Open document formats defeated in five states

If you just read the headline of this story, maybe you thought "Man, that sucks that I won't be able to open documents in five states. Then again, if I get a job in one of those states, I guess I won't have to stare at a computer screen all day." Before I continue, let me explain what open document format is.

According to the Wikipedia, OpenDocument (ODF) is a document file format used for describing just about any type of electronic document you can ponder. A technical committee generated standards for documents so that developers and the like could use them to build and improve word processing applications, among other items.

OK, back to the story ... on June 3, Connecticut, Texas, Florida, Oregon and Florida all killed legislation that would have mandated the use of Open Document Format. Currently, this stands as a huge victory for Microsoft, but in a few years, no one in the U.S. will be winning much with decisions like these.

For example, have you ever tried to open a WordPerfect document that you created in the '90s? It's not the simplest task. Furthermore, not everyone has a few hundred dollars to shell out for reading and creating documents.

There are numerous reasons standards exist. One valuable reason, of course, is to support those standards moving forward. What will happen to Word documents 20 years from now, when they cannot be opened by newer word processing applications?

While this is definitely a blow to the Open Document Format, it's not the end. The number of people using OpenOffice, a free alternative to the Microsoft Office suite, is growing. There are more ardent supporters each day for the usage of open source software. Eventually, some of this reasonability is destined to trickle into the minds of government representatives.

If not, you may want to grease your printer and buy a few extra cartridges of toner. As the monks transcribed books hundreds of years ago, we may end up doing the same.