December 29, 2005 6:20 AM PST

Massachusetts CIO quits amid OpenDocument debate

Peter Quinn has resigned from his post as chief information officer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to avoid further mudslinging over the state's controversial efforts to move to OpenDocument.

Quinn said that he was resigning to avoid being the personal focus of the controversy surrounding Massachusetts' move to open standards, according to a story in Wednesday's Boston Globe.

"It is readily apparent that I have become a lightning rod with regard to any IT initiative. Even the smallest initiatives are being mitigated or stopped by some of the most unlikely and often uninformed parties," Quinn said in an e-mail, sent to the state's IT department, that was cited in the Globe story.

"The last thing I can let happen is my presence be the major contributing factor marginalizing the good work of ITD (IT division) and the entire IT community," Quinn wrote.

A spokesman for the state confirmed that Quinn had submitted his resignation, effective Jan. 12, according to the Globe.

Eric Kriss, the former Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance who was Quinn's boss during much of the OpenDocument evaluation process, said that Quinn found it difficult to handle the personal attacks that followed the state's high profile move.

"I met with Peter briefly on December 21, prior to his decision, and he indicated to me he was extremely uncomfortable with the personal attention surrounding the open format controversy. Peter is an IT professional who is not accustomed to the rough-and-tumble world of politics," said Kriss in an interview with IT law site Groklaw.

Quinn was particularly affected by an earlier report that Massachusetts officials were looking into whether he had taken unauthorized trips to conferences, according to Kriss. Quinn was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

"He found the last few months to be very distasteful, especially (a) Boston Globe article that seemed to imply some sort of improper influence related to his conference travel," Kriss told Groklaw.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.


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This is stupid.
The one thing you got to love about polotics is they never really try to do the right thing. They do what ever they can to put the best light on themselves and if the right thing happens to fall in with that all the better.

On a side note. I recieved some documents from my state's government yesterday that was in Microsoft's Doc format instead of the usual rtf format. As a WordPerfect user I found that they would not open at all. Now personally I don't like Microsoft Office and have no intentions of switching to it ever. This is a good example of why an open document standard is needed. Although I have lot's of options for opening Microsoft documents I should need to use them. There should be a document standard (not controled by Microsoft) that allows me to create richley formated documents that can be opened by any program that supports it and is fully open spec so that no one company or organization can use special hidden features (yes that was a jab at Microsoft).

My only real complaint is why so many people stand behind the proprietary formats of tools used to communicate with each other. I think we have gotten it into our heads that by allowing corporation to keep on using proprietary formats that we somehow come out better than by following a good standard. Now I'm not saying that the OpenDoc standard is a good one, but at the very least we should demand that companies try to help make it one. I think if Microsoft, WordPerfect, etc. were committed to making communication easier they would all get behind this standard or maybe another one and try to create a robust and usuable standard.

As it stands I think the only goal of any company is the bottom line. Consumers are always left holding the bag no matter how great we think these companies are. I think someday we will grow into a document standard, but I don't see that day anytime soon. I think companies like Microsoft will always try to throw a wrench into the gears of progress when it doesn't fully favor them.

Just for the record. I don't care that much for Microsoft and somedays I really hate them, but I'm not oblivious to all they have contributed to the technology world. In many ways computers might not be where they are today had it not been for Microsoft. Bill Gates is truely a fierce competitor in the business world and although somethings he has done have been illegal I think most of the time he just competed more aggressivly with better marketing.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are just as STUPID !!!
If you are implying that Microsoft should just get out of Office business and conform to some " openDoc format " , you are just as stupid . This is a business and Microsoft created a better product that most people use today , except you and few other Knuckleheads. Get over it !!!
They have essentially won the fight. They have a Defacto standard in Office. Everybody else should make their product compatible and conform to Microsoft's standard and Technology , including Corel's Wordperfect .It's not Microsoft's problem if you cannot read a word Doc with Wordperfect .
Let the industry create a better product or standard to compete with Office. Until then , you are just as Stupid !!
Posted by sokorie (18 comments )
Link Flag
I do use application not document format
I use office application not document format. Want OpenDoc be used then make application that better and cheaper than MS office then ppl will use it.

I use office application for making money not for freedom. If all what you want is free of charge and freedom from vendor, then just dont use any application, but use paper instead.
Posted by TanNg (31 comments )
Link Flag
Open Standards vs Open Source
XML will be the defacto standard for documents and editors in the next 2-5 years. XML is an Open Standard that was supported by Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and many others. Open Standards are something that Microsoft embraces. Open Source is something entirely different where the model is based on services rather that the sale of software licenses and protection of IP. Open Source models will never be inovative they will always be a copy cat product that is 2 or 3 revs behind. Open Source just doesn't have the R&D budget, yet, to compete with Microsoft and their ability to introduce new technology.

Why would you want a cheap knock off anyway? Open Source productivity suites are gaining ground, but are far from cutting edge. (not including WordPerfect, which until recently was owned in part by MS)

Ultimately, the market will decide, not techie religion.
Posted by robvme (141 comments )
Link Flag
The whole point
The whole point of proprietary formats is to lock you in
nothing new, happens all the time
When you buy a video camera it uses 1 type of cassette when you buy a new one you probably want to stick with the same brand so that you can reuse the old ones. same thing with digital cameras (memory stick, CF etc etc)
Not all printers use the same cartridges either

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by SqlserverCode (165 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The argument about Proprietary vs Openness will rage on forever because there is no clearly defined winner either way. I don't think there is anything wrong with either way.

However, you get to a point with somethings when it becomes neccessary to create a standard. The downside is all to often you have competing standards. Such is the case with DVD's, Memmory Cards, and even connection technologies.

I think that because office programs have become a heavily used way of communicating that the need for a standardized document format has become neccessary. What you don't want is a single company controlling that standard. However, it is very possible that someday we will have two competing document standards.

In the end it's not about Proprietary vs Opennes it's about creating standards when they are needed. My belief is that we now need a document standard that is open and grows from the needs of the users. I would love to see companies like Corel and Microsoft be apart of the group that sets those standards.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
One Basic Question Is!
Since Mr. Quinn has stated that &gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;"It is readily apparent that I have become a lightning rod with regard to any IT initiative. Even the smallest initiatives are being mitigated or stopped by some of the most unlikely and often uninformed parties," Quinn said in an e-mail, sent to the state's IT department, that was cited in the Globe story"&lt;&lt;&lt;... What informs the judgements of "the most unlikely and often uninformed parties" that all else regarding Microsoft's proposed XML Office Format Standards, the already approved OpenDocument Format Standards by the OASIS Group as well as those decisions that will come from the rest of the "universe" with regards to the implementation of internationally accepted OpenDocument Format Standards (ISO) will revolve around the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I've switched to Open Office. I'm tired of constantly paying and then looking for numbers that I can't find when MS Office fails me! Or where is the Second Disc? So far Open Office is just fine and we all ought to help make it better. Why should Bill Gates just keep getting richer when we just keep getting poorer? Not to say that he was a gift to mankind at one time or another but his patent has run out on MS Office and it time that the open market take it over and humans be given the opportunity to have it FREE!
Posted by SgtSavage (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cruel monopoly M$
Good lord...

A good, well intentioned man in IT just had to resign because M$ dumped money at political officials to crush him.

** When the rights of a good man are trampled, we are all harmed. This is a sad moment.
Posted by UntoldDreams (91 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well it's...
polotics as usuall. I don't know if or how much money Microsoft threw at polotitians to get what they want, but I'm sure they could have gotten it cheaper. Seems I remember reading it somewhere that they had it in for this guy anyway.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
no mention of Microsoft M$
Interesting to see that this whole article does not seem to see it necessary to mention a single time the word 'MicroSoft', no mention of the political acrobatics performed in obscurity to achieve their goals. Allmost a class act!

I always thought c/net was kind of independent, after this article I wonder -
have they been bought by M$ too?
Posted by joers (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
maybe that's because there is no hard evidence that Microsoft paid anybody off.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
Peter Quinn was a good person
Peter Quinn, judging from his statements at public State House meetings, was a really cool guy. He instituted a "rolling deadline" for compliance with the new Open Document Standards to make sure that blind people and others would not be hurt by limitations in software that support the new Standards. I will miss him. A personal message: you were so brave when it came to advocating for Open standards, why suddenly cave in and resign your position? Who knows what your successor will do? Next time, be a man!

Posted by david752 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
working with state govt
There are a lot of really dumb and scared people in state government. They are not the brightest of the bunch. I've worked with a few. He was pretty lucky to even get that far with this Open Doc standard.

Lots of people don't appreciate other people stealing the spotlight. Or they are just filled
with FUD.
Posted by baswwe (299 comments )
Link Flag
And you knew Peter Quinn personally? You speak as though you
knew him. How do you know what kind of person he was? I
certainly don't. One could easily argue that he was an open
source zealot like many of the posters here in this forum, with
an agenda.

Does that make him a "good" person? I would call it
irresponsible and unprofessional. But then again, I don't know
this person and can't say what his real motive was. Did he have
the public interest at heart, or his own (as well as Open Source)?
Posted by Kent Pribbernow (14 comments )
Link Flag
Be a Man
Perhaps he has other responsibilities that require his being a "Man" He may feel that he signed on to do a job to the best of his ability, not to be a politician, and be drug through every pile of crap the "others" can find. If he kept on trying, once this reached into money and politics, who knows what someone, someplace, may have decided he was, or wasn't, the least of which is a "Man!" Seems that when it comes to money truth and reason get left at the gutter!
Posted by dland51 (91 comments )
Link Flag
M$ Contributions?
M$ doesn't deserve credit for technology contributions anymore than the guy who beat me in line at the bus depot.

They've held back technology as much as they've advanced it. Microsoft has spent most of the last 10 years wishing the Internet had never been invented.

If Microsoft had never existed I'm pretty certain another company would have jumped in to fill it's shoes... Einstein advanced science because he was advanced for his time...

Microsoft on the other hand is the abusive boyfriend of computer IT.
Posted by UntoldDreams (91 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can you be more specific?
Posted by robvme (141 comments )
Link Flag
What ever
happened to shrinky dinks?
Posted by Charleston Charge (362 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Typical government
can't get anything done.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Microsoft Standards Plan Has 'Bizarre Restrictions'"...
So says Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of standards and open source. This CRN News article further states, "The formats issue over office software has been galvanized in recent months around a struggle in the Massachusetts state government. As things stand now, the state's Informational Technology division has stipulated that OASIS' ODF be the state's standard, beginning in 2007. Microsoft has challenged that position and has gathered important political and legislative support that is attempting to amend the IT ruling in Microsoft's favor. The pro-Microsoft officials have cited Microsoft's submission to ECMA as a way to challenge the ODF standard"; see link:

<a class="jive-link-external" href=";articleId=175400214" target="_newWindow">;articleId=175400214</a>

It is quite obvious, although the company was not mentioned as was commented on in an earlier post, Microsoft has indeed somehow influenced some decision makers in the Massachusetts State Government.

The CRN News article also further states that, &gt;&gt;&gt;Microsoft has criticized the OASIS approach. In a statement, the software giant said: "The OpenDocument format would not meet requirements for backward compatibility, for forward compatibility, or for performance, that millions of Microsoft customers tell us that they require."

Microsoft also complained that Sun tailored the OASIS effort to favor its OpenOffice 2.0 release, open source software that competes with Microsoft's offerings.

"The problem with the ECMA submission (by Microsoft) is that it's not a collaborative thing," said Sutor. "Microsoft is planning something that is non-negotiable. And, this ECMA business is coming much too late"&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt; for the Open_Document_Format_Standards_Party! ;-)
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mr. Quinn
Is Mr. Quinn another vitim of Mr. Gate;s henchmen?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
As Vincent Cerf aqnd Robert Kahn were to the "internet"...
... so should Peter Quinn be to the world wide adoption of the "OpenDocument Format Standards" and companies such as Google, IBM or SunMicrosystems shoyld consider engaging him to accelerate and spear-head the offerings of highly "disruptive" (to some) Open XML Office (ERR) Standards to the rest of world's communities who can recognize their value and usefulness.
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Here we go again...
So a CIO quits because he can't handle the pressure... specially, from the press... then everybody talks about competing standards (released standards, de facto standards, proposed standards, etc.)...

Tracing back, Massachusetts was not very specific about a "standard" though they do name PDF and OASIS ODF. When MS announced their ECMA thing, Massachusetts said they might consider...

Now, in that context, define "standard"? :D
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Definition of Open Standards"
"Now, in that context, define "standard"?... Very easy, please follow link for "Definition of Open Standards":-

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thank you but...
... my point is in the context of the events and how standards are being considered by this government body. It seems that there is a shallow justification in adapting standards here. In fact, they seem open to adapting anything that claims they're standard. Eventually, the direction seems to depend on the public availability or popularity of the applications for these documents.
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Link Flag
Whatever open format will be, MS must support it
Just imagine a new vendor-free open document format that you cannot open in Microsoft Office aplications. Will it be safe to send documents in that format to numerous receivers without knowing what kind of office software they are using? No, better chances with usual choice of RTF or PDF.

As far as I know, Microsoft won't easily provide support to any format beyond their usual support list and PDF. And without Redmond supporting new format the document exchange will look like Internet couple of years ago: there are w3c standards and there are numerous sites working correctly only under IE.

Want it or not - who has dominance in the office market also has major voice in shaping the standards for that market.
Posted by ViktorCode (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Market dominance => Major Voice?
Not exactly. Market dominance gives the illusion of having the advantage or the edge in leading, shaping and perhaps influencing progress. However, that advantage/edge is not definite. It is still important to be competitive if not to be an active participant in meeting the demands of the times.

A #1 company must never close its eyes, cover its ears or shut its mouth. Because the #2 company is just a slot away...
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Link Flag
Quinn made the switch to Open Standards for political reasons and out of price consciousness, and quite possibly to thumb its nose at Microsoft.

However, the notion that an electronic document will become outdated with Microsoft and not Open Source is just a bunch of bologna. Data can be opened and shared in a variety of ways that will always make electronic docs available. Furthermore, Office has always been backward compatible, and continues to be, with previous versions.
Posted by robvme (141 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Excellent Point
AC adapters for your electronic devices are seldom compatible. IT has to change, however, so that platform doesn't matter. That is what .NET is about.
Posted by robvme (141 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Which Microsoft works very hard at making noncompatible with all other operating systems! Thank heavens the people involved in Open Source Software have been able to find work arounds for this "problem" that Microsoft has "created!"
Posted by dland51 (91 comments )
Link Flag
I should include J2EE
I should have included J2EE as well
Posted by robvme (141 comments )
Link Flag
Can you cite your source?
Not sure what you mean when you say Microsoft resisted these technologies. TCP/IP was a new protocol that many companies had to embrace when practical applications became available. Structured Query Language has been around for a very long time and even MS Access recognized this method of data query even though it wasn't a relational database product.

The others you mention, were incorporated into NT 4.0 about the same time that Novell, IBM, and others started implementing these technologies. Let's not forget that early Microsoft was partnered with IBM and Intel. Xerox was another contributor of these standards that Microsoft adopted and supported early on.

For the record:

TCP/IP was developed to be compatible with OSI framwork that existed before it and was adopted by the Department of Defense for its network, ARPA, this was years before Microsoft existed as a company and when Unix was king. Here is a link for you readers that are interested in the real history of this Protocol Suite:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

Likewise for SMTP (mail use to be propreitary)
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

SNMP was developed shortly after TCP/IP and submitted to the RFC. <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

It is common for industry rivals to disagree on standards as they each believe they have the best solution. Ultimately, it is the market and the technical feasibility that determines what technologies survive.

etcetra etcetra

I would be curious to see some citations that back up what you say.
Posted by robvme (141 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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