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Massachusetts-Microsoft Standoff: The Latest Chapter

Massachusetts and Microsoft have apparently called a cease-fire in their battle over file formats -- at least for now.

The icy relationship between the Commonwealth and the software giant seems to be thawing rapidly following Microsoft’s recent announcement that it will submit its Office Open XML schemas to Ecma International, an important European standards body.

“If Microsoft follows through as planned, we are optimistic that Office Open XML will meet our new standards for acceptable open formats," Thomas Trimarco, secretary of the Commonwealth's Executive Office for Administration and Finance, said in a prepared statement this week. Microsoft General Manager Alan Yates responded that company officials look forward to “continuing positive dialog around open standards and Microsoft Office."

The exchange is by far the warmest in the dispute, which started earlier this year with Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn’s proposal to require that all state-government applications support open standards-based file formats. Quinn and other proponents said switching to the Open Document Format would help ensure future generations’ access to important records despite technological changes over time, while staying with closed file formats -- such as those in Office -- would provide no such guarantee.

Microsoft fired back. On Sept. 8, Microsoft General Manager Alan Yates formally urged state officials to reconsider the “costly and unnecessary” plan. “[T]here is no principled basis for the Commonwealth to adopt these unprecedented revisions, which would … prescribe an immature and untested open format as a complete replacement for well-established open formats, such as Microsoft Office’s XML-based formats,” Yates wrote in a 15-page letter.

However, Massachusetts officials continued moving forward with the plan, scheduled to take effect in January 2007. Meanwhile, the worldwide IT and vendor communities will continue watching to see what happens next.

Microsoft Revamps the Security Solutions Competency
As part of ongoing efforts to help customers stay secure, Microsoft Corp. has overhauled its Security Solutions competency.

Microsoft says it has taken divided the competency into two specializations, one addressing technical issues and the other looking at security policy and risk management, governance and auditing.

The Infrastructure Security track focuses on a partner’s ability to implement and administer security measures, while the less-technical Security Management track is targeted to partners focused on providing security-management services to Microsoft customers.

IDC: Server Shipments Up, Unix Down
Server sales kept accelerating during the third quarter of 2005, while Linux and Windows servers further eroded Unix's high-end turf, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker.

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IDC, the Framingham, Mass.-based research organization, said server sales were driven partly by customers' increasing deployments of virtualization technologies.

Factory revenues grew at 8.1 percent year-over-year to $12.5 billion, making it the tenth consecutive quarter of revenue growth. Volume server revenue growth of 14.8 percent year-over-year continues to drive the market, demonstrating continued end-user investment in a robust server infrastructure, IDC said.

Posted by Anne Stuart on November 30, 2005 at 11:53 AM