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Monday's Big Meeting - Updated 2Xs
Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 02:13 PM EDT

No doubt you've seen the stories about a pushback against Massachusetts' decision to go with OpenDocument Format. If not, here is one by Hiawatha Bray, in the Boston Globe and David Berlind writes about the situation here.

Like you thought Microsoft's money wasn't any good any more? Kidding. Sorta But you had to know they'd try something.

It looks to me like we'd all better use their software so no one gets hurt. Any government that decides to use OpenDocument Format will be sat on. At least that is how it appears to me. Berlind writes this:

Enterprise Technical Reference Model (ETRM) of which the ODF/PDF decision is part, is an administrative matter that's not subject legislative proceedings. The only connection I can recall between the ETRM deliberations and mention of legislators was an indication from Microsoft's Brian Burke during the last semi-public meeting on the matter (Sept 16) that he had been discussing the matter with the state's senators on Beacon Hill (Boston's equivalent of Capitol Hill).

Microsoft was clearly working other state government channels as the ETRM decision was nearing its conclusion. Whether or not that activity has anything to do with the appearance of this hearing on the Senate's docket remains to be determined.

Hahahahaha. "Yet to be determined." He slays me. I know. He absolutely has to say that, absent conclusive facts. And I'll try to keep an open mind. But I am allowed to laugh.

So, there's this big meeting on Monday, October 31, in Boston, at the State House, room A1, from 1 to 5. It's open to the public, and I think it's very important that there be witnesses to what transpires. Dan Bricklin may not be able to be there, and so we can't rely on him doing an audio recording of the entire event, something that proved unbelieveably helpful at the last public meeting. I hope some of you will be able to attend, so we don't have to rely on hearsay accounts.

Be polite. Don't tape unless they say you can, but send me everything you learn, all you hear, what everyone says, and I'll write up a composite report.


UPDATE:

Berlind has more, following an Information Week story:

Although the ITD is an administrative department whose decisions are typically not subject to legislator input, the state's lawmakers obviously have the authority to investigate potential ethical violations that could impact the Commonwealth's procurement processes. Microsoft has alleged that the process that led to the ODF decision involved irregularities that gave ODF an unfair advantage over the Redmond-based company's competing file formats (see Microsoft: We were railroaded in Massachusetts on ODF).

The InformationWeek story says, "Generally, the two Democrats argue that the OpenDocument approach will unfairly block Microsoft from much of the state’s electronic documents business…" As Berlind correctly points out, that is absolute nonsense. Microsoft has blocked itself. All it needs to do is support ODF, and if it not capable of doing that, when a bunch of college kids and volunteers can, they need to think about getting back to basics. Maybe spend a little more on code and a little less on FUD? You think? [End Update.]




Here's what the Boston Globe says will be on the agenda on Monday, and I do mean agenda:
State Senator Marc R. Pacheco, Democrat of Taunton, chairman of the Senate's Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, said he asked Quinn months ago for a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the software changeover. ''We never received it until just recently, after a second request," Pacheco said. He has forwarded the analysis to the state auditor's office for review.

Pacheco also said the Legislature should have a say in the data format decision. His committee will hold a hearing Monday at the State House. Along with cost concerns, the hearing will address worries that OpenDocument may not be easily usable by people with physical disabilities. Microsoft Office has features to help users with limited eyesight. Pacheco said he has received questions from state employees worried they might not be able to use the new file format.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. Obviously, Senator Pacheco has a preference before he's received information at the hearing. I believe that Peter Quinn is one of the people that will be called to speak and/or answer questions from the committee. I assume there will be representatives from Microsoft and others, though I don't know what type of mix.

The number to call for information is (617) 722-1551. That's the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight. State Senator Marc R. Pacheco is head of the committe, I think. More information can be found here. And here's a list of all the state's representatives and senators. The State House is on Beacon Street; it's the building on the hill with the gold dome. Here's information on access regarding those with disabilities, from Everybody's Guide to Open Document:

First of all, nothing in OpenDocument itself works against vision impairment. Second, nobody prevents MS Office from supporting OpenDocument. Finally, the Massachusetts FAQ explicitly says that "agencies can retain copies of MS Office as needed for disabled employees and other citizens. The legal rights of employees and other citizens with disabilities will take precedence over any particular implementation of the policy". The policy even "permits agencies to keep their existing MS licenses as long as the software supporting them includes a method for saving documents in OpenDocument Format". So, after reading these articles against OpenDocument and the Massachusetts FAQ, one has to wonder what these complaints actually are about--apart, of course, from perpetuating an existing monopoly.

This is important to get clear. Those with disabilities can be assured that they will be able to function, despite the FUD in the air. And note what the Boston Globe says about using Microsoft in government:

Most state government offices use Microsoft Office to generate documents. Microsoft Office stores files in a unique format invented by Microsoft. Some features of the Microsoft file format are incompatible with office software made by rival firms, making it difficult and expensive for a company to switch from Microsoft to some other brand of software. It also means that people using other programs may not be able to read public documents generated by state agencies.

Isn't that enough of a reason to use ODF, right there? People who say, "I want my Microsoft," are saying they don't care about the millions of citizens who like to use other operating systems. Can a government say they don't care about large chunks of its citizens, just to please a software company or even to please a larger chunk of users? I'm not a political person, so maybe I'm looking at it too simply. But isn't it part of a government's role to make sure access for all to government documents is ensured? Those with disabilities need access. But so do people using Apple and GNU/Linux systems. That is the point of using open standards/open formats. No one is discriminated against. By the way, both Corel and Novell are now supporting ODF also.

And bottom line: Microsoft can simply and easily solve the problem by just agreeing to support ODF itself, just as they recently agreed to support PDF. That simple solution would solve all the issues folks are complaining about on Microsoft's behalf. According to Dan Farber, who just interviewed Microsoft's Ray Ozzie, Microsoft probably will support ODF and is working with a French company now to see what it would take. Farber writes:

Ozzie attributed the tentativeness on ODF support in Office to resource allocation issues, mainly based on the user support demands that would crop up given that exporting to ODF won't have full fidelity with the Microsoft's own formats without some tweaking. Microsoft is working with a French company on translators to determine the scope of the problem in exporting Office documents to ODF. It sounds to me that support for "Save As" ODF in Office is a "when," not and "if." Ozzie also mentioned that Microsoft Office has long supported HTML as a document format, which should fit with the criteria set by Massachusetts in its Enterprise Technical Reference Model.

If this proves true, then there is no need for confrontational hearings and FUD puffery. The issue is solvable. And it is Microsoft who can solve it.

2nd Update:

BetaNews has an interesting tidbit:

Romney, a Republican, is expected to announce whether he will run for a second term next month; he is rumored to be considering leaving the position to prepare for a 2008 presidential campaign. And Galvin has been named as a potential candidate for the Democratic seat, which means the two may soon become political rivals.

"On one hand, Secretary Galvin is perhaps the most important person to weigh in on this debate. The Massachusetts Web site describes the Secretary as the Commonwealth's 'principal public information officer,'" noted Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox. "But before debating Microsoft versus OpenDocument formats, I would consider political factors."


  


Monday's Big Meeting - Updated 2Xs | 331 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections thread
Authored by: seanlynch on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 02:21 PM EDT
Please list corrections under this thread.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Offtopic thread
Authored by: seanlynch on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 02:23 PM EDT
Please leave offtopic posts under this thread.

Use html if capable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

If I were an unbiased analyst
Authored by: seanlynch on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 02:29 PM EDT
Attention all investors! Microsoft admits it can no longer compete on technical
merits.

Microsoft has admitted that it is incapable of implementing the open document
standards freely published by the OASIS group. These standards have been
implemented by other software companies like Sun, and even by unpaid volunteer
amateurs in the free software community.

Microsoft has asked a French firm for its help, but seems to have trouble
communicating. Does Microsoft no longer recruit Heavily from the University of
Waterloo? Surely there are a few French speakers from so close to Quebec.

Microsoft claims that adoption of Open Document standards that are published and
free for all software companies to implement could lock it out of important
business opportunities. This would be like an accounting firm claiming that
requiring them to be able to add columns of numbers together could jeopardize
future business prospects.

This admission of inability to implement simple technical standards comes on the
heels of several years of disastrous stumbles by the once great software giant.

Microsoft was never able to produce an OS that ran on the Intel 64-bit Itanium
architecture, even though Intel made all of the technical specifications
available and provided an emulator before the chip was even produced. Compare
this to the fact that The GNU/Linux OS, an OS developed by the efforts of
volunteers across the internet, and available for free, was ported to the
Itanium before the chips even started coming off the assembly line!

In a recent Wall Street Journal article Microsoft has admitted that its entire
software development system was so badly broken that they had to scrap the long
awaited "Longhorn" upgrade to their Windows XP Operating System, and
completely redesign their development methods from the ground up. Many of the
features promised originally have been dropped in order to meet deadlines that
are years later than the original expected ship date.

Microsoft has been incapable of delivering the kind of stability and security
that enterprise users demand in operating systems, despite spending millions of
dollars and decades in development. Compare this to the BSD family of Unix
operating systems, that was developed by a bunch of college students. BSD was so
capable that it became the basis for AT&T's UNIX, and Sun's Solaris
operating systems. BSD is renowned for its stability and security.

But this news about Microsoft being unable to implement the simple Open Document
standards means that things are going from bad to worse. The OASIS standards
form a set of specifications that tell software writers how to save their data
to a file in a special text based format called an XML file. For a software
company to admit that it may lose out on business because it is incapable of
implementing a function to save a file as formatted text is a monumental
embarrassment.

If Microsoft has become incapable of implementing functionality that unpaid
volunteers are capable of implementing, how can they even manage to operate as a
business?

Microsoft does have huge cash reserves and should be able to re-invent itself as
a successful company, but the giant will have to gather its wits and pick itself
up after this admission of such complete failure.

(Yes, I already posted this on lxer. You are not seeing double)

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT HERE, PLEASE
Authored by: fredex on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 02:30 PM EDT
put 'em here so we can find 'em.

[ Reply to This | # ]

how much exactly does a senator cost?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 02:34 PM EDT
Hopefully someone will ask! If he had valid issues, it would make sense, but
come on. Obviously nobody here is fooled by his lies. As Max Headroom once said:
"It's easy to tell when a politician is lying: their lips move." ;)

Seriously, though, what kind of effort will it take to finally put this down?
Microsoft was wrong and they lost. Their format is junk and the people deserve
better for numerous reasons that have been covered over and over. How many times
are they going to buy -- i mean, um, prop up -- a politician? Next they'll start
suing the state for unfair competition or something, huh?

If only we hadn't lost the antitrust trial :(

[ Reply to This | # ]

Destroying Confidence in America's Markets
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 02:43 PM EDT
How can anyone invest with confidence in America's markets when a monopolist
convicted of abusing their power and supposedly under an agreement to behave
nice, is blatently LYING about their ability to support ODF? This is why we
have the SEC, DOJ, etc. Apparently they have better things to do than prevent
this sort of corruption and abuse.

If I were a foreign investor in America's markets, I would think:
"The US Government is too corrupt to trust with investments. They choose
when and how to enforce the laws based on back alley politics and corruption,
rather than the rule of law applied equally and fairly. Therefore, I'll invest
my money in a country that has integrity. There's simply too much of a risk
that I will have my money stolen by manipulation of the markets BY THE
GOVERNMENT and its cronies."

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ - can you use your influence?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 02:49 PM EDT
to request a publicly available recording of the proceedings. After all, this is
very important, and we cannot rely on a few volunteers who may or may not be
able to record the event.

Probably an email to Quinn?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • "influence"? - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 05:42 PM EDT
I might retract this sentence
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 02:56 PM EDT
Those with disabilities need access. But so do people using Apple and GNU/Linux systems.

Sorry PJ - I love your stuff but your fingers got ahead of you here a bit. There is no way to compare those with disabilities with those who desire to make a certain OS choice. One involves a choice the other does not. Even tounge in check - it does not work. This type of phrase can be used against you and the community. What really needs to happen is the case be made that the disabled community is actaully better served by ODF - Microsoft's history with the disabled community is not so steller - it is interesting that this is the best counter they can come up with- that is besides calling on thier friends in high places for help.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I have a question...
Authored by: seanlynch on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 03:08 PM EDT
Does anyone have Firefox installed with the Star Office plugin, and a mouse with
a scroll wheel?

This plugin allows Firefox or Mozilla to display Open Document formmated files.

If you do have it, could you display a document and try a test for me?

Display the document, hold down the control key, and scroll the scroll wheel up
and down. This should enlarge and shrink the text.

I'll see if I can install the plugin when I get home tonight and try this. It
should work in Windows as well as Linux.

How large does the text need to be to be considered helpfull for people with
impaired vision?

Does Microsoft Windows have the same built in support for braille input/output
that SuSE has, or is it an add on?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Physical disabilities? There are other's that can fix this - Let's list them!
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 03:10 PM EDT
Physical disabilities? There are other's that can fix this - Let's list them:

What word processors can handle this requirement that have announced support for
.odt?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Can Pacheco...
Authored by: Latesigner on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 03:11 PM EDT
Sell out the people of Mass. at an open meeting with the press present?
This should be an awawrd winning performance.

---
The only way to have an "ownership" society is to make slaves of the rest of us.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Can Pacheco... - Authored by: John Hasler on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 03:24 PM EDT
    • Careful !! - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 09:42 PM EDT
      • Careful !! - Authored by: John Hasler on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 11:25 PM EDT
      • Careful !! - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 12:52 AM EDT
      • I call troll - Authored by: Darigaaz on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 09:53 AM EDT
        • I call troll - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 28 2005 @ 01:42 PM EDT
      • Careful !! - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 12:49 PM EDT
  • Can Pacheco... - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 11:26 PM EDT
Benefit Cost/Analysis
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 03:19 PM EDT
Well if you have 10,000 pc's and you pay $300 per Microsoft lincenc then you
have $300,000,000 cost for MS office. It would probably have at least one
upgrade every three years. (looks like $300 mil every three years for
Microsoft). Taxpayers must like this revenue drain.

The cost for open office 2.0 is $0.

How does Microsoft propose to read their own documents 50 years from now. They
can't even read their own documents from 10 years ago.

fm yoda1

[ Reply to This | # ]

Word supports HTML - Laugh I nearly choked
Authored by: Robert Mortimer on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 03:20 PM EDT
Microsoft Office has long supported HTML as a document format, which should fit with the criteria set by Massachusetts in its Enterprise Technical Reference Model.
This gave me a laugh, Word HTML has long been held up as the standard for "NON STANDARD COMPLIENT HTML", it never seems to render in anything other than IE, It is almost impossible to read the code because of excessive use of layers to pin down absolute positions, repeted and unnecessary use of in-line formatting and all the MS non WWW3 tags you can eat.

Netscape was as much to blame as IE for messing up the WWW3 standards but that is all in the past. The new battle ground is standards not adding gimmicky new tags MS seems to be waking up to this but is hampered by it's history.

PS for a long time MS HTML support was limited by the fact that it was used to import HTML to word format and then re-export it to HTML, as a result no account of format is taken during the editing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

One option: Use Microsoft Office.
Authored by: dwheeler on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 03:24 PM EDT
One option for editing OpenDocument files is to use Microsoft Office. Perhaps that will be good enough for the Senator?

Phase-n is developing OpenOpenOffice ("O3"), a open source software plug-in for Microsoft Office. With this free plug-in, Microsoft Office will be able to read and write OpenDocument documents (and any other formats supported by OpenOffice.org). Instead of installing a complete office application or even a large plug-in, O3 will install a tiny plug-in to the Microsoft Office system. This tiny plug-in would automatically send the file to some server, which would then do conversions and send it back. The server could be local to an organization (so private information won't go over the Internet) or accessed via the Internet (for those who do not want to set up a server).

The plug-in is expected to be available by the end of November 2005. The Massachusetts plan doesn't go into effect until 2007. That's plenty of time to see if the approach works (I'm sure it will), and to work out any minor deployment issues.

They report that "OpenOpenOffice is a partnership between Open Source Victoria, Phase N Australia and the Open Source community."

Phase-n argues that the main advantage of their approach is simplicity. Their website announces that O3 "requires no new concepts to be explored, no significant development, and leverages the huge existing body of work already created by the OpenOffice.org developers, the CPAN module authors, and the Microsoft .NET and Office teams. Initial ballpark estimates are for less than 2,000 lines of code and only a few hundred hours of development time to get to an initial stable release of the O3 client and server. As OpenOffice.org improves, only a server-side upgrade is required."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monday's Big Meeting
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 03:35 PM EDT
what accessability function are they talking about?

the open office I got checks the os for any functions.

don't know about windows but are their functions os specific or application
specific.

<a href="http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gap/">here is
gnome</a>

<a href="http://accessibility.kde.org/">here is kde</a>

so where is their argument coming from?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monday's Big Meeting
Authored by: Nick_UK on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 03:39 PM EDT
Usually when the going gets tough, then the weasel words
start in earnest from politicians... poor, elderly,
weakest etc. etc. will suffer UNLESS we do this.

I honestly do not believe what I just read from that:

"Along with cost concerns, the hearing will address
worries that OpenDocument may not be easily usable by
people with physical disabilities. Microsoft Office has
features to help users with limited eyesight. Pacheco said
he has received questions from state employees worried
they might not be able to use the new file format."

This is a new low... how much lower will these people go.

Nick

[ Reply to This | # ]

Galvin's has been mentioned before
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 04:17 PM EDT

Link found on linux today.

spitzerag

Looks like the sort of man Microsoft need.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Are you sure about Corel?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 04:34 PM EDT
Corel has said lots of nice things about ODF, but they have have NOT said they will support it in WordPerfect. Until they do that, and give a firm release date, don't assume anything.

Remember, it is not in any company's interest to promote competition for their product. Responsible managers will do almost anything to avoid and reduce competition.

What is WP's market right now? How would that be affected if OOo was a (more) legitimate alternative?

I expect the answers to those questions tell Corel not to add support for ODF until they absolutely have to. I believe that Sun is supporting ODF as a spoiler: it has nothing to lose and can only gain any share by opening up competition. Every established product has only to lose from it.

<Acknak

[ Reply to This | # ]

some facts about access to low vision and blind people
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 04:50 PM EDT
quote: "the hearing will address worries that OpenDocument may not be
easily usable by people with physical disabilities. Microsoft Office has
features to help users with limited eyesight"

My company is serving blind and low vision people for about 7 years now. I have
yet to meet a low vision customer who is using those "Microsoft Office
features". They use products like Dolphin Lunar or FS Magic who work
*equaly* well with OpenOffice.

As for the blind they have hard times with OpenOffice but that has everything to
do with the lack of interest from the side of the companies making screen
readers (Dolphin and Freedom Scientific being the dominant ones). If they see
interest they will have a solution ready in a couple of weeks (I have seen the
way they work and I've been trained to adapt applications to their software). As
far as I know Dolphin is working with Sun to make OpenOffice more accessible to
blind people through their products (HAL and Supernova) and they were talking
about it in CSUN this year (one of the bigest assistive tech excibitions)

Keep in mind however that those big players don't like OpenOffice because they
don't like linux. They are asking 1000-1500 euros for a screan reader and linux
is threatening their market by including a lot of assistive aids built in for
free (both as in beer and as in speech). Not that they are evil (I've met some
of them and see they are working hard and deserve to get paid) but they will not
say "yeah that linux thing is super - let's help them a little"

My point of view in a sentence: If MS wants to realy help blind people it can
support ODF and make the rest of us happy as well (because we will stop
listening to silly people comparing a format -ODF- with an application -MS
Office-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monday's Big Meeting
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 05:18 PM EDT
There is another blog with some information here

by Andy Updegrove

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS carries the scimitar of irrelevance
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 05:19 PM EDT
This is a fascinating chess game. I could enjoy it more if it weren't so important.

The MA ITD has framed this very shrewedly, so that it will be very difficult for MS to kill it without being obviously heavy-handed. (Not that I would mind if they showed their true colors of course.) Even if there appeared to be “irregularities” in the ITD procedure, it is obvious that the outcome is simply a level playing field, and that MS is welcome to play right along with everybody else.

However, if you look at the FAQ on the ETRM website, you will see that this decision represents a small island, or maybe just a little raft, in a large deep ocean of deployed, entrenched MS technology. My worry is that the decision will survive, only to be quietly vetoed into irrelevance by the de-facto use of MS solutions for everything else in MA state offices. Think about what the office software space will look like in 5-10 years, if MS-XML and all the supporting infrastructure built on it evolves as the market “standard”.

That will be a much harder battle to win, and I expect that is what MS will quietly work toward.

<Acknak

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • I would disagree - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 07:31 AM EDT
Don't just witness -- participate!
Authored by: darkonc on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 05:26 PM EDT
If somebody can show up at the meeting with a spindle-full of copies of 2 or 3 different pieces of software that already support open document format, I'd say please do -- What I'd suggest is that you charge $0.50/copy, and point out that you're making a profit at that price.

Look to see what can be done to get on the list as a delegate to the hearings. If it's like it is here, there may be a 48Hour or 2-business day limit, so the deadline may be today or absolute first thing Thursday morning.
If in doubt, send letters off to whomever you can think of who even MIGHT be able to get you onto the speakers list.

If you can get permission from IBM to distribute copies of their own software that supports ODF, even better (whatever the cost).

A couple dozen copies of Knoppix (or whatever your favorite live-CD distribution is) on CD and DVD might also be a good idea, so that people can see that something other than Microsoft can make a good, decent, stable desktop might also be a good idea.

Make Microsoft sorry that they called this meeting.

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

Question
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 05:34 PM EDT
Can you go *one* article without saying "Kidding"?

It's thoroughly childish and tiresome. Please say what you mean and mean what
you say.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Question - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 06:18 PM EDT
  • answer.. - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 10:54 PM EDT
  • Question - Authored by: kozmcrae on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 11:49 PM EDT
  • Another reason. - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 02:33 AM EDT
  • Question - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 04:04 AM EDT
  • Are you kidding - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 06:05 AM EDT
Monday's Big Meeting - The Monopoly on Trial
Authored by: webster on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 05:36 PM EDT
The fact of the meeting indicates that it will be stacked somewhat and that
there will be paid M$ shills present.

To the extent permitted it is an opportunity to educate the public about
OpenDocument.

M$ should be invited to "innovate" a plug-in to both open and produce
OpenDocuments.

In the alternative M$ ought to be challenged to open and forever support one of
their own formats. It would immediately become a world standard supported by
all office programs.

It should be explained that M$ could easily support and maintain an open
standard but they want to maintain a monopoly revenue stream.

The fact that M$ causes deliberate incompatibility with the suites of others AND
between their own versions should be made clear to all. They deliberately
render hardware, software and formats obsolete to extract another round of cash
from consumer and governments.

Explain how maintaining M$ will cost the State of Massachusetts an EXTRA $137
Million at least over the next five years.

If the state adopts Open Office M$ will support it in some way rather than lose
many more millions to their competitors.

DO NOT GIVE IN TO THEIR BLUFF.

---
webster
>>>>>>> LN 3.0 >>>>>>>>>

[ Reply to This | # ]

Word or not Word, that is the question.
Authored by: geoff lane on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 05:39 PM EDT
Very few (say 1%) of all Word documents I receive make any use of the speciallised formatting that is available in a word processor.

99% of the documents could be rendered as simple formatted ASCII text with NO loss of meaning. If absolutely necessary a light dusting of HTML would be all that would be needed to preserve such structure as was needed.

As for myself, I use plain text or when necessary Latex. These both have the huge advantage that I can generate a document using any convienient text editor that is available.

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

When Microsoft supports OpenDocument format (A Prediction)
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 05:39 PM EDT

You can bet your bottom dollar that when Microsoft finally decides to accept the OpenDocument format and provides support for it in Office, that any attempts to save a document in OpenDocument format will result in the display of a big, obnoxious window warning the user that many oh-so valuable document attributes may not be saved properly if you proceed. And, as a result, many people will click on "NO" and then save in Office format.

Go ahead, Microsoft prove me wrong.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Am I the only one who caught this??
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 06:56 PM EDT
Microsoft was clearly working other state government channels as the ETRM decision was nearing its conclusion.

Microsoft has alleged that the process that led to the ODF decision involved irregularities that gave ODF an unfair advantage over the Redmond-based company's competing file formats (see Microsoft: We were railroaded in Massachusetts on ODF).

Hmm.. Railroaded.. Didn't have time to respond.. But they had time to work behind the scenes to spread what can only be called lies.

bobby

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monday's Big Meeting - Updated
Authored by: tknarr on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 07:51 PM EDT

Perhaps it would be a good idea for a couple of FOSS advocates to show up at the meeting with two laptops, one running Linux and another running Windows, with appropriate versions of OpenOffice and various accessibility tools and hardware to hand. Screen readers, Braille output devices, speech recognition, screen magnifiers and such, all hooked up and tied into the software and ready to go. When anyone brings up the "disabled access" thing, challenge them to show what they want done that isn't being done. Nobody has to take anyone's word for it, the systems are there and they can see the results for themselves. Nothing's quite as convincing as an actual demonstration. Or just do the demonstration before they can bring it up at all, then if they do bring it up you can point right back to where you demonstrated that ODF-supporting software can and did do what they claim isn't being done, right in front of them.

I think something like this would cut MS's shills right off at the knees. It may also put some of the politicians MS is trying to influence in a bind.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monday's Big Meeting - Updated
Authored by: jws on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 08:20 PM EDT
Unless you can get the masses to shut down the corruption that is obviously at
play here, then Microsoft and people with big pocketbooks will win.

There is no reason that people currently have to rise up a high enough outcry
about patents, open standards, and open systems, and it is only the ones like
the readers and supporters here (I'm preaching to the choir here) that know that
this is wrong.

It is a clear strategy of the ones who are in the power centers now to
manipulate people into hysteria over WMD, abortion and threats to mom and apple
pie, while stealing their basic rights with their other hands. Every time that
rational though prevails power or corruption now rises up to force the worst
possible solution.

It will clearly be interesting to see if someone can call the political people,
assuming they are bought and paid for and are doing this because of a few phone
calls from the "right" donors, or if they can really look at it as the
correct move it is.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's 'ability' to support ODF
Authored by: darkonc on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 09:10 PM EDT
All it needs to do is support ODF, and if it not capable of doing that, when a bunch of college kids and volunteers can, they [Microsoft] need to think about getting back to basics.

If they Microsoft't support ODF, (given that I understand they had some input into the creation of the format, and it was designed with an intention of supporting the MS-Office suite) then Microsoft should think about getting out of the software industry.

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • M$ simply ignored ODF - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 05:08 AM EDT
  • Yeah - Authored by: DaveJakeman on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 07:17 AM EDT
    • Yeah - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 28 2005 @ 12:41 PM EDT
Microsoft's Options
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 09:19 PM EDT
Microsoft has several options;

1) They could support ODF.

2) They could open their schema to comply with the policy.

3) They can support PDF.
(since they say they will, they are apparently no longer 'locked' out.)

4) They can use their money and influence to maintain their monopoly.

I am not surprised that they chose option 4, in lieu of competing. That alone
would be enough to make me want to bar them from biding.

---
Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monday's Big Meeting - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 26 2005 @ 09:29 PM EDT
"a blog entry he posted late last week, Andy Updegrove, legal counsel to
OASIS (the consortium that issued version 1.0 of the ODF specification), wrote
that a reporter who contacted him "had been informed by the office of
Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin that the Secretary 'would
not approve' the new OpenDocument policy.""

It will be interesting to see if secretary galvin runs for governor next year
and who are his biggest campaign contributors.

God this is embarrassing I hope the rest of the world isn't watching.

[ Reply to This | # ]

My Email to the Secretary of the CommonWealth of Massachusetts
Authored by: rm6990 on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 01:57 AM EDT
Here is my email to the Secretary of Massachusetts

---------------------------

I am writing to you in concern about the recent revelation that you may oppose Massachusetts' decision to migrate from the proprietary file formats of Microsoft Office to the standard OpenDocument format. While I myself am not a citizen of Massachusetts, I have family that live there that may need to access Government documents, and as the "computer savvy" person in the family, I feel it is my duty to respond to this issue.

Apparently, one of your concerns was that Microsoft was unfairly excluded from bidding for government contracts for Office Productivity Software. If true, however, what you fail to realize is that it was Microsoft's decision to exclude themselves from the bidding process, not the decision of Massachusetts. Here is a quote from OASIS' website:

Who owns OpenDocument?

OpenDocument is owned by OASIS, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the open development of public XML standards. OpenDocument is maintained by an OASIS Technical Committee made up of XML, document management and office application experts.

How much will it cost to use OpenDocument?

OpenDocument is royalty-free. It can be used without charge by anyone.

(Emphasis mine)

Microsoft is free, both monetarily and freedom-wise, to implement OpenDocument support in Microsoft Office. All of the specifications are available on the OASIS website. Microsoft's failure to implement an internationally recognized standard is no one's fault but their own, and Massachusetts' plans should not be affected by that failure on Microsoft's part.

OpenDocument is the best possible route for Massachusetts to take. Microsoft's current file formats are unsuited for long-term data storage. Microsoft Office is famous for incompatibility between versions. For instance, Power Point documents made with Office 95 will not open properly most of the time in Microsoft Office 2003. Note that there is only 8 years between the release dates of these two programs. That is unacceptable for long-term government data storage, where public records may need to be accessed decades or possibly even centuries from now.

Microsoft is, however, introducing a new file format which, like OpenDocument, is based on XML. This should allow longer access to documents. The problem with this format, however, is that Microsoft holds patents in many different countries on this format. The terms of Microsoft's patent license are overly restrictive and place legal burdens on competitors, as well as excluding a large group of Open Source software (which is currently Microsoft's biggest competitor). Essentially, this means that Microsoft will be the sole possible supplier of Office Productivity Solutions to the Massachusetts government. When there is less or no competition, prices and costs will obviously be much higher than when there is multiple vendors bidding for Government contracts.

Also, the costs of upgrading to this new Microsoft file format will be substantially higher than switching to OpenDocument. This new file format will be supported in Office 12, which has yet to be released. This means that in order to use this new format, the Massachusetts government will have to upgrade all of the Commonwealth's Office Suites to this new version, which will cost a substantial amount in license fees, which of course will be paid for with Tax Payers' dollars. Also, older computers, which are fully capable of running OpenDocument compatible Office Suites, may have to be upgraded in order to meet the System Requirements for Office 12.

This also doesn't take into account the freedom OpenDocument offers to the Massachusetts government. With an open file format, you are free to use any compatible Office Suite. This means that should a vendor discontinue an OpenDocument compatible Office Suite, the State could switch to a different compatible Suite and still have access to older, archived files. This also allows for more competitive bidding between companies, as there are already many that either already support the standard or have plans to. The free OpenOffice.org Office Suite supports OpenDocument, as well as Sun Microsystems' StarOffice, KOffice and IBM's WorkPlace products. Corel has hinted at plans to support OpenDocument in WordPerfect Office and even Microsoft has itself hinted at such plans.

There has also been concern that this could affect Government employees who have disabilities. Let me assure you as a user of both StarOffice and OpenOffice.org, that both Office Suites include Accessibility features including zooming of document content (for users with reduced sight), among others.

With the benefits offered to Massachusetts by OpenDocument, mainly lack of vendor lock-in, long term accessibility of documents, lowered licensing fees, more competitive bidding for government contracts and a lack of worry about the File Formats becoming Obsolete and discontinued by vendors, or the Office Suites themselves being discontinued, it is hard to see how Microsoft's File Formats offer any advantage over OpenDocument. There is no guarantee that Microsoft will be around 100 years from now, but OpenDocument will always be accessible to everyone.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email.

Sincerely,

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

[ Reply to This | # ]

vision impairment, etc...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 02:31 AM EDT
Tell me how much it takes to implement those features in openoffice or any other
application.
The only hidrance might be a patent held by M$.
So, i hope everyone who supports ODF will also implement those, and when M$
pulls out its patent, everyone can righteously outcry that M$ wants to bar ODF
from the vision impaired, etc.

[ Reply to This | # ]

More Dishonest Claims from Microsoft
Authored by: JD on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 03:45 AM EDT
Microsoft exposes accessibility infrastructure through
API's such as MSAA which any developer can use to make
their own programs accessible. Or developers can use
the bog-standard WIN32 widget types (edit areas, buttons,
checkboxes, menus, etc.) and take care to use the
*Caret functions to show focus, and their programs will
be accessible with no further effort.
Microsoft's claiming to have special accessibility is
just nonsense. The builtin Narrator thing in some
versions of Windows (e.g. XP) is just useless in a
work situation. We must buy programs like JAWS for more
than $1000 from companies like "Freedom Scientific"
(another abuse of the word "freedom"). Furthermore, if
you live in Europe (I'm in Ireland), Freedom Scientific
will not sell to you directly; you must buy their
program from a dealer or re-seller at an even greater
price.
The system is rotten to the core.

So, it depresses me to read that Mass. thinks that
continuing with MS Office is the best for vision-impaired
accessibility, instead of finding ways to foster the
continuing improvement of Gnopernicus and improvement
of a11y in OpenOffice for Windows.
If governments, libraries, schools, colleges, employers,
organizations of/for the blind, could unite, and
set up an "Accessible Software Foundation" after
the model of so many other free software organizations,
then we could liberate ourselves from the slavery of
companies like Freedom Scientific.
I'd rather pay 2x the price for free software than I do
for JAWS.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The simplest answer to this disabilities tempest...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 05:17 AM EDT
"Harm to the Disabled" is a red-herring. The ERTM clearly says:

"Agencies are permitted to take actions for the purpose of ensuring that
the rights of persons with disabilities are respected. ITD, in consultation with
the community of persons with disabilities, will develop a plan to address any
accessibility concerns."

There's a process in place. The "disabilities concern" is a red
herring - MA-ITD may feel that State Soveriegnty concerns trump Microsoft IP,
but they also seem to feel that the rights of the people trump State
soveriegnty, which is as it should be.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sound recordings?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 05:49 AM EDT
Is it possible that WGBH "Gavel to Gavel" will already be covering this hearing or can be exhorted to cover it? I believe WGBH does have an exclusive license to make and distribute such recordings under their charter.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Sound recordings? - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 10:39 PM EDT
Monday's Big Meeting - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 07:57 AM EDT
Funny I feel railroaded everytime I come across a site that is internet explorer
only.

so how does it feel Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monday's Big Meeting - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 08:51 AM EDT
>>Secretary of State William Galvin, who administers the
>>state’s records office, now says he opposes the
>>OpenDocument approach to retaining Massachusetts records and official documents


hey William... i believe this is just simple ... you represent the people ( democracy, you know ? ) why not a referendum to resolve the issue ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monday's Big Meeting - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: blacklight on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 09:05 AM EDT
Galvin's actions remind me why I am a good government liberal and my own
self-mystery to myself as to why I have always voted for competent liberals,
regardless of party even though I am a registered Democrat - It just so happens
that in New York City and New York State, most of the competent liberals are
registered as Democrats, but I disgress.

Gavin is acting on this issue like a regular Democrat and a member of the
Democratic Party machine and if there is one thing many if not most of us New
Yorkers abbhor, it is machine-type political leaders and operatives. In general,
our experience with machine type politics and organizations has not been a happy
one - We have repeatedly found that the rot of corruption is the substance
behind the smell of corruption. This history is why many if not most of New York
City's Democratic leaders tend to refer to themselves as New Democrats or Reform
Democrats, anything but regular Democrats.

Gavin and Pacheco had a chance to speak up and genuinely participate in the
process, which was transparent and open to all. Both of them chose to ignore it
and instead assault the outcome of this process in this equivalent of a back
alley mugging - And we New Yorkers used to be recognized as this country's top
experts on back alley muggings.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cost Analysis is Irrelevant To The Fundamental Issue
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 09:36 AM EDT
Our oh-so-brilliant Mr. Galvin makes much of an allegedly-delayed cost analysis
for switchover to Open formats. While such an analysis may be interesting, it is
irrelevant to the fundamental issues at hand in this technical matter. (Someone
who can make it to the meeting should mention this, as I'll be unable to
attend.)

The FUNDAMENTAL issue here is NOT cost, though any honest analysis will very
likely show a negligible to very positive long-term cost impact from the
switchover. The fundamental issue here is OPEN ACCESS, and that trumps any
considerations of cost. Citizens must be able to access public documents without
paying a single-vendor tax, and ongoing access to past records must be preserved
as technology evolves. Both of these factors mandate the use of an open,
unencumbered, publically-available format for document storage and retrieval,
for which the responsible technical folks have properly chosen OpenDocument.

Even if the choice of OpenDocument were to cost MORE than continued use of
Microsoft Office, the above factors would STILL mandate the switch to
OpenDocument. Open and transparent access to government, and thus to its
increasingly-electronic records, is a basic requirement for a democratic
society, and is not contingent on any sort of cost analysis.

Put another way: What price freedom? In a free society, the only possible answer
to that question is, "It's worth whatever it costs." In this case,
freedom ALSO happens to be cheaper than continuing to pay for proprietary
software.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Called my Senator
Authored by: Grendel on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 09:41 AM EDT
I'm in Tisei's district so I gave him a call this morning to encourage him to
support the ITD's decision. His aid took my name and number, but commented that
as far as Senator Tisei was concerned this is an ITD decision and should be made
on it's merits by profesionals, and that it is inappropriate for the legislature
to get involved. The aid said he personally agrees that, as it's an open
standard, Microsoft could decide to support it at any time, and says he expects
that would be the Senator's position if it got to the point the legeslature was
forced to become involved.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Let me get this straight.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 11:56 AM EDT
Mr. Gavin is saying that Massachusetts must force all citizens to pay for a
Microsoft upgrade to Version 12 of MS Office (which nobody uses now - compared
to OpenOffice which holds about 14.3% of the Office suite market) and lock
themselves and Massachusetts permanantly into a monopoly format controlled by
Microsoft, when OpenDocument allows everyone to download a Free Office suite off
the Internet, or buy commercial Office suites from IBM, Sun, Corel, and others
including Microsoft in an open non-lock-in ISO standard format SIMPLY BECAUSE
MICROSOFT DOESN'T WANT TO SUPPORT OPENDOCUMENT FORMAT BECAUSE IT WOULD LOSE IT'S
MONOPOLY IF IT DID.

Apparently Microsoft won't provide an OpenDocument filter because of "lask
of customer demand". Strange - they provide a filter for Wordperfect which
is less common than OpenOffice, and isn't Massachusetts a customer? Whatever
Microsoft thinks, it should be a free market and if Microsoft declines to
provide a suitable product Massachusetts should be allowed to buy from other
vendors.
A MONOPOLY MANDATED ON PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED THIS IS WHAT MANDATING
MICROSOFT PROPRIETARY FORMATS WOULD BE.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OpenDocument is the only truly accessible option
Authored by: dwheeler on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 12:08 PM EDT
OpenDocument is accessible, and proprietary formats cannot be truly accessible. Proprietary formats cannot be truly accessible, because by their very nature they create artificial barriers to developing the new programs necessary for supporting the many specialized needs of the disabled. There isn't any one disability; there are many, and some are less common than others. The only way to be sure that everyone can have equal access, regardless of disability, is by having a standard format that anyone can implement without being encumbered by any particular business model, development model, or license. If your goal is accessibility, then you cannot allow your data to be controlled by specifications that are secret or impose license conditions inhibiting accessible program development. Historically we've tried to make do with undocumented binary formats (which make it very difficult); the patent licenses for the alternative to OpenDocument make it impossible to implement for many competing suppliers of accessible software. The disabled must not be at the mercy of any one vendor, no matter who it is; the needs of the disabled for OpenDocument trump the desires of those who would oppose it.

Obviously, the opportunity to create such programs is not enough; there need to be accessible programs available to the disabled too. But you first have to start with opportunity. But even here, it appears that OpenDocument does just fine.

As I noted earlier, an easy answer for the accessibility question, for those who are happy with Microsoft Office, is to just continue to use Microsoft Office and add filters to read/write OpenDocument. Today, you can use any OpenDocument reading/writing program to do the conversion. In about a month, there will be a free plug-in for Microsoft Office to do it (FAR in advance of the 2007 deadline). Massachusetts' ITD has already said that anyone can use Microsoft Office if they need it for their disabilities, no matter what. Case closed. Exactly what was the fuss all about?!?

But there are even other options. If you use OpenOffice.org or StarOffice, they have an accessibility project, and here's an incomplete discussion on assistive technologies for OpenOffice.org. Not only are they incomplete, they only note OpenOffice.org-specific ones.

A quick look shows that even if you don't use Microsoft's products -- but use Linux instead -- it appears that OpenDocument is quite accessible. GNOME's accessibility project and KDE's accessibility project have done great work. I know that GNOME has undergone a lot of work to make it very accessible; I remember years ago attending a presentation by a blind GNOME developer (wish I could remember his name!), who said very positive things.

OpenDocument is a file format, not a product. Is the "plain text file format" accessible? Sure, because there are programs that support common disabilities... and just as importantly, new programs can be created or modified by anyone to support the needs of all people with disabilities. We need to make sure that the disabled have all the access our technologies can provide, and that requires fully open standards that can be implemented by anyone without restriction.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Monday's Big Meeting - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 12:24 PM EDT
I tend to be on MicroSoft's side this time. I think anyone should be able to
use whatever type of document they wish. Freedom for all. If a state
government says it wants everyone to use OpenDocument, that's fine. But they
shouldn't exclude the use of any file type just because it's proprietary.

And since when is PDF not propietary? It was the last time I checked. If they
allow PDF, they certainly need to allow .DOC.

I suspect MicroSoft is going to win this one, and they should.

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ - Article request
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 02:15 PM EDT

PJ,

please could you invite somebody from the disability organisations to write an
article for groklaw explaining their position?

It would be very useful for "us" (i.e. supporters of Linux & ODF)
to find out what are the real _technical_ problems that exist.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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