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FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud - Updated
Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 03:15 PM EDT

If you go to Fox News, or in my case, if someone sends you the url, you find the following blurb:
Wrong Move
Massachusetts adopts a
bad technology policy that
will cost taxpayers and

Of course, it sends you to an editorial about the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' decision to use the OpenDocument format. And it's our chance to see inside of Microsoft's head, because it's a guest editorial by James Prendergast of Americans for Technology Leadership. The editorial has the hilarious title, "Massachusetts Should Close Down OpenDocument."

Like they could close down OpenDocument, even if they had a mind to. It's a standard. No one can close it down. That's the beauty part. It's one reason Massachusetts has chosen it.

Americans for Technology Leadership is listed on SourceWatch, where it says that the organization has been "frequently described as a Microsoft front group" and if the name sounds familiar to you, here's why:

In August 2001 the Los Angeles Times reported that a ATL was behind a "carefully orchestrated nationwide campaign to create the impression of a surging grass-roots movement" behind Microsoft. "The campaign, orchestrated by a group partly funded by Microsoft, goes to great lengths so that the letters appear to be spontaneous expressions from ordinary citizens. Letters sent in the last month are printed on personalized stationery using different wording, color and typefaces--details that distinguish those efforts from common lobbying tactics that go on in politics every day. Experts said there's little precedent for such an effort supported by a company defending itself against government accusations of illegal behavior."

According to the Times, the campaign was discovered when Utah's Attorney General at the time Mark Shurtleff received letters "purportedly written by at least two dead people ... imploring him to go easy on Microsoft Corp. for its conduct as a monopoly."

So this ... snort ... "grassroots" group would like Massachusetts to close down OpenDocument, and here are a few of their reasons:

The policy promises to burden taxpayers with new costs and to disrupt how state agencies interact with citizens, businesses and organizations.

Worse, the policy represents an attack on market-based competition, which in turn will hurt innovation. The state has a disaster in the making.

Until now, Massachusetts’ citizens and government agencies have been well served by a competitive, merit-based procurement process for technology services. Agencies can turn to the marketplace—often to small state-based systems integrators—and receive bids for the best solutions at the best price to meet specific needs. The proposed policy throws out this system, and instead makes the blind pre-determined selection of applications using the largely immature, rarely deployed OpenDocument technology.

For many needs, such applications do not exist and will have to be built from the ground up. In other cases, the OpenDocument solution may cost more and provide less, but agencies and citizens will have to pay the price and make do. . . . In many cases, new technologies will have to be purchased even when current systems are fully functional. In other words, taxpayers will be paying duplicative costs.

I feel like answering Mr. Prendergast, directly, person to person, mano a mano, so to speak, if he doesn't mind wrestling with a girl.

Cost more? Duplicative costs? is free for the download, sir. Please explain to me how that can cost more. No "independent" studies, please, with brain-twisting arguments on how free really isn't free and how the earth is actually flat. We saw enough of those "studies" to know how much they offer the discussion. Thanks, anyway, but we caught on to that game already. Just so you know.

An attack on marked-based competition? I believe that is Microsoft's skill. It is the convicted monopolist, is it not? Both in the US and in Europe? As a result, the world finds itself locked into a convicted monopoly's products. That is the problem. Or we would be locked in, except the most wonderful thing has happened. A group of good-hearted and skilled volunteers decided to write an operating system that is available under the GPL, so it's free as in speech and free as in beer, and we can download it ourselves and we don't have to use Microsoft's software unless we actually want to. Isn't that great news?

Massachusetts has decided not to be locked in to any vendor in particular, although it isn't anti-Microsoft, because it has this idea in its head that citizens have the right to access their own documents without having to pay anyone and without restrictions as to what operating system they have to use or technical blockages to access not only now but way into the future. Lots of people like to use GNU/Linux systems and Apple software, you know. Or maybe you hadn't heard? And what if Microsoft isn't in existence in 200 years or no longer supports a certain application? Then how will our children and grandchildren open and read the documents we are saving today? With proprietary software, you can't just take a look at the code and figure out how to open and read the document. There are laws about that. The OpenDocument format ensures we'll always be able to open and read the documents. That is why it is a superior format for Massachusetts' governmental needs.

As for throwing out prior systems, isn't Microsoft itself moving away from the .doc format with its next release of its code? So there is going to be a migration going on, one way or another.

And the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council called a meeting with Massachusetts Secretary of Administration & Finance Eric Kriss, CIO of the Commonwealth Peter Quinn, representatives from Microsoft, IBM, Adobe, Sun, and other companies and groups to discuss the XML/Open Document format decision and to provide feedback to Massachusetts.

At that meeting, Massachusetts' Kriss very clearly told Microsoft exactly how to be included. It was Microsoft that refused to support OpenDocument, which it is still free to do, not Massachusetts refusing to let Microsoft in. We heard it ourselves on the audio, James. So you can't spin this one. The audio tape is still available right here, so you can listen also and not suffer from this misinformation in your head or spread it, either.

If you missed it, Sun Microsystem's CEO Scott McNealy's letter to Peter Quinn, ITD Director & Chief Information Officer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is worth rereading on this point:

Some may contend that the decision is unfairly dictating a software preference. This is entirely wrong; the guidelines make it clear that any applications need only support an open, unencumbered document format. Your guidelines do not limit any vendor’s ability to compete for state business because the required open formats are available equally to all, and participation in their development is equally open to all.

The Commonwealth has an Open Standards policy too, which they explain has the following related purpose:

The Commonwealth must ensure that its investments in information technology result in systems that are sufficiently interoperable to meet the business requirements of its agencies and to effectively serve its constituencies. This policy addresses the importance of open standards compliance for IT investments in the Commonwealth. For the purpose of this policy, open standards is defined as follows:

Open Standards: Specifications for systems that are publicly available and are developed by an open community and affirmed by a standards body. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is an example of an open standard. Open standards imply that multiple vendors can compete directly based on the features and performance of their products. It also implies that the existing information technology solution is portable and that it can be removed and replaced with that of another vendor with minimal effort and without major interruption (see current version of the Enterprise Technical Reference Model).


Agencies within the Executive Department and vendors providing information technology goods and services to these agencies must comply with this policy.

The new data formats policy is evidence that Massachusetts likes open standards and formats, and they have set forth which formats meet their needs and are therefore acceptable. The decision is made, and for some mighty fine reasons. The decision won't change now. Microsoft is therefore faced with a decision. Everyone hopes it will decide to support the OpenDocument format, but if it doesn't choose to, any difficulties users of its software face -- and they should be few, thanks to the labor by the FOSS community -- falls on *Microsoft's* shoulders, not on Massachusetts. The whole world is watching.

As for OpenDocument being allegedly “largely immature” and “rarely deployed," in reality, the format was developed and reviewed by experts in the field over several years.

As for which software is superior in performance, you quote a journalist who wrote that is slower than Excel and various other irrelevant things. I say irrelevant because what Massachusetts is after is something far more important. It wants the documents saved today to be accessible in 100 years. OpenDocument ensures that. Microsoft's software does not. Or, more accurately, it could, but it refuses. This discussion isn't about which software is more polished. It's about which one is open, unencumbered, and usable by all operating systems, standards-based, and not tied to just one commercial vendor. Of course, would be better if Microsoft would open up its APIs and let the world interoperate, but it is good enough to meet the Commonwealth's needs already. That is the point Microsoft hasn't absorbed. We don't have to use Microsoft's software any more, unless we want to. It has to make us *want* to, and in the case of Massachusetts, that means supporting the OpenDocument format.

Of course, it won't do that, because it feels that its proprietary information is the company's leg up, which is its decision to make. But the company has done so many tricky things in the past, hooks and switches with the software, that we don't trust it to interoperate with other software we like to use, and we are aware that using its products means we are dependent on its whim as to access in the future.

That's the heart of the problem Microsoft faces in trying to qualify for a governmental requirement of support for open standards and open formats. That is Microsoft's dilemma, not Massachusetts'. The Commonwealth is very happy to have Microsoft participate, but they have certain needs in regard to the software they use, and Microsoft will have to meet those needs, if it wishes to join the party. Honestly, we consumers all wish it would, in all sincerity.

We notice Microsoft's refusal to support OpenDocument format, and we know what it means. It means they are thinking competitively, not cooperatively. When Microsoft refuses to play nicely with others, we know from history exactly what that means for us consumers. It means we get fewer choices in the marketplace, and software we like to use ends up Microsoft road kill, with the result that we can't use it any more. Is that what you meant by encouraging innovation?

The people will be forced to switch fib. Maybe you don't realize that it's incorrect to state the following:

The burden, however, reaches well beyond simple taxpayer costs. Businesses, organizations and citizens who interact with the state will also be forced to support Massachusetts’ mandated technologies. Law firms that file electronically, businesses that regularly share information with agencies via electronic files, even citizens who want to take advantage of online services will potentially have to purchase, install and learn new software to comply with the policy. These added costs would be substantial.

That's flat out FUD. It's not true. and other software that supports the OpenDocument format can open Microsoft Office documents, so no one has to buy anything new. And, may I remind you, they can download it for free, anyway, even if they did need to change. But they don't. They can send in whatever they wish, and Massachusetts will be able to read it. Massachusetts doesn't have to throw out any Microsoft software either, in order to save documents in OpenDocument format. You can download for Windows. You can put a document written in Word format into OOo, read it just fine, and then just choose to save it in an OpenDocument format. Yes, can do that too. It does the reverse also. If I type up a document, here are my choices. I can save it as:

  • Text Document (.sxw)
  • Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP (.doc)
  • Microsoft Word 95 (.doc)
  • Microsoft Word 6.0 (.doc)
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf)
  • StarWriter 5.0 (.sdw)
  • StarWriter 4.0 (.sdw)
  • StarWriter 3.0 (.sdw)
  • Text (.txt)
  • Text Encoded (.txt)
  • HTML Document ( Writer)(.html;.htm)

There are probably more now. That's just the list of what the version of I have on my computer today can save as. So, never fear, James. You can quit clutching your Microsoft Office with your cold dead hands. No one is going to try to wrench it from you, or anyone, or make you or anyone else stop using it. If you wish to send the Commonwealth a letter, you can download and save the letter in an appropriate format, but if you don't feel like it, Massachusetts will have the ability to deal with the issue on their end. And if Massachusetts wants to send you a letter, they can use or StarOffice or any application that supports the OpenDocument format, save the letter in Word format just for you, and send it. End of "problem".

Then, you list two implied legal threats, or I take them as being such. First, you allege that some say that the policy may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you go to the Massachusetts website, you'll find this statement:

Open Document Format Standard and the Disabilities Community

ITD is grateful for the thoughtful comments that we have received from the community of persons with disabilities. ITD will work closely with this community to ensure that their legal rights are respected and their practical concerns regarding the implementation of the proposed Open Document format standard are addressed.

Next, you say that the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association (MDAA) "raised practical and legal questions about the plan. At the most fundamental level, the MDAA questioned why district attorneys’ offices would be forced to switch away from technology that meets their needs." They have to switch because their boss said so. It's that simple. Bosses do that. They can because they are the boss. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a sovereign state. Sovereignty means they can make laws and set regulations and no one can stop them, unless they clash swords with the US Constitution. Other than that, the federal government itself can't tell Massachusetts what software to use. Neither can Microsoft. As Secretary Eric Kriss told Microsoft at the meeting, "Sovereignty trumps intellectual property." It trumps almost everything. You may have noticed that in the Katrina disaster. Without getting into the results and blame or any of that, one thing you may have noted is that Louisiana had to ask the federal government to help; the feds couldn't just march in and take over.

I would suggest that you read David Berlind's article on ZDNET, "Did Microsoft Send the Wrong Guy to Massachusetts' ODF Hearing?"

Had Microsoft come to play ball instead of digging its heals in as it did, the outcome might have been very different. Had I been a member of Gates and Ballmer's executive team, I would have advised them to be at this meeting. I would have said "Be prepared to listen and gauge the state's resolve. If you're alone in this fight — and you probably will be — you don't want to come across as the arrogant agitator. That's not going to look good to the people in attendance. It's not going to look good to the public. It's not going to look good to the industry. And it's certainly not going to look good to other governments and organizations that are watching with a keen interest in the outcome. Instead, be prepared to be the cooperative facilitator. They're looking for partners. If being a partner means opening our formats as much as Adobe has opened PDF, or if it means supporting ODF, then now is the time to do so. This is the opportunity to show the world that we're so confident in our implementation of Office that we can comply with such standards and still win. After all, Adobe did it with PDF and they're way smaller than us. Not to mention, if Bill or Steve are there with that sort of message, it really looks like you're personally interested in the needs of a very important customer and that's always a good thing."

But that's not the message that Microsoft sent to the world on Sept. 16. And seven days later, on Sept. 23, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Enterprise Technical Reference Model 3.5 was final and Microsoft was officially "out." Whereas Microsoft's proprietary formats had a shot at becoming the open standard (perhaps giving Office 12 a head start over competitors), that honor is now ODF's and ODF's alone. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this may be the first time that Microsoft so publicly got sent home with its tail between its legs. If Microsoft keeps this "we know better than you" behavior up, it probably won't be the last.

Microsoft is out in the cold because it marched itself out into the snow and slammed the door behind itself on itself. All it has to do is turn itself around, open the door, support the OpenDocument format, and that is the end of its problem. But the ball is in Microsoft's court.

FUD won't work on this. It's the Internet age, you know. Haven't you heard? The Internet changes everything. Even the effectiveness of FUD. Which is why your FUD is a dud.

UPDATED: Fox News has today, Friday, September 30, place an article on its website, linked from the Prendergast article, "Editor's Note: Disclosing Writers' Affiliations", and it reads in part:

The column "Massachusetts Should Close Down OpenDocument" that appeared on Sept. 28 identified author James Prendergast as executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership, but failed to disclose that Microsoft is a founding member of that organization. . . .

Mr. Prendergast's affiliation with Microsoft should have been stated clearly in the article.

If you note, the bio information after the article by Mr. Prendergast now states his affiliation.


FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud - Updated | 382 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Please
Authored by: geoff lane on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 03:28 PM EDT

I'm not a Windows user, consequently I'm not
afraid of receiving email from total strangers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic (OT) Please
Authored by: geoff lane on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 03:29 PM EDT
Note the instructions in red describing how to use HTML.

I'm not a Windows user, consequently I'm not
afraid of receiving email from total strangers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Phony names
Authored by: freeio on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 03:31 PM EDT
It is amusing the fine sounding names - clever euphemisms - that are used to
distract the reader from understanding the sources of arguments. It could be
"Citizens United Against Something" or "Save the Something
Foundation" or "Concerned Taxpayers against Something" or even
"Popular Front for the Liberation of Something" if the intended
audience would seem sympathetic to that sort of cause.

The important thing to remember is that this is an attempt at misdirection. We
are not supposed to notice the sleight of hand right before our eyes. And note
that the media are many times either taken in by this, or are actually complicit
with it.

It is dishonest, but we have come to expect that as a part of meida, business,
and politics.

Tux et bona et fortuna est.

[ Reply to This | # ]

DA concerns
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 03:34 PM EDT
It was mentioned that the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association had some
concerns. Didn't we hear some time ago that DAs and lawyers preferred
WordPerfect, not MS apps? Something to do with better legal formatting.

Has OpenOffice taken any steps to make the software appealing to the legal

[ Reply to This | # ]

As for Americans with Disabilities Act
Authored by: dyfet on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 03:35 PM EDT
As a disabled American I would not be able to access a Microsoft XML encoded document without their expressed permission. The company claims it can choose who it permits to impliment such solutions by patent licensing, and so I cannot use or modify software without accepting such a license and it's odious terms. With opendoc I can do this because it is not artificially restricted, whether I wish to mearly "access" the file to "transform" it, for example, to something like Daisy talking books, or to otherwise use it in the software of my choice, but Microsoft has chosen to try and license even the act of accessing one's own data if it is in their XML format.

If Microsoft were to offer it's XML fully on a fully RF license without restrictions on sublicensing, then it could perhaps have been considered, but in desiring to try and legally control how others use their own documents, Microsoft has chosen to legally lock itself out of offering truelly open and compatible solutions compliant with state statutes and/or that meet the needs of the marketplace, and it's nobody else's fault but their own selfishness. They chose to do it to themselves.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Thanks, dyfet! - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 09:52 AM EDT
FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
Authored by: geoff lane on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 03:40 PM EDT
It occurs to me that there may be a more technical reason why Microsoft finds itself unable to support an open save format.

OpenDocument is both documented and has well known symantics. It is like the Greek text on the Rosetta Stone. It is a known language that can be used as a key to read the badly known and undocumented .doc language. To support OpenDocument, Microsoft would effectively be opening it's internal .doc and any future related formats.

So, it's not just a question of supporting OpenDocument, it is a deep and continuing commitment to opening up Microsoft data formats. A huge decision that could change the way the Microsoft works in the future.

OpenDocument could be a dagger pointed at the heart of Microsoft.

I'm not a Windows user, consequently I'm not
afraid of receiving email from total strangers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 03:44 PM EDT
I have to wonder why Fox was even willing to air this. Is Fox protraying this
as public service, i.e. journalism? Or is it really more like paid programming,
and as such, are they providing the proper disclaimers?

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ - What could be more grassroots
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 03:45 PM EDT
. . .than being dead?

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ - You CAN address him - TONIGHT!!!
Authored by: saltydogmn on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 03:48 PM EDT
As posted on the front page of the FUD-meisters' website;

"ATL Executive Director Jim Prendergast will appear live on the following
upcoming program:

KLAV-AM, Las Vegas, NV
Computer Outlook with John Iasiuolo
Thursday, September 29
Time: 8pm - 8:30pm ET"

The website has a "listen live" link, so you can listen in real time.
I don't know the on-air frequency for the AM station, though.

Perhaps if enough of us ask him about the dead people campaign, it will rattle
him a bit. Just a thought. -saltydogmn

[ Reply to This | # ]

One of your darts is in the nine ring...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:01 PM EDT
The 'system' that Prendergast accuses Massachusetts of 'throwing out' is the
long-standing 'competitive, merit-based procurement process for technology
services', not, as you seem to indicate, the current office data and document
processing software technology.

Prendergast is lying, of course. Far from discarding its procurement process
for office technology, Massachusetts is enhancing it -- by requiring it to be,
for the first time in a decade, truly competitive and merit-based.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Letter to my MA Representative
Authored by: AliveAgain on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:06 PM EDT
I sent this email last week to my Representative in the MA House and Senator in the MA Senate:
I would like to express my appreciation for the vision and leadership of Eric Kriss and Peter Quinn in the development of the Enterprise Technical Reference Model - Version 3.5. In today's world there are too few times when we get to say our government truly understands the challenges of the future and are really preparing for it.  This is different.  In this case, I hear comments like "Massachusetts really understands things; I wish my state government did!"  It makes me proud to be a citizen of our Commonwealth. I hope that you will be able to support these excellent examples of public service to the citizens of Massachusetts.
I hope that it will help them resist any pressure to alter the decision. I got this reply this morning:
Thank you for your email.

It is nice to hear that the Commonwealth is doing something right !

Thank you for letting me know.


Geoffrey D. Hall
Committee on Post Audit & Oversight

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft is wonderful
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:06 PM EDT
>>According to the Times, the campaign was discovered when Utah's Attorney
General at the time Mark Shurtleff received letters "purportedly written by
at least two dead people ... imploring him to go easy on Microsoft Corp. for its
conduct as a monopoly."<<

Even the dead clamour its wondrous advantages :^)


[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:14 PM EDT
The Microsoft Monopolist just seem totally unable to grasp the fundamental fact
that people will use what they <gasp> want to use instead of being forced
to use something. I'll bet they're just "appauled". You ever notice
that cops drive around in all kinds of different makes and models of cars? I'll
bet Willam Ford isn't appaulled. These FUDsters act as if "Oh, no! If you
don't use MS Office you can't create documents and spreadsheets." As if
it's the only office suite there is. That's like saying if you don't own a Ford
you can't drive a car. By the way I like both Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler. Just
using it as an example.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Fundamentals - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:48 PM EDT
  • Fundamentals - Authored by: Jude on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 08:35 PM EDT
  • Fundamentals - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 09:05 PM EDT
FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
Authored by: wdickson on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:14 PM EDT
Starting as early as 1972,
ALL government programming jobs (and systems)
required using

No extensions by IBM, Control Data (CDC) etc were allowed:
(DECNET had to be replaced by the open standard (ftp/telnet).
See below text:
What has changed ?
Shouldn't this now also be a standard.


In the general programming rules section, it was emphasized how
important it is to adhere to the standard of FORTRAN, and avoid
fancy but unportable language extensions.

Since MIL-STD compliance was mandatory for FORTRAN systems sold
to the US Government, it quickly became a world-wide standard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

FOX's Lies
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:18 PM EDT
As a regular British reader of Groklaw and other American websites I was
aware that Fox News was biased.

But this is far worse. This is not biased journalism. The whole article is a
collection of deliberate lies, knowingly made.

This is not a misunderstanding of Massachusetts position. The writer
obviously has an exact understanding of the issues and quite deliberately lies
about it.

Even calling it FUD seems too polite.

Sorry to be anonymous, i still haven't registered.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Current .doc "standard" is already severely flawed
Authored by: RichardR on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:23 PM EDT
For quite some time now, I'm mystified why the .doc "format" is allowed in any serious information exchange at all.

One of the problems rearing its ugly head is MS' infamous practice of "slipping standards", which causes incompatibilities between older and newer versions of the same software. E.g. Word 6 documents are already not fully compatible with current Office versions - up to the point of sometimes crashing the application and producing a corrupted, MS-Office unreadable .doc file - which, ironically enough, OpenOffice can open, and save again in a workable state.

More importantly, however, .doc files can (and do) contain all kinds of hidden information, such as the names of all people who worked on it, and even deleted text fragments, which, for one reason or another, were only hidden by MS-Office, not actually deleted. In other words: by using .doc, you may unwittingly leak sensitive information - and several embarrassing situations have already arisen as a result of this - also in relation to government documents.

All this is is the result of a company with only one priority: keeping the market in a locked-in, forced-upgrade stranglehold. And I think the Massachusetts decision is a good sign that people are getting increasingly fed up with MS dictating the rules of the Word game.

Richard Rasker

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • This is NOT a flaw - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 11:42 PM EDT
FOX's is not a good source
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:24 PM EDT
Over here FOX does not have a very good repuation. Its considered to just be a
mouthpiece for Big Business.

[ Reply to This | # ]

FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
Authored by: phantom21 on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:24 PM EDT
Don't forget, ODF isn't the only format for documents the commonwealth support.
They also support PDF. Anyone can send a PDF to state agencies, and receive

I don't want people modifying my documents or spreadsheets (unless that's
exactly what I'm asking the recipient to do), so I only send PDFs (i.e.,
reports, invoices, memos, etc.).

Don't forget also, even though many are highlighting the fact
works with ODF, so does the relatively low cost (compared with MS Office)
StarOffice, KOffice (which comes with the KDE desktop which may soon be
available for Windows), and soon Abi Word and Gnumeric.

I'm also sure WordPerfect Office will come up with a version that supports ODF.

The only company refusing to support it is Microsoft.

They're problem.

[ Reply to This | # ]

    So much FUDing, so little time
    Authored by: cmc on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:26 PM EDT
    First, as a resident of Massachusetts, I just want to say I'm glad they did
    this. If it ends up being a disaster, so be it. Only time will tell. It's not
    the end result that's always important, but the journey there. Here, the
    journey is to make the information available to as many people as possible for
    as long as possible. That's a noble journey if ever I've seen one. Not only
    that, but it's also the duty and responsibility of the government.

    Second, as a resident who does not own Microsoft Office, I call foul on all
    those who claim that any state or government agency should use Microsoft Office.
    Why should I (and every other resident who wants or needs to access state
    documents) have to pay up to $500 (per computer) to be able to view documents we
    pay (through our taxes) to produce? Yes, currently I can view most MS-Office
    files (.doc, .xls, etc) with OpenOffice. But that's not guaranteed. Nor is
    that compatibility guaranteed in the future. In the future, with MS's XML
    patents (which, if I remember correctly, they reserve the right to revoke at any
    time), you are at their mercy. Only Microsoft will be able to tell you what
    software you can use to view their file formats. That is unacceptable. I say
    as a computer user, and as a resident of the state, that that would be

    Massacusetts has made the right move. We know it, they know it. In fact,
    everyone *knows* it. Some people just don't agree with it because it means
    their companies, employers, supporters, or whatever may have less revenue
    resulting in less profits. Wait a minute. Isn't that the free market that
    those "independent journalists" keep referring to? We've said it
    before (and I'm sure we'll have to keep saying it) that there is absolutely
    nothing stopping Microsoft from supporting OpenDocument except their own egos.
    If the next version of MS-Office supported OpenDocument, then it could be
    considered and used by the state. If it doesn't, then it can't. Simple as
    that. How is that not a free market system or market-based competition?


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Just responded to FOX regarding the letter from Prendergast.
    Authored by: Mecha on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:47 PM EDT
    I responded to this address:

    I wrote this (correct me if I was wrong somewhere):

    I read this letter from a Mr. Prendergast and it is full of mistatements.

    First he makes a claim that the new policy is an attack on Market Based

    Since this in regards to OpenDocument format and Microsoft Office, some facts
    need to be listed:

    1. Microsoft is free to support the OpenDocument format, but no one is really
    free to support their proprietary format and must reverse engineer it in order
    to use it.

    2. When Microsoft brought out Word, they bundled it with their Windows operating
    system for free so that they can take market share away from their Market Based
    Competition. Please see the recent Novell vs. Microsoft suit where Novell is
    suing Microsoft for this reason when Novell had owned Word Perfect (at the time
    the world's leading Word Processor program).

    So Mr. Prendergast is accusing the Commonwealth of Massachussetts of the very
    thing Microsoft has done and is doing to themselves.

    Mr Prendergast: "Agencies can turn to the marketplace—often to small
    state-based systems integrators—and receive bids for the best solutions at the
    best price to meet specific needs. "

    The problem with this statement is that Microsoft is a convicted Monopolist who
    has and continues to abuse their monopoly status. This means that they continue
    to manipulate the marketplace in order for their own proprietary formats to
    thrive while purposefully hindering other ones. Please see the recent Sun
    Microsystems vs Microsoft lawsuit where Sun sued Microsoft to stop putting out
    their own crippled version of a Java Virtual Machine. Microsoft crippled their
    version of Java Virtual Machine because they have a competing product in their
    .net programming. This caused many java applications to fail or to run
    improperly under the windows format.

    He then goes on to say that there are issues with the OpenDocument Format (or
    .odf) because the applications that support them are not mature and would cost
    even more.

    This is not true at all. He mentions Well this is released
    under the Lesser General Public License(LGPL) from code donated by Sun
    Microsystems StarOffice product line and is a free download.
    also can open most Microsoft Office documents, but not all (through reverse
    engineering). But even that is a moot point because Microsoft is planning on
    dumping their .doc format in their next version of Office. So now we are going
    to have TWO immature document formats. One supported by one abusing Monopolist,
    and the other supported by, Sun's StarOffice, and IBM's future
    office productivity suite. There are other word processors that support the odf
    format - kword (KDE) and abiword do aswell.

    Mr Prendergast: "But for now, the policy simply promises enormous and
    unnecessary migration costs to Massachusetts’ taxpayers. The mandate forces the
    entire state government to acquire new technologies, train personnel, and
    contract for new services and support.

    In many cases, new technologies will have to be purchased even when current
    systems are fully functional. In other words, taxpayers will be paying
    duplicative costs."

    Again, see my last response. Microsoft is dropping the .doc format in their
    upcoming Office release. Also, given Microsofts forced upgrades in order for
    compatibility where Microsoft changes something in the format that it doesn't
    work to well when you open (if you can open it) a document in their previous
    versions if it was made with their latest version. In every case, new versions
    of Microsoft Office can open documents from a previous version but that is not
    always the case vice-versa. This was the crux of the issue that Massachussetts
    has with microsoft. If they make any new documents, then there is a good chance
    that someone in that state may not be able to read it if they have a version
    several versions below the one it was created on.

    Mr. Prendergast: “The main advantage to using Microsoft products in an office
    environment is that, in large measure, these products provide very reliable
    interoperability and rich functionality. Since most of our users are not IT
    experts, such interoperability and functionality are critical to the day to day
    operation of our offices…. We are unaware of any organizations with which we
    exchange documents that use products such as OpenOffice or StarOffice.”

    As I stated above, (and by extension Sun's StarOffice) can open
    the majority of documents created by Microsoft Office and it can also save the
    document in that very same format if it needs to be done. That of course may be
    the reason they are unaware of any such organizations that use those formats.
    At a previous job, I used and no one even knew that I did that
    when they had Microsoft Office.

    And finally Mr Prendergast says : "The proposed policy is also puzzling and
    arbitrary in its approach to Adobe’s PDF format (search). The policy
    acknowledges that PDF falls outside the “open” format mandate, but grants PDF an
    exception so that agencies can continue to use it. The exception essentially
    underscores the weakness of establishing fixed formats in the first place. Adobe
    may be happy to find a special place carved out for its format, but the company
    should be wary nevertheless. How confident can Adobe and others be that the
    government won’t later change their minds and suddenly deny the exemption?

    Well I know that I can use several readers to read PDF, not just the Adobe
    Acrobat Reader. I also know that I don't have to use Adobe Acrobat to make PDF
    documents either. Even though it is a proprietary format, it is somewhat open
    for others to use. Unlike the formats that Microsoft uses in their Office

    Microsoft is all about vendor lock-in. They have done this with Word in the mid
    90s, they were successfully sued by Sun Microsystems for attempting to do this
    with their crippled version of the Java Virtual Machine, and their refusal to
    implement the OpenDocument standard is another attempt. Keep in mind that they
    also did this with Internet Explorer and was forced to settle with several
    states because of it. In Korea they are being sued for Anti-Competitive actions
    regarding their Windows Media Player and that of Apple's Quicktime and Real's
    RealOne Realplayer. With the coming Vista they are planning on crippling the
    OpenGL format in favor of their Direct3D format and I can only presume based on
    their past that they will cripple all the Image formats in favor of their
    Windows Image (WIM) format.

    Yes, the Commonwealth of Massachussetts is makine a stand against Microsoft and
    more states should because market forces are being manipulated by Microsoft's
    abuse of their monoply status. Therefore we cannot rely on those forces to keep
    Microsoft inline.


    I am not clever enough to write a good signature. So this will have to do.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
    Authored by: jslyster on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:48 PM EDT
    Has anyone pointed out to the doofuses who harp on about how Microsoft's file
    format is based on XML, that the OpenDocument format is also XML-based?

    Here's an exercise, class: create a document using OpenOffice 2.0 (beta, release
    candidate, whatever); change the extension from ODT to ZIP; now double-click the
    file. It will open up like any other zipped package, and within you'll see
    (among other things) a file called content.xml. That's your data.

    By the way, this works with earlier versions of OpenOffice also; the SXW format
    is XML-based too. M$ is way behind the curve here.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The most American decision ever
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 04:58 PM EDT
    Remember how MS called Linux un-American? They'll probably say the same about
    this current decision too. But don't we all remember that America is NOT about
    money and convenience. It's about freedom and, as many would agree, freedom
    under God. Yes, this is a hard path to take, yes there may be problems, even
    disasters, but does it all compare to the freedom we have gained? On the day
    this decision was made, I feel that the world became a better place. On that
    same day, I also believe that America re-gained many of its traditional values
    from the past.

    God bless this decision, God bless Massachusetts, God bless all of us and

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Is everthing FUD?
    Authored by: UglyGreenTroll on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 05:10 PM EDT
    I read Prendergast's article and I think PJ is correct with many of her points.

    But was Prendergast's article FUD?

    Calling an opinion FUD doesn't just suggest it's wrong. It implies there was a conscious effort by the author to spread rumours and half-truths. It questions the author's very motives.

    Now it may be that Prendergast's motives are not the purest - I don't know, I'm not psychic. But PJ's article would have been stronger had she kept to criticism of the article's contents, rather than guessing at the motives behind it. It would have been more persuasive without the 'F' word.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The whole notion that this requires citizens to install is a red herring
    Authored by: sward on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 05:13 PM EDT
    First, the standard includes PDF as well. Pretty close to universal
    availability, even if it is proprietary.

    Second, as a 10-yr citizen of MA, I have NEVER received an electronic document
    from state (or local) government. They still use plain old PAPER v1.0 for
    practically all communications with ordinary citizens. And they should - you
    can't beat that format for readability or OS-independence (but the search
    function isn't so good).

    Third, most electronic interactions with the government do not involve document
    exchange - they involve government websites (e.g. the Registry of Motor

    So the biggest effect of all this, on the general public, will be that our tax
    dollars can be wasted on something else, instead of wasted on a monopoly-priced

    We won't notice.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Everybody chill out (a little bit) about FOX
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 05:15 PM EDT
    This article is clearly in their "Opinion" section. It's not Fox's lousy reporting, or inability to distinguish truth from lies, or whatever. It is, however, Fox giving a public forum to a FUDster.

    But rather than ragging on Fox, a better response is to use the same medium. Someone (PJ? A collective effort?) should write a well-reasoned, fact-based response and seek to have Fox publish it in the exact same way - as an opinion piece.


    P.S. I don't know if Fox is more biased than the other media, but it is certainly differently biased, and for that reason stands out. But it seems to me that the other media are often just as biased, merely in the opposite direction. Don't take the non-Fox media as the unbiased truth either...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 05:17 PM EDT
    I have been using OO for about 2 years now and have not had any issues with it.

    I recently became the president of my local HOA and remembered seeing some
    Template files on Microsofts website for meeting minutes and agendas. I logged
    on to microsoft, downloaded the templates and was able to open then in OO
    without and problems and then saved them as OO template files.

    It boggles the mind that people right articles like this without testing or
    verifying there facts first.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    So, what's next?
    Authored by: Jude on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 05:21 PM EDT
    Are ATL's printers busy churning out thousands of letters expressing the outrage
    of dead Massachusetts citizens at this decision?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
    Authored by: jws on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 05:27 PM EDT
    There must be a push to put out this Anti OSS in general. /. picked up an
    article today as well about some foolishness about a company dumping linux for
    Microsoft. No facts, just how they were "forced" to switch to windows
    and all was wonderful.

    here is the slash dot link

    (I tried href, it did not work, sorry)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Latest ATL Headline
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 05:46 PM EDT
    On the main page of there is an article titled:

    "ATL's opposition to the proposed Mandate of Open Office and Portable
    Document Format (PDF) formats as contained in Enterprise Technical Reference
    Model v.3.5. "

    It just happens to only be available in Portable Document Format (PDF)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Use the ISO standards for PDF- then PDF is not proprietary
    Authored by: dwheeler on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 05:57 PM EDT
    There are 2 ISO standards for PDF: PDF/A (for archiving documents) and PDF/X
    (for color prepress). They are _ISO_ _standards_. Just spec _those_ versions of
    PDF, which I think was really their intent, and you aren't using a proprietary
    format. ISO has the right update those specs, too. And anyone can implement
    PDF, with no restrictions. PDF is not proprietary, certainly not like
    Microsoft's XML formats are.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
    Authored by: blacklight on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 06:29 PM EDT
    I will make a couple of points:

    (1) If the only copies of our Declaration of Independence were writen using the
    Wordstar word processor, we would be in a pickle right now. Today, Microsoft has
    its 15 minutes of fame as a monopolist. Tomorrow, who knows? And who remembers
    Lotus 123, dBaseIII, etc. Gloria sic transit mundi.

    (2) The fact is that as an open society, we must require that government
    documents be written in a format that's open enough that we can design readers
    for these docs, and that there may be no legal encumbrances on these readers. To
    be blunt about it, Microsoft flunks the test.

    (3) The standards must be stable from one version to the next, which is not the
    case with Microsoft's products. The stability of these standards has a direct
    impact on the accessibility of the government documents.

    (4) The attorneys of the state of Massachusetts may complain that Microsoft's
    Office meets their needs, but I doubt that these attorneys give two hoots about
    preserving their state's documents in an accessible format - And this latter
    need happens to be a non-negotiable need of the taxpayers'. Nobody wants to be
    in a situation where the State of Massachusetts cannot read its own documents
    from 20 years earlier.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    connect the dots
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 06:39 PM EDT
    1. PDF absolutely _OWNS_ the public document space on the internet. DOC is
    conspicuous by its rarity (and all the virus filters sniff it over while they
    decide whether to let it by), RTF and XLS are conspicuous by their absences.
    Bill, Paul, pay attention now--the de facto standard is PDF! Adopting PDF as a
    standard really is SOSO, stasis, business as usual, SSDD, whatever, etc.

    2. Microsoft has so far refused to provide a tool to write (or even _read_) PDF,
    the de facto standard.

    adjusts tinfoil beanie

    I draw the conclusion that M$ and the bosses of the media in which M$ advertises
    genuinely expected MA to toss PDF and to standardize on DOC. $BORG for which I
    ork provides little plastic cups and a special kind of temporary privacy for
    people who are _that_ detached from reality while at work.

    Appendix A: How many court documents are published with other than PDF or dead
    trees? Hm?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Put it suscinctly
    Authored by: darkonc on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 07:59 PM EDT
    If Microsoft's heavily touted, multi-billion-dollar development group is unwilling (they're certainly able) to implement the Open Document format in the coming year, that is an error on the part of Microsoft.
    It's not an error for Massachusetts to refuse to be led down the garden path by a would-be single-source supplier.

    Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FUD yes, but more importantly, WOOKIE!
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 08:08 PM EDT
    This is blatant FUD, but so much so as to be almost meaningless. No matter how
    much its tossed around, the bottom line is its only for show. None of it has any
    factual or legal basis that could affect MA's decision.

    The M$ counterattack however, is going to come from a different angle, and I
    suspect that the current swell of FUD is only going to get louder in order to
    try and mask the real attack.

    If you read through the public comments link on the MA website, its very clear
    where the real battle lines are being drawn; M$ is going to try and overturn
    this policy on procedural grounds. There are several comments from state
    representatives, senators and other high mucky-mucks that are all the same, all
    harping on the length of the review period or access for disabled.

    They know they cannot sue in court, there is simply no law being broken they can
    sue over. But state procedures are much flimsier than law, and if they can find
    enough of an issue in procedures somewhere to at least get this put on hold,
    then they can start chipping away it from other angles.

    It will be worthwhile to keep an eye on some of those who commented, because I'm
    betting we'll see some challenge that will come from the legislative level down
    through departmental channels, and in a fashion that is not widely disseminated
    publicly. Beware the backroom...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • I agree - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 09:45 AM EDT
    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 08:24 PM EDT
    It's obvious where Prendergast's comments are coming from. But what about
    comments attributed to David Coursey?
    His editorial is another collection of
    misinformation and unsupported conclusions from a self-proclaimed "consultant"

    1. Believes "renting" software for a business if an effective financial
    2. Hasn't updated or replaced his placeholder for his official website
    but advises his new guide to Windows Vista will be out in 2006. (site copyright
    date is 22 Aug)
    3. Suggested here his problems with his tablet PC might be
    caused by data corruption. Yet didn't seem to understand the reason for the
    "winlogin" process taking up 99% of his processor cycles.

    It's nice to know
    that "well-informed experts" like Prendergast and Coursey are so concerned with
    the terrible burden the adoption of open standards will be for the citizens of
    Massachusetts. Better to keep those citizens in the dark and tied to proprietary

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft doesn't support its own formats
    Authored by: fgoldstein on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 08:27 PM EDT
    I'm happy that my state has made a stand in favor of open (small O) documents. Microsoft can't even keep up with its own formats! While the typical word processor was designed for the purpose of creating a printed document, and thus the original was somewhat ephemeral, nowadays .DOC files are sometimes kept around for a long time, or used for displayables. So backwards compatibility matters.

    I started using Word for DOS around 1990. I used it to write a book (ISDN In Perspective). Not bad for its day, either. (I mean Word, though I hope people think the same of the book, too.) Nothing like the current product, though. As an Information Pack Rate, I keep old files around. I just tried reading a Word file from 1990 into Word 97 (not all that many years later), the version I used for my most recent book, The Great Telecom Meltdown. It didn't work -- lots of gobbledygood:

    N ’ € Ā ’’µ H Ņ . @ H D:NU *-,-0-5-:->-" cm p10 p12 pt li 7  x š -^-a-d-h-l-o-" in cm p 1¾ « Ā € ˜ ’’“ ’’Ķ ’’Ļ

    (Actually, it looks even worse in Word.)

    For that reason alone, official documents need to be in a documented and public format! Government does not work at the same speed as the computer industry. Documents last, sometimes, almost forever. The Massachusetts Consitution is IIRC the oldest one in the world still in effect; it predates independence, and the US Constitution was in some ways modeled on it (bicameral, separation of powers, etc.). Lots of 19th century laws are still in effect. Document formats that are deprecated after 5 years don't hack it.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A minor rant
    Authored by: inode_buddha on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 08:36 PM EDT
    Do the Mass District Attorneys even realize that they are in the vast minority
    as compared to the general populace?

    Copyright info in bio

    "When we speak of free software,
    we are referring to freedom, not price"
    -- Richard M. Stallman

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
    Authored by: Steve Martin on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 09:13 PM EDT

    if he doesn't mind wrestling with a girl.

    Oh, I'm not even gonna go there!


    "When I say something, I put my name next to it." -- Isaac Jaffee, "Sports Night"

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • The image of PJ - Authored by: ws on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 10:03 PM EDT
      • The image of PJ - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 01:34 AM EDT
    • Pig - Authored by: Cyberdog on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 05:47 AM EDT
    Lewis Mettler is trying to organise campaigns in other States to follow MA's lead.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 10:33 PM EDT


    Read his last few posts.

    Brian S.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I beg to differ...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 10:44 PM EDT
    > We notice Microsoft's refusal to support OpenDocument format, and we know
    what it means. It means they are thinking competitively, not cooperatively.

    Sorry PJ, they are thinking neither competitively nor cooperatively. They are
    thinking like a true monopoly. Nothing *but* their own, closed format should be
    allowed - that is their view. They aren't even slightly interested in
    competition - if they were, they would be announcing *the best* OpenDocument
    support in Office 12.

    On the other hand, Sun and IBM are thinking competitively. They will be
    competing for the business on the basis of their implementations that both know
    how to handle OpenDocument. The open source community is the one thinking

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Letters from dead people may be forgery.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 10:59 PM EDT
    My layman's reading of the Canadian forgery law (from the Canadian Criminal Code
    but I'll bet American laws are worded in a similar way) makes me think that
    anyone who makes or passes off letters purported to be from dead people is
    committing a forgery. (I also wonder if this law could be applied to plagiarism
    by students.)

    "366. (1) Every one commits forgery who makes a false document, knowing it
    to be false, with intent

    (a) that it should in any way be used or acted on as genuine, to the prejudice
    of any one whether within Canada or not; or

    (b) that a person should be induced, by the belief that it is genuine, to do or
    to refrain from doing anything, whether within Canada or not."

    The wording "to do or refrain from doing anything" seems to indicate
    that trying to change public opinion with false documents counts as forgery.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ATL: Mission Statement & Founding Members
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 11:08 PM EDT
    "Americans for Technology Leadership is a broad-based coalition of
    technology professionals, consumers and organizations dedicated to limiting
    government regulation of technology and fostering competitive market solutions
    to public policy issues affecting the technology industry. We believe that this
    approach will ensure that all Americans are able to take advantage of the
    benefits of the technologies that are shaping the new economy."

    * Association for Competitive Technology
    * Citizens Against Government Waste
    * Cityscape Filmworks
    * Clarity Consulting
    * CompTIA
    * CompUSA
    * Microsoft Corporation
    * 60Plus Association
    * Small Business Survival Committee
    * Staples, Inc.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Apologies to Nena
    Authored by: Ashtead on Thursday, September 29 2005 @ 11:49 PM EDT
    I started thinking up this one a few days ago, but this latest -- what shall I
    call it? it doesn't qualify as news -- gave me the momentum to finish it.

    You and I in a software shop
    Buy a box of Word with the money we've got
    Write some letters and some other text,
    Some by me, some by you
    A few weeks later, bugs in the software,
    flash the message, "May not read this"
    One by one, our files were gone
    99 documents were lost

    99 documents, floating in the unknown void
    Panic hits, raise red alert,
    There's something in there blocking us,
    Something in there isn't right.
    Others have seen a similar sight,
    Massachusetts couldn't stand the risk of
    their 99 documents become lost.

    99 others were hit, 99 ministers meet,
    They agree they can't go on like this,
    they chose another format that
    would clarify and simplify,
    document and rectify,
    They announced it under the september sky,
    Microsoft hung themselves high and dry.

    99 astroturfers go on
    say that this isn't right,
    they claim that there are violations,
    that someone are being locked out
    The FUD machine springs to life,
    opens up its eager mouth,
    but doesn't change the state of law,
    All 99 documents remain.

    99 dreams the MS had,
    one of them was locked documents
    It's all over, they're not looking pretty
    They shut their software out of the cities.
    If they want to they can find a way around
    to keep up their market share,
    And here is one of their documents,
    I look at it, but I no longer care...



    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Apologies to Nena - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 01:01 AM EDT
    Fox took that down quickly!
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 12:02 AM EDT
    Usually those opinion pieces stay there a couple days.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Eolas Patent found Valid
    Authored by: bsm2003 on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 12:13 AM EDT
    Eolas v. Microsoft: Eolas Patent Set to Reissue

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    People will be forced to switch ??
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 02:53 AM EDT
    The claim that people will be forced to switch word processors so that they can
    read the government stuff......

    Well, if the government decided to use Microsoft's new document format they'd be
    required to switch anyway. But, it would be a switch that they would have to
    pay for and already have a Windows computer to use.

    With Opendocument, you'll be able to switch to whatever word processor you want,
    free or not, that supports the opendocument format. And, you'll be certain to
    be able to find one that works on your Operating system of choice.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    About parochial and unproven
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 03:10 AM EDT
    The most funniset thing is: the argument can be also held against the new MS
    file format.
    It is not even available yet, and when it will be available, only the users with
    the very latest MS Office version will be able to use it.
    And as it is not yet avalailable, it is also "unproven".
    And if I have to sent a document or read a document in the new MS format, I have
    to pay a lot of money to MS to get the latest MS Office. whereas now I just have
    to download OpenOffice for free ...
    So the cost apect is really against MS.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OpenOffice usage figures.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 03:17 AM EDT
    >>As for OpenDocument being allegedly "largely immature"
    and "rarely deployed," in reality, the format was
    developed and reviewed by experts in the field over
    several years.<<

    Quite the contrary. OpenOffice accounted for about 14.3%
    of the market a year ago, and this excludes
    SrarOffice. It must have grown further by now. Both MS
    Office 2003 and MS Office XP (according to Microsoft's
    Balmer's statement made in a pep talk to sales personnel,
    figures for MS Office 2003 are only 15% of the market
    now) account for less than this market share, and
    because OpenOffice is free, pretty well all current users
    will upgrade to OpenOffice 2.0 with OpenDocument
    compatibility. Few MS Office users will upgrade
    immediately to MS Office 12 with Microsoft's proposed
    proprietary XML format, and indeed it will probably take
    5 years for them to reach current OpenOffice numbers if
    past performance is anything to go by.

    OpenOffice is the most widely deployed up-to-date Office
    suite at the moment (although MS Office 2000 and 97
    both exceed it in deployment nunbers - note. these have
    serious compatibility problems with later versions of MS
    Office as well as other office suites), and OpenDocument
    format is the only widely deployed XML file format at the
    moment, and free upgrade from current versions of
    OpenOffice and support by other office suite software will
    mean that it will be by far the only widely deployed XML
    file format in the near future. By the way, Microsoft
    won't release read/write MS Office XML filters for older
    versions of MS Office, because if they did, there would
    be no incentive to pay for an upgrade to MS Office 12.

    OpenDocument is hardly immature: they are essentially
    OpenOffice document formats, slightly modified according
    to Microsoft's comments to make conversion to/from
    Microsoft file formats easy. OpenOffice file formats have
    been in use for years as OpenOffice's default format, and
    They are in use already in OpenOffice 2.0, StarOffice 8.0
    and OpenOffice 1.15. MS XML formats are by contrast
    immature, and are set to appear in Office 12 which is
    some time away.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Corrupted "Save As" coming?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 05:02 AM EDT
    I think in the end M$ will try to make it look like they're going along, then
    implement a "save as" function resulting in corrupted or 'degenerated'

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OpenDocument Format Uncompetitive?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 05:34 AM EDT
    Worse, the policy represents an attack on market-based competition, which in turn will hurt innovation. The state has a disaster in the making.

    Until now, Massachusetts’ citizens and government agencies have been well served by a competitive, merit-based procurement process for technology services.

    I never understood arguments like this. It has been chosen on merit as Massachusetts assessed it - even if the decision were wrong. Massachusetts believe it is best for them, just as Aunt Tilley running IE, Outlook and Word believes that is best for her. That's the free market at work. Neither Aunt Tilley nor Massachusetts are necessarily 100% informed and never will be.

    It was a competitive procurement - OpenDocument was up against MS's solutions at least. MS failed to meet the requirements. In fact it has been a huge and very open competition, a world blockbuster in fact - like those for Munich and the London Borough of Newham. I have watched all three from the UK as if from a grandstand. It's been fascinating.

    It would not be a free market choice only if : (i) Massachusetts had a direct interest in OpenDocument, or (ii) bribes were involved.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Microsoft is forcing the changes
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 05:46 AM EDT
    "...the MDAA questioned why district attorneys’ offices would be forced to switch away from technology that meets their needs."
    They have to switch because their boss said so.

    You forget that Microsoft is making them change format....again. MA Has no choice in the matter - MS is changing to a new format, and MA would be forced to upgrade, along with their office software, because this is what MS does in order to extract more money out of people. Frequent software upgrades and associated format changes are MS's policy. The format changes are to pressurise peers to upgrade too, so incompatible format changes will continue to happen.

    MA has a choice then. Will it roll over and upgrade to Microsofts new format (which will almost certainly change again in a few years time, and which requires an MS licence to use), or instead select an open format which they can use for as long as they like, without needing permission from a 3rd party. The choice has to be made.

    And if anyone tries to argue that they can continue with the old .doc format, the question is "for how long?". It's not all that long since Word(1) format was in use. Is that readable by any current MS software? Who uses it now?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    200 Year Time?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 06:00 AM EDT
    PJ wrote :- what if Microsoft isn't in existence in 200 years or no longer supports a certain application? Then how will [they] read the documents we are saving today? With proprietary software, you can't just take a look at the code and figure out how to open and read the document.

    Sorry to be a wet blanket, but it is a bit optimistic to think the OpenDocument format will be a cure-all here. Computers and information storage will have moved on (or regressed - see my footnote) a very long way in 200 years.

    Someone then will need to understand C/C++ very well indeed (its popularity on the wane already) and will need a copy of the OOo source code to hand. And know how to read the archive tapes (if they have not lost their magnetism).

    It's a serious problem. I grant that OpenDocuments stand more chance of readability than Word ones in 200 years, but not a lot.

    Footnote :
    One of the most haunting scenes I have ever seen in a movie was the one in the 1950's version of "The Time Machine", where, in the far future, the hero (Wells?) finds an old library; but finds that the books have all turned into blocks of dust.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Its a shill piece
    Authored by: nhorman on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 07:57 AM EDT
    Nominally I really like fox news, but shame on them for letting this through. James Prendergast is the executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership. ( Note their about page, and who one of their big founding members is.....

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 08:42 AM EDT
    My favorite part:

    "It may be that an array of exceptional, low-cost OpenDocument applications
    will emerge in the coming years. Such innovation would be welcome by anyone, but
    these applications should have to compete on merit and cost. They should not be
    given an arbitrary leg up that shuts out other vendors and forces government
    agencies to settle on under-performing technologies."

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, did I say he was wrong.
    This is about a government giving access to the CITIZEN'S doucuments without
    forcing their CITIZENS to pay ANOTHER tax to a convicted monopolists. This
    gives thier CITIZENS choices to use whatever software they want as long as they
    comply with the OPEN standard that all the CITIZENS can look at and inspect if
    they so desire.

    I guess this guy thinks we should all buy our pencils/pens from one company when
    we fill out forms for OUR government.

    I hope FOX gives someone an equal article rebutting this stupid column.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Here's what to say to Microsoft and its lackeys
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 09:24 AM EDT
    The only way that an open source office suite that is free as in beer can be
    more expensive than Microsoft's product is if the conversion costs are huge.
    Every time a payment isn't made for a new copy, an upgrade or a license renewal,
    there is savings.

    Okay, so for Microsoft to guarantee that its product is cheaper means that they
    have to maintain seemless compatibility with their old document formats forever.
    They must never abandon .doc. Furthermore, they must never have an upgrade
    that writes a format that isn't supported by other releases that are still in
    use. That is, when release N comes out, it has to write the format for release
    N-2 so that no one you are sending documents to notices that you've upgraded.

    That means that new formats can be introduced, but they won't be written
    immediately. Release N will write the format introduced in release N-2, which
    release N-2 did not write. Release N+2 must be able to read that format.
    Essentially, that means that every release will have to be able to read about 5
    different revisions of the document formats. And no release will actually write
    the most recent format revision by default.

    Oh, and training costs must be kept lower than the retraining costs to convert
    to another suite. That means that there can't be any radical changes to the
    GUI. New features can be introduced, but old ones can't be abandoned.
    Nothing can be changed in incompatible ways.

    Any significant deviation from this plan would drive the cost of using
    Microsoft's products higher than the cost of open source competitors.
    Furthermore, without massive resources behind the development, this plan ensures
    that the pace of innovation in Microsoft's products will be slowed to a crawl.
    And of course, making any changes while maintaining this multigenerational
    compatibility will be quite expensive, making the price of the products much

    Microsoft has tried to tell us that open source products don't do what their
    products do, and failed. They've tried to tell us their products are better,
    safer and more secure than open source, and failed. They are currently trying
    to tell us that their products cost less than their free competitors, and they
    are failing.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 11:35 AM EDT
    He also raises the fact that people will have to be retrained to use the new
    software and that is a waste of money.

    However according to Gartner

    "The user interface (UI) for Office 12, the name for next year's update to
    Microsoft Office 2003, "will differ significantly from its current
    form," said Gartner analysts Michael Silverberg and Stephen Kleynhans in a
    customer note on the firm's Web site.

    The pair put the spotlight on Office 12's new command "ribbon."

    "The familiar menus and buttons found in Office will be replaced with a
    larger, more detailed 'ribbon,' which will change according to the user’s
    task," wrote Silverberg and Kleynhans. "This ribbon will offer more
    immediate feedback and previews on actions the user takes."

    The downside of dramatic UI changes, however, is that migration may be rough for
    some users and the IT departments which support them, cautioned the guys from

    "Microsoft contends that, in the long run, the new UI will reduce help-desk
    costs and training…but many IT organizations are likely to feel that, in the
    short run, they will have to train users on the new UI, and will experience an
    initial spike in help desk calls," said Silverberg and Kleynhans. "In
    addition, because of the magnitude of the changes expected with Office 12, IT
    departments may have trouble supporting a mixed environment, adding to the
    difficulty of handling a phased implementation on new PCs."

    The burden of proof is Microsoft's responsibility, the analysts added.
    "[It] will have to prove that, in aggregate, help desk calls and training
    costs will be reduced, rather than increased." '

    So if they DONT move away from MS products then they still end up having to pay
    for more training...

    Odd that he forgot to mention that

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Can anyone do an MSO Plugin?
    Authored by: tz on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 11:44 AM EDT
    It would be interesting if someone could write an OD filter for MSO. Of course
    I expect MS to eventually do it, but it would take a lot of hot air out of their
    sails, and maybe their sales too.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 12:58 PM EDT

    "Law firms that file electronically, businesses that regularly share
    information with agencies via electronic files, even citizens who want to take
    advantage of online services will potentially have to purchase, install and
    learn new software to comply with the policy. These added costs would be

    If this slows law firms down - maybe the patent arms race would slow down. Yet
    just another argument for opendoc.

    Also "even citizens who want to take advantage of online services will
    potentially have to purchase, install and learn new software to comply with the
    policy. These added costs would be substantial."
    ya they would have to do that anyway when a new version of office comes out.
    what koolaid is this guy drinking - obviously imported from Redmond Washington.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 04:50 PM EDT

    I already posted this elsewhere in this thread, but feel it's pertinent enough to repeat here. After reading Mr. Prendergast's article, I wrote to FOX News to point out to them that they failed to disclose Mr. Prendergast's affiliation with Microsoft. They responded and issued a correction on the website. Below are both my original letter, and FOX News's response.

    I have to give FOX News credit for following through on this. I honestly didn't expect them to even read my letter much less take action to fill in their ommission.

    My Letter: What Ever Happened to Full Disclosure?

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    Recently I happened across an opinion piece on the FOX News website about the decision made by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to adopt the OpenDocument format for its electronic documents. I was dismayed to find a distinct lack of full disclosure, a principle of journalism I would fully expect to be followed by any ethical news organization, accompanying this opinion piece.

    The author of the article, Jim Prendergrast, is, as you should be well aware, the president of an organization founded in part by Microsoft Corporation. Now, I have nothing against Microsoft. It is a fine company run by a fine group of people. I am a professional in the technology industry and I would always be happy to work for or with Microsoft. They make excellent software and I personally use many of their software titles on a daily basis.

    However, Microsoft has been, as you should also be well aware, the primary lobbyist against the adoption of OpenDocument by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Given the relationship between Microsoft Corporation and Mr. Predergrast's organization, this is something that should have been disclosed by FOX News, but it was not mentioned at all.

    The failure to fully disclose Mr. Predergrast's affiliation with parties interested in the outcome of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' decision is a collosal ommission on the part of FOX News. As the news organization publishing his work, it is FOX News's sole duty to fully disclose Mr. Prendergrast's affiliations. FOX News's failure to do so prevents readers from being fully illuminated about the source of the article and therefore limits readers's ability to discern the writer's biases, and judge for themselves whether he is "fair and balanced".

    My personal opinion is that FOX News should take more precautionary steps in the future to avoid this type of misstep. In this case in particular, I would like to see a correction issued containing the full disclosure statement. If this is something you feel FOX News cannot or should not do, I would appreciate a response letting me know why it cannot or will not be done.

    Respectfully Yours,

    [Contact Information]

    FOX News's Response

    Thank you for writing.

    The column "Massachusetts Should Close Down OpenDocument" <,2933,170724,00.html> that appeared on Sept. 28 identified author James Prendergast as executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership, but failed to disclose that Microsoft is a founding member of that organization.

    ATL is a coalition of technology companies, professionals and organizations that advocates for limited government regulation of technology and for competitive market solutions to technology policy. In addition to Microsoft, ATL's founding members include Staples, Inc., CompUSA, Citizens Against Government Waste, CompTIA, Small Business Survival Committee, Clarity Consulting, Cityscape Filmworks, Association for Competitive Technology and 60Plus Association.

    Mr. Prendergast's affiliation with Microsoft should have been stated clearly in the article.

    An Editor's Note is now displayed on our Web site:,2933,170724,00.html and the disclosure has been inserted at the end of the original article:,2933,170916,00.html

    We are compiling the best responses to publish a rebuttal.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud - Updated
    Authored by: ruurd on Friday, September 30 2005 @ 06:31 PM EDT
    Too little too late?


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud - Updated
    Authored by: rparent on Sunday, October 02 2005 @ 11:32 AM EDT
    If anyone is interested I believe this particular story began with writer David
    Coursey of ziffdavis then was picked up by James Prendergast of Americans for
    Technology Leadership. They are just spreading FUD. What's a bit unsettling is
    that they really don't understand the open source movement, how it's growing in
    popularity worldwide and only know how to speak from a Microsoft centric
    viewpoint. Quite disturbing.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    FOX's Anti-MASS FUD is a Dud - Updated
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 02 2005 @ 11:42 PM EDT
    It would be interesting to see what the state of Massachusetts can do once
    OpenOffice 2 becomes finalized. Openoffice 2 looks great, especially the
    database features. Pete.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Communication with the public
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 03:31 AM EDT
    But surely only those working on the document masters will need the ability to
    read and write OpenDocument. The taxpayer will mostly be using his/her web
    browser and accessing HTML.

    Now here Microsoft have the bad history of compatibility, especially some
    Microsoft based sites that have been terrible for the blind.

    Thank you though for pointing out that if Microsoft have their way there will be
    a migration to thw new, unproven, Microsoft XML format - which is completely
    incompatible with old versions of Office. Also note that a lot of newer
    Microsoft web based technologies are aimed at client side Windows.

    I can't believe how cynical the article in Fox News actually is. I hope that a
    good rebuttal is published at least as prominantly at some point.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Baffling arguments.
    Authored by: Jaywalk on Monday, October 03 2005 @ 02:16 PM EDT
    Massachusetts’ citizens and government agencies have been well served by a competitive, merit-based procurement process for technology services.
    As a software consultant, this is the most baffling of Prendergast's claims. The problem with it is that this is exactly what happened. A software customer (the state of Massachusetts) came up with what is -- essentially -- a Request For Proposal (RFP). An RFP safeguards competition by spelling out exactly what the requirments are. Interoperability with other systems is a very common requirement. Microsoft's rejection was based on a very simple problem; they didn't meet the stated requirements. They couldn't compete on the stated merits the customer required. There's nothing in the system that forces Microsoft to support this feature or that feature, but if their feature set doesn't meet the requirements of a specific customer, that customer will look elsewhere. That's how it works.
    Agencies can turn to the marketplace—often to small state-based systems integrators—and receive bids for the best solutions at the best price to meet specific needs.
    Along with his misunderstanding of how businesses handle RFPs, Prendergast also doesn't seem to be familiar with the issues involved in system integration. What it sounds like he's proposing is that requests can only come from individual agencies. In corporate terms, this would be like saying that only departments (not corporate) should set standards. In the corporate world, this is the opposite of the way things should be done.

    That's not to say it doesn't happen; it happens all the time. When it does, it works like this:

    • Someone down in marketing needs a database of customers for mailing lists, so he calls his cousin to bang out a standalone database on Access.
    • Someone in finance needs a database of major customers to handle tax issues, so he convinces the database group to cut out some resources to do something on the department server.
    • Someone in operations needs customer data for handling calls, so they manage to get something built for the legacy mainframe that plugs into some filler fields that were supposed to be used for credit card data.
    • Eventually, someone at the corporate level needs all this information coordinated.
    • Everything hits the fan.
    Because of the hodgepodge of systems involved, it's a massive job to rebuild the whole neurotic mess from scratch. All the work that went into building the original system becomes throwaway code. All the training that was used for their staff needs to be done over. I'm usually working for corporate, so I've seen what it takes to fix these things. It's a mess and it's expensive. And it could have been avoided if corporate had set standards to start with.

    If Prendergast really wants a market-based solution, he can rest easy. Massachusetts did this one exactly right.

    ===== Murphy's Law is recursive. =====

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    It's not the software that matters.
    Authored by: DaveJakeman on Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 05:46 AM EDT
    If you are a government, the software you currently use is almost irrelevant;
    it's your document base - your heritage - that's important. That's where your
    investment is.

    So whether your word processor or spreadsheet does multi-threaded,
    quad-optimised, differential-integral bi-cubic Runge Kutta interpolation xyz
    doesn't matter two hoots. All that matters is: will someone be able to read
    your documents in 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 years' time? It doesn't even matter
    much that the documents can be modified, just so long as they can be read.
    Providing they can be read well into the future, they can be re-saved in a
    different format, if necessary.

    But that's the whole point: having to re-save an ever-accumulating document base
    in 20 years' time would be an Herculean task. Best avoid that at all costs.

    So it's vitally important to standardise at an early stage on what government
    documents will look like for the coming decades. And that means not using
    software that the supplier can change at their own whim, for maximising upgrade
    revenues. When you have a large number of documents, software upgrades with
    compulsory document conversions are what you really, really do not want.

    From Massachusetts' viewpoint, this is their only sensible way forward. I see
    it setting a major precedent, once other organisations with large document bases
    recognise the inherent wisdom of this decision.

    Should one hear an accusation, first look to see how it might be levelled at the

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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