Legal worries led Massachusetts to open standards (ZDNet UK)

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has cited legal concerns over Microsoft’s software as a factor behind its decision to only use document formats based on open standards.

Eric Kriss, Secretary of Administration & Finance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, told CRN on Friday that Massachusetts had concerns about the openness of Microsoft XML schemas as well as with potential patent issues that could arise in the future.

“What we’ve backed away from at this point is the use of a proprietary standard and we want standards that are published and free of legal encumbrances, and we don’t want two standards,” Kriss added.

Kriss could not immediately be contacted for further comment, but it is clear that Massachusetts has long-standing concerns over Microsoft’s XML schema. Earlier this year, in a document describing its work on open standards, the Commonwealth said that “the Microsoft “Patent License” for use of Office schemas has not been accepted as satisfactory by all parties, even if it eventually proves to satisfy the requirements of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To some, the exceptions to the ‘royalty-free license … to make, use, sell, offer to sell, import, and otherwise distribute Licensed Implementations solely for the purpose of reading and writing files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas’ are problematic, as are the terms of use,” said the Commonwealth. (more…)