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Surprise, Surprise - MA Warms to MS
Monday, November 28 2005 @ 04:35 PM EST

I doubt you will be surprised to hear that Massachusetts has issued a statement about Microsoft's ECMA plans. Here's their statement as reported in
Microsoft intends to submit the XML-based document formats in Office 12 to standards bodies Ecma International and ISO, the International Organization for Standardization. The company hopes that a committee can complete the standards process in about a year, which is when Office 12 is due for release.

Two days after Microsoft's announcement, the Romney administration issued a statement in response to Microsoft's move.

"The commonwealth is very pleased with Microsoft's progress in creating an open document format. If Microsoft follows through as planned, we are optimistic that Office Open XML will meet our new standards for acceptable open formats," the statement said.

The statement is attributed to the state's administration and finance secretary, Tom Trimarco, whose office sets standards for the state's executive branch agencies.

In the most remarkable of coincidences, the source for the Boston Globe's smear article (cf. this earlier article) regarding Peter Quinn appears to also have been the state's Administration and Finance department. At least, if you look at the list of conferences the CIO attended printed by the Globe, you will find at the bottom of the list, this notation:

Sources: Executive office for Administration and Finance. Individual conferences.

Small world, isn't it? I gather Microsoft has friends in high places, and they can just about qualify before they even file anything. No favoritism there. So, is everyone assuming that ECMA and ISO will rubberstamp Microsoft's application, or what?


Surprise, Surprise - MA Warms to MS | 114 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
A&F may not be the source of smear
Authored by: red floyd on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 04:37 PM EST
That may not be a smear by Admin&Finance.

A&F may be the source of the list of conferences, obtained under an FOIA

I am not merely a "consumer" or a "taxpayer". I am a *CITIZEN* of the United
States of America.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT Here
Authored by: red floyd on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 04:38 PM EST
Remember to make your clinks lickable.

Here's one:

MathFox: there's a geeklog error:

"Your last comment was 3626 seconds ago. This site requires at least 45
seconds between comments"

I am not merely a "consumer" or a "taxpayer". I am a *CITIZEN* of the United
States of America.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Here
Authored by: red floyd on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 04:39 PM EST
So PJ can find them

I am not merely a "consumer" or a "taxpayer". I am a *CITIZEN* of the United
States of America.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Next 30 days (reminders posted here)!
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 04:48 PM EST
If you got a date to remember (court dates, comment deadlines, other dates
related to issues), then post:

[ Reply to This | # ]

Assuming a rubber-stamp process
Authored by: bmcmahon on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 04:57 PM EST
Honest people tend to assume that other people are honest, too. Cynical, corrupt apparatchiks tend to assume that everyone else is on the take, too.

<innocent> Not that I'm necessarily suggesting this is the case here, or anything. </innocent>

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft rules Massachusetts?
Authored by: Chris Lingard on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 05:08 PM EST

This is so disappointing, the same old delay tactics work again. The standard will take about a year to get approved, assuming it gets approved. So Massachusetts has to wait a year? Who rules Massachusetts; why Microsoft does. Can you make any decision in Massachusetts; only if you have Microsoft's prior permission.

It is the same in Europe. Microsoft were supposed to release protocols in 2004. The case is now tied up in the Court, (of First Instance), where it can take years. And we all loose.

Anything that Microsoft does not like or approve can be delayed indefinitely; until it is too late, or does not matter any more. Both Democracy and competition have died in both the USA and Europe; we no longer matter; the lobbies and money rule our countries. Any laws that might be needed are high jacked by lobbyists to suit business,

[ Reply to This | # ]

New ZDNet article "Top open source lawyer blesses new terms on Microsoft's XML file format"
Authored by: dtfinch on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 05:09 PM EST
Top open source lawyer blesses new terms on Microsoft's XML file format

Not sure what to make of it yet.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Don't fret yet.... Microsoft should be held to prove themselves trustworthy...
Authored by: clark_kent on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 05:18 PM EST
If MS XML document formats are allowed, then do with MS XML exactly what was
going to be done with ODF. All options should be available and open. If they are
not, then Microsoft fooled the people again and they should be held liable
without settlement.

If we are all about truth, justice, and the democratic way, then let this prove
itself. if we are all about letting special interests slide because they have a
lot of money, then the government has shown favoritism and it's power should be

But just because this XML standard might be excepted doesn't mean ODF should be
thrown out neither. Let each office suite compete. Each office suite should be
allowed to support each format, cleanly and flawlessly, if fairness is to ensue.
Otherwise, take the governor out because he wouldn't know how to run the state's
affairs fairly and honestly, without bias.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why all this fuss?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 05:26 PM EST
Can anybody tell me the reason for all these worries? This was a truly vague
and meaningless statement with absolutely no defining substance. What is all
this fuss over?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Surprise, Surprise - MA Warms to MS
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 05:36 PM EST
I saw this first on ArsTechnica (thanks to my RSS reader),
where the author (like so many) misses the point entirely.
He said that the earlier MA decision to use OD would
mandate a migration to OO (because KOffice and IBM
Workplace are not 'full' Office replacements).

Ok, granted, though I'm impressed by at least the former
application... but do people still really not understand
that this isn't about APPLICATIONS but FORMATS? Microsoft
was still always free to implement OD, which of course is
already implemented and in use all over elsewhere.

What gets me about all of this nonsense is that we can
literally watch, in slow motion, while screaming at the
top of our lungs, government corruption at work. The fact
that it's so blatant and so seemingly unstoppable is
downright frightening.

[ Reply to This | # ]

in(details, devil)
Authored by: overshoot on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 05:40 PM EST
Personally, I'll be delighted when there are validators for the ECMA version of MSXML. I have no doubt that any government agency planning to spec MSXML will have to spec compliance against them [1], and those validators will be subject to some pretty intense scrutiny.

I frankly doubt that Microsoft can comply with their own spec, and won't that be a hoot?

[1] Competing vendors will be able to challenge anything else and [2] have a slam-dunk win in court.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Surprise, Surprise - MA Warms to MS
Authored by: tredman on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 05:55 PM EST
Last week, went Microsoft made the announcement that they were seeking standards
approval for Office XML, it reminded me of something someone told me one.

I used to be a database administrator with a major US staffing firm, and
received some really good advice over the course of 5 years working with some
very talented IT and Engineering recruiters.

One of the pieces of advice they gave me was if, in the process of leaving one
job for another, your former employer makes a counter-offer to your new job in
hopes of getting you to stay, it's best to turn down the proposal and continue
on with your career. The logic is that, if you were worth that extra incentive
(money, benefits, etc), then they should have given it to you to begin with,
instead of when they're put in the awkward position of trying to retain you.

I think this parallels Microsoft. They weren't willing to even consider going
through a legitimate standards body before ODF. Only now that they're in danger
of being shown up by the open source/open standards crowd, do they make this

Only time will tell if the gesture is actually worth something. MS has a habit
of taking a year long project and stringing it out into several, with plenty of
vapourware announcements strewn forth along the way.

"I drank what?" - Socrates, 399 BCE

[ Reply to This | # ]

ECMA is a front
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 06:10 PM EST
Microsoft --> ECMA --> ISO

ECMA is a lobby group (think BSA). ECMA will front for MS and try to have their
MSXML accepted as a standard. ECMA does not 'approve' standards.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Pyrrhic victory at best for Microsoft
Authored by: PolR on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 06:37 PM EST
First it is not clear Microsoft has won. Their standard is not approved by ISO
yet. MA does nothing more than reiterate what they have always said, that they
will accept MS Office format if it is properly standardised and opened as per MA

Second even if they get the Office 12 XML standard approved, they have already
made a major concession. They are admitting that being standard and open is a
requirement. They may be putting a lid on this can of worm, but they are not
welding it shut. Anytime Microsoft make a move that show the world they are not
open, like changing the spec or suing for patent infringement, they admit their
format isn't an open standard and the whole debate is reopened again. Hardly a
comfortable outcome for them.

Now deep pocket organisations like Sun and IBM can take the same gamble as mono
and contribute an implementation of the standard. If Microsoft wants to sue,
they will face a powerful adversary with plenty of patents to strike back. This
will be a protracted battle that will underline to the entire world Office 12
XML is actually closed. Governements will then be pressured to change their view
on the Microsoft "staandard". Even if Microsoft win in courts they
will loose the ability to maintain their illusion of openness and it will cost

It means OOo and others will keep the ability to be compatible with the next
Microsoft format. It means that organisations that wishes to migrate to OOo will
be able to interoperate with users of future version of Microsoft Office. It
means organisations that don't choose OOo right now will continue to have a
viable transition strategy later when they change their mind. It means the plan
to lock OOo out of the market with incompatible formats have failed.

Don't think this warming up to Microsoft to be a defeat for FOSS. Microsoft has
paid this "victory" a high price.

This is like Gates attitude on piracy in China: "If they are going to
pirate software, we want them to pirate ours. We will figure a way to make them
pay later" (not an exact quote) But it doesn't seem they can find a way to
make them pay. China would rather switch to open source than paying Microsoft.

Now I suppose they may be saying "If they are going to use an open
standard, we want them to use ours. We will find a way to close it up
later". But they might not be able to close it up later. Governements might
rather switch to open source rather than keep using a standard that has been

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • LOSE - not 'loose' - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 07:16 PM EST
  • Half a loaf - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 07:19 PM EST
    • Half a loaf - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 07:23 PM EST
    • Half a loaf - Authored by: PolR on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 08:32 PM EST
Surprise, ...not really
Authored by: webster on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 06:37 PM EST
Plan B is succeeding better than expected. The attempt to stuff ODF has not
succeeded, but maybe it's debut will be stillborn. M$ XML will be adopted too.
People will not have to understand ODF let alone implement it. They can just
spend a few bucks and stick with [OpenVirus] Windows and Offi$e. They won't
have to learn anything. It will be business as usual. ODF will go nowhere.
Since M$ XML will be opened up, at a strategic time, M$ will discontinue
support, i.e. they will "improve" it. Every other program will go
with the old open M$ XML, but there will be great pressure to adopt the new M$
XML, maybe not so open. M$ will create a groundswell for their standard so as
not to stifle innovation. The struggle must continue unless the Monopoly is
reduced to much less of a market factor. They must pursue a new format to keep
the obsolesence cycle churning. What good would the Monoppoly be if people
weren't forced to buy their products every couble of years? An improvable
open standard implementable by old and new would be a death blow to the
Monopoly. It has to be stunted if not aborted.

>>>>>>> LN 3.0 >>>>>>>>>

[ Reply to This | # ]

Surprise, Surprise - MA Warms to MS
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 06:42 PM EST
What we should take note is that this issue seems to be VERY important to
Microsoft. When a user has an option on which file format to use, they start to
have options on which applications they use, and Microsoft's monopoly is broken.
The struggle in MA shows that Microsoft lost on merit, and may have won using
dirty tricks. They cannot keep winning that way. We need to continue to push
open formats in any way we can, both in companies and government. And continue
to keep the public visibility high.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ECMA, ISO, and the rubberstamp
Authored by: jmaurer on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 06:45 PM EST
So, is everyone assuming that ECMA and ISO will rubberstamp Microsoft's application, or what?

For companies in non-distorted markets, it is fairly attractive to get interfaces or designs formally standardized, because large-scale procurement procedures for state agencies or other companies usually require the purchase of "standard" components. Well-known standardization organizations are ISO (International Organization for Standardization), IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), or (for the Internet) the RFC process.

Standardization is a consensus-driven process, making sure everybody gets a say. For an example, see the ISO procedures, keeping in mind that ISO consists of national member bodies such as ANSI (US), AFNOR (France), and DIN (Germany) that in turn have companies and possibly individuals as their members. Particularly in the quickly evolving computer world, this careful and thus time-consuming process is sometimes considered inadequate and slow. ISO has therefore established a fast-track process that allows to speed up the approval of a standard if some entity outside of ISO has prepared it and now desires ISO approval for it. Organizations must be approved for fast-track submission, one way is to become a PAS submitter. Approval basically checks whether the requirements of non-discrimination and equal participation are met. Of course, organizations may charge a membership fee. Depending on the amount, individuals and small companies may effectively be excluded.

As far as I understand, ECMA is attractive for companies because it operates under much less of an administrative and coordination burden compared to ISO working groups. Moreover, ECMA is approved as an ISO fast track (not PAS) submitter and thus allows quick "rubberstamping" by ISO once the standard is finished. There is a nice over view of the goals.

A prominent example of the ECMA/ISO process is JavaScript, which Sun Microsystems submitted to ECMA (renaming it to EcmaScript), which later became ISO/IEC 16262:2002.

Jens Maurer

[ Reply to This | # ]

Don't Miss MA's all party Senator Sale!
Authored by: kawabago on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 06:46 PM EST
Every size and shape available! Don't miss out on all that your own senator can
do for you and your business! Want government contracts? He'll kick them to
you if you kick something back! Don't like the laws? He'll change them! Pay
too much tax? He'll cut them! Buy your fresh Massachusetts Senator today!


[ Reply to This | # ]

Surprise, Surprise - MA Warms to MS
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 06:55 PM EST
Here is a good response from Sun‘s head of corporate standards, Carl Cargill, in a letter to Secretary Trimarco, Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance. It says in part

Recent press reports have suggested that Microsoft’s Office 12 XML-based format would also be an acceptable choice, despite the currently proprietary nature of the product. While Microsoft has promised to eventually submit Office 12 to a standards body, the Commonwealth must act on existing open standards to best serve its future needs for document exchange. Just as an agency would not purchase a product before its actual availability, so too would it be a mistake to rely on a single vendor’s promise to submit a new product to a standards body at some point in the future. The Commonwealth owes no less to its taxpaying citizens.

It is clear to us that if Microsoft responded to the Commonwealth‘s decision in this matter by agreeing to include the ODF standard in future releases of the Office product, then the state could be assured of the many benefits of interoperability based on open standards. Those include healthy competition for desktop software within the agencies of the Commonwealth, increased choice and competition, and perhaps most importantly, the assurance of better pricing and greater innovation. But that is a business decision only Microsoft can make.

The Commonwealth‘s process began as an effort to ensure that the documents created by its agencies would be owned by those offices and by its citizens for all eternity, without the need to negotiate or pay for continued access to them again in the future each time a new version of proprietary software is released. This process began as an effort to break away from the lock-in to certain expensive technologies, the costs of which ultimately accrue directly to taxpayers. This process began with a desire to create a level playing field so that innovation in the market would flourish, enabling better delivery of government services.

This process should not end with the acceptance of a promise from those who seek to maintain a costly status quo, which accrues only to one company’s bottom line and denies the citizens of the Commonwealth the value they deserve from their tax dollars.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Holographic Disks
Authored by: pfusco on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 06:58 PM EST
The storage capacity does not seem very great

I think you are confusing this for a hdd. It is actually a disk that is similar to a floppy ie: removable

I agree though that I will wait until the bugs are worked out before purchaing it.

hmmmmmm wonder if the Labels are gonna kick and scream about this?

only the soul matters in the end

[ Reply to This | # ]

If it's open, then OO, Abiword, WP, etc., can include it
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 07:35 PM EST
Gee, if MS's version of XML becomes an open standard, then presumably other
office products like Open Office, Abiword, WordPerfect, KWord, and anyone else
can include it in their software, too.

If they can't, it's not an open standard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

the statement said if.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 08:02 PM EST
"The commonwealth is very pleased with Microsoft's progress in creating an open document format. If Microsoft follows through as planned, we are optimistic that Office Open XML will meet our new standards for acceptable open formats," the statement said.
the statement said if. i dont think much has really changed. MS is hasnt actually sent in a standard, or made it clear that they will/wont actually allow for open interoperability. chances are, theyre still trying to see if they can save thier monopoly.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Surprise, Surprise - MA Warms to MS
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 08:35 PM EST
I have lived in this state for 39 years and have used Linux for six. Big fan of
open source! I am not surprised at all by what goes on in our state government.
Romney and all the republicans before him have promised reform, but get stuck by
the democrats who really run the state house!

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Pepsi and Coke - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 10:25 PM EST
Diplomacy is saying "nice kitty" to a lion while you reach for a big rock.
Authored by: darkonc on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 10:05 PM EST
"The commonwealth is very pleased with Microsoft's progress in creating an open document format. If Microsoft follows through as planned, we are optimistic that Office Open XML will meet our new standards for acceptable open formats," the statement said.

I would note that they said roughly the same thing in the beginning of 2005 about Microsoft's formats for Office-12.

Also: everything that I'm seeing points to this being for the Office 2003 format. It sounds like MS's (unacceptable) license would continue to apply to the office-12 format, and I could bet you that Office 12 is going to make life reasonably hard on anybody who wants to use the office 2003 format as a default.

In summary: By the time the 2003 format is formalized, it will be (almost) obsolete... and MA hopes that this will keep them happy.
This might get Microsoft out of the Boston doghouse, or MA might just be keeping them at bay until they can run screaming.

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

I don't think this is so bad!
Authored by: pscottdv on Monday, November 28 2005 @ 10:12 PM EST

"The commonwealth is very pleased with Microsoft's progress in creating an open document format. If Microsoft follows through as planned, we are optimistic that Office Open XML will meet our new standards for acceptable open formats," the statement said.

In other words, as things stand today, Microsoft formats are still out and will continue to stay out until they become open formats.

I see nothing here to indicate that ODF will *not* be allowed as a format, so users would still be able to use or koffice if they want.

Even if the license for using MS XML remains GPL unfriendly, someone will still write msxml2odf and odf2msxml with supporting library msxml2odflib, probably with a BSD-style license.

Mass., to meet their objective, will have to begin setting up their SOA before MS XML is finalized and this means designing around ODF, since it is the only player in the game right now. I predict that the final SOA will be ODF-centric with MS XML support bolted on using some sort of msxml2odf library. It will work better with its native ODF.

Finally, I've seen the video of the new user interface for Office 12, and to paraphrase the King-Arthur-taunting, french guard, "It is-a veery nice, but we've already got one!" The new Office 12 will be so unlike what people are used to, they will discover that it takes less retraining to switch to than it does to switch to Office 12. I have already seen this effect when switching users from POP mail to IMAP. The behavior of Outlook Express using IMAP is so bizzare that my clients need less retraining to switch to Thunderbird than they do if they stick with Outlook Express.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Open" standards
Authored by: cmc on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 12:17 AM EST
Seeing Microsoft's track record, and what (and who) they have been able to buy
with their money, I have absolutely no doubt that this will simply be
rubberstamped by ECMA/ISO.

Having said that, I am concerned by anyone calling this an "open"
standard. If it is still patent-encumbered (and since the proposal hasn't been
created yet, we can't see if it is or is not), then how is that really open?
Just because "anybody" can implement it? I'm sorry, but for me to
consider something to be open, anybody must be able to implement it *at no
cost*. It is impossible for the FOSS community to implement
"standards" which are patent-encumbered and require licensing and
royalty payments. Similarly, it may be equally impossible (or extremely
difficult) for anyone, FOSS or non-FOSS, in non-wealthy nations
("developing" nations).

Just because a patent is licensed in a "reasonable and non-discriminatory
way" does not mean it is truly available to everyone. And don't make the
mistake of thinking that the ISO would not create a standard from a patented
idea. Just look at JPEG. If you want to look at ISO's patent policy, go to and see for yourself that they are not opposed to patents
in international standards. That alone scares me.


[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ, you cynic...n/t
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 01:17 AM EST

[ Reply to This | # ]

Surprise, Surprise - MA Warms to MS
Authored by: jsusanka on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 07:38 AM EST
great now all the state's computers can have more root kits put on them by
legitmate business models.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Colorado State requires Microsoft products
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 29 2005 @ 05:12 PM EST
MA is way ahead by requiring ANY kind of standard (vs. a product): Colorado
State requires Microsoft products for all state employees: Office, Windows,

"The committee therefore recommends that Microsoft Office 2000 be
established as the minimum Statewide standard."

End User Computing Standard, April 2005

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stay focused
Authored by: Chaosd on Thursday, December 01 2005 @ 04:28 AM EST

Please don't jump the gun on this. I would be surprised if MA hadn't issued a statement like this.

All they say is that the door has not been closed on MS (a very powerful and influencial American business) - but it isn't open either. If is a very big word in this case.

Now, in a year or so, if MS get to retain the binary components and then get adopted by MA all this could be seen as a smoking gun for a legal challenge. If this happens then I think it will be important that this evidence is seen without prior prejudice

However, if MS retain the binary portions, and so fail to get adopted by MA then MS will probably claim they were done low by a 'smear' campaign organised by OSS 'zealots'.

If anybody in MA is genuinely concerned by all this then may I respectfuly suggest that they lobby their local representative and leave random speculation to the paid shills and tabloids.

No question is stupid || All questions are stupid

[ Reply to This | # ]

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