Microsoft are fighting hard against the Massachusetts decision to mandate the Open Document file format in preference for their own proprietary “Open” XML based formats, and this is providing us all with a great education into Open File Formats in genetal.
Firstly only did Massachusetts make their decision in a very public way (so we can all “see their working”), clearly documenting why they felt Open Formats were important from a business perspective, and how they defined what one way. Now the resulting backlash from Microsoft is producing an awful lot of good analysis about the problems of file formats, which is very relevant for companies considering ELN purchases.
To me, this is increasingly looking like the end of proprietary file formats (and hence the use of file formats as a commercial weapon) and the more the vendors kick & scream, the faster their customers will understand they need demand the protection that Open Formats provide.
Groklaw has a really good wrap up of all the issues and considerations with pointers to other material. If you haven’t been watching this then it is a good first place to start your research into why Open File Formats are a crucial consideration in any ELN purchase.
Here’s a particularly relevant quote:
Few leading vendors ever really want to have an agreed-on open standard, because that opens the market to competitors. But once a technology stabilizes, wise customers demand standards that let them pick between suppliers, and customers are the ones paying the bills. This happens all the time, in all technology areas.