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The Massachusetts Office Party

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the we-all-saw-how-the-first-one-went dept.

Microsoft 731

Quattro Vezina writes "The Inquirer reports that the state of Massachusetts has performed a modern-day Boston Tea Party, by dumping Microsoft Office in the proverbial ocean. According to the article, 'every state document must be in PDF or using Open Office formats' starting in 2007." Forbes has the story as well. More from the article: "The switch to open formats such as these was needed to ensure that the state could guarantee that citizens could open and read electronic documents in the future, according to Massachusetts - something that was not possible using closed formats. The proposal, which is open for comment until the end of next week before it takes effect, would represent a big boost for open source software such as Open Office, which is created by volunteer programmers and made available free of charge."

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As a Massachusetts Resident (2, Insightful)

rob_squared (821479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453374)

I appreciate this. But its more for their own bottom line than for the tax payers. While both will benefit, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention all the reasons for their choice.

And anyway, why wasn't I invited to this party?

Re:As a Massachusetts Resident (3, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453398)

The government's bottow line is the same as the tax payer's bottom line. Either through taxes or deficit, every dollar that is spent by big brother comes out of our pocket. Not quite sure of the point of your post, except to jip by out of FP! :)

Re:As a Massachusetts Resident (1)

coreman (8656) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453438)

I'm a resident too and think this will be great. Big thumbs up.

Re:As a Massachusetts Resident (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453465)

Hold on... Isn't governments bottom line = taxes?
Yes they probably didn't do it to LOWER taxes, but this will allow savings that can lead to tax dollars being spent on the local economy rather than go to Microsoft. Or atleast be put to better use in some way. Like filling up the gas tanks for state vehicles... :/

Re:As a Massachusetts Resident (2, Insightful)

avalys (221114) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453506)

Your knee-jerk needs to be reprogrammed. It's still in bitch-about-companies mode.

The government is not a corporation. The government takes your money by force and spends it. Any time they're spending less money, you should be happy, because it's your money they're saving.

Re:As a Massachusetts Resident (1)

rob_squared (821479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453566)

Hah, who said I wasn't happy? I'm pointing out an additional reason why they're doing this, that's all.

The less (wasteful) money I have to pay, the better.

PDF? (0, Flamebait)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453375)

Movin to PDF is a step forward? Crap, I'd rather have a word document....

Re:PDF? (4, Insightful)

MBtronics (644764) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453402)

Why? Everybody can view a PDF-file, only those who pay for MS-office can read their files (if you have the correct version)!

Re:PDF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453447)

Not true for MS-Word. Wordpad can read it and is free with Windows. Yes, you have to pay for Windows, but this is much less of a problem.

BTW, can OOo read Word documents?

Re:PDF? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453510)

OOo can read Word documents with a varying degree of success. It'll be interesting to see how 1.2's support has progressed.

Re:PDF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453617)

Wordpad's support for .doc is a bit limited, but there is also the free Word Viewer: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?Fa milyID=95e24c87-8732-48d5-8689-ab826e7b8fdf&Displa yLang=en [microsoft.com]

"With Word Viewer 2003, you can view, print, and copy document contents to another program. However, you cannot edit an open document, save a document, or create a new document."

Re:PDF? (2, Interesting)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453498)

Loading the PDF viewer is SLOW. I am constantly reminded that I need to 'update' something. In fact, the viewer on two of my computers is stuck in an update loop- where it thinks I need to update something that has already been updated.

Once a large PDF is loaded, it is still SLOW to scroll pages. And when I hit a page with some pictures, I need to wait a few seconds for them to load.

PDF files are more difficult for me to modify.

All around, PDF is a poor choice for me.

Anyone with IE on Windows can view .doc files without any additional software.

Personally, I hate either file, especially on the web. But I actually prefer .doc by a slight margin- because they take less time to load, they don't bog my computer down, and they are more easily edited.

Re:PDF? (3, Informative)

miscz (888242) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453562)

Adobe Acrobat is not the only program that can open PDF. At least on Linux there is vast choice of PDF readers, all of them are much faster than Acrobat, I guess it applies to Windows too.

Re:PDF? (2, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453569)

Quite possibly the government doesn't want you editing their stuff!

PDF is really quick for me however. Then again, I'm on a Mac. I don't have Office, and therefore Word would be an absolutely terrible choice for me.

Notice how PDF is a minor irritant for you but will still work, whereas .doc stops me viewing it?

Re:PDF? (1)

pickup22 (673933) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453584)

Are there any non-Adobe PDF readers for Windows? I can't stand Acrobat.

Re:PDF? (3, Interesting)

ratsg (544275) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453637)

Loading the PDF viewer is SLOW. I am constantly reminded that I need to 'update' something. In fact, the viewer on two of my computers is stuck in an update loop- where it thinks I need to update something that has already been updated.

Once a large PDF is loaded, it is still SLOW to scroll pages. And when I hit a page with some pictures, I need to wait a few seconds for them to load.


If your pdf viewer is slow, I would guess that you are still using Acrobat reader version 5.x or 6.x. Acrobat reader 7.x is much faster, at least for me either on Solaris or Mac OS X.

Also, the pdf file format is an open one. If you don't like Adobe's pdf reader or creator, there are others available, both commercial or FOSS.

Re:PDF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453655)

>Anyone with IE on Windows can view .doc files without any additional software.

Well, too bad for you. PDFs load and display just fine on Mac OS X. And I'm pretty sure the PDF reader on Linux works fine too.

Don't complain about PDF, complain about the Windows version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Write to Adobe, tell them their reader is crap.

But to prefer a closed format like MS-Word to Adobe PDF... You're insane.

Re:PDF? (3, Informative)

rob_squared (821479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453403)

At least the file format has been publicly released:
http://partners.adobe.com/public/developer/acrobat /sdk/index.html [adobe.com] And you can use it reliably on more than just devices that can handle office formats.
http://linux.softpedia.com/get/Utilities/Xpdf-4153 .shtml [softpedia.com]

Re:PDF? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453487)

In terms of platform support it is!

Windows: Adobe Acrobat
Apple: Preview, Adobe Acrobat,
X11 (Basically everything else): xpdf and myriad other applications
AmigaOS: apdf

The big news isn't that it is PDF however, but that it will be also be OpenOffice.org's file format (presumably the 1.2 OpenDocument format, to be specific). PDF will allow slower migrations for some departments that don't want to jump onto OO.o so soon. Nice that OO.o just happens to support PDF output too.

Whilst I applaud this move ... (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453380)

Maybe if the documents were better designed structurally, things like "Export to text" and "Export to HTML" would be enough.

Of course, HTML Export is not exactly Word's crowning achievement ...

Re:Whilst I applaud this move ... (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453600)

For many documents, some formatting is essential to make the document readable, so .txt wouldn't do.

HTML is a bit better, but still only usable as an output format for online documents (HTML has no concept of pagination, for example).

With OO, you've got a format that can be used not only as the final output, but as the source format of your document. This simplifies exchanging documents during production.

I love it, but... (2, Insightful)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453382)

...how long will it last? Any bets that Microsoft will be there, trying to get this reversed?

Re:I love it, but... (1)

ScouseMouse (690083) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453532)

Yes however, I personally suspect there will be a ODF plugin for MS office before the end of the week available to "Selected OEMs"

Re:I love it, but... (2, Funny)

deviantphil (543645) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453551)

I am sure they are sending one of there most attractive sales reps. to the policy makers as we speak.

In the grand tradition... (4, Funny)

Altima(BoB) (602987) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453385)

...Hopefully they did it all while wearing festive penguin suits, or for the politically correct Bostonians, Spheniscidae American suits.

Coming Soon: The 2008 Boston Egg on face party (0)

HMA2000 (728266) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453388)

I'm just saying. Come on! You know in your heart it is true.

Format Specifications (Reference) (4, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453394)

PDF [adobe.com]

and

Open Office XML [openoffice.org]

Strangely, both say you need Adobe reader to read them ;)

PDFs? (0, Flamebait)

connah0047 (850585) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453396)

Switching to PDFs, eh? Just think how slow the government will be NOW. I absolutely despise PDFs. I think the concept itself it good, but Adobe's implementation (which is by far the most widespread) is slow as molassess, up hill, IN THE WINTER.

Re:PDFs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453451)

You might want to upgrade your software every now and then, acrobat 6 was slow as molassess, but acrobat 7 is ALOT faster - thank the IT gods ....

Re:PDFs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453481)

PDFs work fine with OS X. In fact, I don't even use "Adobe Acrobat Reader". The OS supports PDF directly.

Don't trash a format because the Windows reader is crap. You open-source guys should write an open-source reader for Windows (and Linux?).

Re:PDFs? (2, Informative)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453554)

You open-source guys should write an open-source reader for Windows (and Linux?).
There are several for Linux already, mostly based on Ghostscript (because PDF and PostScript share many characteristics). I can't imagine there isn't a free postscript viewer for Windows that doesn't handle PDFs.

Re:PDFs? (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453497)

Well, the format specification is here [adobe.com] . If you don't like their implementation then write your own. There are no license constraints on the format - you are free to do whatever you want with the specification.

Re:PDFs? (2, Interesting)

perdu (549634) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453549)

Adobe's implementation..is slow as molassess
Even something slow as molassess can have quite an impact, see The Bostom Molassess Disaster [wikipedia.org] !

Re:PDFs? (3, Insightful)

davandhol (728225) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453550)

What version have you been using? Adobe 7 is very quick (even the professional version) in opening up PDFs. Heck, I don't even notice sometimes that my PDF is already open, it's so fast. Even with 6, you could move the plugins to a different folder so that Adobe wouldn't load them all up at the same time.

Did I miss your point? I don't know how else you could mean what you said.

Re:PDFs? (2, Informative)

SenorCitizen (750632) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453646)

Know why? Adobe Reader 7 (and I'd guess Acrobat 7 too) start a speed launch app at system startup... of course, the downside is slower system startup and a couple of megs of lost RAM. Which isn't all that much if you consider that Logitech's latest mouse drivers take up to ten...

So, which will MS Office support? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453401)

Currently, Microsoft office can't read or write either of these formats[1]. So which is Microsoft going to add? They could relatively easily add PDF output as an export-only option, similar to the OpenOffice implementation, and treat it like printing. This would potentially have the effect of reducing the number of people using .doc as an interchange format, reducing lock in. The other alternative, supporting OpenOffice formats seems much less likely - if MS Office could read and write these formats it would be a lot easier for people to migrate away from it.

[1] Yes, I know it can with third party products, some of which are Free.

Re:So, which will MS Office support? (1)

roberto0 (242247) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453514)

Actually, MS Office (at least the version I'm running--Office X on Apple)--already does support printing to pdf documents.

Re:So, which will MS Office support? (5, Informative)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453587)

No, it doesn't. That is a built-in feature of OS X. Any program with a print option in OS X has a "Save as PDF" button.

Ha! Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453657)

Mac lUsers think the app is the OS is the app!!eleventyone

Re:So, which will MS Office support? (2, Interesting)

ThaFooz (900535) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453539)

It doesn't matter, MS won't have to add anything. The article says every state document must be in PDF or using Open Office formats' starting in 2007, it does NOT say state documents cannont be in .doc form. More than likely, this just means that public information will be available in multiple formats, one of which must be free.

Re:So, which will MS Office support? (5, Interesting)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453626)

Currently, Microsoft office can't read or write either of these formats[1]. So which is Microsoft going to add?

Both? PDF is making steady inroads as an interchange format and from what I understand of Avalon it should make generating PDF on Vista pretty much as easy as on OS X. It would make sense to support it.

As for OpenOffice.org - they're using the OASIS format and Microsoft is a sponsor [oasis-open.org] of that so you'd think they'd get around to it eventually. I think Microsoft is realising that locking up Office document formats isn't going to work for much longer (see their various efforts to create more "open" XML based formats for MS Office) and are trying to work out what to do instead.

Jedidiah.

Guaranteed Availability in the Future? (3, Insightful)

sfontain (842406) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453404)

I hardly see how Open Office and PDF formats "guarantee" citizens will be able to view electronic documents in the future any more so than MS Office formats. For all anybody knows, in 5 years, all of these formats could be dead as new formats emerge. And guess, what--When that happens, there will be conversion tools for the next mainstream formats, too.

Re:Guaranteed Availability in the Future? (5, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453460)

I hardly see how Open Office and PDF formats "guarantee" citizens will be able to view electronic documents in the future any more so than MS Office formats.

Open Office formats are zipped XML. All you need to get at the data in them is an unzip program and a text reader. It's a good way to "guarantee" that anyone can view them in the future.

Re:Guaranteed Availability in the Future? (5, Informative)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453469)

If the format is properly documented and the documentation is available, it is only a matter of getting someone to write an appropriate viewer or conversion tool.

If the formats documentation is not available, you are pretty much at mercy of whoever invented it, and their willingness and ability to provide viewers and conversion tools.

Re:Guaranteed Availability in the Future? (1)

gkuz (706134) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453627)

If the format is properly documented and the documentation is available, it is only a matter of getting someone to write an appropriate viewer or conversion tool.

So it should be no problem for you to read my EBCDIC-encoded data on 7-track 800-bpi tape reels?

Let's not assume so quickly that anything other than paper will be easily readable in 25 years.

Re:Guaranteed Availability in the Future? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453477)

An open format cannot die, as anybody can read the open standard and produce an implementation.

Also, using something like open office lowers the barrier to entry for those wishing to read the documents. If a user can use cheap hardware with free software then a larger proportion of the population can access the data.

Re:Guaranteed Availability in the Future? (1)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453503)

I hardly see how Open Office and PDF formats "guarantee" citizens will be able to view electronic documents in the future any more so than MS Office formats.

Open Office is open and non-proprietary, and PDF is an open, published spec with many non-proprietary implementations. MS Office isn't open, and any implementations have been largely reverse-engineered.

...but, I suspect you're right. This is a nice step to take, but it won't make much difference in the real world - MS Office is a de facto standard, which we call *all* access (even if we choose not to run Windows). For my part I'd rather fire up AbiWord to open an MS Word document than have to endure yet another PDF.

Long Live Open Source!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453420)

Microsoft sux! Open source rules! :-)

I bet in the meanwhile MS will try to push legal suits towards OO.org.

Yet again... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453422)

The State of Fagachusetts embraces communism. We should have booted these pinkos out of the Union decades ago.

Re:Yet again... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453529)

The State of Fagachusetts embraces communism. We should have booted these pinkos out of the Union decades ago.
Wrong, it's actually the Commonwealth of Fagachusetts. Thankyou for playing, please try again.

Re:Yet again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453540)

Please do! I'd rather be without W anyway...

Why doesn't microsoft offer the option... (3, Insightful)

ChrisF79 (829953) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453423)

I understand that Microsoft wants to keep the files that Office creates in a closed format. But, in order to prevent this sort of thing from happening, why not offer an open format as an option in the "Save As" dialog box? That way, users such as the Massachusetts government could be satisfied and still use Office, and everyone else could continue using the closed format. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I really think 99% of the users would still just click the save button as usual, because I doubt the average Office user is aware or even cares that they are not saving in an open format.

Re:Why doesn't microsoft offer the option... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453455)

Office does offer saving in many open formats, however these formats lose some of the formatting that word uses.

For instance, you can choose to use soimething like .txt for all your documents.
You can get the data out in a sharable manner, but it will look like shite to people at the other end ;)

Re:Why doesn't microsoft offer the option... (1)

Prospero's Grue (876407) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453467)

You mean like ASCII text? Or HTML, perhaps?

Re:Why doesn't microsoft offer the option... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453488)

why not offer an open format as an option in the "Save As" dialog box?

You can't get much more open then plain text, which is an option in the 'save as'

Re:Why doesn't microsoft offer the option... (2, Interesting)

Hakubi_Washu (594267) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453530)

You point out the problem yourself: Normal users don't think about the format they save in.

The "Massachusetts government" is not one entity, but a lot of pretty normal users. Why should these be capable of thinking to save "right", when millions of exactly as normal users can't?
MS could add an option to set the preferred format, so that admins could take care of the problem beforehand, but that's the point where simply switching software becomes effective anyway, from an administration (not necessarily admin) point of view...

Re:Why doesn't microsoft offer the option... (5, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453635)

If Office opened and saved OO.o documents, there would be a flood of people migrating away from it.

Think about it, if you knew you could download OO.o for free and anyone with Office could open/edit/save the files you'd made in it, would you spend hundreds of dollars for Office? Hell, what could possibly motivate you to buy it at that point?

I would say that if MS opens the door to OO.o formats, they may as well just shoot themselves in the head and be done with it, because they're toast.

Groklaw coverage (5, Informative)

stevey (64018) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453425)

This was also covered on groklaw [groklaw.net] , yesterday.

Re:Groklaw coverage (1)

AtillaTheMagyar (567473) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453448)

Of course, they could just use the RTF format which works with OOo, Word, and just about every other text editor on the market today.

developers, developers, developers.. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453427)

The free world: ..jumping up and down.. ..on Microsoft Office..

Meanwhile at microsoft:
Balmer: Developers, developers, developers, we are fucked.

I know how they feel (4, Insightful)

bgfay (5362) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453428)

For years I used WordPerfect and liked it a whole lot. However, I didn't like the price of it, the upgrades (I know, I didn't HAVE to upgrade), and the fact that the Linux version sucked while the Mac version was discontinued. So I switched to OpenOffice.

Only when 2.0 comes out will I have easy access to all those WP documents.

I use OpenOffice for a lot of reasons, one of which is that I think I have a good chance of being able to open my documents for a long time.

That said, I think that this is all a PR thing to get MS to lower their price. I don't believe that a government bureaucracy will make this step for real. Next thing you'll tell me that they've decided to run Linux.

There needs to be a new name for this sort of thing where groups say "I'm switching!" in order to get the real price from MS. Let's call it the Boy Who Cried Linux or BWCL for short.

Re:I know how they feel (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453633)

There needs to be a new name for this sort of thing where groups say "I'm switching!" in order to get the real price from MS. Let's call it the Boy Who Cried Linux or BWCL for short.

I wonder when Microsoft is going to quit caving. I don't think they can afford any big success stories, but so many cities and businesses are resorting to this to try to get a fair price for the product and support that I don't think any of them are truly prepared for such a transition.

"Your fly is open" formats. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453429)

"The proposal, which is open for comment until the end of next week before it takes effect, would represent a big boost for open source software such as Open Office, which is created by volunteer programmers and made available free of charge.""

It's also a "boost" for PDF too. But let's not draw too much attention to that fact. Seriously "open formats" aren't the exclusive province of Open Source.

Re:"Your fly is open" formats. (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453568)

Open Office isn't exactly created by volunteer programmers either. It was written by paid programmers from Star Division. It was then bought by Sun and open sourced[1]. 75% of the contributors work full time for Sun, and are paid to work on Open Office. The majority of the rest work for Novell and are paid to work on Open Office.

I wish the media would understand that there is a difference between Free Software and Volunteer-Developed Software. There is overlap between the two groups, but they are by no means identical.

[1] Of course, this didn't really happen, because we all know Sun are evil and out to destroy all open source software.

Always explaining (-1, Offtopic)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453444)

Anyone else get sick and tired of the media always explaining and reexplaining things like what open source means to the public? I've seen things as common sense as "programming language" defined for the public. Anyone who cannot figure out what most of these things mean by now is willfully ignorant or too stupid to be worried about.

I guess it's just an easy way for them to fill up space to get closer to their 750 word limit.

Re:Always explaining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453561)

How fucking arrogant can you get? You're against education the public on technology are you? Ask a few random people in the street what a programming language is. Most of them will not know!

Re:Always explaining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453590)

What's programming language? Is it computer jargon?

WTF? I don't know what that phrase means.

Ironic (1)

Golygydd Max (821422) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453457)

The delicious irony of this is that the original Boston Tea Party was to protest against imported cheap tea and supported the right of American tea companies to charge higher prices. Now, which side would an 18th century Microsoft have been on?

Re:Ironic (4, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453547)

Actually, the Boston Tea Party was held to incite the British into open action against the rebel minority in the colonies. In effect, the rebels wanted to increase the divide between Britain and the colonies so that the colonials who preferred amity and compromise would come to their side.

The pretext of the BTP was to protest the imposition of import taxes, it had nothing to do with opening up the market to American tea traders.

I don't buy it (0, Flamebait)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453470)


BS, this is senator Kennedy's state we're talking about here. Nothing is for the good of the tax payers. I would read this to mean that Microsoft didn't offer enough bribe money to high ranking state officials.

Re:I don't buy it (1, Troll)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453507)

Nah, Microsoft Office was "dumped in the proverbial ocean" because Teddy was driving.

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(TM)LÐe{zÎñGÿy ---Ðí!=ý P Ð+8Oä[&÷&"iH"tEFè (±e*½ [ Q õ #z%''+-À"%oeÄ@!¦z-'z6ýùL... cÊf"ó
Ü xØÏ7`AV¾ôAËÚ1f> @N` Ä)è 6ðxÀ!£ÿÑíBêÏôXa Û)# Ö Ìz îÁ ɾÝ-s_Ìdôi4

AéîLsJ?

Funny, but.... (5, Informative)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453614)

This is amusing.

However, less-astute readers should remember that the OO.o formats are well-documented & any other program can easily write an implementation to spec.

They are also XML files, which can be understandable in plaintext. This means many people don't even have to bother looking at the spec to extract useful information.

So why the gobblygook? Look at that "PK" at the beginning of the string. That indicates that it is zipped. Rename the .sxw extension to .zip & throw it into whatever unzipper you wish to.

Re:AéîLsJ? (4, Funny)

Demerara (256642) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453620)

from the comment:

Ê KáÓÝ "%abIpOEYÙ%zè-"z ða*×ÇØ~)Ä"E,...E,? eûK tj--(TM)¼x2YK©~z ÃbÉ3R ý^£è "ÅÃdíYMC9CMY ÑsO¼

Good point, well made.

But consider %oidjowKE%OokssoSeok @o~oOKEN#(SIojNS.

Re:AéîLsJ? (2, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453628)

"zU?öKï- YYí "úq...ÈÁcò BK)0î Bäà¾À£Bh6Ïá"

Well of course! Any trained monkey would know this.

"Ðí!=ý P Ð+8Oä[&÷&"iH"tEFè (±e*½ [ Q õ #z%''+-À"%oeÄ@!¦z-'z6ýùL... cÊf"ó
Ü xØÏ7`AV¾ôAËÚ1f> @N"

I think the Slashdot community at large would tend to disagree with that statement.

"f/íl"!Í¥"(TM)Ü&$íÓ aÐ`Kl0~?Ù F HÛi^ÒXúîwÉný"

Oh come on, now you're just trolling!

Re:AéîLsJ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453645)

Eh little boy, OpenDoc format is ZIPped XML.

XML to make it easy to parse, ZIP to compress it

Re:AéîLsJ? (3, Funny)

StopSayingYouSir (907720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453660)

Ah, good to see that the lameness filter is doing its job!

Taxachusetts (1, Insightful)

feelyoda (622366) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453509)

How funny that the site once used to protest a 3% tax is now a tax nightmare.

Maybe these people should be protesting the high income tax, or property tax, or sales tax, or high usage fees, or excessive regulation.

Microsoft is the least of their worries.

Re:Taxachusetts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453565)

Actually, you're just a right-wing nut maintaining a lie.

I moved here in July, it's no more expensive than Georgia was. Gas is cheaper. Sales tax is less.

Shut up.

Re:Taxachusetts (1)

Maagma (714192) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453599)

I don't believe it was the 3% that upset the people in Boston. If my memory of History class serves me right, it was the "Taxation without representation" part that got their panties in a bunch.

Re:Taxachusetts (1)

Enry (630) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453608)

Taxawhaaaa?

My taxes (property, income, and sales) are lower than when I lived in NY.

Well thought through... (1)

Conor Turton (639827) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453520)

So I guess they're not going to be using .doc etc extensions then? I wonder how many of their citizens actually have software that supports OOo extensions?

Oh but you can get it for free!!! Very good, asuming that a)The person wants to give up their paid for/bundled MS Office app that works as they want and has worldwide compatilibility or b) They have the know how to download a file, unzip the contents to a folder, find the setup executable and run it, or c) They're on dialup so it takes them 2 days to download an application to open a single document.

Re:Well thought through... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453586)

"has worldwide compatilibility"

Since when does Microsoft give a rat's ass about compatibility? Each version of Office creates incompatibilities with the earlier versions. And because it's proprietary, Microsoft can close the door anytime it wants.

Under the open source model, the end user CAN view it and will ALWAYS be able to view it. Under the proprietary model, the user MIGHT be able to view it, but that is completely under Microsoft's discretion.

Re:Well thought through... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453612)

a)The person wants to give up their paid for/bundled MS Office app that works as they want and has worldwide compatilibility
Interesting - I had no idea that OO.o now contained an uninstaller for MS Office.
b) They have the know how to download a file, unzip the contents to a folder, find the setup executable and run it
My eyes just rolled out of my skull. Look, there they go - across the carpet!
c) They're on dialup so it takes them 2 days to download an application to open a single document.
A valid point. How much does a copy of The OpenCD cost from eBay, I wonder?

Re:Well thought through... (1)

gandell (827178) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453644)

Oh but you can get it for free!!!

Interesting point. I dislike MS as much as the next guy, but they provide a free MSWORD reader as well.

So what's the difference?

This will just confuse people (1)

strcmp (908668) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453541)

Unfortunately, the best way to make documents widely accessible is to use MS Word. Most people are under the impression that it is free, because it most likely came with their computers. Most people don't know what OOo is and don't care that it is Free (in both senses of the word). Acrobat takes forever to start up, which is frustrating. People will demand for the Mass. government to just distribute documents "the normal way."

Re:This will just confuse people (0, Troll)

omega9 (138280) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453595)

Most people are under the impression that it is free, because it most likely came with their computers.

So, you're saying we should do whatever fits the impression people have because it's most likely true. If that's not what you're saying then where's your point?

The point is... (1)

kukickface (675936) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453548)

that when the space aliens land in 2008 they won't have to wait for Microsoft to release Office IG (inter-galactic). All they have to do is learn our primitive language and they can at least view the documents in XML. Seriously though, any citizen could read the docs to some extent because the open formats don't use a binary encoding. Sure they'd have to wade through a lot of formatting, but atleast they could do it in notepad.

Re:The point is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453616)

I don't have Notepad does not open .doc files. I think you mean Wordpad. In either case Linux and Mac machines don't ship with Wordpad you insensitve clod!

offset costs (2, Insightful)

jrm228 (677242) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453575)

I hope they do some actualized ROI analysis. It'd be really interesting to find out what percentage of the money they save in software licensing is offset by the paid-time of implementation, user training, and dealing with interoperability issues with other organizations/individuals/citizens.

I paid a lot less taxes in NH than I do in MA, and despite this development, I'm not optimistic that it will result in any significant changes from my perspective.

Re:offset costs (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453611)

You miss the point: It's not about saving money. It's about openness and guaranteeing access to information for all citizens.

Acrobat Reader? Ugh... (1)

old_skul (566766) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453588)

It's bloatware, and they're setting aside one evil format and taking up another (PDF). I'm all for open software, but it's a mistake to use Adobe's format. At the company I work for, we use it, and it's a terrible piece of software in both its feature set and its software footprint on each system. Add to that the fact that if anyone wants to generate content, they have to either get Acrobat (a $400 license), use Adobe Distiller (a $5000 server product!) or some third-party tool to convert to PDF.

Personally, I'd wait for the MS Word XML format to become a reality.

Time for a new world map (1)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453591)

I think it would be about time to have a world map colored green and red wherever governments/officials have respectively adopted or not adopted open document formats.

Who is in? I thought China, some states in the US and some Scandinavian countries, parts of Germany ...

My 2 cents (0, Flamebait)

kurt_ram (906111) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453593)

would represent a big boost for open source software such as Open Office, which is created by volunteer programmers and made available free of charge. .

How so?? Are they gonna get paid? Are they gonna get laid? Honestly, why should something which requires so many man hours from so many people from around the world be available free of charge when nothing else in this world is free. What do the volunteer programmers get out of spending so many hours with their PC coding OSS when they can be out at the gym working out or dating someone? The only thing that I can think of is that it'll help them get better jobs. But, honestly, if you really have what it takes, then you do not need an OSS on your resume to get a good job.

Who created it? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453609)

"created by volunteer programmers"

Actually, it was created by a bunch of paid programmers in Germany. It has been maintained, enhanced, and extended by volunteer programmers.

And I love it!

Microsoft Office Open XML Formats (2, Informative)

n0cturne (237827) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453623)

All this means is that they will upgrade to the next version of Microsoft Office. The file format will be XML files in a ZIP container.


Check it out: Microsoft Office Open XML Formats:

http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/fileovervi ew.mspx [microsoft.com]

http://www.betanews.com/article/Microsoft_Opens_Of fice_File_Formats/1117692086 [betanews.com]

Several Benefits (3, Interesting)

blastard (816262) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453625)

I applaud the move as I file documents in the commonwealth from time to time. A benefit of Open Office files is that they are generally smaller files that MS files. And, more importantly, being able to file .pdfs helps eliminate one of the great threats inherent in .doc files. That is the hidden parts of the document. The stuff that was once part of the document, but was removed in editing. I have opened many a .doc file in a simple text or hex editor and found some very interesting revisions or other information. One file mysteriously had a persons application for benefits in it. This included SS#. It is hard to be certain that you've eliminated these dregs when using Word. Hopefully this will lead to a more secure America. Another benefit of the .pdf is What You Sent Is What They Get. WYSIWTG. You can never be sure that all your pretty formatting will survive when your .doc file is opened on the other side.

Office Viewers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453630)

Ummm, anyone has been able to open office documents for free for a long time now. Microsoft has had viewers available for most of their office formats, free to download, for years.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?Fa milyID=95e24c87-8732-48d5-8689-ab826e7b8fdf&Displa yLang=en [microsoft.com]

Hell the viewer is faster than opening acrobat by a long shot too.

Microsoft's Engineered incompatibility (2, Insightful)

Tontoman (737489) | more than 8 years ago | (#13453636)

It seems amazing that a government entity hasn't done this long ago.

MS Office formats are incompatible even between different versions of MS Office. The Microsoft competitive model is to lock out competition using undocumented binary file formats.

In the past, they gain a foothold with one or two in an organization using a "new" Office format, and this forces dozens of upgrades. And also ensures that competitor's compatibility features can't keep up with Microsoft.

These same anti-competitive tactics also make it difficult for different government agencies to communicate. Or even read their own archived documents.

Declaration of Independence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13453653)

Finally! That was about time. I hope many other states are following and we can declare independence very soon.
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