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[News] Massachusetts Moves to Open Source Software (Not Just Standards)

Massachusetts: State of Open Source

,----[ Quote ]
| 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.


As proof of the resistance from Microsoft and its allies
(lobbying over ODF and beyond):

Open Source Foes In Bed With Abramoff

,----[ Quote ]
| "Citizens Against Government Waste has said some highly critical things
| about open source software in the past. They've also pounced on supporters
| of the OpenDocument Format along the way. Alas, it seems their close ties
| to Jack Abramoff have drawn the (unfavorable) attention of Senate staff."


,----[ Quote ]
|    Quinn:  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.
|    Quinn:  I believe that the ODF decision will stand. I believe MS
|    will continue to do anything and everything it can to stop it. And I
|    know my seat wasn't even empty and they (MS) took another shot at
|    the title, to no avail. This horse is out of the barn and I see no
|    way for it to go back in. Remember, all we are asking for was and is
|    for Microsoft to commit to open and the standards process; so
|    everyone looks really bad if the plug gets pulled at this juncture. 


Mass ITD Resolved Accessibility Issues, Adjusts ODF Rollout Details

,----[ Quote ]
| Now let's turn to Dana Blankenhorn's bizarre piece.  First of all, Dana
| (who should know better) picks up and repeats the open source confusion,
| titling his piece Blind leading the way from open source.
|     I'm sure this is just a hiccup, but apparently the blind have given
|     Massachusetts' efforts to mandate open source the shaft.  Because Open
|     Document Format (ODF) software (Open Office) does not yet work with 
|     screen magnifiers, which make computer documents usable by those who  
|     are legally blind, the state of Massachusetts is 
| This is an ancient piece of FUD (mandating open source) that has been
| perpetrated by ODF opponents, and it is discouraging to see it continue
| to appear in venues (such as ZDNet and TechWorld) that have credibility. 


Blind leading away from open source

,----[ Quote ]
| I'm sure this is just a hiccup, but apparently the blind have given
| Massachusetts' efforts to mandate open source the shaft.
| Because Open Document Format (ODF) software (Open Office) does not yet
| work with screen magnifiers, which make computer documents usable by
| those who are legally blind, the state of Massachusetts is backing-away
| from its commitment to mandate the format. 


Microsoft offers schools in Mass. free software

,----[ Quote ]
| Corporate donations to school systems are not unusual, as companies often
| try to gain name recognition by placing their brands with younger
| consumers. State and school officials, though cognizant of companies'
| attempts to use students for branding, said the donation is a boon
| for financially strapped schools trying to update their technology.
| Microsoft's software includes normal applications, such as word
| processing and spreadsheets, as well as more advanced programs.


Microsoft plays Massachusetts Senate card

OpenDocument not a done deal yet

,----[ Quote ]
| Accusations are rife that the software giant Microsoft has not given up
| on getting rid of the State of Massachusetts's plans to shift all its
| documents to the open source standard OpenDocument (ODF).
| Last week an amendment which would have would have removed the power of
| the State to set state wide IT standards and enabled the ODF project to
| be killed off was dropped. This lead many to believe that the ODF was a
| done deal.
| However, this week Vole gave Massachusetts high schools and universities
| more than splashed out more than $30 million worth of IT gear. This works
| out at $800 per student, and $2,400 per college kid. This is a huge amount
| of dosh, by education donation standards, in what is a very small US
| State.
| [...]
| Nothing wins votes more than being able to cut your budget thanks to a
| hefty donation from a big corporate donor, while at the same time Vole
| gets what it wants by somewhat unpublicised means.


EU official joins consultancy serving Microsoft

,----[ Quote ]
| A European Commission official originally chosen to lead its antitrust
| case against Microsoft left on Friday last week to work for a
| consultancy that has the software firm as a client, a spokesman said.


US ambassador to the EU was former Microsoft lobbyist 

,----[ Quote ]
| Before C. Boyden Gray was named as George Bush's number one person in
| Europe, he was a lawyer lobbying on behalf of Microsoft. 


US politicians go to bat for Microsoft


Changing the Report, After the Vote

,----[ Quote ]
| That agreement was nearly imperiled last weekend, though. Gerri
| Elliott, corporate vice president at Microsoft's Worldwide Public
| Sector division, sent an e-mail message to fellow commissioners Friday
| evening saying that she "vigorously" objected to a paragraph in which
| the panel embraced and encouraged the development of open source software
| and open content projects in higher education. The paragraph read like 
| this:
| "The commission encourages the creation of incentives to promote
| the development of open-source and open-content projects at universities
| and colleges across the United States, enabling the open sharing of 
| educational  materials from a variety of institutions, disciplines, and 
| educational perspectives. Such a portal could stimulate innovation, and 
| serve as the leading resource for teaching and learning. New initiatives 
| such as OpenCourseWare, the Open Learning Initiative, the Sakai Project, 
| and the Google Book project hold out the potential of providing universal 
| access both to general knowledge and to higher education."


Feds seek formal extension of Microsoft antitrust deal

,----[ Quote ]
| The U.S. Department of Justice and Microsoft on Wednesday filed a
| formal application for a two-year extension of portions of their
| landmark antitrust settlement, with the possibility of stretching it
| until 2012. 



Microsoft Office Migration May Cost $50 bln

,----[ Quote ]
| As consumers and businesses anticipate Microsoft's next generation
| office software, one research group is contending that back-end
| infrastructure upgrades may cost organizations over $50 billion.


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