ODF Update – The Week begins with both a Bang and a Whimper

Things were pretty quiet last week on the OpenDocument Format front last week, but this week began with a bang. Here's an update on the latest news.


Things have been pretty quiet on the OpenDocument Format (ODF) front lately, but this week began with a bang (and a whimper). Here’s an update on the latest news:

Peter Quinn gives an interview to Groklaw: As you’ll recall, Massachusetts CIO and ODF champion Peter Quinn announced his resignation on Christmas Eve. He’s kept a low profile ever since – and many (myself included) wondered whether he was sufficiently sick of the whole mess that he would go gentle into the good night of apolitical life.

Any doubt on that question ended yesterday, when Peter decided to let loose some very explicit rage in his first interview since announcing his resignation, appropriately given to Pamela Jones at Groklaw, who has championed both his cause, as well as castigated the Globe for its ill-starred inquiry into Quinn’s travel to conferences. You should read the whole interview at Groklaw, but here are some (although not all) highlights:

– The “last straw” for Peter was a move in the State legislature to hold back an IT bond approval while letting the rest of the bond package go through � in retaliation, Peter believes, for the ITD’s handling of its new IT policy.

– While Quinn refers to State Senator Pacheco as a “bully,” he believes that it was Microsoft, and not Pacheco (or anyone else on Beacon Hill) that suggested to Globe reporter Steve Kurkjian that he should look into Quinn’s travel documentation.

– Peter did not have an outstanding job offer when he quit, but is beginning to meet with those that would like to meet with him.

– He expects the ODF decision to hold, although he also notes: “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.”

Peter’s answers in the interview are, to but it mildly, both candid and unrestrained. Here’s an example:

PJ: Do you know who inspired the Globe to do the investigation? Was it Pacheco?

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 disingenuous 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.

Clearly, Peter is relishing his new role as a private citizen. He also indicates in the interview that he will continue to speak candidly in a number of already planned speaking arrangements about what “open” should mean, and what happened in Massachusetts over the last six months.

More Mush from the Wimp: As you may recall, Corel surprised everyone last October by announcing that it would not support ODF in the next version of its flagship WordPerfect product. It later spoke on all sides of the issue, leading some to think that it was back in the ODF camp.

Any ambiguity on that question has also now disappeared, with the release of the latest version of WordPerfect Office X3 – absent support for ODF. In a statement strangely reminiscent of another office suite vendor, Corel communications manager Greg Wood stated:

While Corel does not disclose details around our plans for future versions of WordPerfect Office, ultimately inclusion of ODF in WordPerfect Office will be based on customer demand for this format. At this time we are not seeing an expressed demand for ODF from WordPerfect Office customers, but we will continue to evaluate demand for ODF closely.

Ah well, blah blah, woof woof (again).

Next Steps in Massachusetts: I’ve been talking to a number of people locally, and have gathered a number of opinions and information on what’s likely to happen next on Beacon Hill. I’ll blog about that tomorrow.

[To browse all prior blog entries on this story, click here]


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