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Massachusetts — Bullied, Battered, and Defeated

Posted in Africa, Deception, Formats, FUD, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 4:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The outcome is now public and defeat has been heralded. Andy is disappointed and PJ is unsurprised (“Surprise, surprise. Not. So my first instinct was right after all. They didn’t care one bit what you or anyone said.“). BetaNews is just one source among several that already have a detailed report.

Late today, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced that it has formally ratified the 4.0 version of its Enterprise Technical Reference Policy. As a result, Microsoft’s Office Open XML format — recently ratified by the ECMA standards body — is now considered in equal stature with OASIS’ OpenDocument Format, for use by state employees.

Those of you have followed the developments in the world of document formats probably come across plenty of corruption. The funny OOXML game continues to this date. Massachusetts is no exception and it is probably one among the first places from which ‘funny’ stories arrived. Let’s remind ourselves of the ‘Greatest Hits’ from the State of Massachusetts.

Here we have the first state CIO talking about his departure.

Almost to a person, to anybody involved or who knows about the ODF issue, they attributed the story to Microsoft, right, wrong or otherwise. Senator Pacheco may be a bully but I do not believe he is disingenious and would stoop to such a tactic. Senator Pacheco and Secretary Galvin’s office remain very heavily influenced by the Microsoft money and its lobbyist machine, as witnessed by their playbook and words, in my opinion.

Here is his successor, who held a similar position and stance that defends the interests of the citizens, not the cashflow of a convicted monopoly abuser.

As CIO of Massachusetts from February to November last year, Louis Gutierrez had to endure most of the brunt of Microsoft Corp.’s political wrath over a state policy calling for the adoption of the Open Document Format for Office Applications, or ODF — a rival to the software vendor’s Office Open XML file format.

To Microsoft, his departure was a sweet victory. Two CIOs then had their influence inherited by a Microsoft lobbyist. Microsoft essentially took control of the state.

That person is Brian Burke, the Microsoft Regional Director for Public Affairs, and if that surprises you, it surprises me as well, given the degree of acrimonious debate and disinformation witnessed in Massachusetts over the last 15 months involving the Information Technology Division’s transition to ODF.

If you think that’s bad, check out what they did in Florida.

Microsoft’s ‘Men in Black’ kill Florida open standards legislation

It was just a bit of text advocating open data formats that was slipped into a Florida State Senate bill at the last minute with no fanfare, but within 24 hours three Microsoft-paid lobbyists, all wearing black suits, were pressuring members of the Senate Committee on Governmental Operations (COGO) to remove the words they didn’t like from Senate bill 1974.

Thereafter, adoption of ODF was no longer significant.

And Microsoft itself lobbied heavily against the original open formats policy after it was announced by the ITD.


The slower-than-planned adoption of ODF in Massachusetts appears to have influenced state legislators in Texas who recently quashed a bill calling for the use of open document formats — one of five such proposals that have been defeated or shelved in the U.S. this year following strong opposition from Microsoft and its allies in the IT industry.

A campaign was born to protest against this type of abuse.

We the activists of BinaryFreedom created a coalition to link all of our issues relating to computing freedom…

It was followed by an interview.

Unfortunately, companies like Microsoft have thrown around their financial and political weight to combat our work. They defeated a measure in Florida through lobbying and the only way this abuse will stop is if we continue to fight them.

It was too little, too late, however, because Microsoft had already gained too much control over the state.

Massachusetts caused a stir among governments and the technology industry nearly two years ago when it mandated the use of “open formats” in desktop applications.


“We completely agree: ooXML looks backward, while ODF is an international ISO standard, and is forward looking. The public understands this, too, as nearly 15,000 people opposing ooXML have signed an online petition circulated by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure. We look forward to seeing the public discussion in the Commonwealth,” Sutor said in a statement.

Andy’s coverage of this has been commendable and one of his writeups, “The Sorry State of Massachusetts”, says it all.

In its anti-ODF journey, Microsoft also ‘dumped’ free software on schools. This was clearly an attempt to stifle adoption of software such as OpenOffice.org, which is not only rival software and pro-ODF software. It represented open source, freedom, and true standardisation. Microsoft also started messing about with the US Senate at one stage.

More coverage of the disturbing events can be found here. it involves lots of FUD and use of FUNDS to prevent ODF adoption, not to mention the use of “accessibility” as an excuse, the smear campaigns, and coordinated disinformation in the media.

Unfortunately for the Information Technology Division (ITD) in particular, and state government in general, the new bill would provide only a fraction of the funding that would have been provided under last year’s legislation. As proposed by Patrick, the bond would offer only $95 million, rather than the $250 million originally proposed. According to MHT, $75 million would be dedicated to planning and procurement, a further $15 million would fund a statewide system to mange performance and measure efficiency of agency databases, and $4.9 million would be given to the state attorney general’s offices for IT projects.

As a result, it the new bill will fall far short of accomplishing what had long been hoped by the ITD. This follows on the heels of damage already done, as stated by Gutierrez in his letter of resignation


What does this portend for ODF in Massachusetts, and what does it tell us about Deval Patrick’s plans for the future?

First, here’s what I don’t know: as you may recall, both Gutierrez and Microsoft lobbyist Brian Burke were appointed to a transition working group formed to advise governor-elect Patrick on IT matters.

Here is another eye sore:

E-mails show that the vendor lobbied for hardball legislation over the file format controversy — and then backed off.

Less than a week after he became CIO of Massachusetts last February, Louis Gutierrez sensed a serious threat to his power — one that was being promoted by a seemingly unlikely source. Within a matter of days, Gutierrez confirmed that Brian Burke, Microsoft Corp.’s government affairs director for the Northeast, had been backing an amendment to an economic stimulus bill that would largely strip the Massachusetts Information Technology Division of its decision-making authority.

It did not take long for OOXML to get a foothold. The deal with Novell certainly played a role.

In the meantime, the state government is committed to begin using the competing OpenDocument Format beginning January 1.

In contract to Andy’s “The Sad State of Massachusetts” we’ll always have a happier history to remember. He once published “The Happy State of [ODF implementation in] Massachusetts”.

Q: Is ODF adoption proceeding on schedule in Massachusetts?

A: Yes. I spoke with someone in the Information Technology Division (ITD) late last week, and was assured that the adoption plan described in the Mid-Year Statement Regarding ODF Implementation issued on August 23, 2006 remains on course and on schedule.

Q: What will happen next?

A: As originally planned, early adopter agencies will begin using converter technology to save documents in ODF format beginning in next month, meeting the goal of beginning the rollout of ODF by January 1, 2007.

There is also “Massachusetts accepts ODF, rejects MOOX”.

Massachusetts was once actually called the State of Open Source. At the time, however, it was managed by different people.

Massachusetts’ plan for adoption of open standards has been in place since 2003, according to Tim Vaverchack, manager of shared services for Massachusetts’ information technology division. “Our main focus is to bring in as many open source products as we can and also [to promote] an open source mindset.”

Massachusetts’ embrace of open technology, open standards and open source Latest News about open source software was simply routine strategic planning, the way Tim Vaverchack tells it. However, the state’s stance to strongly consider alternatives to proprietary solutions — such as the Open Document Format — has fueled one of the biggest technology firestorms in government IT history.

Massachusetts, we know what happened. It was written. And it will be remembered.

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Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. GNU/Linux said,

    August 2, 2007 at 5:00 am


    Btw. Here is another anti GNU/Linux FUD. And guess what, it is based on Laura Didio’s words! :D

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 2, 2007 at 5:26 am


    Yes, I have seen this and stopped reading after number (1), which talks about the so-called ‘patent risk’. CIO.com have also just published an article with 7 financial reasons to choose GNU/Linux.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 2, 2007 at 5:28 am


    Haha. Now that I watch the articles again I can also see the comments, including:

    Anonymous Wed, 2007-08-01 15:14

    What a bunch of Crap.
    MisterMeister Wed, 2007-08-01 16:26

    When the author quotes Laura DiDio(t) as a reliable source I can faintly hear Ricardo Montalban in the background saying “Welcome to Fantasy Island”.

    DiDio(t) has no credibility whatsoever as an “analyst”. The debacle with SCO stripped any remaining fragments:


    She needs to go back to the paranormal voodoo occult pagan witchcraft reporting she did in a previous life:
    Anonymous Wed, 2007-08-01 18:17

    The article is pretty poor cause based on too many irrelevant facts and ideas.

    Hope no-one take the author as a good source of information, because if so fellows you are betting on the wrong horse for sure.

    CIO loosing credibility with such articles.

  4. GNU/Linux said,

    August 2, 2007 at 5:43 am


    We need to (as a community) fight against this FUD (I’m trying it all the time, posting clarifications on different sites, gosh, people really know nothing about Free and Open Source Software). I often want to link to your site too but…Unfortunately this site’s name isn’t encouraging and people may think that you are a part of antiMS coalition or something like that. Sorry for harsh worlds because you inforations are useful but this is how I think about it ;)

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 2, 2007 at 5:53 am


    Yes, I am aware of the problem associated with the domain and site name. The tag line should hopefully put things in perspective.

    Exploring the reality behind exclusionary deals with Microsoft and their subtle (yet severe) implications

    This tag line has changed over time to better align with a scenario that evolved ever since Microsoft had invaded Linux through Novell. The ‘second wave’ was the May 14th attack.

  6. Stephen said,

    August 2, 2007 at 8:13 am


    This should be on a site called boycottooxml.com!!!

    With all the focus on Novells agreement with Microsoft, I hope we’re also going to seem some equal balance in other similar activities such as Suns efforts with OOXML support, see http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2163405,00.asp

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 2, 2007 at 8:48 am


    Stephen, we’ve lost some focus, but OOXML is part of a bigger picture. Hours ago I read that HD might actually be merged (in a sense) with the JPEG lifecycle, which means Windows-specific ‘extensions’ like MS-DRM are not far away from the maintream.

    Sam Hiser shrewdly told me that the deal with Novell is — in his own eyes — primarily about defeating OOXML. Then came Moonlight (Silverlight) and other stuff from Novell. Surely, this site loses its focus if we look at Novell in isolation. Need we change this? It is hard to ignore how things get pulled towards the GPL, the OSI, and patent FUD.

    A suitable domain name might now be microsoft-grand-plan-2006.com even though this whole thing was initially planned years ago, based on what I can gather (patents filed, Port25 founded and so forth). It has evolved over time, for sure.

  8. GNU/Linux said,

    August 2, 2007 at 9:56 am


    Roy, if you are planning to change domain I suggest you to choose neutral name. Nothing like boycottMS, boycottOOXML, boycottXYZ or ProtectTheWorldFromEvilMicrosoftDomination ;) Something that could be for general purposes, because you never know what could happen in the future. Every kind of anti_something_ site will not be treated as a serious source.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 2, 2007 at 10:14 am


    Yes, I know. Shane chose the domain name. We also have boycottlinspire.com, boycottxandros.com and boycottredhat.com is apparently reserved, just in case. We’ve had this discussion several times before, but moving from one domain to another is tricky (search engines, bookmarks, feeds, inbound links, etc).

    Pamela was wise enough to register groklaw.com and groklaw.net, which can be generalised to include merely anything now that SCO is irrelevant.

  10. Sam Hiser said,

    August 2, 2007 at 10:36 am


    Remembered, Roy, by every single other CIO in the nation who will never now stick their neck out.

    It is beyond travesty.

  11. Zaine Ridling said,

    August 2, 2007 at 10:41 am


    Yesterday was really sad for me. Like a few hardcore others, I’ve been working like a dog since Spring 2006 to spread the benefits that ODF adoption will bring. No, the war isn’t lost, but by allowing MS-OOXML in the door, we get to stick with the status quo, which costs every taxpayer money every single year in increased IT costs to “manage” MS-OOXML-based data.

    The best analogy against adopting MS-OOXML I tell others is, “Imagine if you were forced to use IE6 to browse the web? Every site, every hole, every critical vulnerability exposed to your system, and others were forced to write to Microsoft’s “standard” SNAFU coding reduced to IE6.” The cost of undoing such a mistake in the future will be exponentially expensive. “Microchusetts” won’t be able to unshit the bed, so to speak.

    See: http://www.thegsblog.com/?p=187

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 2, 2007 at 11:06 am


    OOXML and IE are excellent pair to be used as analogy. Both were built (over time) to maintain a lock-in. There was even an admission recently (right from the horse’s mouth).

    Is Microsoft learning from Web standards mistakes?

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | In a video interview with ZDNet Australia last month, Microsoft blogger and
    | group manager of technical community, Frank Arrigo, explained how important
    | it is for the Redmond giant to follow Web standards.
    | “Standards are important,” said Arrigo, who admitted that Microsoft had been
    | guilty of ignoring them in the past. “If you look at IE6, we didn’t quite
    | follow all the standards but standards are important … IE7 as an example is
    | trying to address that.”

    There’s this one too [PDF].

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | From: Bill Gates
    | Sent: Saturday, December 05, 1998 9:44 AM
    | To: Bob Muglia (Exchange); Jon DeVaan; Steven Sinofsky
    | Cc: Paul Mariz
    | Subject: Office rendering
    | One thing we have got to change is our strategy — allowing Office
    | documents to be rendered very well by OTHER PEOPLES BROWSERS is one of the
    | most destructive things we could do to the company.
    | We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office
    | documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities.
    | Anything else is suicide for our platform. This is a case where Office has
    | to to destroy Windows.

    I have heaps of references on this issue as well. IE and ‘standards’ are a separate crime that is worth a whole Web site. :-)

  13. Felipe Alvarez said,

    August 2, 2007 at 11:08 am


    Interesting comments about the domain name. I do think, however, that this site has veered a little too far about Novell, unless every topic (or every other topic) discusses its relevance with Novell. It has turned out more to be anti-MS than anti-Novell.

  14. Felipe Alvarez said,

    August 2, 2007 at 11:10 am


    And your hage doesn’t validate.

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 2, 2007 at 11:16 am


    I would phrase it this way:

    BoycottNovell turned its attention away from a plot that involves Novell serving Microsoft’s agenda into a series of deals and embrace-to-destroy strategies whose aim is to ultimately bury Free software as we know it. It also buries international standards and replaces them with a stack of ‘standards’ which Microsoft controls. It’s the stack of tomorrow’s lock-ins, which were already secretly entrenched and embedded in Windows Vista. Large companies said that Windows Vista should be made illegal in Europe for that reson.

    Novell opened the door very wide for Trojan horses. The floodgates of invasion maybe. Picture yourself Novell and Microsoft standing there should to shoulder in OSBC and talking about how they are friends. Meanwhile, Novell supports Microsoft, Microsoft takes a jab at Linux, “Open Source” folks see how ‘charming’ Microsoft is and allow it to raise tensions and polarise further. Novell is the seed of plenty of this.

  16. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 2, 2007 at 11:21 am


    And your hage doesn’t validate.

    I always ensure validity of every single post (with the exception of YouTube embedments, which are tricky with XHTML). In this case, WordPress handling of titles with the quote symbol leads to errors that would be tough to fix, unless we avoid certain symbols. Thanks for letting me know this. I noticed this behaviour a couple of months ago. I already spend hours per month just ensuring the errors go away. :-(

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    October 9, 2008 at 1:14 pm



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