Hidden OpenDocument agenda uncovered in Massachusetts

Hidden OpenDocument agenda uncovered in Massachusetts

Summary: As more news gets out about how the Massachusetts decision to standardize on OASIS' OpenDocument Format (ODF) as the statewide standard for creating...

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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As more news gets out about how the Massachusetts decision to standardize on OASIS' OpenDocument Format (ODF) as the statewide standard for creating, editing, storing and retrieving public documents isn't quite over yet, word is that the focus of this Monday's hearing by a state Senate oversight committee will be the process that led up to that decision and whether it may have involved any improprieties that unfairly disadvantaged Microsoft's Office XML Reference Schema as a candidate for the state's standard.  Microsoft has alleged this to be the case (an allegation that I've debunked). 

Between the fact that Microsoft made these allegations, the fact that Microsoft publicly stated it had been in contact with the state's Senators (who do not play a role in administrative decisions such as statewide IT standard setting, but who could be powerful enough to scuttle the decision), and the fact that there is now a hearing to investigate the process that's being led by a state Senator (Sen. Marc Pacheco) who has already voiced his opposition to ODF makes it pretty clear that Microsoft has had some role in the drama's latest developments.  

Many IT managers may recognize this behavior as being typical of what solution providers do.  As an IT manager in the 80s when I was responsible for setting PC and networking standards for my employer, vendors would routinely make contact with everybody they could -- people who often had no purchasing authority whatsoever -- in hopes of doing an end run around corporate IT standards.  So tenacious were they in getting purchase orders changed,  the IT Department and the Purchasing Department had to come up with a new process whereby any PO for systems or networks over a certain amount required my signature.  Then, when the Purchasing Department starting getting piles of POs for just under that amount, we adapted again.  Darwinism shows up in the strangest places.

Pacheco's original challenge to ODF was based on the costs the state would have to bear to switch to ODF; monies that include the cost to convert the state's many public documents from their current Microsoft-based format to ODF.  As a side note, conversion -- maybe not as much (eg: Excel macros wouldn't have to be translated) -- would still be required to move to Microsoft's new Office XML Reference Schema.  It reminds me of how the corporate standards I set were often challenged by non-IT people on the basis of cost as if one of the biggest parts of my job as an IT professional didn't include doing a thorough cost-benefit analysis for every major IT decision.  To the untrained eye, every major IT initiative looks too expensive.  It's not until some of the longer term benefits -- the very reasons for those IT undertakings -- are realized, that those investments start to pay off.  Taking those cost-benefits into account is the very essence of what IT professionals do and it's clear from how transparent the process has been in Massachusetts that the state's IT pros did their job.

But, if at first you don't succeed, do whatever it takes.  For example, even if the cost-benefit analysis is bullet-proof (particularly after heavy public scrutiny), then the next step for a vendor is to discredit the people who make their careers out of doing such work.  This is the hand that Microsoft played with me, and the hand that's currently being played in Massachusetts.  And for what?  This isn't just some throw away question.  The answer speaks to the very essence of the controversy that Massachusetts now faces.  What else besides the right to sell its products to Massachusetts should Microsoft or any other company for that matter be concerning themselves with?

Looking back on everything those vendors did to circumvent the standards I set, I can almost respect the the tenacity with which they operated.  Lucrative sales hung in the balance and it's a vendor's duty to leave no stone unturned in an effort to get every sale possible.  Microsoft wants the world to believe that by standardizing on ODF,  Massachusetts' IT professionals are denying Microsoft the right to sell Microsoft Office to the state's 173 agencies (a very lucrative opportunity).  By alleging certain improprieties in the ODF decision making process, Microsoft is also suggesting that some secret anti-Microsoft agenda must have been afoot in Massachusetts. If that is indeed the case, and the answer to the for what? question above is that Microsoft is simply seeking to restore the right it has to potentially lucrative deals -- a right the company should absolutely have -- then I agree that the company should pursue whatever means possible (hearings included) to have that right restored. But if restoring the right to which it's entitled is the answer to the for what? question, then Microsoft must establish that that right has not only been taken away, but surreptitiously so. 

Back in the mid to late 80s, by virtue of the standards setting I did, I took that right -- as it pertained to my employer -- away from certain vendors.  Like many of my peers were doing at the time, I standardized on certain products.  For example, by standardizing on SSI's Wordperfect, I was essentially denying Wordstar my company's business.  By standardizing on Lotus 1-2-3, Borland's Quattro was off the list.  When I picked Novell's NetWare network operating system,  Banyan's Vines and DEC's Pathworks were eliminated from the running.  If certain Massachusetts state officials really wanted Microsoft Office off its procurement list, then standardizing on a document format instead of a competing product and then asking Microsoft to support that format  is about the dumbest way to accomplish that objective.  But that's exactly what Massachusetts did.  If Massachusetts is looking to railroad Microsoft as the Redmond, WA-based company is alleging, then the state's request for ODF support in Microsoft Office is obviously a bluff.

Microsoft -- a company with close to $5 billion of cash in the bank and over $70 billion in total assets -- has come up with all sorts of reasons that adding ODF to Microsoft Office is a bad idea.  It doesn't have the fidelity of Microsoft's formats (an issue that's really for customers to decide).  The company has limited resources and so it's a question of how best to prioritize those resources.  Supporting it would be a problem. These are reasons, by the way, that didn't get in the way of supporting Wordperfect's formats, Lotus' formats, HTML, and more recently Adobe's Portable Document Formats.   But never mind that.  All Microsoft must do to prove its point -- that Massachusetts has some anti-Microsoft agenda designed to keep the company's products off its procurement lists -- is call Massachusetts' bluff.  The company doesn't have to lift one engineering finger.  All it must do is issue a press release announcing that it will support for ODF.  

If, as Microsoft has implied, Massachusetts IT professionals  have some anti-Microsoft agenda that's causing them to forgo their training, their experience, and their ethics by stacking the deck, then the reaction of those state officials to such an announcement will be the smoking gun.  If they go into spin control and look for some other way to shut the door on Microsoft Office, then Microsoft will have indeed flushed out a rat.  But if the Massachusetts' officials embrace the announcement as they have repeatedly indicated they would, then the only thing that Microsoft should be concerning itself with -- the right to sell its products to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts -- will have proven to be a right that Microsoft never lost.  In that case, the only remaining concern Microsoft should have is whether or not its solutions offer the best value to Massachusetts when compared to the competing products and services that support ODF (as it should be).

If that's not enough for Microsoft, then one can only assume that some other agenda is indeed in play.  Just not the one that has so far been implicated.

Topic: Microsoft

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  • This is pathetic...

    NT
    BitTwiddler
    • agreed - if you're referring to bias in story

      David:

      I know that blogs are more about opinion than factual reporting. I am aware that you have painstakingly researched this story as it has unfolded since September. I realize that people with no discernable agenda can look at the facts here and come to different conclusions.

      Still, [b]I think you have attributed way too much of the blame in the process to Microsoft[/b] and way too little to MA ITD. I say this as someone who is far from being a Microsoft-lover.

      I think you have allowed yourself to be blinded by the clumsy way Microsoft handled the process, and as a result [b]you fail to see the numerous actions taken by MA ITD[/b] to, in effect, repeatedly redraw the line in such a way that Microsoft would not wind up on the right side of it. It seems that you have in essence dismissed your own reporting on the early interactions between MS and MA that seemed to encourage them to continue on the XML path, as well as the admission by the MA ITD counsel that the rules changed in the middle of the process.

      I believe [b]you fail to acknowledge the complicity of the "anyone but MS" vendors[/b] who helped steer the standards-setting process. Even though you documented in excruciating detail the Microsoft vs. Massachusetts discussions, you only skim the surface of the involvement by IBM, Sun, HP, Novell, and Adobe. There is surely more there than meets the eye and I question why you were unwilling to dig deeper into that influence - perhaps the stae hearings will do your work for you. It bothers me greatly that, in this post, you speculate freely (and with no real data) on the possible influence of Microsoft in the state hearings and totally ignore the likely complicity on the part of the other vendors.

      Lately I have had a difficult time with your articles in deciding where reporting leaves off and opinion takes over. Not only have you blurred the objectivity line, [b]you have reached the point where the entire series of articles/blog entries/email headlines seems like one big rant.[/b] You apparently want Microsoft to do something so badly, you are willing to check your reporter's credentials at the door. I think that does you more damage in the long run and does your readers a disservice.

      I am a long-time admirer of your ZDnet articles and your explorations into new technology. I've learned a lot from you. You and I have exchanged email on several occasions, and I appreciate the time you have spent to respond to my suggestions and concerns. I'm just one reader so you can take this complaint or leave it. But bottom line, I am disappointed and hope that you will not turn into the anti-John-Carroll.
      GDF
      • Redrawing the Line

        Mr. Frye:

        First, let me say that I appreciate your continued readership and always remain open to public questioning of my objectivity and integrity. Not that I'd ever try to "sneak one by" my audience as other journalists have done (Armstrong Williams, Jayson Blair, etc.), but it's good to know that people are watching.

        It is correct that Massachusetts redrew the line (redefined its definition of open) based on the feedback it received from multiple sectors, the public and Microsoft's competitors included. There is no question in my mind that Massachusetts has turned into a key industry battleground and that Microsoft's competitors will pull out every stop possible to influence the final outcome. However, that said, I do not see anything in Massachusett's definition of open that seems out of line. It is a rigourous definition, but one with very reasonable objectives; for example it guarantees that Massachusetts will be able to get compliant software from *any* software developer in perpetuity. *Any* includes any open source developer and, not that I have a predisposition one way or another (to open source or not), several state agencies are already using open source software. The developers of that software should not be precluded from supporting the state's standard format in their wares by virtue of the software license that they choose to run their business with. The world is full of specifications (HTML, HTTP, and XML just to name a few) that match MA's definition of open and that make no burdensome demands on any class of software developer. The resulting innovation, plethora of solutions, and personal opportunity that such open specfications create is something that Massachusetts and others who embrace standards can benefit from.

        Because of these benefits (and others), I have a very long track record of recommending to ZDNet's audience that they embrace open standards as much as possible and, where those standards are sometimes extended (for example, with J2EE application servers), that they resist the seduction to go outside the sanctuary of the J2EE standard as set by the Java Community Process. Do so either relinquishes most of the benefits of sticking with open standards, or incurs a costly pain point down the road once an organization realizes how their proprietary selections are depriving them of the control over their IT that they deserve to have.

        Microsoft has two choices here. It can either (a) open its own specification according to MA's definition or (b) support ODF (and if its technically deficient, then the company is more than welcome to become another party in ODF's multi-party stewardship). If it does either and MA once again "redraws the line," then you will see a very different tone from me. Particuarly since I have MA officials on record as saying that this is all Microsoft needs to do.

        Thanks again.

        David
        dberlind
        • One point on J2EE

          I don't consider J2EE to be an open standard like XML, HTML, and HTTP. But I do consider it to be a really good example of the many benefits that standards typically afford end-users are lost when they don't stay within the definition of a standard.

          So, I was just using that as an example of what happens when you leave the definition of a standard.
          dberlind
        • you can't report it AND evangelize it

          The easy thing to do in this case is rub your hands with glee at the prospect that Microsoft has lost what you see to be an important battle.

          The easy thing to say is, "all Microsoft has to do is adopt ODF as a document format, and that'll take care of the problem" - as though that were trivial, necessary, useful, or consistent with an established feature development timeline that likely extends several years into the future.

          The easy thing to do with the claims that the state acted improperly is to dismiss them, especially when the ends seem to you to justify the means. Perhaps it isn't all that important that so many other vendors appear to have been deeply involved in the standards-setting process.

          Because all of these things are easy, doesn't it seem to you that they should be approached with a great deal of caution? As I read your original investigative article, all kinds of little red flags kept popping up. Why did you ignore this? Why did you concentrate on that?

          I think in your response here you lay those questions to rest. The reality is that you are a strong advocate of the open standard Massachusetts is trying to adopt and have set aside objectivity for an even nobler (!) cause. I'm not sure you appreciate the damage you've done to your journalistic integrity. It very clearly affects the level of skepticism I will bring to your next investigative report.

          I don't like defending Microsoft. I think their OS and application software is resource-intensive and buggy. I think the company has abused its market position many times over and the Justice Department rolled over and played dead as the antitrust process reached a conclusion.

          But that doesn't make it right for a government to conspire with the company's competitors to define standards that lock Microsoft out - to, in effect, do to Microsoft what they so vocally objected to during the antitrust proceedings.

          Something that bothers me almost as much as the appearance of conspiracy is that the resulting standard and probable implementation fly in the face of common sense. A lot of ordinary workers in Massachusetts government - and its real-world partners - are going to be grossly inconvenienced by the standard. That's where the focus of the upcoming hearings will likely be.

          Hopefully I can find an objective source for the story.
          GDF
          • What goes around comes around

            Microsoft has built itself on exactly this kind of tactic. It has ruined competitors by locking them out of information on its plans for the OS, and told us what we would get rather than let the market work.

            It wouldn't bother me a bit if Microsoft learns how it felt to be Netscape or WordPerfect. Microsoft is a monopolist. It should be shunned until it breaks its OS away from its apps and tools. It can whine about unfairness all it wants, but I have no sympathy for it.
            FlatAffect
          • Three points on your response..

            1. I'm not a news reporter. I'm paid to write my opinions. When I present my opinion, I try to base it on two things: (a) the facts that I can find (b) what is best for ZDNet's readers. Usually, when presenting my opinions, I provide the facts that I know. This may be why you confuse my blogs/columns with news reports; because I just don't blindly opine. I use facts to build my case so that readers can do as you're doing -- decide for yourself. You don't have to agree. To a previous point I made in my earlier comment -- in my 15 years of writing columns and blogs, I answer to the needs and concerns of my readers. No one else. So, in answering to their needs, I have always advocated the use of open standards over the use of proprietary technologies when the option truly presents itself. This case is no different. Although I am not a big fan of DRM, I am doing it on the DRM front as well (in other words, if we must have DRM, at least let's base it on an open standard.
            (2) You talked about how the government conspired with competitors to define a standard that locked Microsoft out. I would ask that you please explain how it is that Microsoft is being locked out? Locked out of what? Locked out means they are prevented from doing something. What is Microsoft prevented from doing? If your answer is "selling Office to MA," that is Microsoft's choice not to respond to the request of a large customer. Microsoft is in no way shape or form locked out from anything here. Also, the government did no such thing (conspire to define). MA did not play a role in defining ODF. Go to OASIS' web site and you will see who played a role in defining ODF.
            (3) I've made my career speaking up for the customer. As a former customer, it is not unusual to gather information from competing vendors, to factor that information in to your overall thinking, and to even haggle a bit with each of those vendors over certain issues before finally reaching a decision. Vendors make concessions all the time in hopes of making "the sale" but still end up losing the bid. Here is a case where the customer has defined the requirements (happens all the time), been clear that all vendors can participate (happens all the time), and quite frankly, as you point out... could be making a decision that may come back to bite it later. I'm not saying this will happen (others are), but this happens all the time. The customer must be free to decide. I looked for evidence of conspiracy and didn't find one. The customer did what IT customers do ALL the time. It set the requirements. Any vendor, Microsoft included, is free to compete to satisfy those requirements.
            (4) You speak of the inconvenience. Going back to the lock out question, why will it be so inconvenient? The whole point of this is that such inconvenience shouldn't happen, yet here we are and it's happening. Customers should be free to use whatever software they want, but in this case, they cannot. IT managers run into these sorts of inconveniences all the time and when they do, they have routinely done what it takes to keep their companies from ever having them again. So, you're probably right. There's going to be some inconvenience here (by the way, there's going to be some either way since none of the state's documents are stored in Microsoft Office XML Reference Schema either). But the question is whether that inconvenience will serve the long terms goals of the customer. In this case, the question is which of the competing formats (a) stands a better chance of making sure the documents that are stored in them are available in perpetuity and (b) assures the state of its sovereignty. Both of these are stated goals. The state feels as though when a format is under the control of a single vendor, that sort of control interferes with its sovereignty. This means that that just the same way Microsoft isn't listening to state now in terms of its requirements, why must Microsoft listen to it later in the event that the format doesn't satisfy its requirements and the state requests some changes to the formats. With a multi-party stewarded open standard, if the format doesn't satisfy the state's requirements, it is free to (a) contribute to the next evolutionary step of the standard, (b) even join in the stewardship, or (c) because the standard is wide open, find someone who will modify the format to the point that it meets the state's requirements. The state is not beholden to the format's author to get its needs met. That's sovereignty. With Microsoft's format and the license that goes with it, everyone who standardizes on it is beholden to Microsoft if they need to see it changed for any reason (the license restricts format usage to compliant implementations). State officials contend that this interferes with the state's soveriegnty -- to have a single vendor in control of the way it stores its information -- and I can't find fault with this logic. As an alternative to supporting ODF, the state has said Microsoft could also release control of its format to multi-party stewardship and open up the license further. Microsoft doesn't want to do this either. In other words, it wants to maintain control of the specification. If you're looking for lock out, you can make a much stronger case for it here, then in the other case. Microsoft is free to maintain control this way if it wants. But the state has legitimate concerns as to how such control affects the soveriegnty it has over its own documents.

            db
            dberlind
          • sorry, four points on your response..

            1. I'm not a news reporter. I'm paid to write my opinions. When I present my opinion, I try to base it on two things: (a) the facts that I can find (b) what is best for ZDNet's readers. Usually, when presenting my opinions, I provide the facts that I know. This may be why you confuse my blogs/columns with news reports; because I just don't blindly opine. I use facts to build my case so that readers can do as you're doing -- decide for yourself. You don't have to agree. To a previous point I made in my earlier comment -- in my 15 years of writing columns and blogs, I answer to the needs and concerns of my readers. No one else. So, in answering to their needs, I have always advocated the use of open standards over the use of proprietary technologies when the option truly presents itself. This case is no different. Although I am not a big fan of DRM, I am doing it on the DRM front as well (in other words, if we must have DRM, at least let's base it on an open standard.
            (2) You talked about how the government conspired with competitors to define a standard that locked Microsoft out. I would ask that you please explain how it is that Microsoft is being locked out? Locked out of what? Locked out means they are prevented from doing something. What is Microsoft prevented from doing? If your answer is "selling Office to MA," that is Microsoft's choice not to respond to the request of a large customer. Microsoft is in no way shape or form locked out from anything here. Also, the government did no such thing (conspire to define). MA did not play a role in defining ODF. Go to OASIS' web site and you will see who played a role in defining ODF.
            (3) I've made my career speaking up for the customer. As a former customer, it is not unusual to gather information from competing vendors, to factor that information in to your overall thinking, and to even haggle a bit with each of those vendors over certain issues before finally reaching a decision. Vendors make concessions all the time in hopes of making "the sale" but still end up losing the bid. Here is a case where the customer has defined the requirements (happens all the time), been clear that all vendors can participate (happens all the time), and quite frankly, as you point out... could be making a decision that may come back to bite it later. I'm not saying this will happen (others are), but this happens all the time. The customer must be free to decide. I looked for evidence of conspiracy and didn't find one. The customer did what IT customers do ALL the time. It set the requirements. Any vendor, Microsoft included, is free to compete to satisfy those requirements.
            (4) You speak of the inconvenience. Going back to the lock out question, why will it be so inconvenient? The whole point of this is that such inconvenience shouldn't happen, yet here we are and it's happening. Customers should be free to use whatever software they want, but in this case, they cannot. IT managers run into these sorts of inconveniences all the time and when they do, they have routinely done what it takes to keep their companies from ever having them again. So, you're probably right. There's going to be some inconvenience here (by the way, there's going to be some either way since none of the state's documents are stored in Microsoft Office XML Reference Schema either). But the question is whether that inconvenience will serve the long terms goals of the customer. In this case, the question is which of the competing formats (a) stands a better chance of making sure the documents that are stored in them are available in perpetuity and (b) assures the state of its sovereignty. Both of these are stated goals. The state feels as though when a format is under the control of a single vendor, that sort of control interferes with its sovereignty. This means that that just the same way Microsoft isn't listening to state now in terms of its requirements, why must Microsoft listen to it later in the event that the format doesn't satisfy its requirements and the state requests some changes to the formats. With a multi-party stewarded open standard, if the format doesn't satisfy the state's requirements, it is free to (a) contribute to the next evolutionary step of the standard, (b) even join in the stewardship, or (c) because the standard is wide open, find someone who will modify the format to the point that it meets the state's requirements. The state is not beholden to the format's author to get its needs met. That's sovereignty. With Microsoft's format and the license that goes with it, everyone who standardizes on it is beholden to Microsoft if they need to see it changed for any reason (the license restricts format usage to compliant implementations). State officials contend that this interferes with the state's soveriegnty -- to have a single vendor in control of the way it stores its information -- and I can't find fault with this logic. As an alternative to supporting ODF, the state has said Microsoft could also release control of its format to multi-party stewardship and open up the license further. Microsoft doesn't want to do this either. In other words, it wants to maintain control of the specification. If you're looking for lock out, you can make a much stronger case for it here, then in the other case. Microsoft is free to maintain control this way if it wants. But the state has legitimate concerns as to how such control affects the soveriegnty it has over its own documents.

            db
            dberlind
          • clarification is good

            David,

            I appreciate your taking the time to clarify your approach to these stories. I think in the long run I have used much the same approach to IT issues - keep the facts in the open but don't lose sight of goals that I think are important.

            So I presume that your continuing discussion of this case revolves around ways you think Microsoft can be forward-looking by bowing to the inevitable and supporting ODF. That's fine.

            At the same time I think it's just as important to pay attention to the process that got them to this point. in the arena of government procurement processes - which is what the MA ITD standard is - the people involved HAVE to act openly and without showing favoritism to a vendor or set of vendors, nor can they discriminate against a vendor. It seems as though you relegate that argument to a question of whose software the state purchases, when it gets around to purchasing something, but I believe there's sufficient precedent to claim that the standard, which unfairly locks out a vendor AT THE PRESENT TIME, and was developed in something less than good faith with that vendor, is discriminatory and violates state statutes.

            Good news - I don't know what Massachusetts' statutes say on the subject. No doubt we'll find out as the investigation progresses. I gather that I won't be reading about it on ZDnet Tech Update, at least not in a straight reporting context. The question becomes, where can I go for a more balanced (read: agendaless) reporting style.
            GDF
      • When is an alternative view biased?

        David offers a effectively articulated alternative view of the entire MA ITD process and how it impacts business IT. Just because his opinions differ from the mainstream thought, does not make it biased.

        That's one of the reasons why i follow the zd contributors ... to see the many angles on an issue. These different views provide valuable input into decision making. I often disagree with zd opinions, but it don't view them as biased becasue they are valid in the context that the authour presented them. You need to evaluate the context to determine if the comments are valid to your sitation. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly authours are flamed because their opinions run counter to those of flaming readers.

        The business world needs IT executives capable of a broader view of how technology serves its customers. Too many IT executives become "IT lemmings" and follow the pack since the pack must be doing it right. In the long run, organizations with lemming executives become uncompetitive.

        I'm not rushing out to kick out Microsoft but I am more sensitive to the requests from several hundred users in my organization who are asking for "non standard" (read not Windows/Office) technology including Mac, linux and Open Office.

        My words to David are thank you for providing an alternative view as input to my decision making.
        mmay
      • When is an alternative view biased?

        David offers a effectively articulated alternative view of the entire MA ITD process and how it impacts business IT. Just because his opinions differ from the mainstream thought, does not make it biased.

        That's one of the reasons why i follow the zd contributors ... to see the many angles on an issue. These different views provide valuable input into decision making. I often disagree with zd opinions, but it don't view them as biased becasue they are valid in the context that the authour presented them. You need to evaluate the context to determine if the comments are valid to your sitation. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly authours are flamed because their opinions run counter to those of flaming readers.

        The business world needs IT executives capable of a broader view of how technology serves its customers. Too many IT executives become "IT lemmings" and follow the pack since the pack must be doing it right. In the long run, organizations with lemming executives become uncompetitive.

        I'm not rushing out to kick out Microsoft but I am more sensitive to the requests from several hundred users in my organization who are asking for "non standard" (read not Windows/Office) technology including Mac, linux and Open Office.

        My words to David are thank you for providing an alternative view as input to my decision making.
        mmay
    • Pathetic? - David is correct.

      While David's writing appears to be a "little" bias, it still does not discount the facts that MS was given a definition of what the state of MA wanted. They opted to NOT adapt to those standards.

      Why doesn't MS go after IRS to adopt MS format as being the format that IRS distributes their forms in?

      MA is doing nothing more than what certain parts of all governments have been doing for years. That is to publish documents in a format that will not cost the tax payer to be able to view the documents.

      A PDF reader is available for free. I am sure that someone will develop a conversion tool (freely distributed) for those who need to convert an ODF to MS Office (or PDF, WordPerfect, etc.)

      I personally support open standards. It just makes sense to be able to transport documents from one application to another or from one OS to another. Open Standards enhance better communications.

      Question - MS has been fairly successful at tilting public opinion that MA has some sort of agenda to get rid of them. Does MS have its own agenda? For example - "We beat you once - We will beat you again". It just looks to me that MS has had egg thrown it its face and is now out to get revenge.
      djc1309@...
  • US News talked about Leaders

    and the bemoaning of not having any "good" political leaders. In 1776, we had at least a half-dozen extraordinary political leaders (in a country of 9 million people). Today we have 300 million people - and no good leaders.

    This is but another example of big business influencing government "special interests". I have no doubt what the outcome will be . . .
    Roger Ramjet
    • Does it...

      ...rhyme with "shmotalitarianism?"
      Omch'Ar
      • What you said!

        ;)
        Roger Ramjet
  • Hidden agenda? Perhaps...

    David, Massachussetts pushed harder and longer than just about any other state to reject the DOJ settlement with MS. It would not be a big surprise to find out that there is indeed an anti-MS bias in the Mass. IT hierarchy. We don't know that for a fact, but it's at least a plausible theory, isn't it?

    On top of that, I haven't seen anyone address how state employees are going to produce ODF documents in the future. Is Mass. going to dump Office in favor of OO.org? If so, that's a big deal - lots of installs on lots of desktops, and a huge loss in the ability to centrally manage and patch/update the new office suite. Not to mention the retraining involved (which I grant is not huge, but is a factor). And the inevitable "special case" users who will have to reinvent existing processes in new software that they haven't spent 10 or 15 years learning.

    I'm not trying to deny that there's a political motivation to the questioning of this decision, or that MS is being disingenuous about its motivations. But there just might be another way to look at this, don't you think?
    mwgillespie@...
    • The ONE way to look at this

      If M$ is SO "customer-driven", and that their feature-creep is DRIVEN by the customer demands, then why would they NOT support Opendoc when 80000 customers are demanding it?
      Roger Ramjet
    • Details, Details

      [i]David, Massachussetts pushed harder and longer than just about any other state to reject the DOJ settlement with MS. It would not be a big surprise to find out that there is indeed an anti-MS bias in the Mass. IT hierarchy. We don't know that for a fact, but it's at least a plausible theory, isn't it?[/i]

      Of course, the Attorney General of Massachusetts (Tom Reilly) is a Democrat and the Governor (Milt Romney) is a Republican. Both are elected offices, which means that the AG doesn't report to the Governor in any meaningful way.

      In fact, given the way Statehouse politics work, Romney might look at Reilly as a potential competitor for Governor.

      In other words, you're really reaching to assume that Romney's administration is carrying out a vendetta as a favor for Reilly.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
    • well....

      My view is that MS is the one trying to force Massachussetts to do what they want and not the other way around. Since when is it "normal" that the vendor decides what you use/buy? How about leaving that decision to the people themselves. MS is trying to hold on to their market share and will do what ever it needs to do to make sure of that. If you americans realy favour freedom and the right to determine for yourselves MS is the first company you should tackle.

      They are trying to buy vendor lock in and with their money they might succeed. This would be a said day for consumers indeed as freedom of choice will be the victim.
      NemesisNL
    • ZENWorks

      "lots of installs on lots of desktops, and a huge loss in the ability to centrally manage and patch/update the new office suite."

      Sorry but I just had to add that this can been done quickly with a product like ZENworks. You could push, patch and manage any product using ZEN. With ZEN they could deploy the product over the entire network within a day. They could also manage the product in Windows or Linux.

      Also, I would like to add that going to OO allows the customer to move to Linux at some point.
      JJJakus