew Windows from the Korean market, could Korean citizens in the future access their goverment documents saved already in Microsoft formats? Extrapolate, please, to Massachusetts. Now do you understand why the government there wants to rely only on open standards and open formats for digital documents? No matter what anyone does, if the documents are open standards/open formats, you are assured that you can always access your legacy data. Your grandchildren will be able to do so, too.
This is, of course, an important reason why governments may choose to rely only on open standards and open formats, instead of on single vendors, who may on a whim choose to pick up their marbles and go home.
By the way, if anyone in South Korea or anywhere else is interested in learning how to easily move away from Microsoft products, here's a timely new book on how to do it, "Just Say No to Microsoft". You can read Chapter 4, on alternatives to Word. Just download it here. By the way, the author, Tony Bove, opens that chapter by noting that he wrote his book without using Word. So, never fear, South Korea. Even if Microsoft fulfills its threat, there is life after Microsoft.
Here's the press release about the book:
ENTERTAINING GUIDE HELPS USERS KICK MICROSOFT HABIT
Book makes compelling case for other operating systems and programs,
and shows how to make the switch painlessly
October 25, 2005, San Francisco- There are so many reasons to say no to
Microsoft -- the blue screen of death, Outlook email viruses, the endless
dump of Windows patches, and so on. And yet, with Microsoft owning the
lion's share of the desktop market, how can anyone escape the Beast from
Redmond and still function? It's not as hard as you think, and author
Tony Bove is only too happy to explain how to become liberated in his new
book, "Just Say No To Microsoft" (No Starch Press, October '05). As PC
Magazine columnist John Dvorak says in his introduction, "You are about to
read one of the most interesting overviews of modern desktop computing
history that's ever been written."
"Just Say No To Microsoft" is entertaining, provocative, and great fun to
read, but it's also packed with practical information about alternative
operating systems and programs that will help Microsoft captives exercise
their freedom of choice. After tracing Microsoft's rise from tiny startup
to monopolistic juggernaut, "Just Say No To Microsoft" chronicles how the
company's practices have discouraged innovation, stunted competition, and
helped foster an environment ripe for viruses, bugs, and hackers. From
there, Bove examines other operating systems, such as Linux and
Macintosh, and Microsoft Office alternatives that will keep readers
productive and able to interact with their Microsoft-using colleagues and
friends without missing a beat.
"The shortcomings and risks of Microsoft products have made tech
headlines for years, but many users stick with Windows and Microsoft
Office simply because they don't know what else to try or what the
alternatives are," said Bill Pollock, founder of No Starch Press. "'Just
Say No To Microsoft' is a valuable resource because, in addition to
explaining why and how Microsoft does what it does, it offers real
alternatives. There's no reason to be a frustrated Microsoft
Inside Just Say No To Microsoft, readers will find:
-The history of Microsoft and its dominance of the software industry
-Thorough discussions of Linux, OpenOffice.org, Macintosh, and other
-Freeware, open source, and other programs that can replace the buggy,
virus-prone Microsoft Office suite
-Bove's "12 Steps To Freedom" for kicking the Microsoft addiction and
living a clean computing life
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tony Bove has been in the computer industry since 1976,
editing the influential Inside Report on New Media newsletter and writing
for magazines including Computer Currents, Nextworld, the Chicago Tribune
Sunday Technology section, and NewMedia. He also co-founded and edited
Desktop Publishing/Publish magazine and has written 20 books on
computing, desktop publishing, and multimedia. Offline, Bove plays
harmonica and sings classic rock with The Flying Other Brothers band.
Just Say No to Microsoft by Tony Bove
October 2005, 256 pp., $24.95, 1-59327-064-X
Available at fine bookstores everywhere, from www.oreilly.com/nostarch,
directly from No Starch Press (www.nostarch.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
ABOUT NO STARCH PRESS: Founded in 1994, No Starch Press is one of the few
remaining independent computer book publishers. We publish the finest in
geek entertainment-unique books on technology, with a focus on Open
Source, security, hacking, programming, and alternative operating
systems. Our titles have personality, our authors are passionate, and
our books tackle topics that people care about. See www.nostarch.com for
more. (And by the way, most No Starch Press books use RepKover, a lay-flat
binding that won't snap shut.)