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Massachusetts set to switch off M$

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The state of Massachusetts has laid out a plan to switch all its workers away from Microsoft's Word, Excel and other desktop software applications, delivering what would be one of the most significant setbacks to the software company's battle against open source software in its home market.

The state said on Wednesday that all electronic documents “created and saved” by state employees would have to be based on open formats, with the switch to start at the beginning of 2007.

Documents created using Microsoft's Office software are produced in formats that are controlled by the Microsoft, making them inelligible. In a paper laying out its future technology strategy on Wednesday, the state also specified only two document types that could be used in the future - OpenDocument, which is used in open source applications like Open Office, and PDF, a widely used standard for electronic documents.

The switch to open formats like these was needed to ensure that the state could guarantee that citizens could open and read electronic documents in the future, according to the state - something that was not possible using closed formats.

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