The Boston "Office" Party

The Massachusetts v. Microsoft battle is over. Microsoft is "out." David Berlind takes a look at the missteps and the import of the power struggle.

So Microsoft is officially kicked out of Massachusetts state government. The state (oh, alright, commonwealth) has issued the final version of its Enterprise Technical Reference Model and the Open Document Format is required and Microsoft is no longer an approved vendor.

In his post "Did Microsoft send the wrong guy to Massachusetts' ODF hearing?" David Berlind asks, why didn't Microsoft send a top executive - perhaps even Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer - to the state's final hearing? Someone who could make a decision then and there to accomodate the state, or meet halfway ... anything other than dig in their heels and lecture officials on their poor decision.

I think Microsoft miscalculated.  Even more surprising was the dialog that bounced back and forth between Microsoft National Technology Officer Stuart McKee, Microsoft's Bryan Berg, and various Massachusetts state officials.  McKee for example openly asked how it was that Microsoft was now "off the list."  As if he, the rest of the people, and all of us external observers didn't already know.  Or his question about whether it was Massachusetts' intention to extinguish iintellectual property rights.   Like (a) Massachusetts has that sort jurisdiction (that's a Federal thing), or (b) it wasn't clear to the world that Massachusetts just wanted the document formats opened up. 

Perhaps MS  considered this just another PR opportunity to  spread their doctrine but Berlind considers it a blunder in the way it really matters:

 Microsoft may see Massachusetts as just one state with 80,000 employees across 173 separate agencies along with a handful of contractors that it can let go.  But, if you take a step back to look at the volume of diligence that the Commonwealth undertook before it made its decision final — most all of which is public, you can't help but wonder whether Massashusetts just created an online wizard that will make it easier and less expensive for other governments to embark on similar projects.

... Take the digital ecosystem that lives around Massachusetts' 173 agencies and multiply that times some number of other states.  Throw in some cities and counties and then a dash or two of corporations that see a reflection of themselves in what those governments are doing, and suddenly, instead of a defector, Microsoft has an exodus on its hands.