random memes }

Dirty play - Massachusetts and Microsoft

Mass. Secretary Attacks Open Doc Plan Massachusetts' plan to drop Microsoft Office in favor of open standards formats has drawn criticism from the Commonwealth's Secretary of State, who says he has "grave concerns" about switching to OpenDocument. But politics could be playing a larger role in Secretary William Galvin's opposition.

Since there is no technical basis for the objections from the Massachusetts Secretary of State, either this indicates a personal political and economic basis - or ignorance.

Still, Massachusetts CIO Quinn is confident the change is a step in the right direction. "There is no evidence that migrating to office applications that support OpenDocument Format will be any more costly than upgrading current applications," the state's IT department said, noting that any company is free to implement OpenDocument support - including Microsoft.

Quinn pretty much nails the issue.

Upgrading to a new version of Microsoft Office burns a lot of cash, and will do so again when another new version comes out. You can pay for a lot of conversion expenses - probably more than needed - out of cash saved by opting out of MS Office upgrades. Conversion expenses are one-time. Version upgrade expenses repeat.

Microsoft could likely turn out a load/save module for the ODF formats inside of a month. On a technical level this is just not all that difficult. Naturally they will continue to come up with semi-bogus reasons this cannot be done - right up to the point where they have no choice. Adopting ODF does not mean that Microsoft is in any way excluded, and it is silly to suggest otherwise. Adopting ODF does level the playing field - naturally not something Microsoft wants.

Review backs trips by technology chief - The Boston Globe Quinn has been at the center of a controversial decision made by the Romney administration to require that all documents produced by the state's executive branch be stored in a new, universal computer format called OpenDocument, which would work with many brands of software and is less likely to become obsolete. The change, which would require modifications to the software running on thousands of state computers, is widely viewed as a challenge to Microsoft and its Office software, which is used to generate documents on most computers.

Just to state the incredibly obvious - every time the State of Massachusetts buys a new version of Microsoft Office, they modify software on thousands of computers. Duh. Whether Massachusetts chooses MS Office or OpenOffice - the number of computers effected is the same.

Note this is a professional "Journalist" turning out a less-than-insightful bit of work. There are quite a few non-professional journalists putting better work into weblogs.

Microsoft Wins, Open Standards Lose The Boston Globe decided to publish a Page 1 story about how Quinn was being investigated, because of the Globe's own probes, for unauthorized trips.

Several weeks later, the Globe reported, in the local pages, that Quinn had not violated "conflict-of-interest standards or other rules when he took 12 out-of-state trips to attend conferences."

Andrew Updegrove, a partner with Gesmer Updegrove LLP, a Boston law firm, and the editor of ConsortiumInfo.org, wondered about the timing of the Globe's reporting, which was "concurrent with moves by Senator Pacheco and others in State Government to curtail Quinn's ability to set rules for proper management of the [state's] IT needs."

Coincidence? Maybe.

The first time someone in authority in a state government decides to support a format that Microsoft doesn't approve, he's suddenly hounded not only within the government but in the press as well.

So, Quinn resigned.

Consortiuminfo.org Standards Blog ... received the news from Eric Kriss, who as the then Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance was Quinn's boss during most of the ODF evaluation process (the Secretary of A&F is now Thomas Trimarco).

According to Kriss, who met with Quinn on December 21st, the personal attacks, and especially the unfounded (and quickly disproven) charges publicized by the Boston Globe, played a major part in reaching his decision."

So now both Quinn and his boss are gone. It will be interesting to see who replaces them.

Did Microsoft fund this misbehavior? This smells bad.