Open standards and interoperability consortium The Open Group is calling on software developers and the IT industry at large to declare independence from proprietary technology, in a "virtual call to arms against closed standards".

The group announced its "Developer Declaration of Independence" at its Enterprise Information Management conference in Boston yesterday, and posted the declaration on its Web site for visitors to sign. The declaration is a pledge to promote open, interoperable technology and to give developers myriad choices in meeting their software needs. It calls for businesses, governments and individuals to adopt and protect open standards.

"The subjection – or 'lock-in' – of developers to single-vendor technology constitutes a denial of self-determination, is inherently monopolistic, limits choice, artificially raises prices, stifles innovation and contradicts the underlying goals of an inclusive IT industry: freedom of choice and independence for all," the declaration states.

IBM, which has long been active in promoting open standards, supports The Open Group's campaign. While the debate surrounding the development of proprietary and open standards has raged for some time, IBM and The Open Group say that this campaign is particularly important because it seeks to facilitate multivendor integration through open standards at a time when most IT environments are heterogenous.

IBM officials characterized The Open Group initiative as a public stance in favour of open technologies and against proprietary lock-in, casting Microsoft as a vendor with a lock-in strategy.

"It's about where the market is moving and no company's going to stand in the way of that – not Microsoft or anybody else," said Buell Duncan, general manager of Developer Relations in the IBM Software Group.

At least one software developer reached on Tuesday thought the initiative could have a positive effect in raising awareness about who makes technology decisions.

"Most technology decisions are decided from the top down and sometimes these decisions are better made by the techies in the trenches," said Warren Spencer, senior software engineer at The Associated Press.

Spencer added, however, that most developers aren't that interested in the political issues surrounding the debate. "We're too busy making sure our systems work and hoping we don't get phone calls in the middle of the night to patch something," he said.