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Open Source In Public Sector Meeting Opposition 425

Posted by Zonk
from the why-pay-if-you-don't-have-to dept.
Open Source movements have been gaining popularity everywhere, but not everyone is happy about that. Johans wrote to mention a ZDNet Asia story discussing a controversy within the Malaysian computer industry over the government's 'Public Sector Open Source Software Masterplan. From the article: " ... the government has stated that its first choice in IT procurement are infocomm technology solutions developed on the open-source platform. It states that 'in situations where advantages and disadvantages of open-source software (OSS) and proprietary software are equal, preference shall be given to OSS' ... However, some industry consortiums have stepped out to voice their concerns over this policy." Meanwhile, Anonymous Coward wrote to mention a Fox News article entitled 'Massachusetts Should Close Down OpenDocument', calling the attention of journalists to the 'huge mistake' that Massachusetts is making by switching to OpenDocument. From that article: "Officials in the state have proposed a new policy that mandates that every state technology system use only applications designed around OpenDocument file formats. Such a policy might seem like something that should concern only a small group of technology professionals, but in fact the implications are staggering and far-reaching. The policy promises to burden taxpayers with new costs and to disrupt how state agencies interact with citizens, businesses and organizations."
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Open Source In Public Sector Meeting Opposition

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:31AM (#13675804) Homepage Journal

    The Fox News article is by James Pendergast, hardly a friend of open source. More of his FUD-laced Fox articles can be found here [techleadership.org].

    If you don't want to read any more of his tripe at least look at the Founding Members [techleadership.org] of his organization... ah Microsoft. He's just a shill protecting MS' monopoly.

    • by SimilarityEngine (892055) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:37AM (#13675867)

      That's the same impression I got when reading this article. For example:

      In a letter to Governor Mitt Romney about the policy, Citizens Against Government Waste righlty (sic) pointed out that, "Not only will this mandate undermine free market competition and drive up costs, it will also curtail the ability of the people and government of Massachusetts to benefit from future innovation."

      Rightly? I think the issue is far from settled. I'd argue that encouraging the use of a common standard would enable competition, by preventing lock-in to a specific vendor. But hey, there I go refusing to look at things in the same short-sighted way as the reporter...

      • But hey, there I go refusing to look at things in the same short-sighted way as the reporter...

        Hey now, calling him a reporter is an insult to reporters...

        Well, I'm not a reporter, but if I was I'd be insulted :)

      • by Shelled (81123) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:49AM (#13676010)
        "Not only will this mandate undermine free market competition...."

        Free market? Do these people even read their own bullshit any more? The OS marketplace and document 'standard' are owned by one convincted monopolist the current administration let off the hook. What free market? It's a meaningless boogeyman term these nitwits spout nowadays by reflex, much like "save the children" and "burn the witches".

        • by Mick Ohrberg (744441) <mick.ohrberg@gmail . c om> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:58AM (#13676103) Homepage Journal
          Along the same lines...

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

          *cough* Excuse me?

        • by Eslyjah (245320) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:06AM (#13676157)
          Open Source Software is the free-market response to closed, expensive software. THAT is what the author does not understand.
          • by metternich (888601) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:44AM (#13676608)
            Some people seem to be confused. A monopoly is not a free market, in fact it hinders a free market. One of the ways it hinders a free market in software is by adopting closed formats. Therefore forcing open formats promotes the free market, thus fostering innovation. Nothing is preventing Massachusetts from using Microsoft's products once they decided to adopt open formats.
        • by arkanes (521690) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `senakra'> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:08AM (#13676173) Homepage
          The bullshit that comes out of these peoples mouths is increcdible. The entire article focuses on the fact that since Microsoft won't supported OpenDocument, it makes interoperability much harder for everyone - MA won't be able to use Office anymore, businesses and citizens will have to get new products to interoperate with the government, etc. Okay, fine. All that is to an extent quite true. But how the hell can they claim that it somehow subverts competition in the free market when *one* company refusing to support this standard blocks *all* interoperability?

          People keep focussing on the problems with OO.o vrs Office, including a totally irrelevent dig at Calc (that doesn't match my experience - at my last job I downloaded and used Calc to data munge some Excel spreadsheets because Excel would lock up for 5 seconds every time I opened or closed the "find" dialog. Nice)

          There's plenty thats just plain wrong, too. PDF *is* an open, documented standard with, as far as I know, no patent issues preventing outside implementations. Notably, non-Adobe PDF implementations don't have to rely on difficult and time consuming reverse engineering to interoperate.

          And he claims that, up till now, bidding on technologies has been open and merit based.... but he thinks that they should mandate Office. Right. Thats right from the mothership - "Cross platform means NT *AND* 98!". You can implement any "merit based" technology you want, as long as it Microsoft based.

          God. So much lying.

      • Exactly--like many "tech journalists" he doesn't seem to actually understand the words he uses. For example, in the very beginning, he talks about the mandate requiring Open Document File Formats. He even bolded the words. Then he turns around and writes pretty much the rest of the article as if OpenOffice were what is required and nothing else is allowed--which is absolutely false. The whole point is to require open formats so any vendor can create a competing product. Either he's just dumb and spitti
    • Relative FUD ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sad Loser (625938) * on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:45AM (#13675957)

      the great thing about having an uncommon name like Ms Strzalkowski [tripod.com] quoted in the article, is that a quick Google search for Strzalkowski and Microsoft reveals a certain Tomek Strzalkowski [microsoft.com] who appears to be friendly with the Beast. I wonder if they know each other?
      • Re:Relative FUD ? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Strzalkowski is not an uncommon second name in Poland and possibly a few other countries. The first name 'Tomek' is diminutive from 'Tomasz' (Thomas), and suggests that Mr. Strzalkowski is a young adult. On the other hand, Ms. Sharon Strzalkowski has a non-Polish first name. I do not share the feeling that those two are relatives.
    • Say it isn't so. That... That'd be like calling the Houston Chronicle a propaganda organ for the Oil and Gas industry! ;) (If you think I'm at all exaggerating, it took them over three weeks to report anything about Enron after all the national news media outlets started covering it, and it wasn't even on the front page.)
    • ... it is an OPINION piece under the "Views" section of the site. You should have noticed that in the header.

      And if you don't believe me, go to www.foxnews.com and click on "Opinion". It will take you to this article.

      -everphilski-
    • From http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=America ns_for_Technology_Leadership [sourcewatch.org]

      <SNIP>
      Americans for Technology Leadership was founded by Jonathan Zuck in 1999 as a "grassroots" organisations for concerned consumers who want less regulation in the technology sector. It also campaigns on general tech issues such as spam.

      It has been frequently described as a Microsoft front group. [1] (http://weblog.siliconvalley.com/column/dangillmor /archives/000421.shtml [siliconvalley.com])
      [2] (http://www.aaxnet.com/news/M010823.html [aaxnet.com])
      [3] http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/blog/computers /tanks.html [unsw.edu.au]

      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."

      Eighteen state's attorneys general were joining with the Justice Department in its anti-trust suit against Microsoft. Iowa's Attorney General Tom Miller reported receiving more than 50 letters in support of Microsoft during the summer of 2001. "No two letters are identical, but the giveaway lies in the phrasing," the Times wrote. "Four Iowa letters included this sentence: 'Strong competition and innovation have been the twin hallmarks of the technology industry.' Three others use exactly these words: "If the future is going to be as successful as the recent past, the technology sector must remain free from excess regulation."

      Dewey Square Group and DCI Group sibling firm DCI/New Media are credited with assisting Microsoft with its "grass-roots" campaign, according to the Times.
      </SNIP>

      I wrote an e-mail to Foxnews using my gmail account. Besides answering some of Pendergast's claims, I quoted sourcewatch and said a couple of things to them. Let's see how they answer.
  • by achurch (201270) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:34AM (#13675837) Homepage

    My super-sparkly Palladium Wristwatch I got from Microsoft will get splashed and start bluescreening again!

  • Just like US and European based companies, Asian companies that make their money licensing proprietary software think open source is bad. Remarkable coincidence. In the meantime, Fox News publishes an opinion piece in the guise of a news story from an organization whose has a founding member named Microsoft. Guess what? The organization says OpenDocument is a very bad decision for Massachusetts. Bonkers, I would have never called that one.
    • Misportrayal (Score:5, Informative)

      by abb3w (696381) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:58AM (#13676089) Journal
      In the meantime, Fox News publishes an opinion piece in the guise of a news story

      While I despise Fox News for any number of reasons, this is a misportrayal. The piece is posted in their editorial department at http://www.foxnews.com/views [foxnews.com] — as of 10:45 EST it's the lead over there. While I would certainly agree that a more responsible news organization [nytimes.com] would label such pieces [nytimes.com] more clearly and prominently on the actual article page, rather than letting the attentive figure out that the "MORE VIEWS HEADLINES" implies that this piece is yet another "Views" piece, it's not a particular breach of journalistic propriety. That is to say, it's as well (or poorly) labeled as any of the other pieces of crud from their editorial department. Fox's editors should be flogged, but not for this any more than the rest of their execrable web site.

      "Fox News... we report, you decide" (that Fox is full of... something, anyway).

  • by loconet (415875) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:35AM (#13675845) Homepage
    .... and to disrupt how state agencies interact with citizens, businesses and organizations.


    Isn't that the main point of an open format document? To make it easier for the involved parties to interact!

  • How so? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CSHARP123 (904951)
    Meanwhile, Anonymous Coward wrote to mention a Fox News article entitled 'Massachusetts Should Close Down OpenDocument', calling the attention of journalists to the 'huge mistake' that Massachusetts is making by switching to OpenDocument. From that article: "Officials in the state have proposed a new policy that mandates that every state technology system use only applications designed around OpenDocument file formats. Such a policy might seem like something that should concern only a small group of technol
    • You have encountered an error. Please consult the summary as to the nature of the error.
    • Keep in mind the submitter is simply reporting what Fox News posted...the submitter is not claiming the news story is right, just that it's out there. Fox News in general, and James Prendergast/Americans for Technology Leadership specifically is publishing the propaganda. And to go further, it's obviously a FUD piece directly from Microsoft (Microsoft is a founding member of the organization Americans for Technology Leadership [techleadership.org]).
  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:35AM (#13675849) Homepage Journal
    It's James Prendergast.. Who's he? Well, he works for Americans for Technology Leadership [findarticles.com]. And who are they? Well, last time they made the news, it was for a letter writing campaign [sourcewatch.org], in support of Microsoft, in which thousands of largely identical letters were sent, including a number from dead people.

    Can you say "Astroturfing"?
    • Dead from a BSOD, no doubt.
    • Follow the $$$$. Microsoft is a founding member of Americans for Technology Leadership.

      Other founding members:
      * Association for Competitive Technology
      * Citizens Against Government Waste
      * Cityscape Filmworks
      * Clarity Consulting
      * CompTIA
      * CompUSA
      * 60Plus Association
      * Small Busines
      • by rewt66 (738525)
        ... but aren't "Association for Competitive Technology" and "Citizens Against Government Waste" also Microsoft front organizations from the days of the antitrust trial?

        So then we have an organization whose founding members include Microsoft, two Microsoft fronts, and at least two outfits that sell Microsoft software. Nice. And it proceeds to act like a Microsoft front itself. Real big surprise there...

  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nf1nk (443791) <nf1nk.yahoo@com> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:36AM (#13675851) Homepage
    "We can't figure out how we can make money from this move, It must be bad for every one, and by everyone we mean us."
    Of course microssoft and friends are upset, office is there big cash cow, and if Mass pulls this off and saves some money, then there is every possibility more states will follow.
  • Two options (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:36AM (#13675855) Homepage
    1) Switch to an open file format now and deal with the problems and cost while they're still managable.

    2) Lock yourself more tightly into vendor-owned file formats and either keep paying the vendor-tax forever or make a far more troublesome and expensive switch to an open file format later.
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@gmai l . com> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:36AM (#13675859) Journal

    I'm wondering if you pulled the thread through far enough starting with Fox News, then the reporter, all the way to the source of and the reason for the article warning about dangers of OSS that you would find some Microsoft shill pulling strings.

    Oh wait, I just Googled James Prendergast, author of the story. Hey!, Guess what!, he's Executive Director of ATL [google.com], a virulently anti-OSS organization and web site.

    Hey slashdotter's, you might want to visit that web site [google.com] a few times, and make sure you always have a fresh page by hitting SHIFT-F5!

    WTF Fox?!? Fair and balanced news indeed!

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:42AM (#13675919) Homepage
      You've just GOT to love this little gem...

      The 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." links to a PDF.
    • make sure you always have a fresh page by hitting SHIFT-F5!

      *ahem* you mean Ctrl+R, right?

      :-)

    • "FRAUD ALERT! Internet scams have been popping up on the Internet to exploit people's generous nature in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. CLICK HERE FOR MORE"

      How can a scam be an Internet scam if it doesn't pop up on the Internet?

      Strike two.
    • As someone has already pointed out, this was in the OPINION section of Fox News. It was NOT a news item. I've seen very liberal opinions written there too, so yes they are fairly balanced. Will we see a pro OSS commentary, that I don't know. At least this was in the Views section, though.
    • by abb3w (696381)
      Oh wait, I just Googled James Prendergast, author of the story. Hey!, Guess what!, he's Executive Director of ATL, a virulently anti-OSS organization and web site.

      Why did you bother Googling for him? If you look at the end of the article, it expressly states that he works for ATL. Now, howling about googling them and finding what flavor bastard is implied might be worthwhile, but don't make it seem like they were hiding something that they came right out and said themselves.

      WTF Fox?!? Fair and balance

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

    Can't anyone compete on writing applications that output these formats?

  • by Tony (765)
    Officials in the state have proposed a new policy that mandates that every state technology system use only applications designed around OpenDocument file formats.

    Mass. has made it abundantly clear they are not standardizing on the OpenDocument format; they are mandating open formats. They have stated that only document formats based on published specifications that are not controlled by a single company, nor encumbered by restrictive licensing, will be used.

    That means most documents will probably be mad
  • FOX... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sedyn (880034) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:37AM (#13675874)
    FTfoxA: "Worse, the policy represents an attack on market-based competition, which in turn will hurt innovation."

    Yeah, open standards hurt innovation. You know, it's not like groups like ANSI exist to try to re-standardize fractured languages with open standards that have evolved quickly and represent what the people who are using the language want. But hey, it's not like any language with an open standard ever caught on (C, C++, LISP, Ruby, etc.)

    But you know, FOX most likely says that evolution is evil too. At least, as far as the public (schools) are involved...
    • "Worse, the policy represents an attack on market-based competition, which in turn will hurt innovation."

      This is so lame it escapes mot people. Its so far off that youre left hanging speechless. How could any competition occure on a market where only one company controls the format used? Its dandy to standardize on the .doc format but all hell breaks loose if anyone dares use anything other than that. Its just to much to fathom.

      We should scream at the top of our lungs to every possible person out there. Mic
  • Costs (Score:5, Funny)

    by spurtle15 (899792) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:38AM (#13675876)
    The policy promises to burden taxpayers with new costs...

    Boss: How much is the software going to cost?
    Tech: Um, it's free.
    Boss: How about all the manpower hours?
    Tech: Alright, we'll shutdown the Quake server for the time being.
  • Fox News! (Score:2, Funny)

    by miffo.swe (547642)
    Editoral^w^w^w^w^w^w Advertising space for hire!

    Seriously, does anyone take fox as a news source theese days? Its like a tv version of those magazines where you get a free positive article for every ad you pay for.
    • Re:Fox News! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ifwm (687373)
      Now, at the risk of getting flamed off the face of the earth I would like to ask you a question.

      Do you genuinely believe that the current crop of news options on TV is completely representative of the viewpoints? If you answered yes, then you can stop reading.

      If you answered no, my guess is that you're sophisticated enough to understand that while you may disagree with Fox, they represent a significant portion of the populace. The news options that we have avialable today aren't all inclusive, and general
      • Re:Fox News! (Score:3, Informative)

        by LordKazan (558383)
        It is not intellectual elitism to consider a news source that has been shown multiple times to have subtly deceived it's viewers en masse about important issues in the past a bad news source.

        Fox News freely mixes opinion and fact without clearly differentiating between them, and often runs with the "talking points" published by a daily memo from the RNC - this is a known fact, not an opinion and not a speculation.

        People who use them as their primary news source have been shown to disporportionately believe
  • Wake up call (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dancingmad (128588)
    Hey you so called (politically) conservative geeks - here's a pretty blatant attempt by Fox news to pass of an industry slug as a journalist. Now think about Fox news doing that with the Israel/Palestine issue, covering any American Democrat, or any other international affair.

    In short, wake up - Fox "news" is feeding you B.S.
    • Re:Wake up call (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Point of clarification, the article is in the 'Views' section of the Faux News website. That is their editorial section, so it is not a "news" article.
    • Re:Wake up call (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Creedo (548980)
      And do you think that other news organizations are any better? Wake up. My motto, when dealing with ANY journalist, is to assume that they were paid to sell you something(either by a business or the government, but I repeat myself), and weigh their coverage accordingly. I also try to get news of interest from as many sources as possible, including foreign(non-US) sources. Welcome to the real world, where every conservative doesn't automatically listen to Fox News or support the Republican party in everythin
  • The real issue here is that someone has to step to the plate (Munich, State of Mass, etc...) in order for this type of testing to take place. Opponents of open-source don't realize that an open standard is just that: a standard. A standard is something that will be updated, and in this case will probably be something that will include backwards-compatibility as an important part of further development and ratifying of the new standard. Closed standards have little of this type of accountablility. Imagin
  • Jim Prendergast is executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership.

    Before everybody goes crazy about the Fox News article, consider the source. American for Tech Leadership is a what it amounts to a PAC for different tech companies. Guess who is one of their major contibutors??

    You guessed it, Microsoft.

    http://www.techleadership.org/about/ [techleadership.org]

    So don't act all surprised when you see what amounts to a Microsoft spokesperson saying that Open Source formats are going to "cost too much" or "take to

  • Favorite quote (Score:5, Informative)

    by foniksonik (573572) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:42AM (#13675925) Homepage Journal
    " The Massachusetts policy would instead direct contracts to just a few technology providers, while many would be locked out."

    An interesting sentence that exemplifies the hypocrisy ripe within his arguments... we all know Open source is open and anyone can choose to support it as a 'technology provider'. Whereas Microsoft hand picks those companies it approves to have access to the information needed to be a good provider of it's technology.

    This doesn't make any sense. In fact IMHO reality dictates that the situation is exactly opposite to this statement, excepting the fact that existing MS providers would have to adopt the Open format if they want to continue being a provider.. a choice they can freely make, but to say they would be 'locked out' is a flat out lie.

  • by skintigh2 (456496) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:43AM (#13675938)
    I'm shocked, SHOCKED I say. What's next, acting as a mouthpiece for government talking points/propoganda?
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:43AM (#13675943) Journal
    pudding, so they say, and this type of FUD is proof (or close enough) for the State of Mass. to know that they are doing exactly the right thing. Despite the fact that it makes me giddy to see the MS machinations squeeling like stuck pigs, I think this sort of FUD, and the resultant outcries are just the thing that will slowly turn the world to look at F/OSS. This, I believe, is due to the fact that if F/OSS wasn't worth looking at, wasn't a threat to the juggernaut that is MS, then there would not be this outlandish FUD going on.

    While I feel sad that such pains must be endured, I'm glad to see the MS machine slowing down, losing some ground, and perhaps looking a bit pale in the face.
  • Since when has the office software business been a free market? Its ruled by a convicted monopolist, who has been proven to use anti-competitive actions to protect the assests and investments of its stock holders. How can a civil servant be expected to put out a tender for office software, when there is no market, just one, megalithic monster? (and a couple of OSS alternatives)
  • by pubjames (468013) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:46AM (#13675973)
    The policy promises to burden taxpayers with new costs

    Hello? Microsoft office costs over $300!! And that's just for the "standard" edition.

    Idiots.
    • Not to mention that the migration to Office 12 for Mass would cost $50 Million, and the full cost extimated for the OpenDoc and applications that support it was $5 million. The numbers themselves explain the biggest advantage to the whole deal.
  • James Prendergast (Score:4, Informative)

    by xutopia (469129) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:47AM (#13675989) Homepage
    Just who is this James Prendergast? Is he also the Jim Prendergast seen here: http://www.microsoft.com/freedomtoinnovate/eu/stat ements.asp [microsoft.com]

    http://www.techleadership.org/ [techleadership.org] which Jim is said to be executive director partners with Microsoft and looks like a company meant to lobby MS software in government in the States and abroad.

  • We promote free markets by encouraging anticompetitive practices, and attacking new entepenerial buisness models.

    We secure free society by taking away your rights.

    We create peace and foriegn support by making unnecisiarry enemies of both the world leaders and populus.

    We strive for small government by spending more than any other administration in history.
  • The FoxNews hatchetjob on open document formats is written by the Exec Director of a Microsoft lobbyist [sourcewatch.org]. Anyone who gets any news from Fox needs to set their "taint [cpan.org]" bit. As in "Fox News: 't ain't never true!".
  • Lies! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Antimatter3009 (886953) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:52AM (#13676033)
    That may have been the most lies and misinformation that I have ever read in one place. Some choice comments:

    "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."
    Yup, definatley costs more, being free and all.

    "It may be that an array of exceptional, low-cost OpenDocument applications will emerge in the coming years."
    *Ahem*... http://www.openoffice.org/ [openoffice.org]
    That's about as low-cost as they come.

    "Many technology writers, in fact, have cast a skeptical eye on OpenDocument and applications that support the format. George Ou, writing on ZDNet, recently compared the new Open Office Calc product to Microsoft Excel and found it lacking, writing, "[i]f someone from Open Office can explain why it takes more than 100 times longer to create and load spreadsheet documents and why it uses up several more times memory that Microsoft Excel to work with the same data, I'd love to hear it.""
    So, OpenOffice Calc isn't as good as Microsoft Excel, and therefore the OpenDocument standard is no good...

    One more.

    "Until now, Massachusetts' citizens and government agencies have been well served by a competitive, merit-based procurement process for technology services."
    And they still could be. He forgets to mention that the OpenDocument format is in fact open and therefore anyone can support it. Microsoft could make a product that competes here just as easily as anyone else (or more easily, considering the money they have to throw around).

    I could go on and on. The entire article is horrid, anti-open source propaganda.
  • First, claim OpenDocument costs more and then whine about the implications (my emphasis):

    Worse, the policy represents an attack on market-based competition, which in turn will hurt innovation.

    Don't say it is an attack, that'd make you look more stupid. Never mind that there's no logic whatsoever in the statement.

    How about a strawman argument about something unrelated:

    Many technology writers, in fact, have cast a skeptical eye on OpenDocument and applications that support the format. George Ou, writ

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:56AM (#13676074) Homepage
    Ozarka, Dasani, Oasis and Sparklettes have joined forces in opposition to the public water system citing anticompetitive behavior and enormous public risk of disease and terrorist threat.
  • by everphilski (877346) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @10:57AM (#13676088) Journal
    ... If you dont believe me. Go to www.foxnews.com, and click on "opinion" (don't take the submenu). It will take you to this article.

    Theres nothing wrong with an opinion article saying that he is against the switch to open source formats (he makes a few valid points - the exception of Adobe Acrobat products and the fact that OO Calc does truly suck).

    -everphilski-
  • by Asmor (775910) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:00AM (#13676111) Homepage
    How difficult is it for MS to just add OpenDocument support?

    The article mentions ease of interoperability, claiming that everyone should use Microsoft Office since everyone else uses Microsoft Office.

    THAT'S NOT INTEROPERABILITY! That's a monopoly! Microsoft is well aware of that fact, too, which is why they DON'T want to support OpenDocument. If they did, then people would be able to choose a different office suite and still be able to maintain working relations with others. Suddenly everyone has choice, and that's a bad thing!

    Maybe this is just the spark needed to light a fire under MS's ass. Either they or the state of Massachusetts is going to have to crack, and I'm betting they will. It's trivial to add OpenDocument support to MS Office. Of course, once they do, they'll open the floodgates to personal choice... so maybe they'll bite the bullet and wait out Mass.

    Disclaimer: I'm not an anti-MS zealot. I merely go with what is in my opinion the best tool for the job. I run Windows XP, Firefox and OpenOffice.org.
    • > How difficult is it for MS to just add OpenDocument support?

      Probably not very difficult.

      Except for the fact that this could allow people export existing documents to the OpenDocument format and in turn move over to StarOffice/OpenOffice to save money.

      At the end of the day Microsoft is just being petty! If StarOffice/OpenOffice is so difficult/expensive/crap/slow etc.. then what do they have to worry about? Is Office better than all the offerings or not?
    • It would be trivial. It wouldn't even have to be done by Microsoft; someone else could probably spend a weekend extracting the MS Office conversion support from OpenOffice.org and setting up a VB script to call it. Really, somebody ought to do that, just to mock Microsoft's claims. It would really mess up Microsoft's PR at this point if Massachusetts solicited a bid for an unmodified Office deployment for the contracts that Microsoft is claiming to be unfairly excluded from (with the Massachusetts handling
  • The policy promises to burden taxpayers with new costs and to disrupt how state agencies interact with citizens, businesses and organizations.

    I'd ask Pendergast what these "new costs" are, and what he means with "disrupt how state agencies interact".

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

    Competition!? I thought government agencies were obligued to inform the citizens, not to force them to buy products!
  • by Dino (9081) * <<moc.oohay> <ta> <onid_dj>> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:01AM (#13676119) Homepage

    No where in the FOXNews.com article did James Prendergast list a specific complain against what OpenDocument doesn't have to offer. He has some quotes about how "[Open Office Calc] takes more than 100 times longer to create and load spreadsheet documents and why it uses up several more times memory that Microsoft Excel to work with the same data" and how "Microsoft keeps expanding into XML and metadata and OpenDocument may have trouble keeping up." If you read the article, you get this feeling this guy is a frothing, super-capitalist munchdog who really rates communism. Those FASCISTS!

    Seriously though, my take is that "open" standards foster competition but can supress innovation when they are unable to grow and adapt. I'm not familiar enough with OpenDocument to really comment, but I do wonder how it stacks up, feature and architecture-wise against say WordOffice/PDF. Is OpenDocument really that far away from XML and metadata? Seriously...

    • In response, to Mr. Pendergast's comments, I would ask under what conditions Calc takes more than 100 times longer to create and load spreadsheets? What version of OpenOffice is he using? I've used Calc many times and actually found it easier for what I like to do, and noticed no discernable difference.

      What I have noticed, though, is sometimes the system takes a little longer to load on my Windows system if I don't have the quick loader running. But then, I have a sneaking suspicion that MS Office is using

  • Would I be overstating the obvious with this:

    There seems to be too much acceptance in the public of the idea that the market is more important than the commons. We accept that too much government is a bad thing, but have we entirely forgotten or ignored that exceedingly large business is even worse?

    And I recognize that "too much" and "exceedingly large" are subjective terms, but I'm concerned with the balance. When news goes corporate before public good have we lost the battle for our rights? You can say
  • by displague (4438) <[slashdot] [at] [displague.com]> on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:03AM (#13676136) Homepage Journal

    In another commentary, David Coursey, a columnist for eWeek, expressed concern about moving the state to OpenDocument formats.

    "I am concerned that by requiring OpenDocument that Mr. Quinn [state CIO] may be aligning Massachusetts with what becomes a second-rate file format as Microsoft keeps expanding into XML and metadata and OpenDocument may have trouble keeping up."

    mjohansson@bang:/tmp$ file test.odt # OpenDocument file saved from OpenOffice Writer
    test.odt: Zip archive data, at least v2.0 to extract
    mjohansson@bang:/tmp$ unzip -t test.odt
    Archive: test.odt
    testing: mimetype OK
    testing: Configurations2/ OK
    testing: Pictures/ OK
    testing: content.xml OK
    testing: styles.xml OK
    testing: meta.xml OK
    testing: Thumbnails/thumbnail.png OK
    testing: settings.xml OK
    testing: META-INF/manifest.xml OK

    Notice how OpenOffice lags behind in technology, while Microsoft moves toward XML and meta files.

    • My experience over the years has been that David Coursey is a total MS fanboy, and is often exceptionally undereducated on the technology or simply facts at hand. The fact that Ziff-Davis even pays this guy shocks me to no end.

      Is OpenDocument perfect? No. Is it easier to build accessibility to it? Yes. Would it be less costly to continue to retrofit current screenreaders in Windows? Of course.

      All this harping on about not meeting standards or being left behind is a matter of comparing technology feel to t

  • Hate to say it.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by pherthyl (445706)
    Microsoft shill or not, I think this James guy has a point. I don't think anyone can really deny that openoffice is just not as advanced as the MS Office suite. Sure openoffice has several key advantages, but the local bureaucrat is not going to care that openoffice runs on multiple platforms when they're stuck on windows and suddenly can't properly load documents.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love for this to work, but I just don't see it happening. Openoffice just isn't that good yet. (Unless there is anoth
    • And another thought..

      Spending a lot of money to replace the existing systems with some Opendocument thing seems to me like the choice to rewrite a software project. As a developer, I know it is often tempting to rewrite an application because something about the design bothers you, and you think there could be benefits by rewriting from scratch. In the end though, it is almost always a bad idea to go ahead with the rewrite. Costs too much, takes too long.

      I think the switch will eventually happen, but let
    • by Svartalf (2997) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @12:30PM (#13677088) Homepage
      That OpenDocument is NOT OpenOffice.

      Sure, OO writes out to that format- but OpenDocument is an open specification that not only all the main FOSS office suites either already support it or are in the final stages of supporting it- and the other Office Suites of mention other than MS Office are in the same situation. MS is the only one that's not on the same page.

      Furthermore, for most people's Office suite needs, they do not need MS Office's functionalities. It might be a cherished notion that you need MS Office- but for the large part, most people aren't making dynamic documents, those very documents have absolutely no business whatsoever in Government in the first place, and the very issues that make MS Office documents very problematic in the first place are due to those "advanced features".

  • In approximately 40 responses to this article, I have seen the term "FUD" used about half a dozen times, and I have seen the author of this article attacked based on his opinions about MS in another 20 or so. Then there are the attacks on Fox news...

    Not that any of it is wrong mind you, but would it be possible for some of you to actually refute the points, instead of resorting to the all too common "MS SHILL!!!!!" response.

  • Perhaps we should be encouraging the government to be closed source.

    After all, the last thing we want to do is make it more efficient and less costly for the government to regulate and tax us. Does anyone think for a second that if the government saves money that their tax bill will be lower, or their services will be better?

    Also, free software adoption is being driven by free market forces - I would love nothing more than to see Microsoft get stuck in the "bureauocratic" and political sectors, while the r
  • by nurhussein (864532) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:11AM (#13676203) Homepage
    I live in Malaysia, and have followed this debate for a while.

    "Our views as represented by Pikom, are that the government should not dictate which development model--OSS or commercial--should be the preference for procurement," said Peter Moore, Microsoft's general manager for public policy, Asia-Pacific and Greater China.

    As you can see from the evidence here, the voice that's being heard "through Pikom" is actually Microsoft's.

    If the government chooses to move to an OSS operating system like Linux, Microsoft loses control over us. Malaysian application software developers actually have nothing to fear, because the govt is not going to lock out closed-source. It'll just have a preference for OSS programs if it fulfills the same function as a closed-sourced one. Meaning, locally developed custom apps are always going to be better-suited to the customer (the government), open or closed source. However, if Linux or FreeBSD got around to being the standard underlying operating system, Microsoft and its cronies would lose out big time, as it would lose it's control (but we would get our sovereignity, so who cares about Microsoft).
  • by Quirk (36086) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:11AM (#13676209) Homepage Journal
    Closed Source Software sellers' fear of Open Standards and Open Source being adopted by governments and government agencies isn't simply the loss of some customers. There is a multiplier effect when governments adopt Open Standards/Source because every contractor that wants to do business with the government adopters of Open Standards/Source will likely adopt Open Standards and Open Source. Contractors know to kowtow to their buyers by using the standards for submission favoured by the repspective government agencies.

    It's encumbent upon most governments to adopt standards that are readily available and open to their constituents. I suspect their might be legal principles at play that would allow suits to be launched forcing governments and their agencies to adopt Open Standards and, hopefully, Open Source.

    Closed source proprietory software developers are right to fear what's happening in Mass. and elsewhere around the globe. It's the tip of the iceberg and closed source is booked on the Titanic.

  • I would like to inform everyone that these people are confirmed Microsoft Shills, the opposers of the OSS Masterplan that is. They hijacked the event and took the mike and podium to themselves and spread their Software Architecture and anti-oss mantra. These badly brainwashed people call themselves

    http://www.isac-m.org/Default.aspx?tabid=60 [isac-m.org]

    These people self-appoint themselves to represent Malaysia's software architects (shameless bunch) and their organisation is CLEARLY FUNDED by MICROSOFT.

    Microsoft was glo
  • by Ingolfke (515826) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:25AM (#13676371) Journal
    and a lot of bad ones. I am in total support of the free market, but have a government agency standardize on a technology is not limiting free markets, it's simply an organizational decision. Governments have done this for quite some time. They standardize on PCs, or Ethernet, or SQL or any number of other technologies. Mandating that a product do X is ok and doesn't inappropriately limit the market. Arguably this policy decision is being driven by polital and not technical factors, but that is still acceptable.

    The author is 100% right on when he raises the concerns of increased costs, major implemention headaches, a reduction in the quality of the products. This is part of a major shift in technology. It's not abnormal. Mass. is gambling on the fact that they're political objectives and strategy to reduce a single vendor tie-in will payoff in the long run with increased competition, and better tools. Gambling is the right word here because they are going to have to pay serious premium to build new tools, integrate those tools, support those tools, and train their people on the new tools without any gaurantee that the market will respond in a significant way to justify the expense. I think in 18 to 24 months we will be hearing about major reductions in the scope of this initiative or a complete abandonment of the policy. The costs are gauranteeed, I don't think the politicians have the stomach to actually run that much risk for that much time for something that most people could care less about (even if there is real value).
  • by kabocox (199019) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:27AM (#13676394)
    The key sentence:
    Jim Prendergast is executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership.

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

    http://www.cagw.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id =8966&news_iv_ctrl=1037 [cagw.org]

    itizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today urged Congress to eliminate the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Advanced Technology Program (ATP), which funds private sector research and development

    These are the other tech programs CAGW doesn't like.
    http://www.atp.nist.gov/gems/listgems.htm [nist.gov]

    Who is Association for Competitive Technology?
    http://www.actonline.org/aboutus.htm [actonline.org]
    While ACT members include some household names like eBay, Orbitz and Microsoft, our members are primarily small and mid-size companies. Smaller, entrepreneurial technology firms like Sax Software,

    http://www.actonline.org/principles.htm [actonline.org]
    ACT and its members believe that the best way to achieve a healthy Tech Environment and a thriving technology industry is to apply free-market principles that promote innovation, investment and competition. ACT is committed to core free-market principles including:

            1. Consumers, not governments, should pick winners and losers in the marketplace.

            2. Small tech businesses thrive on innovation, not regulation and litigation.

            3. The law of regulation includes the corollary of unintended consequences.

      60 Plus has set ending the federal estate tax and saving Social Security for the young as its top priorities. Why should they be against this? It would save money in the long term.

            The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) works to influence legislation and policies that help to create a favorable and productive environment for small businesses and entrepreneurship. By educating policymakers, elected officials, the media and the public about the critical role that small businesses play in our economy--and how government actions can positively or negatively affect the small business community.

    I don't know about you, but I'd want a refund from the SBE Council if they are supporting not going to an open document standard. A standard means that every small business could work and bid on any part of the project. Odds are most of the work would be done locally and not outsourced overseas. This is a great move for small business. (It is a bad move for those small businesses that store everything in their own little data format that only they know about. Which is exactly what this effort is trying to get rid of in the government realm.)

  • gotta love google (Score:4, Informative)

    by tweek (18111) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @11:56AM (#13676735) Homepage Journal
    The guy who wrote the article for foxnews, James Pendergrast, works for:

    Americans for Technology Leadership

    Read all about the pro-Microsoft jobs they do:

    here [sourcewatch.org]
  • by OwlWhacker (758974) on Thursday September 29, 2005 @02:46PM (#13678480) Homepage Journal
    "The policy promises to burden taxpayers with new costs and to disrupt how state agencies interact with citizens, businesses and organizations." -- James Prendergast

    How terrible!

    But what about the poor taxpayers who have paid so much tax that they can't afford to buy the latest version of Microsoft office?

    Is mr Prendergast suggesting that an IT Dark Ages is the way forward?

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

    Competition?

    Microsoft has always killed off that and, now that something new has struggled to get its head above the water, Mr Prendergast would like to see new competition killed off?

    Innovation?

    If it wasn't for the competition that Microsoft faces there would be no innovation - such as the bleak times of Windows 98 (that great and innovative successor of Windows 95).

    If Microsoft was to add Open Document support to Microsoft Office there would be no problem. The question is: is Microsoft going to support this or is Microsoft going to attempt to maintain its anti-competitive monopoly?

    If it costs so much for people to switch to an alternative there shall never be any competition in the Office Suite area; everybody would be forced to stick with Microsoft's proprietary formats. Is this fair?

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