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The Courts Government United States Software Microsoft News

U.S. Justice Dept. Chooses Corel over Microsoft 390

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-they'll-even-use-open-formats dept.
peg0cjs writes "The Justice Department, which challenged Microsoft Corp. in courtrooms for nearly a decade over antitrust violations, will pay more than $2 million each year to buy business software from Corel Corp, according to this article from CANOE. 'The Justice Department will make WordPerfect software available to more than 20 organizations inside the agency, but not the FBI or Drug Enforcement Administration, which use Microsoft's Office business software exclusively, said Mary Aileen O'Donovan, a program manager in the Justice Management Division.' According to the article, the deal is worth up to $13.2 million over five years for Ontario-based Corel. Has sanity finally set in, or is this just a blip in Microsoft's dominance in controlling government software decisions?"
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U.S. Justice Dept. Chooses Corel over Microsoft

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  • Damn Lawyers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aneurysm9 (723000) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:14PM (#11871234)
    It's probably the lawyers' fault. For some reason a lot of them prefer Word Perfect.
  • Re:open office? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:17PM (#11871281) Homepage Journal
    2 million? ouch. just use open office

    While I wouldn't discount Open Office, $2 million to outfit such a large bureaucracy as the DoJ sounds like chicken feed. Heck, I've been places where we spent more than $2 million dollars, per year, for only about 1,000 people. (Intial outlay is high, then upgrades and service keep you bleeding.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:18PM (#11871285)
    Wow, so the DOJ chooses to buy one over the other. What's the big deal here? If Corel fit their requirements, why would anybody else care so much?

    This story has nothing to do with "rights". Your rights and mine are not affected by this story.

    Nothing to see here. Please move on.
  • Re:open office? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:19PM (#11871304)
    Look at the Proposed 2006 Budget [whitehouse.gov], and you'll see how little 2mil really is.
  • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joeljkp (254783) <joeljkparkerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:19PM (#11871308)
    Perhaps this hasn't occurred to you guys, but maybe -- just maybe -- WordPerfect was a better solution for the DoJ than OOo was.

    Do you know what their requirements are? Were you in the board room when this deal was being discussed?
  • Re:Hrm. (OOo) (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sho222 (834270) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:20PM (#11871316)
    I have to agree with the parent. I would love to see the gov move to OOo, and open source in general. However, even casual users of OOo repot major show-stopper bugs (espectially wrt interoperability with legacy MS Office docs). Commercial office suites like Corel's and Microsoft's are simply more stable at this point.

    Perhaps when OOo 2.0 becomes stable there can be an argument for moving to open source desktop applications, but until then, I can't blame the gov't for trying to stick to the tried and true.
  • Hahaha (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrluisp (724199) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:23PM (#11871363)

    is this just a blip in Microsoft's dominance in controlling government software decisions?

    Perhaps you've forgotten that Microsoft owns [geek.com] a sizeable amount of Corel and stands to profit from this deal anyways.

  • um, no... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RaZ0r (145723) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:26PM (#11871391) Homepage
    Has sanity finally set in, or is this just a blip in Microsoft's dominance in controlling government software decisions?

    No, someone in purchasing just happened to find something cheaper that could get the job done.

    Move along, nothing to see here. (as usual)

  • Re:Hrm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:27PM (#11871403)
    Other countries are spending their tax payer money to pay for the US software and other items. That is similar to importing Oil form the ME, Olive oil from Italy or wine from France. There is nothing wrong with that. If you want the government to save tax payer money, call your senator and ask him/her to support and use an open source alternative. Posting your comments here will not go very far.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:27PM (#11871409)
    The concept of Styles is far, far better.
    Yeah, just wait until you discover LaTeX or DocBook!
  • I call... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrackedButter (646746) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:29PM (#11871424) Homepage Journal
    Blip!
  • Re:Get used to it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:30PM (#11871442) Journal
    Compared to some of the contracts I've seen awarded lately, this barely even counts as overseas. Besides, we could use more trade with Canada.

    As a matter of fact, in light of the fact that you can walk from the US to Canada, one might even say that it DOESN'T count as overseas at all! :D
  • Haha (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rm999 (775449) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:31PM (#11871451)
    $13.2 million? that's like a penny to Microsoft.

    "What's a quarter?"
    -Bill Gates on Family Guy
  • Re:Hrm. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AKnightCowboy (608632) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:37PM (#11871515)
    Well, in the defense of these practices, it really isn't a viable answer to say "Well, I realize your software isn't working, I'll go post the question on Usenet or their Bugzilla system and wait a few days to see if anyone responds with a non-sarcastic response to RTFM." When shit hits the fan badly most companies (and the government) are more than willing to pay to get a warm body on the other end of a phone to take the heat.. even if they are in Banglore.
  • MOD PARENT UP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:38PM (#11871534)
    I support the clerical staff here at a federal courthouse. WordPerfect has been established since version 4. When something goes wrong, they hit the keystroke shortcut to Reveal Codes-- the same shortcut they used in the 80's! Some of our staff still use the Fkey template from years ago-- we have to write some macros by hand to make it work. I find it extremely painful, but they love it. Every attempt to change programs has died in committee. At the DOJ they probably touted all the new Corel features and made a big deal about it, but there's only one REAL reason they're buying. And it has nothing to do with "blipping Microsoft dominance".
  • by Noksagt (69097) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:40PM (#11871551) Homepage
    Word Perfect has styles too!

    Reveal codes is an absolutely wonderful feature for fixing broken documents. Not everyone uses Word styles (I'm tempted to say a minority do) & you WILL get broken, kludgy documents. If for no other reason than this, it would be nice to see where codes start/stop.

    It is nice to see exactly where an image is anchored or when a hyphen/spacing is breaking/nonreaking and when these or line/page breaks are optional or forced.

    It is also extremely useful to see when a STYLE starts/stops! Third-parties sell an atrocious hack to put a reveal codes feature into Word. The real thing is better.

    It is the next best feature to using transparent plaintext formats like docbook/LaTeX, where you can get the same info.
  • Re:Hrm. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Noksagt (69097) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:42PM (#11871572) Homepage
    I'm sure Sun would be willing to address each of these points if the government had bought into Star Office (which uses much of the OO.o codebase). There are also independent support providers which would write out a contract & provide training for OO.o.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:43PM (#11871574)
    More likely they're still pissed at Microsoft and look at this as a good way to thumb their collective noses at Bill Gates.
  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:54PM (#11871669) Homepage Journal
    They're spending US$2M a year on this software. Perhaps it would have been a better use of that money to develop the software they'd need to make OO.o to do what they want - or just enhance OO.o directly - and free themselves from the need for proprietary office software permanently. Why are we supposed to rejoice when a part of the federal government leaves one commercial package for another commercial package?
  • by Recovery1 (217499) on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:56PM (#11871684) Homepage
    No, I bet a more likely reason they went and bought from Corel instead of going with OpenOffice is so they can justify their spending budgets. In our government I have been told if you department doesn't spend their full budget you get that much less next year. That's why governments go hog crazy on spending in Febuary just before income tax time.

    Go with OpenOffice? but that would make us short our spending budget? Are you mad? You're fired..

    Maybe I'm wrong, but this seems a more plausable reason in my mind anyway.
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:01PM (#11871735) Homepage Journal
    More likely they're still pissed at Microsoft and look at this as a good way to thumb their collective noses at Bill Gates.

    Not really a wise decision to state such. As the federal government has to go through an objective bidding process for procurement, Microsoft could appeal, charging these people as being biased and rigging the bidding.

    If you're in a public agency, involved with purchasing, you learn pretty fast to keep your yap shut on your own favoring/disfavoring opinions, because it's embarrassing to the head of the organization when a challenge is issued and it's found your people shot their mouths off after stearing the bidding.

  • by Noxx (74567) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:02PM (#11871744)
    Face it, this isn't a rare case of sanity in the DOJ *or* a blip. It's somebody high up in the DOJ with authority over purchasing who decided that it would look ridiculous for the DOJ to prosecute a high-profile software company, achieve a questionable resolution, and then turn around to use their software exclusively.

    No difference between this and a software company using their own inferior in-house software rather than purchase something outside...it might make them look bad. Image counts for more than logic.

    And yes there is a difference between an executive branch office and a publicly traded corporation...but the same internal politics still apply.
  • In addition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@GAUSScornell.edu minus math_god> on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:03PM (#11871757) Homepage
    As mentioned earlier, lawyers tend to prefer WordPerfect for a number of reasons. The Justice Department has a lot of those. :)

    OpenOffice may actually have proven to be totally unsuitable for the lawyers in the Justice Department, just as MS Office has proven to be wholly unsuitable.

    In addition to historic precedent, Corel has been solidifying their niche market by catering towards lawyers. I think they are the only word processor developer that has actually marketed a version specifically catered towards lawyers, and I believe their general overall development is heavily influenced by the needs of one particular market which Corel is well-established in and wants to stay well-established in.

    Unlike MS, Corel is maintaining a stranglehold on that particular market not by underhanded tactics, but by releasing a product that is clearly superior for that particular niche.

    I would not be surprised if in addition to the fact that OO has only recently become viable in general, OO may be wholly unsuitable for lawyers just as MS Office still is.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:04PM (#11871759) Homepage Journal
    I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that their idea of Justice Management is closely akin to Microsoft's idea of Rights Management...
  • Re:Hrm. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SpooForBrains (771537) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:05PM (#11871772)
    Yes, absolutely, but what people often don't realise that it's a much better financial decision to take the money and spend it on a knowledgeable consultancy/development team that can actually fix these problems, than spending it on a monkey in a call centre who'll add your ticket to their system, shove it to the bottom of the queue and ignore it for three years.
  • Re:Hrm. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:11PM (#11871858)
    Because when this eval and bid process was started, OOo was not really a viable alternative.
    You make it sound like it is now ;)

    Nothing's really changed in OO.org. It's still slow, ugly, poor usability (floating menus for choosing headings? -- even firefox moved their find to the side rather than floating over and obscuring text you're trying to read).

    OO.org needs to get a better UI, preferably by ripping off MS Word / Corel (it's not like they haven't done it to each other a million times anyway -- or that original interface ideas for word processors would even be useful considering how stabilised the market is)

  • You Know the Drill (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:13PM (#11871887) Homepage Journal
    Announce that you're going with $COMPETING_PRODUCT to get Microsoft to cut you huge discounts. I expect that in a couple of weeks an announcement will come out that Microsoft pulled a bulk discount out of their ass and that the DOJ will be going with Office, after all.

    Though I must admit to being a bit puzzled as to why they didn't say they're going with an all-linux solution. Nothing makes Microsoft crap their pants and shoot that bulk discount out faster than saying you're going with Linux...

  • by shufler (262955) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:37PM (#11872120) Homepage
    I hear from users that WP is better to use, but personally I could care less. Office is just plain less trouble to support, and most things Lusers want to do is stupid anyway. Psst... you are on the clock to work, not to play.

    Sweet jumping Jesus! I would hate to have you as my System Administrator. As you said -- the USERS like WP better. Not because they can play, but because they LIKE IT BETTER. Just because you don't like the way the software is supported shouldn't be the final reason for not picking the software. The money saved by having the USERS more productive would be more than enough to pay for the support contract.

    I should point out that Microsoft has support contracts for Office too. A lot of the time the free information you can find in the MSDN or online somewhere won't solve your problem. If you need to pay in the end anyways, why not use the software the USERS prefer?

    Holy shit, where do you work? I'll gladly take your job and save that company time, money, and probably idiotic commentary from you.
  • by bayerwerke (513829) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:05PM (#11872368) Homepage
    You may have reversed the cause and effect relationship. Don't teach how to use Word and Excel, teach how to use a word processor and spreadsheet. The software brands are not all that different and the school's job is not to create future Microsoft apologists, I think it has something to do with that student learning thing.
  • by AstroDrabb (534369) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:44PM (#11872629)
    Microsoft could appeal, charging these people as being biased and rigging the bidding
    Do you really think that charge would stand? Did you RTFA? MS wanted $150(US) per copy of their office suite while Corel wanted $40(US) per copy. Do the math. Any court would laugh MS out based on those numbers. Clearly someone with some _balls_ said WordPerfect is "good enough" and "does what we need" and cost considerably less, so why should we (the U.S. Justice Dept.) pay the MS "tax"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @10:00PM (#11872736)
    In our government I have been told if you department doesn't spend their full budget you get that much less next year.

    Which is an myth, pure and simple, propagated by conservatives to spread the gospel of Government inefficiency. Ever heard of a not-so-little thing called the GAO [gao.gov]?

    That's why governments go hog crazy on spending in Febuary just before income tax time.

    And the more detailed the nonsense is, the more easy it is to debunk; the federal fiscal year starts in October.

  • As you are being wheeled into the operating room you notice the surgeon examining the instruments with which his about to work on you. You are horrified to notice that he is wielding a mixed assortment of hand carpentry tools.

    "Apologies" he says - "these are not the tools I wanted. But I was told by the administrator they are much easier to maintain and they do save the hospital a lot of money. I shall make do as best as I can..."

  • Re:In addition (Score:3, Insightful)

    by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1 AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @01:58AM (#11874445) Journal
    Actually, it would be helpful for any law clerks or paralegals (Pamela are you there?) or lawyers to give critical feedback to the Oo developers, so any perceived deficiencies or missing features can be added to the next release.
  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mibus (26291) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @02:42AM (#11874716) Homepage
    Why are we supposed to rejoice when a part of the federal government leaves one commercial package for another commercial package?

    Because they clearly realise that they have choice in the matter. That they acknowledge that alternatives exists, and critically evaluate the alternatives, is the most important thing here - not what software they ended up with.

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