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Microsoft Government Politics

Microsoft's Lobbying In Massachusetts 148

Posted by kdawson
from the schmandards dept.
Andy Updegrove writes "Carol Sliwa at ComputerWorld has posted two excellent stories just now on ODF in Massachusetts, based on over 300 emails secured under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (the local analogue of the Federal Freedom of Information Act). The longer and more intriguing article focuses on Microsoft's lobbying efforts in Massachusetts, and confirms, as I reported last week, that Microsoft lobbyist Brian Burke was spearheading an effort to bring pressure on the state's Information Technology Division (ITD) by promoting an amendment that would have taken away much of the ITD's power to make technology policy. The article goes on to describe the back-channel negotiations between State CIO Louis Gutierrez and Microsoft's Alan Yates, and the way that Microsoft played the lobbying card throughout those discussions in an effort to protect its wildly profitable Office software franchise against potential erosion by competing products that support ODF." Andy has a blog entry on the lobbying effort.
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Microsoft's Lobbying In Massachusetts

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:29PM (#17102038)
    far to many re-defining words in todays world

    s/lobbying/bribing

    s/pretexting/lying

  • Moral (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:29PM (#17102040)
    Any supplier that makes enough to pay a full time lobbyist is overcharging.
    • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:54PM (#17102392) Homepage
      It takes a lot of energy to convince people that using open, standard formats to store files somehow gives "preferential treatment for specific vendor products"
    • Red Hat lobbies... [slashdot.org] are they overcharging? Is free too much?
      • by cHiphead (17854)
        FREE?!

        Sounds like somebody has never looked into purchasing RHEL ES or AS + support...

        Cheers.
        • Theres a couple of different ways ... the straightforward way is Fedora Core; no it isn't RHEL. I never said RHEL, I just said Red Hat, of which Fedora Core is a product of.

          The second way is CentOS, which is RHEL - the corporate logos.

          So yes, free as in beer and lobbying.
          • by cHiphead (17854)
            Fedora and CentOS are NOT Red Hat. If you want (or require by the corporate bosses that be) production quality business machines with quality vendor support, RHEL is a must over Fedora or CentOS. In medium/enterprise IT consulting, you pretty much always have to choose your systems based more on Vendor Support and external consulting/support costs than just initial price point. Small time linux consultants with no liability insurance don't make the cut in this case, and 'big time' linux consultanting fir
    • Re:Reality Check (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mpapet (761907) on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:40PM (#17103998) Homepage
      I don't normally reply to AC's but it got modded insightful for no good reason and saddens me because it suggests there is way too much ignorance on the issue.

      In my limited experience working on the contractor side of gov't projects, I promise you lobbying of all kinds is done for every single expenditure. Standard Operating Procedure.

      I don't know how much of it is legal versus illegal, but this is an excellent example of how gov't IT expenditures really work. Nearly all of the decision making is done via back channels, then the appropriate public documentation is created and the money is spent.

      If there was ever a better application of the term "textbook case" I cannot think of it.
  • Of a dying company?
  • by PHAEDRU5 (213667) <instascreedNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:35PM (#17102110) Homepage
    Long ago I remember a Microsoft that had nothing but contempt for the political process. A Microsoft that intended to dominate the market through mass, vendor lockout, FUD, giving stuff away, etc.

    You know, the Microsoft that got sued.

    Having learned the lesson that ignoring politicians is not good for your health, is it any wonder that Microsoft is lobbying as hard as it can?

    Good luck to them. I'll be happy to see them take their lumps when they screw up their technology badly enough that the world moves en masse to something better. Meanwhile, I'm smirking at the do-gooders and busybodies who are being hoisted on their own petards.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:48PM (#17102284)
      I'll be happy to see them take their lumps when they screw up their technology badly enough that the world moves en masse to something better.


      I hope you're prepared for disappointment, because it's on the way. No matter what Microsoft does, they always win. Even the worst of their worst (WinME?) or the EU fines didn't even put a dent in their operations and profits.

      It's like the dreamers claiming that "Nobody wants Vista" or "MS miscalculated this time!", and "Who needs to 'upgrade' to Vista?"...the same shit was said about every other Windows release, yet each very quickly became the new standard.

      If Microsoft shipped shrink wrapped boxes of horse shit they'd still dominate. Yay.
      • If Microsoft shipped shrink wrapped boxes of horse shit they'd still dominate.
        ...though maybe not in the horse shit vertical. Remember MS-BOB? WebTV? Or other ideas from the market leader [google.com]?
      • No matter what Microsoft does, they always win

        But every time someone announces a plan to migrate to FOSS Microsoft is forced to give them a bigger discount. Someday soon a Microsoft salesperson will tell you, "Hey, why would you install OOo for free? We will pay you to install MS-Office!".

        If Microsoft shipped shrink wrapped boxes of horse shit they'd still dominate

        Others have replied that Microsoft does ship horse shit, but I beg to disagree. Horse shit is useful as manure. Hmmm, wait, not really. I remem

        • by rifter (147452)

          "No matter what Microsoft does, they always win"

          But every time someone announces a plan to migrate to FOSS Microsoft is forced to give them a bigger discount. Someday soon a Microsoft salesperson will tell you, "Hey, why would you install OOo for free? We will pay you to install MS-Office!".

          No matter what the only way Microsoft will "pay" customers to use Office will be the same way DirectTV gave free satellite systems.* It will always end up that they are charging the customer something in the end (for W

        • I'll tell you this, cow manure leads to 2 foot diameter sunflowers, and zuccini's the size of baseball bats. We used to mix cow, pig and horse manure when I was a kid, giant piles 30 feet high. Good stuff for growing corn and tomatoes. :-)

          The dirt pile I have now for my vegetable garden has cow shit some 8 years old and still produces mega veggies.

      • there was a time when IBM were unstoppable and "noone ever got fired for buying IBM". SCO were once good guys with an interesting product.

        IBM fell from grace and became the subject for fear and loathing. SCO are the subject of disdain and contempt for their product.

        Microsoft are feared and loathed, we're all just waiting for the fall.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cptgrudge (177113)

      Meanwhile, I'm smirking at the do-gooders and busybodies who are being hoisted on their own petards.

      And ultimately, the taxpayers of Massachusetts may be hoisted along with them.

    • by killjoe (766577)
      The legal front is another and more dangerous front in the war against MS. Overall it was a great front to open up and they have been steadly loosing there. Company after company has gotten hundreds of millions of dollars from MS. This is a war that MS doesn't know how to fight very well as evidenced by their steady stream of losses.

      Every penny MS spends paying lawyers and paying penalties is a penny they are not spending on engineering, design, or bribing politicians.

      In the long run opening up the legal fr
    • Yeah, because enforcing the law against a big company is somehow representative of big government and corporate influence at their worst. We should just let monopolies run rampant. That way we'll have a really excellent telecommunications infrastructure and software that improves over time and isn't subject to massive world spanning security breaches and... Oh, wait... We don't have any of these things, despite having largely not bothered with monopoly law enforcement in those industries. Well... Hmmm

    • by dylan_- (1661)
      and busybodies who are being hoisted on their own petards.
      [ridiculous pedantry]I think that should still just be "hoist". Like burn -> burnt, you have hoise -> hoist. You wouldn't say burnted.[/rp]

      [even more ridiculous childishness]"petard" is from the old French meaning "break wind", so you could say it's being "blown up by your own fart" (I guess petards either smelled pretty bad, or weren't very powerful)[/emrc]
  • Lobbying companies aren't new, but when you're Microsoft, it all changes?
    It's just good-ol'-boy business/politics in action.
    • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:24PM (#17102860) Journal

      So lobbying isn't new. So what. Just because the article lambastes Microsoft for lobbying doesn't mean it is flamebait, nor does it mean that the article is wrong. I could understand your angst if you were complaining that there are no articles on the net attacking other companies' lobbying efforts as being bad (like for instance, when you google for 'haliburton and lobbying'). I could also understand you being angry if perhaps you had previously, in this forum, tried to point our attention to lobbyists from other companies who were trying to create vendor lock-in in public/government sectors and were rebuffed.

      Lobbying is shite pure and simple. This story is an example of lobbying and conflict of interest in the technical/computer world. Seeing as how this is a forum on technical and computer related topics, it works here. So maybe you should have titled your post "This post is flamebait"... and I shouldn't have bit. Ahh well... can't help my nature.

      • Damn Straight (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Greyfox (87712) on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:55PM (#17104206) Homepage Journal
        Companies lobbying the government subvert democracy. That works when the taxpayers aren't paying attention but the country seems to be getting irritable about all the corruption at this point. I'm thinking news story about any law being made should mention how much money the sponsoring Congessmen get from the industry lobbies the bill helps out. Then you could say something like "Ted Stevens tried to attach a rider to the budget bill to the budget proposal again. Sen. Stevens has received $372,140 from oil and gas companies over the course of his career (According to opensecrets.org. [opensecrets.org])" I think there'd be far fewer shennanigans if news stories took that tone. I think it'd be better still if lobbying and riders were outlawed outright but then Congress wouldn't be able to get their piggy fingers on any of that pie. And Congress does like their pie...
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:46PM (#17102264)
    " Microsoft lobbyist Brian Burke was spearheading an effort to bring pressure on the state's Information Technology Division (ITD) by promoting an amendment that would have taken away much of the ITD's power to make technology policy."

    So, instead of spending time and money on making a better product, Microsoft decides to spend it on removing the power of choice from potential consumers? It's beginning to seem like the only products actually available in a free market here are the legislators themselves.

    If Office is so good, why is Microsoft so afraid?
    • by tokul (682258) on Monday December 04, 2006 @01:57PM (#17102458)
      If Office is so good, why is Microsoft so afraid?
      OpenOffice might be good enough and has lower price tag.
      • I think that might have been a rhetorical question.
        • by Jzor (982679)
          And so? Even if it was a rhetorical question the GP has the correct answer.
          MS is gambling a few million lobbying in hopes of making a few billion when the agency is forced to use their costly product over some other free product.
    • by LParks (927321)
      You assume that Microsoft could spend the time and money on making a better product. Placing these resources elsewhere, Microsoft couldn't really do much to actually improve Office.

      We've already seen a recent topic about the number of people involved in the Vista shutdown menu, so new hires wouldn't really help. They could spend their lobbying money on streamlining their processes and allowing better connectivity between different work groups, but is much more costly and will have less short term rewards. T
    • by Moofie (22272)
      "So, instead of spending time and money on making a better product"

      OK, what? We're talking about Microsoft. When has "making a better product" ever been their goal?
    • by tbradshaw (569563) on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:33PM (#17103882) Homepage
      So perhaps it's futile, but I have to mention that this isn't capitalism. It's corporatism or "crony capitalism". Capitalism doesn't involve lobbying for government assistance. Lobbying could be seen as a "short cut" to avoid having to deal with the market pressures of capitalism.
      • by Guppy06 (410832)
        "Lobbying could be seen as a "short cut" to avoid having to deal with the market pressures of capitalism."

        A business is dealing with market pressures by following the path of least resistance. I was under the impression that this is one of the basic principles of capitalism; after all, a business isn't supposed to actually resist those market pressures, but give way to demands and adapt. So it seems that you're saying that it's not capitalism not because it violates core philosophy, but because this part
        • by tbradshaw (569563)
          No, not because it's personally disagreeable.

          Capitalism in the ideological sense bars the use of force from interaction. That same ideology defines government action as force. (Indeed, government has a traditional monopoly on force.) So it's ethical for a individual/business/corporation to do any voluntary negotiation, the use of force is never voluntary.

          On the other hand, lobbying government is requesting the single monopoly of force to act on their behalf for something other than personal self defense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It never fails that those who criticize "Capitalism" are always actually criticizing the lack of Capitalism. Monopolization is the opposite of Capitalism.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Guppy06 (410832)
        "It never fails that those who criticize "Capitalism" are always actually criticizing the lack of Capitalism. Monopolization is the opposite of Capitalism."

        First off, you're assuming that I didn't recognize this, even though I pointed out the lack of any sort of free market thanks to lobbying.

        However, beyond that, you're assuming that monopolization has nothing to do with capitalism, denying that a monopoly (or at least an oligopoly) might simply be the natural outcome of a capitalistic market with no stat
    • by leoxx (992)
      Yeah, but Bill Gates is giving all his money to charity, so that makes it okay.
  • I remember there was a lot of effort put into ODF, then there was a change of political leaders in Massachusetts, and then .. I can't remember - did they scrap whole project, or not?

    What is the current state of Massachusetts switch?
  • Fourteenth! (After half an hour on Slashdot). Woot!

    Seriously, is this really surprising to anyone? I guess I'd be more interested to know who's pimping the blogger who spends so much valuable free time following this minutiae. (I only wish someone followed FEDERAL requisition contracts with as much interest.)
  • by netsfr (839855)
    Wasn't there an article recently about Gates for President??? I think MSFT is attacking on several fronts now...
  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:02PM (#17102552)
    Why do tech companies that work with OSS not insist on resumes only in ODF. Gently force the issue. After all other companies only accept DOC.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aadain2001 (684036)
      Why not skip all this formatting crud and simply ask for ASCII. That way, the document is already in an easily parsed format and allows the employer to use search functions and keywords to identify potential interviewees.
      • by alc6379 (832389)
        They won't go back to just ASCII because PHBs like to read pretty paper resumes, and print them out for interviews. Not that writing a parser to make a pretty, readable resume would be that difficult, but switching to ASCII might end up being too big of a "shock" for the people who do the hiring process.
      • by daem0n1x (748565)
        Submit your resumé in XML format and let the computer choose people!
    • by jZnat (793348) *
      Well, they can all take PDFs whether they say it or not. If they say they can't open the files (and they're valid PDFs), they're probably not worth working for (HR is bad enough at its best).
  • I agree! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Darlantan (130471) on Monday December 04, 2006 @02:20PM (#17102790)
    We can't possibly let these "information technology" people decide what to do with our inter-nets resources. They obviously don't understand the critical nature of how this technology works. Why, just this Friday I sent an email to one of my contacts in the state government there, and their internets were so clogged that it still hasn't arrived. If they can't keep their system of tubes clean, how can we possibly expect them to make good decisions about what prograpplications are wise to run on their computers?

    Sincerely,
    Sen. Stevens.
  • ODF in Saugus, MA (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'd read before here [livejournal.com] and there [wikipedia.org] that Saugus, MA [saugus.net] has been experimenting with the OpenDocument format for a (relative) long time. Does anyone know what the outcome there was? Is ODF still being used in Saugus?

  • It's all bloatware (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft's shenanigans appalls. But the sad thing is all this stuff is bloatware. Oo.org is even more bloated, and rather slower, than Office. And way back when it was Wordperfect started the rot.

    Take wp programs. *Most* people could do all the word-processing they need in a lightweight application that uses rft format. Software sellers have relied on adding "features" - features that most of their customers don't understand and don't need - to keep selling "upgraded" versions of their software. And with t
  • At least groklaw claims it's related.

    http://groklaw.net/ [groklaw.net]
  • Sue Apple!!! (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Pojut (1027544)
    SUE APPLE BECAUSE IT LAZOREDPEWPEWED THE MARKET WITH DRM INFESTED MUSIC!!!

    see how easy it is to make something that makes sense sound stupid?

    I don't get it. Microsoft gets sued because it had a better idea than everyone else (which, despite of whether you think it is bloatware or not, sales numbers do not lie...they didn't magically reach monopoly status, the market majority put them there) and yet Apple gets praised for it's "groundbreaking" mp3 player that has more restrictions on it than a 13 year old p
    • Don't you mean "bought a better idea?" or "embraced and extinguished competing ideas?"?
    • I just saw this bit about sales numbers not lying. ("sales numbers do not lie...they didn't magically reach monopoly status")

      I'm sure Nazi knick-knacks sold well in Germany at some point, that crack sells well in some neighborhoods, and Enron stock was once sought after.

      Boosters in the midst of those markets were probably comforted by the sales figures too.

      • by Pojut (1027544)
        Again, assumptions. "booster" as you implied me as...if you refer to posts above yours, you will note that I stated that I do NOT like microsoft. Try reading the whole thread first, asshat.
  • ...between 2 warring states, not what ends up being a feature request from a customer to their vendor.

    This is why Microsoft must be crushed, for no other reason than the "we know better what you need than you do" mentality that this just exemplifies. You do not continue doing business with clients being a jackass in any other position than that of MONOPOLY.
  • You can lobby for an industry or a group of firms or for the rights of some group of people. I'm not sure you can legally 'lobby' for a unique product, forcing it upon government to buy. I'm reasonably sure that's something like graft or bribery or extortion. Normally speaking government procurement is sent out for bidding, such as cars or equipment. And whoever gets the bid gets to deliver on it. But in terms of lobbying - I'm unconvinced you can represent Ford and then pay out monies to politicians to awa

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