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PC News Contents

4th September 2005


Brian Grainger


In a recent feature article I advocated that public institutions should use open standards so that those who have to deal with them are not forced to use a specific brand of software. Two items of news this week gives hope that at least some people are listening. One is from the USA and one from the UK.

Massachusetts has announced that, from 2007, it is to use open document formats. Some commentators have taken this as a victory for open source software, but this is not the case. Microsoft software, where it supports open standards, could be used as well. The important thing is alternative software can be used if it supports the standards.

Massachusetts is one of the few, if not the only, state of the USA that did not finally accept the judgement in the anti-trust case against Microsoft. Let's hope that Massachusetts can set a precedent for the other states to follow.

The Department of Work and Pensions, here in the UK, announced this week that the whole of its web site will be adjusted to enable it to be viewed with more brands of browser. At the moment, some areas of its site will only work with Internet Explorer. They have made their decision on the basis of customer feedback, so it is worth complaining sometimes. This is good news indeed for job hunters who do not use IE. Parts of the job vacancies lists on the site have not been available to anything other than IE in the past. No timescale for the completion of the work required to the web site was given.