Politics: FOX news agains OpenDocuments

There's an article on FOX that's just full of lies and deceptions. Basically, the State of Massachusetts decided that their documents should last a long time and should use open formats, and that Microsoft's format isn't open. Here are the lies and decpetions I found:

The policy promises to burden taxpayers with new costs and to disrupt how state agencies interact with citizens, businesses and organizations.
He doesn't explain how free, open source software would cost more. OpenOffice can read Word documents just fine.

Worse, the policy represents an attack on market-based competition, which in turn will hurt innovation. The state has a disaster in the making.
There is no vendor lockout with the decisision, if Microsoft starts supporting open document standards the state can buy M$ or any other software.

Agencies can turn to the marketplace?often to small state-based systems integrators?and receive bids for the best solutions at the best price to meet specific needs. The proposed policy throws out this system, and instead makes the blind pre-determined selection of applications using the largely immature, rarely deployed OpenDocument technology.
I like how he does a dig for small businesses here (think of the children small businesses). OpenDocument is new (an therefore rarely deployed), but it's based on older existing and well used standards. Also because it's open it is even easer for small system integrators to provide tools and support, plus OpenOffice source code is available to more quickly develop solutions.

For many needs, such applications do not exist and will have to be built from the ground up. 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.
Here he attacks the idea that there may exist programs that are based on Excel, say, and may have to be changed to work with Calc, and it may cost more and do less. I've built programs that work with Word and can tell you that it's a lot more work than working with OpenOffice.org.

Such innovation would be welcome by anyone, but these applications should have to compete on merit and cost. They should not be given an arbitrary leg up that shuts out other vendors and forces government agencies to settle on under-performing technologies
Of course, it does compete on merit and cost, that's why it was chosen. Any vendor that supports OpenDocument is also welcome, even Microsoft.

But for now, the policy simply promises enormous and unnecessary migration costs to Massachusetts? taxpayers. The mandate forces the entire state government to acquire new technologies, train personnel, and contract for new services and support.
That's completly unfounded. Pulled that one out of their ass.

In many cases, new technologies will have to be purchased even when current systems are fully functional. In other words, taxpayers will be paying duplicative costs.
First of all OpenOffice is free, secondly if they upgrade to a new version of Office, it's the same problem.

The burden, however, reaches well beyond simple taxpayer costs. Businesses, organizations and citizens who interact with the state will also be forced to support Massachusetts? mandated technologies. Law firms that file electronically, businesses that regularly share information with agencies via electronic files, even citizens who want to take advantage of online services will potentially have to purchase, install and learn new software to comply with the policy. These added costs would be substantial.
OpenOffice is free, stupid!

The policy also fails to consider accessibility by citizens and state employees with disabilities who rely on assistive technologies. Several such technologies, including screen readers and speech recognition, are not readily supported by applications that use OpenDocument formats. In commentary submitted to the Massachusetts Information Technology Division, the Bay State Council of the Blind and individuals with vision impairments strongly opposed the proposed policy.
Think of of the children! handicapped. This is probably the worst paragraph and biggest piece of FUD I've seen. OpenOffice has great accessibility support.

Some have suggested that the policy would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act
Another one that sounds like he pulled out of his ass. I really should meet this Mr. Some.

The proposed policy is also puzzling and arbitrary in its approach to Adobe?s PDF format. The policy acknowledges that PDF falls outside the ?open? format mandate, but grants PDF an exception so that agencies can continue to use it.
Umm, but Adobe's PDF format is open. The spec is published and anyone can (and does) create PDF documents. It's also a de facto standard. The only hitch is that Adobe holds on to the PDF standards so it isn't open in that sense, I can't go and change the spec, for example. Word documents are also a de facto, it's just that the spec isn't freely available and only Microsoft really supports it.

We?ve seen government operate at its most efficient when it promotes competition. The Massachusetts policy would instead direct contracts to just a few technology providers, while many would be locked out.
Again, no one is blocked out, you just need to read and write the OpenDocument standard. The irony is that Microsoft doesn't want to support the standard, not for technical reasons but for monopolistic reasons.
Phew, I wasted too much time on this, but it just makes me mad. I've even been hearing a few politicians in Brazil starting to go against the policy of open source software. Politics!


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