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Corel Sues U.S. Department of Labour 328

tpck writes "Corel is suing the U.S. Department of Labour for favoring Microsoft's Office software over Corel's own WordPerfect. They have already successfully sued the Canadian government for similar discrimination and won $9.9 million. "
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Corel Sues U.S. Department of Labour

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  • I can't wait till abisuite is ready for prime time! It will be the first *good* office suite to target: Linux, xBSD, Windows, MacOS and BeOS simultaneously! So no matter what I am using I can run it. Now that is a killer app considering how good AbiWord is already. What will happen when abisuite becomes the dominant government suite? Microsoft and Corel sue because they can't make a buck since Abi is free?
  • by raskolnik ( 101795 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @06:41AM (#1463263)
    That's it, I'm moving to Canada, where this shit doesn't....oh, they did it there too?...crap...
    "You should never have your best trousers on when you turn
  • if they are suing the US department of Labor, would it be spelled "Labor"... not "Labour" =)

  • I don't know if the poster of this article bothered reading the link, but the summary is not accurate. Corel is suing the Department of Labor because they believe that DOL made it easier for MS to win the contract then Corel. This is significantly different then what the summary posts, which basically states that COrel is suing because they are sore losers. In this case, Corel may or may not have a case - the court system will figure it out. If it's true, DOL should be smacked - especially because a large portion of their machines had WOrdPerfect licenses already. I hate money wasters.
  • by notsosilentbob ( 111705 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @06:43AM (#1463267) []

    Not much more detail, but some:

    "Corel has taken this step to ensure that the United States Government follows its own rules for open and fair procurement," said Marcia Mills, Corel's Corporate Counsel. "This is not a matter particular to Corel, nor are we targetting our competitors -- the Department of Labor's decision adversely affects all software vendors and suppliers to the government."

  • by Eon78 ( 19599 )
    It seems to me that the US (& maybe Canadian) law systems should be changed. I live in the Netherlands, and each time I read a story in the newspapers about someone suing someone else about the most rediculous things (and then winning even more rediculous amounts of money) it is always in the US... It looks more like the US law system is for providing lawyers a large salary than doing justice to those that deserve it. Anyway, my 2 cents... -- Eon.
  • Corel said yesterday that it and other software makers were blocked earlier this year from bidding fairly for a lucrative contract with the U.S. department because it standardized its software on Microsoft's office automation suite[...]

    Huh? What exactly does this mean? I wish the press were more clear in laying down the facts. My first impression (despite my dislike for Microsoft) was that Corel was being a crybaby, so I read the article to get some more facts, but the facts (e.g. the mechanism of the government's alleged misdeed) weren't clearly spelled out. So instead of being mad at Microsoft or Corel, I'm now mad at whatever news organization provided the article (I didn't bother to find out whose web site hosts the article -- I just skipped down to the content, ignoring the rest).

  • Hmmmm, almost had the same idea in uni.
    As a mac user being taught and having to use only Win stuff feels like discrimination. Same goes for linux.

    If you don't have your favorite tools at hand ( an OS could be discribed the same way), or you can't use them because of the setup, creates a disadvantage compared to the win jockeys who conform.

    That ain't fair!
    I won't even mention the fact that they had alot more PC stuff on offering compared to the mac stuff in the uni shop....
    Although, I now have a more diverse background.
  • How can you sue someone over their what they like? It seams to me that the courts have become somewhat of an over protective mother for companies to go tattle-tale on other companies.

    Being that in most cases it can be a major undertaking to switch from one prodect to the other. With having to remove the current software, then install the new software, train all the people on the new software and then convert all the data over to the new software format. It can cost a company much more then the products worth if theres not a massive difference between the two softwares.

    I'm not a large fan of MS by any means but I always go by the saying "If it's not broke, then don't fix it" and if the US Dept of Labor is comfortable with a product they already use, or the feel that MS has an advantage, then thats their right as a consumer.

    Just my $0.02
  • Whoops, sorry! :) Old Canadian habit of mine. :)
  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @06:55AM (#1463274)
    While I would disagree that Corel is perhaps reaching a little to far over the border in this case, I would agree with their motives.

    Trying to get a purchasing body to adhear to it's own rules of fairness is best solved in the courts, and I think Corel will do well in the case.

    On the PR side of this issue, this should send a clear signal to all purchasing agents across the big and small companies alike and ask/force them to ask "are we giving the other choices a fair look?".

    The more people start thinking this way (even if they're being forced to by a $10M suit) the more people will look at competing productivity apps in a better light, and competing OSs on a better light . .

    This kind of thinking is good for open source, and gives quality software a chance to be judged on it's performance.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Interestingly enough, the article states: "In the Canadian case, Corel argued that Revenue Canada's May, 1998, tender for new office software was inherently stacked in favour of Microsoft because all other bidders were required to provide estimated costs for converting the department's Microsoft software and for training staff. The department had already been using Microsoft products." Holy hell in a handbasket, Batman! If the Canadians were already using Microsoft, why shouldn't the costs for converting to a new software be taken into account?
  • by soulhuntre ( 52742 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @06:57AM (#1463277) Homepage
    This article's summary and the implicationsof it are downright misleading.

    We have all heard over and over that /. is not a conventional news organization. Fine, I can understand that. However, that should be a reason to grant it lattitude on what topics it covers - not on the accuracy of the post.

    But as a technical person I have a hard time excusing completely inaccurate information.

    This is about posting a rumor and having it turn out wrong - that's fine. This is about postign a story with a summary that abolutely 100% is not in line with the article it is linked too.

    It is currently so bad that there is no point in trusting the summaries.

  • by timothy ( 36799 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @06:57AM (#1463278) Journal
    It's a dillemma that all government spending creates: how do you pick the suppliers who will provide your (toilets / cafeteria service / word processor) *fairly*?

    To my mind, in the end there are only more fair and less fair ways for govt. agencies to choose suppliers, no truly fair ones.

    Why? Because unlike a private company (which can buy MS software all they want, for all I care, and more power to 'em, if that's what makes sense), government agencies are also simultaneously supposed to be stewarding the tax dollars of the taxpayers whose money allows them to function. Care to buy a toilet seat marked up by the Pentagon? Probably not -- because that 'stewardship' function often gets lost in the mix, since accountability is low / anonymity hight / consequences indirect / proof elusive.

    The Labor Dept. may have sound, thought-out reasons why they want MS products: they've probably come up with a middle- or long-term scenario which says that preserving existing compatibilities is the most economical solution for them. No analysis of that kind is untainted by the assumption set of those who create it, of course -- all I'm saying is that it's likely that their analysis people say "For the reasons X, Y and Z, we need to stick with Word and Excel, therefore with Microsoft." Possibly very shortsighted, but then concrete reasons are often more persuasive than statements about principle and potential. Also, if I can *prove* (on paper, anyhow) that my answer will save you $500 a year, while your solution merely provides the *potential* to save $5,000 a year ...

    Arguments like "Shouldn't we be using open file formats like XML for all documents, so that the choice of application vendors becomes a fluid and mutable one?!" I bet don't get real far in the DOL.

    And consider how strange it is that one arm of the US Fed. govt. is trying to chop up (or at least demote) Microsoft, while another says "Yep, these are the guys whose software we like!" Computer companies (hard and software) love Govt. sales, at least once the elaborate bidding and qualification process is over, because they know that once in the door, govt. bodies tend to re-order rather than switch vendors at the drop of a hat. Think Morton-Thiokol.

    Shades of the two French senators ... perhaps Messrs. Graham and Rudman would like to introduce a bill requiring that Free / free solutions be included in cost analyses for all Federal government computer purchases ...


    p.s. I think the Dept. of Labor should be jettisoned, anyhow. This here's just one more reason.

  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @06:58AM (#1463279)
    FWIW, I've been there a few times. In theory, Government RFQs are supposed to set out the needed characteristics; the order is required by law to go to the lowest bidder complying with the requirements. In theory this prevents corruption by leveling the playing field. In practice, bureaucrats get around it by writing the requirements to exactly match the (preselected) product.

    For instance, I once saw an RFQ that specified the exact length of the power cord plus or minus a quarter inch. Amazingly, that was the length of IBM's cord, but not one commercially available. All of the other bidders had to have custom cords made (at extra cost.) The same pattern was repeated all through the RFQ.

    In Corel's case, what appears to have happened was that the Labor Department insisted on several of Word's quirkier features (e.g., macro language) which almost nobody uses. Instant disqualification for everyone but Microsoft.
  • by Bitscape ( 7378 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @06:58AM (#1463280) Homepage
    If the government wants to curb Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior, the first, and most obvious, measure to take would be to refrain from encouraging these practices by patronizing the monster. It is hypocracy to for the DOJ to put Microsoft on trial, while another branch rewards the very behavior that is to be stemmed.

    Perhaps what is needed is a boycott by all government institutions of companies under investigation for antitrust violations. At the very least, they shouldn't be making exclusive deals with them.

    Of course, implementing and enforcing consistancy of moral purpose with such an enormous bureaucracy is probably asking too much anyway.

    In Microsoft's case, it's especially easy to suspect foul play, due to the inferior nature of their products. Why would any halfway intelligent entity sign away their productivity if some shady deal making weren't going on under the table? But then again, this is the government we're talking about.

    Ugggh. The corruption just makes me sick.

  • You're right, I probably could have put that a better way. My apologies.
  • The quoted item does not have the proprietary characters in the Corel press release. For example, "Labor's" has an apostrophe in it rather than a proprietary character as in "Labor?s".
  • Mmm, my fault. I didn't intend to mislead. I see your point tho. Sorry.
  • Is that American or Canadian?

    If it's Canadian, they have created quite a precedent - the American DoL may be forced to settle for $2 or $3 US!

    Minnesota... A bit too close for my taste. =)
  • Its a variant of labor... chiefly british
    dictionary entry [].
  • The problem with mandatory boycotts if it is under investigation for antitrust, is that we begin assuming that you are guilty until proved innocent.

    Also, this creates an even larger opening for corruption. Senator J. Doe of Minnesota, who receives funding from ABC Software, Inc. decides he will request investigation of BCD Software, Inc. which makes a rival product - and all this right at the time that the Department of Tomfoolery has decided to upgrade their widget-making software. With this new investigation, the DoT will be barred from purchasing the software from BCD. Hence, they lose a large contract, all because of political motivations - and you have to admit this curbs any kind of competition.

    The last thing we need now is mandatory courses of action. Besides, what if the M$ (gasp) product is better than Corel WP?

    I hereby declare a Jihad on personal opinion - we must all conform!

  • Well, if you think that's good, what about StarPortal, whenever that appears? A java based office suite seems much cooler to me than one which actually needs to be ported/recompiled for each additional platform.

    Go Sun!
  • I seem to remember that Corel were pointing out (then) that new levels of MS Software were not necessarily compatible with existing levels. This meant that the cost of conversion (which was held to be zero with MS) applied to the MS Software as much as anyone.

    The $9.9 Million that Corel got were not worth the lawsuit. They could not be said to have won that case.
  • The problem with mandatory boycotts if it is under investigation for antitrust, is that we begin assuming that you are guilty until proved innocent.

    True. Perhaps just a boycott of companies that have been found at fault by a judge. This would implicate Microsoft under the FoF, would it not? Of course, the deals in question probably took place before the FoF came out.

    Besides, what if the M$ (gasp) product is better than Corel WP?

    Given that, according to the article, most of the workstations had already licensed WordPerfect, it would seem that the people actually using the software thought differently. Otherwise, they would have installed Microsoft software in the first place, right?

  • Yeah, I think he knew that. I think we all knew that. But the point is that if it's the "US Department of" then it's spelled "Labor" not "Labour"


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • What the FSCK(1) is with the stupid Brit spelling? Slashdot is an American site, isn't it? Don't they know that there is a dangerous shortage of "U"s in the world. The genius, Noah Webster, had the brilliant foresight to see this waste of precious Us and did something to halt their senseless slaughter. Words that don't need nor pronounce the Us had them revoked (color, flavor, labor, etc.). And what's with the "re"s on words like center and meter and theater? Are we FRENCH? No! Death to the French! Turn those "re"s around to domonstrate your proud dislike of French influence upon the English language. De(d) to (p)e Gauls and (p)eir cyngs who wra3t haevoc upon (p)e En3lish lan3ua3e!

    This is not 'l33t sp33k. The (p) = the thorn character [voiced th sound], 3 = yogh [gh sound], ae = asc [short a], and (d) = the eth [unvoiced th sound] character in the above.

  • It's not a frivolous lawsuit. When the DOL doesn't allow an open a fair bidding process - there is nothing wrong with using the courts to remedy the situation. For heaven's sake, your tax dollars are being used to pay for this software.

    This is a case where some bureaucrat decided on his own, without justifying the decision, that MS software should be used, regardless of the cost, and changed the bid specs so that only MS could submit a "compliant" bid.
  • Ha ha ha

    Abisuite? The dominant goverment suite? It'll never happen buddy, don't kid yourself. Right now Abisuite is just about in dead last place among all the suites in terms of usability. Abiword's not bad, but its typesetting is horrible and its functionality is still in need of a lot of improvement (how many menu items still say "Needs to be Finished" when you click on them?).

    Star Office is in a much better position for multi-platform usage, but I don't think we'll be seeing the end of MS Office any time soon, so keep your pants on.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • As long as lawyers are in control of the Judiciary, they will always be open to "help" their buddies.
    It's also looks to me like a conflict of interest when the Clintons and most of Congress are lawyers!
    Opportunistic lawyers are feeding off of the American's desire for more money with less work. There haven't been revolutionary changes in the legal system here in 200 years. All that changed are more laws which can used by lawyers to fill their pockets.
    How do we change the legal system? Not easily. But i'd like to see a)informed juries. (a jury is 12 people who are too dumb to get off jury duty). b)Punative damage settlements go to level government in which the case is tried. c)Lawyers only get a fixed fee. (something no less than $100,000) d) Plaintiff gets realistic damages. ($12 million for spill coffee because you are a f*cking idiot is not realistic, a kick in the ass would be) e) Loser pays for all legal costs incurred, not the taxpayer.)
  • whoops... "(something no less than $100,000)" should read, "(something no more than $100,000)"
  • Perhaps this too: a frivolous case may be thrown off by the judge, and the lawyer punished by a fine, without hearing the jury. A case, after being thrown off, could still be appealed to a superior court, however. In this case, the lower court judge could be punished for wrongly considering a case "frivolous".
  • I'm not a large fan of MS by any means but I always go by the saying "If it's not broke, then don't fix it" and if the US Dept of Labor is comfortable with a product they already use, or the feel that MS has an advantage, then thats their right as a consumer.

    Uh, go read the article again. They already had many licenses for WP. *AND* the US Gov. is not a consumer in my book. They are an end-user of the US Consumer's (i.e. Taxpayer) money. They should be making EVERY resonable effort to get the most for MY money. A fair and equitable bid process is essential for that to happen.

  • I got the following reasoning for PTO changing to MS Office from a PTO patent examiner in a bar one night. My experience leads me to believe that this the following was at least partially true regarding the PTO. Above the PTO level is speculation on my part.

    The Patent and Trademark Office has 6000+ examiners using WordPerfect. Since the Director's office of the agency uses MS Office (they switched to MS Office so it would be easier to communicate with the Secretary of Commerce office, which uses MS Office (they switched because the White House uses MS Office)) the head of the agency set a policy that all of the PTO would be switched to MS Office to help facilitate communications. Trouble is, the PTO had invested a bunch of money in building up very complex macros in WordPerfect. These macros were used in millions of documents that examiners write in response to patent applications.

    So if the reason the White House switched to MS Office is because Al Gore, the technology guru of the White House, is buddies with Bill Gates then can we safely say that the trickle down of MS Office to all agencies, regardless of value to the Nation, is the result of a politician's favoritism for a high profile megalomaniac.

    I've got to run now, so this is kind of crudely written.

  • Yeah, and they don't think about all OSes either... Damn them. Why can't they all just write they're software in ANSI C. Then we'd all be able to use it.

    Unless the software in question is written in a multiplatform language like Java, no company can be expected to support Every possible platform... it's just a matter of spreading oneself too thin. So they pick one or two platforms and go with them.

    Why can't the support Debian/Slackware? We'll their software will probably work on Debian/Slackware but if they had to go out and test their software under each and every Linux distro it would take forever and the suite would never be released. That's why. It's not a problem, it's just logistics.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 18, 1999 @07:49AM (#1463314)
    A bit of background. These huge monolithic government departments (ie. US DOL) usually have a central office then many bureaus under them. For example, US DOL has the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), etc. that are usually in separate buildings, separate WANs, etc.

    I work for one of the larger agencies and REALLY have to laugh. Main US DOL has been using Wordperfect for years and the agency I work for has always been a Micro$oft shop. We've been begging them for years to standardize on a single standard for document interchange, and now that they've come to the darkside like us and abandoned Wordperfect, they're getting sued.

    Pretty funny stuff.

    Guess you have to work there...
  • Ever try Corel Office for Java? It was, shall we say, less than useful. I like Java for little things, but for big apps like office suites I think you really *want* to recompile for each platform just to have a chance of using some optimization rather than writing for a lowest-common-denominator virtual machine.

    Portable code is your friend - "Write once, { ./configure ; make ; make install } anywhere" (tm & patent pending).
  • What an irrelevant discussion! Who cares if the person spelt the word "Labo[u]r" in a manner that was correct for them? A simple mistake: it's the meaning that's important. There are plenty of Americans who do just the same the other way round, and unlike this person are completely ignorant of the fact.

    Talk about splitting hairs! /. is an international forum - a lot do not speak American English as their primary language (some even choose to avoid and speak other variations in preference.)

    It was a fool who moderated the original comment of this thread as interesting. We've had enough of these pointless national differences discussions on /., most of them degenerate into nationalistic bigotry.
  • by quonsar ( 61695 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @07:56AM (#1463317) Homepage

    Probably off-topic, but this reminded me for some reason of Enable. Enable was a powerful integrated office suite that ran on DOS and UNIX under X. Word processing, spreadsheet with charting capabilities, database, and communication components, all programmable via macros and a built-in 'report language' that reached into every component. Powerful stuff in its time. I think it was 1987 or so when my employer at the time bought version 1. The last I heard of them was a telephone conversation I had with one of thier sales reps in 1993 or so. She told me (with a certain excitement) that they had just signed a deal with Microsoft in which they agreed not to develop Enable for Windows. In return, MS would not port its office apps to X and compete against them in thier biggest market - the feds. Enable was selling tons of its product at the time to the federal government. A couple of years later Enable Software Inc. had completely disappeared. I recently found out that the former employer I mentioned is still running some applications we developed with Enable back in 1987! In MS-DOS windows under Win95! Does anybody know the rest of the story of what happened to Enable?

    "Rex unto my cleeb, and thou shalt have everlasting blort." - Zorp 3:16

  • Anyone find more info about the contract? I searched through the obvious places and couldn't identify it. Searching for "Microsoft" comes up with a lot of procurement announcements, but adding "Department of Labor" produces zero...but it could be listed under the subdivisions.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As I recall, Corel successfully sued the Canadian gov't because the gov't specified that, while anyone could submit a bid, if the bidder wasn't submitting one based on M$ products, they had to cover re-training costs for staff. Naturally, Corel thought this was unfairly prejudiced against them, and the courts agreed.

    Personally, though, as both Word and WordPerfect have graphical environments, I don't see a heck of a lot of difference in using one or the other. More advanced users may disagree, however.

  • While I tend to agree with you because the software *I* like (ie. open source software) happens to be on the protagonist side of this argument, there are other issues to consider... one being the freedom of choice of the buyer. I mean, if we're really looking at freedom of choice, aren't we also allowing for the possibility that people might actually want MS products? Why should we condemn them because they made the "wrong" choice, just because we think our choice is the "right" choice?

    Everyone has a right to choose -- after all, isn't that the freedom of choice we're all fighting for here? How far can we go with Corel's attitude here? Are we saying, in the name of "fairness" that every company must be forced to consider options other than the one they chose in their freedom to choose, just because they must also be "fair" to competing products? What if a company decides to use Linux and Linux only -- are we saying then that they are "unfair" to other products like MS, Sun or whatever else out there?

    Of course, you might say that the other options have better quality and thus merit consideration -- but remember that you can take the horse to the water but you can't make it drink. If people want to choose the "lousier" alternative, who are we to stop them? After all, that is their freedom to choose.

    (Flame-shield: I'm not criticizing Corel. Just pointing out that the argument works both ways.)

  • Well, it's been a couple years. Theres now Java2, plus we all have machines that are twice as fast, so the software that crawled then could be usable now. As sun grows the JVM, we will see richer and richer apps coming our way.
  • Well, I'm Canadian, but it occurs to me, if you are an american taxpayer, maybe you should sue the US government for wasting your tax dollars by not using Linux and Star Office.
    Any idea how much the choice to run windows on all of the US government's computers must be costing?

    Just here to stir up trouble.

  • this is the summarry:

    tpck writes "Corel is suing the U.S. Department of Labour for favoring Microsoft's Office software over Corel's own WordPerfect. They have already successfully sued the Canadian government for similar discrimination and won $9.9 million. "

    This is the first paragraph of the article:

    Ottawa -- Corel Corp. is suing the U.S. Department
    of Labor for allegedly tilting a bidding process in favour of Microsoft Corp., fresh off the Ottawa software maker's successful lawsuit against the Canadian government.

    To me it looks like a fairly decent summary.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Corel's reasoning seems rather flawed to me. While I'd hate to see the government spend $500.00 on a wrench when they could buy a similarly functional wrench for $5.00, software is a whole different beast. Like it or not, we all realize you pretty much have to be MSOffice compatible in order to exchange documents with outsiders. Now, most suites, including COREL's, have the ability to export to Office, but usually the results are mixed (at best).

    When it comes to software you can't just say cheaper is always better..There are so many other factors. By Corel's own reasoning, the DOL should be using AbiWord, KOffice or hell even emacs or vi. They are all free, saving us taxpayers those millions of dollars.

  • > How can you sue someone over what they like?

    I agree. Me, I like bribery. I like it a lot. As I become more responsible for purchasing decisions at my current organization, I hope that we can foster an environment in which more of these decisions can be made through bribery.

    While some might say that the US Department of Labor, as a branch of government, should make purchasing decisions based upon product quality and price, I think it's time that government takes a lesson from industry. I'll tell you how we make these decisions in industry. These decisions are made on the basis of "gifts". You open-source people understand the "gift culture", right? If MicroSoft sales agents are willing to give me a gift, perhaps a night on the town in the company of women of loose morals, I think that's a good thing. I will give them a gift: I will add clauses to the Product Selection Guidelines: "There must be an animatronic paperclip constantly bouncing in the lower-right hand corner."

    As a result of this, everyone is happy:
    I am happy--I have received a gift worth thousands of dollars.
    MicroSoft is happy--they will receive a contract worth millions of dollars.
    My organization is happy--they have a set of Product Selection Guidelines which will make the purchasing decision a snap--because there is only one product on the market that matches those guidelines.

    Everyone gets what they like. (Except, maybe, the poor shmoes who actually have to use the software.) Those Corel people are just a bunch of spoilsports.

  • Good grief, I AM NOT!

    I used Netscape on my Macintosh G3 to both copy and paste the text. I don't use MS-Anything!


    p.s. my post looks fine in Netscape on my Mac. What are you using to read this?
  • Its true, every day hundreds of organizations make huge donations to MS, just because its a safe bet. I wonder how many IT managers really bother to take a look at the competition to MS Office before "standardizing", and weigh the cost benifits between packages. I used to work for the Goverment in an IT capcity. I could'nt sole source a $60 video card without detailed justification as to why I wanted a particular brand/model, but for some reason, there was absolutley no problem with ordering 1000 seats of a particular office automation package at $300 a pop. Perhaps law suits will force the goverment and industry IT departments to start using what was once common out the right tool for the job at the most economical price point. I see too many IT staff walking around these days in a MS daze. At some point these people stopped looking outside the box. Any manager who makes a decision on standardized software without investigating all of the options is not doing thier job. Indeed, doing so while working for the goverment is also illegal.

    just my $.02

  • by Serf ( 11805 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @08:20AM (#1463331)
    Can I do a song, but stay on-topic?
    Let's see....

    Got it!

    (to the tune of the Beastie Boys' "Girls", though that's not too hard to figure out....)


    All they want to use is Word!
    They just agreed to all use Word!
    Because last year they all used Word!

    Corel don't think it's fair
    The DOL has one vendor 'stead of a pair
    And they counted conversion costs
    To make a choice that cost Corel lots....

    Now some of you say:
    "How could they really choose this way?
    They must have been led far astray:
    It was MS they chose to pay
    When they were investigated by the DOJ!
    It not like that just started in May!
    And the DOL did alread[a]y,
    have a Corel license or two, eh?

    And by the way,
    Proprietary formats aren't ok,
    The DOL should have gone to XML today.
    If they had done that then I bet they
    Would have more choices than Office 2K.
    But RFQ's are broken anyway,
    'cause bureaucrats, they like to stay
    With things the way they are today.

    So they use MS products to our dismay."

    It's big and bloated!
    It owns the market!
    We hate its EULA!
    Don't get me started!

    All they want to use is Word!
    Come Y2K time they'll use Word!
    They should try something besides Word!
    Word! (x12)


    Yee. I spent way too much time on that.

    Shameless Self Promotion:
    The original "Natalie man" is here [].
  • It's not entirely your fault, considering one of the reasons that user-submitted stories need editor's approval before being posted is so that the stories can be checked for accuracy. I'd like to think that Hemos and the rest of the /. gang actually read the articles that they are posting about, since we already know most of us lowly /. readers normally don't bother.
  • I agree with everything you've said here. I recently had a conversation with a law student about these issues; I've tried to talk to lawyers about them, but they're never willing ('you haven't been to law school, you wouldn't understand').

    According to her, they teach the following at her school:

    • Laws must be written vaguely, otherwise they will have unintended consequences that cannot be addressed(!?)
    • The 'average' American must not be allowed to participate in the political system (ie, run for Congress) because they are incapable of understanding the issues involved with creating laws that run the country
    • The rights enumerated in the Constitution were never meant to apply to the general populace, but to an 'educated' superset (she got upset when I began calling it an 'elite class') that would then make all decisions on behalf of the people
    Given that this is what these people are learning (and since it makes them part of the 'elite', I'm sure they're all more than willing to buy in), it's no wonder things are as screwed up as they are.
  • She told me (with a certain excitement) that they had just signed a deal with Microsoft in which they agreed not to develop Enable for Windows. In return, MS would not port its office apps to X and compete against them in thier biggest market - the feds.

    It's like signing a deal with Yugo not to make a Yugo that goes 180MPH. Yugo's don't do 180MPH just like Ms doesn't do X. Ms doesn't/hasn't/has no interest in making anything to X.

    If this is indeed true, I would have to say that this was a very poor choice on the part of Enable.

    I wonder if the DOJ is aware of this company and it's expierience with Ms.

  • Some people say we hackerscholars spell things inconsistently. This is not so! I herein relate advice revealed during communal reverie with our past lives...
    CAIUS IULIUS CAESAR: I long ago lost patience with my colony's colonies' inability to spell licence and defence as Cicero and I wrote. But equally beneath contempt lie the Britannici themselves, a band of delinquent dandies given over to the peculiar perversions of their powdered Gallic conquerors and accompanying meretrices and connubials, who after two millennia of syncopated instruction still cannot properly write color, labor, or valor in the fashion we their noble forefathers proscribed and inscribed. A pox on both their orthographies!

    ALEXANDER OF MAKEDONIA: The miscegenation of Greeks and Barbarians has surely found foetid fruit in those two races of which you, my spiritual grand-nephew and semperfidelitous catamite, have just so eloquently written. The one race seems unable to faithfully write analyse or paralyse in the manner that I myself wrote, while the other reveals their equal incompetence with respect to the just renderings of parenthesize, hypothesize, isochronize, or apotheosize -- as Aristotle duly taught me.

    CAPTAIN JAMES COOK: I say there, book learning is for books, not Men! A Man must endeavour to seek out his Destiny. Let none cry Foul that the bold Name of my valiant Ship, the proud Endeavour, should find itself remembered in the writings even of the westernmost Colonies and in the names of their Heavenly Vessels.

    So you see, it's really not our fault. We just do what the voices tell us to do. :-)

  • Eek, got my facts wrong (I think), so here's a fix that I'm pretty sure (not entirely sure) is correct, though I don't think it works so well in the song....

    (Plus, this is also the only direct reference... The 2nd "ay" stanza is indirectly broken in lots of places too. But I'm not gonna fix it. Anyone that has as little of a life as I do is welcome to, though.)

    (to replace lines 3&4 from 2nd stanza)


    Or that Canada counted conversion costs
    To make a choice that cost Corel lots

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @08:25AM (#1463338) Journal
    ... what appears to have happened was that the Labor Department insisted on several of Word's quirkier features (e.g., macro language) which almost nobody uses.

    Looks like the Department of Labor thinks susceptability to macro virus attacks is a feature

  • Would the persident of the US ride in a Japanese car? No. Would the US military start giving all of its defence contracts to Russian companies? So why would any other US agency/department use software made by a CANADIAN company??? It doesn't make sense. unless there is no, i repeat, no American company to make something that the US GOV'T needs, they will always buy American. And why not?

  • They may have had a point, considering that we do not have an educated populace, and that media manipulation does more to affect a vote than reasoned examination of the issues does. :-(
  • Eeeeek... Not another one.

    Before "They should try something besides Word!":
    "On MS systems they'll use Word!"

    Didn't include enough lines there.
  • {...}
    Why? Because unlike a private company (which can buy MS software all they want, for all I care, and more power to 'em, if that's what makes sense), government agencies are also simultaneously supposed to be stewarding the tax dollars of the taxpayers whose money allows them to function

    There's one thing I want to mention. You're in favor of Corel, however, if you're a US citizen, then you realize that if Corel wins & the DOL loses, the money won from the lawsuit is going to be coming out of our pockets. The DOL IS a Government agency, where do you think they get their money?

    Even if the US Government is wasting their money by spending [our] money superfluously (like they haven't ever done that in the past ;-) ), if they lose the lawsuit, we'll feel the pain from their loss -- we'll be footing the bill :-(

  • unless there is no, i repeat, no American company to make something that the US GOV'T needs, they will always buy American.

    At the risk of bursting your bubble:That is simply not true.
    I sell to the our US Gov. every day, and I sell a Japaneese product, and I have amaerican made competitors. You see, Our product is just clearly better, and the US Gov knows that.
    The fact that Corel is Canadian has no bearing whatsoever on this.

  • I used enable and remember it fondly. Their 3 D charting was miles ahead of anyone else at the time. They went the way of some other great programs like PC Tools, Harvard Graphics, X Tree Gold, etc. All crushed illegaly by Microsoft. Back to Corel. All they want is a chance to bid. They still might not get the contract but they should at least have a chance.
  • by Pfhreakaz0id ( 82141 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @08:42AM (#1463350)
    Geez. Do you know how many organizations have custom software to work with word & vba? That is not, I assure you, a "trivial feature" for many folks. If they have already written said software the cost of rewriting it in wordperfect's macro language would be substantial.

    This is ridiculous. If this suit were against anyone but microsoft, you guys would be howling at what a stupid lawsuit this is.
  • Frivolous lawsuits seem to be a problem in the US, but not here in Canada. But this is not the same situation.

    Corel is suing because the US gov't department decided they would run with Microsoft Office without first putting the contract to tender and open to fair competition. Same thing happened in Canada and they won.

    Look at it this way, if the government were to build, say, and Advanced Tactical Fighter, do you think anyone would let them get away with awarding the contract to Lockheed without first having a competition with Northrop? I don't think so!
  • My first impression (despite my dislike for Microsoft) was that Corel was being a crybaby, so I read the article to get some more facts, but the facts (e.g. the mechanism of the government's alleged misdeed) weren't clearly spelled out. So instead of being mad at Microsoft or Corel, I'm now mad at whatever news organization provided the article

    Usually we are told what to do and who to hate in a much more concise format. Hmmm... perhaps we'll have to think for ourselves this time?

  • How can you sue someone over their what they like?

    It seems to me that the court system is telling the government that they have to use the cheapest solution, not the best. It seems if the Labor Department is using Office and is happy with the performance and cost, why should they be forced to switch?

    I guess Corel will do whatever it takes to stay in business. ;-) (evil grin)

  • by / ( 33804 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @08:47AM (#1463354)
    Bureaucrats do have to be held accountable somehow. Even if the money does ultimately come out of taxpayers' pockets, the fact that the department lost such a suit will look bad on someone's resume and will be taken into account for internal promotions. If we take an argument similar to yours to an extreme, one could be seen as advocating not paying victims of WW2 Japanese internment camps because the money came out of taxpayers' pockets.

    Anything that makes comanies or government agencies think twice before blindly buying Microsoft crap might be worth doing. The fact that taxpayers will be shafted no matter what shouldn't come as any surprise.
  • by / ( 33804 )
    H ere you go [].
  • by humanerror ( 56316 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @08:53AM (#1463357)

    I'm not a large fan of MS by any means but I always go by the saying "If it's not broke, then don't fix it" and if the US Dept of Labor is comfortable with a product they already use, or the feel that MS has an advantage, then thats their right as a consumer.

    The US DoL is NOT the consumer in this case... I am, along with every other American citizen and legal alien working in the US whose money was taken by the government by threat of force (ie: tax dollars). It is NOT their right to squander what they have stolen from us. If I have to give up 40% of my earnings to support an unnecessary bureaucracy, I damn well want that money to be stewarded in the most efficient manner possible.

    They have a set of rules in place which they do not follow as a matter of course. When I was in the military, I saw this first hand. My mother has been in government service for 24 years, and I have heard the inside scoop on how government procurement works in the civil sector. This case really is not so much about Corel's bruised ego and the M$ monster as it is about bringing to light, and to court, some basic facts that most people just accept as business as usual.

    An object in motion will tend to remain in motion until acted upon by an outside force. A government corrupt will remain corrupt as long as it is allowed to do so.

  • Perhaps just a boycott of companies that have been found at fault by a judge.

    Then suppose some department of Squeaky Clean Software screws up (or the government does), and gets a fine, leaving CorruptSoft (which are scum but haven't been convicted) as the only remaining supplier?

    And once Feet Of Clay software has had their hand slapped and can't sell to the government market, what incentive do they have not to go sour?

    The suggestion seems like the current criminal justice system, where people who don't have consciences and thus can only learn to be "good" through enlightened self-interest are locked out of most of the rewards of being law-abiding, and thus have no incentive to reform.

    Yes, if they behave improperly when obtaining contracts, it would certainly be a good idea to watch them carefully when they bid on future contracts.

    But if you intend to punish them by locking them out of contracts, temporarily or permanently, as a punishment for an earlier misbehavior, they have to know before deciding to commit that misbehavior that if caught they may recieve that punishment. Otherwise there's no incentive for them to play nice.

    Ex-post-facto isn't unconstitutional just because it's unfair. It's also unconsitutional because it doesn't work.

  • There was an old saying: "No one ever got fired for choosing IBM" - meaning that at the time IBM was considered so rock solid a company that its products *were* the standard, and regardless of cost no boss would challenge that sort of recommendation.

    Well, I think that after a decade of propaganda in favour of MS products, exposure in University to same, etc, everyone naturally accepts (present company excepted in most cases I am sure) that MS products are entirely acceptable without a challenge.

    The worst thing is the fact that in some cases they seem to have had licenses for WordPerfect and *still* switched to MS office.

    From the cost perspective, we ought to insist, as citizens that offices consider a combination of some form of Linux plus Star Office - or at least the later on Windows since their systems probably already have it installed. SO is at least completely free and MS document compatible as far as I know. Since its free it ought to save the Government *millions* of dollars and at the same time not require them to also purchase hardware upgrades. The savings would be astronomical.

    The only problem with switching government employees over to Linux would be the additional retraining costs for the new OS - which would not be trivial I am sure. Linux is *still* not as easy to use on the desktop as MS Win95/98 - although great strides are being taken.

    My .06 cents (Cdn)

  • by / ( 33804 )
    Sounds like yet another example of Microsoft entering into anticompetitive with other companies to divide up markets into areas where they won't compete, leaving customers to foot higher bills. Or was MSOffice not big enough in 1993 to qualify as a monopoly?....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 18, 1999 @09:03AM (#1463365)
    I have used both Corel and MS products. Both are good products and get the job done when one needs a word processing/spreadsheet software. I happen to prefer Corel over Office and that has nothing to do with my feeling concerning Microsofts monopoly in the market. (I believe they do have a illegal monopoly by the way) I think the suit that Corel is bringing against the US government is justified and points out a far larger problem that we Linux users (and other alternative OS') have to start pointing out to the general non-techie public. In the past I have participated in various government bids and in general the winner of the bid is usually the company who can provide the best service/product for the lowest price. If anyone bothers to check pricing for these 2 products (Corel and MS) it is easy to see that the Corel Word Perfect suite is far less costly than the package that MS sells. This lawsuit is only concerned with one incident. The same scenario is repeated over and over across the United States from the federal level to the smallest town in the country. A vast majority of taxpayer funded organizations are opting into the (in my opinion) very over priced MS Office suites. This is costing all of us an incredible amount of tax money that is funneling directly into Microsofts coffers. I find this situation incredible! By all rights our appointed public officials should using the lowest priced solutions available to them. Their personal software preferences should not be a factor when they make the decision to spend tax dollars on software solutions for their agency. Instead it should be a decision based on what gets the job done at the lowest cost to taxpayers. Their jobs are to save us the taxpayer money as they do their services for the taxpayer. Corel IS a lower priced solution to the job and I believe they are justified in pursuing a suit in this situation. I also believe that we as taxpayers are justified in demanding that our government/public agencys seek out the lowest priced solutions and that should include Linux as an operating system for use in all our agencys. It is certainly a LOT cheaper than MS WIndows and NT by a long shot.

  • I agree that if Corel wasn't provided the correct information to compete in the Canadian case that they indeed were an a an unfair disadvantage. However I'm concerned by this case.

    The article states that:
    "Corel said yesterday that it and other software makers were blocked earlier this year from bidding fairly for a lucrative contract with the U.S. department because it standardized its software on Microsoft's office automation suite, even though a majority of the department's 20,000 work stations already had licences for Corel's WordPerfect software."

    If they were rejected from the chance to even bid on providing their software because they didn't fit the mold of "Microsoft's office automation suite." I can understand they're case. Such a situation would make it very difficult, if not impossible for anyone to compete in such a situation and indeed is unfair.

    If they were given a chance, and simply rejected because they didn't have similar automation features or the tools that that the Gov. wanted I'm concerned what kind of president that this could set.

    If my company were a government agency and chose an office suite (regardless of what suite) and told the losing companies "I'm sorry but we liked (insert any feature here) that none of your software had that so we're going with X." Would that be unfair? Or is that basically how the free market works? Could any Gov, agency (or maybe even private companies) be sued because they chose a product because it had (or they wanted) a feature that another doesn't?

    Often when I debate the quality different pieces of software or even Operating Systems, they discuss the features and culpabilities of the software that other software does not have. I think the differences between the such software and Operating Systems is what drives developers to make they're software better, and in the end helps us all.

    In the end it's hard to say if Corel was able to compete fairly with MS and I'm sure that will be the focal point of the case.

  • by tilly ( 7530 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @09:04AM (#1463367)
    The US and Canada have a treaty known as NAFTA. Under that treaty preferential behaviour for US companies against Canadian bidders is not allowed.

    In any case the Corel case would make it easier for smaller American companies to compete against other American companies as well. The nationality of Corel is a non-issue in this case. (As you would have known had you read the article.)

  • by homunq ( 30657 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @09:20AM (#1463372) Homepage
    How would you react if this story were "Packard-Bell sues over government purchase of IBMs"? In order to have IBM come in with the low bid, the government would have to do some serious fiddling of the requirements (which is what is alleged in this case). And (in a simpler world where these were the only two vendors) they darn well SHOULD fiddle the requirements - it shouldn't have to take a two-year multimillion-dollar double-blind study to prove that Packard-Bells are worthless.

    (An even more realistic example would be "MS sues government for buying Palms over WinCE". From the feature tally, WinCE seems superior - until you actually try to use that junk. But I wanted to leave MS out of the issue.)

    Anywhere but the government, people can buy whatever they want for whatever reason they want. And mostly, it works out pretty well. Sure, if you buy 7Up over generic lemon-lime because of their catchy "Image is nothing" campaign, you've wasted some money - but at least you aren't wasting your time trying to justify every subjective decision in terms of objective criteria.

    Government purchasing rules are there for one reason - to prevent corruption. It's not that you need all those complicated RFQ processes to figure out the best, cheapest, easiest solution; the rest of the world does fine without them. It's just that when you let bureaucrats spend a lot of money that isn't theirs, you'd better have somebody to keep an eye on them - and unfortunately, we chose lawyers for the guard job.

    Is this a case of out-and-out corruption? Probably not (although the previous post [] which mentions Al Gore has an interesting allegation). If it isn't corruption, it's just that some bureaucrat had a subjective preference for Microsoft and rigged the bid process to favor it. Much as I think they made the wrong decision in this case, I have to support their right to do that. Otherwise, our government would be eternally burdened with the equivalent of Packard-Bells and WinCE machines.

    My verdict: just another silly lawsuit.
  • You didn't finish reading the article. The very next paragraph says:
    Corel also complained it couldn't provide conversion costs because the department wasn't supplying enough information.
    That implies the problem isn't really the requirement to provide upgrade estimates, but that the department was slack in providing enough information to make the estimates.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 18, 1999 @09:38AM (#1463381)
    I'm amazed the US DOD hasn't been sued for it's "IT-21" standard yet. Under IT-21, Microsoft products (NT, Exchange, Office) have been declared DOD STANDARDS! Not preferred products, not winning bidders -- "STANDARDS." Individual commands are generally prohibited from purchasing any competing products. No bidding is conducted at all, unless it's about which VAR will provide support, etc. While DOJ is attacking the monopoly, DOL and DOD are helping to maintain it. I've watched this from inside the USN for three years and continue to be amazed that companies like Corel or Sun haven't gone to court with DOD already.
  • by Ticker ( 79929 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @11:07AM (#1463402) Homepage
    As someone who used to own a business and had the misfortunate of having to reply to RFPs on the small chance that we might have been that supplier PRESELECTED before the bid process began, I know that this happens all the time. It's not right.

    Both governments, NGOs, and private business seem to often distort their RFPs for a supplier already chosen. You won't believe how often I saw RFPs that were very obviously titled towards a specific bidder.

    Imagine being required to "show familiarity with the aims and objectives of the organization". When one of the bidders has worked with them in the past, they obviously have a definate advantage! I can mention countless other ones, but this having been several years ago, I forget most of the specific details.

    Often government and NGOs send out RFPs only because they are REQUIRED to do so by either laws or internal policies. Most of the time, by the time the project requirements are made, they already are leaning towards a specific supplier.

    I understand where Corel's lawyers are coming from here.

    Disclaimer I'm biased; I now work for Corel. I don't always agree with our legal department (no one agrees with everyone all of the time), but in this case because of my own experiences I wholeheartedly agree.

  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @11:34AM (#1463419)
    Interesting -- have they simply delegated the setting of DOD standards to Microsoft? When MS changes their file formats (for instance) do the old documents become noncompliant, or is the new software noncompliant, or does some O-5 somewhere draft a program to convert to the new standard, or what?
  • In Microsoft's case, it's especially easy to /suspect foul play, due to the inferior nature of their products. /

    Pure FUD. MS makes quite a few QUALITY applications. The OS has issues, but Office97 was the best money I ever spent on software and Money99 has a better "feel" than Quicken, to me. You're just toeing up to the "party line" here. If the issue is WP vs. Word, I'll take Word everytime. I've had the "pleasure" of using both, I prefer Word (even though I started on WP). Plus I get the thrill of knowing that whenever I use Word that I'm using something Richard Stallman can't figure out. (see Linux Magazine interview)

    /Why would any
    halfway intelligent entity sign away their productivity if some shady deal making weren't going on under the table? /

    Office increases productivity at my job. I don't know *what* you're talking about.

    /But then
    again, this is the government we're talking about. /

    Agreed. The same government that found Microsoft guilty of monopoly. You can make your own inferences from that.

  • Speaking as a law professor, and sometime teacher of constitutional law, I think either

    1. your friend goes to one h*ll of a lousy school, or
    2. (more likely) she was pulling your leg, or
    3. I'd start worrying about her grades.
    According to her, they teach the following at her school:
    • Laws must be written vaguely, otherwise they will have unintended consequences that cannot be addressed(!?)

    It's certainly true that there is a relationship between specificity and the inability to address unexpected consequences. But it's trivially obvious that there are many times when specificity is to be preferred. In the US, also, if a law is too vague it may be "void for vagueness" or even (in an extreme case) held to violate the constitutional non-delegation doctrine under which Congress may not make standardless delegations of power to the executive.

    • The 'average' American must not be allowed to participate in the political system (ie, run for Congress) because they are incapable of understanding the issues involved with creating laws that run the country

    This is simply nonsensense. I honestly don't think I know a single person in law teaching who believes this. I find it hard to imagine anyone saying this to a class without becoming the subject of (deserved) derision.

    • The rights enumerated in the Constitution were never meant to apply to the general populace, but to an 'educated' superset (she got upset when I began calling it an 'elite class') that would then make all decisions on behalf of the people

    There is maybe half a grain of truth here, but very distorted. It's true that at the time of the Framing, only white males could vote, and that a small number of states still had a (relatively low) property requirement for the franchise. The property rules lasted only a few years; giving women and non-whites the vote took much longer. But it's absurd to say that only elite men were expected to vote or have rights. Leaving aside the rather significant issues of blacks and Native Americans, it is very clear (in principle, and sometimes in practice) that the rights in the constitution, including the bill of rights, were for all.

    It's less clear that political power was originally intended to be democratized. Only the House was a really democratic body; Senators were selected by state legislatures, and the President by an Electoral College - both measures designed to avoid having too much control by the unwashed. The dominant political theory of the day was more republican than democratic - rule should not be by direct democracy for fear of rule by the mob, by "passion". Hence the compromise of SOME highly democratic power in the House, including the ciritical power to initiate taxation (because tax without consent of the governed was wrong), but not what they thought of as too much.

    Of course, all that was a long time ago, and the extent to which we should consider ourselves bound by the less than perfectly democratic intentions of a bunch of what some call "dead rich white guys" is controversial, especially in light of the large number of relevant constitutional amendments that make our system far more (formally) democratic today.

    A. Michael Froomkin [mailto],
    U. Miami School of Law,POB 248087
    Coral Gables, FL 33124,USA
  • Ken, if you're thinking of slashdot as information you already have the wrong idea. It's not information, it's data. There is an important difference between the two.

    Even the slant given by how the article's poster saw it is data. You may not agree, you may find media that doesn't agree, but you will never find any way to invalidate the fact that the poster had that reaction to the article. It's data. Think of it as a pre-pended comment.

    You are correct that there is no point in trusting the summaries -- *whether* they are accurate or not. They are *always* someone's idea of what was important in an article and that's all they are.

    If slashdot isn't feeding you regurgitated information in the way you desire, you'll need to find a site that will. Otherwise, dust off those brain cells and come to your own conclusions, as, in fact, it appears you have.

    I guess schools are leading people to think that you are supposed to go to the info superstore and buy colorfully packaged bundles of truth. Sorry, not in this lifetime. All media should carry the warning "DANGER: chew before swallowing."

    We need a permanently open slashdot feedback article for comments such as this thread.
  • Lots of people who have commented thus far don't seem to get what Corel is suing over. Personal preference is not an issue in large scale government purchasing like this. It's all done with bidding. Not a question of whether the purchasers like the stupid little dancing paperclip or anything like that. Govt. contracts are awarded by bids. The department of foo puts out a request for bids (several types, all the same idea), companies write back with proposal saying that they can provide X goods and or services to meet the bid, it will take Y amount of time, and cost Z dollars. The government says oh, that bid is reasonable and cheap. Then they give a contract to the winning bidder. Now, since both Corel and MS had working products when the bidding was done, it should come down to cheap and fast. Of course, if the bidding process is cheap and a contractor is picked from a hat, they can pretty much set their price. And that is A Bad Thing. Corel's claim is that there was no bidding process, but if there had been, they would have been able to win the contract by having the lowest bidding price. The suit makes plenty of sense, and as a US taxpayer, I want very much for the federal govt. to use the bidding system to keep costs low.


  • by Money__ ( 87045 )
    This Corel case has a lot to do with compatibility between documents and the tools used to create and link them.
    On the interest of public service, I've taken a moment to lookup some informative links on a document standard that is not only wide spread, but should be included in any government RFQ.
    A Google search on SGML []
    And also, this SGML buyers guide is interesting []
    A gentle introduction to SGML on the site. []
    The SGML/XML Web Page @ []
    SGML tool @ (the []download page [] is interesting)
    SGML Editing and Composition @ [] is interesting.
    not to mention the []
    a What and Why page on SGML @ []

  • by Booker ( 6173 )
    You could say the same thing about any open source project when it was first getting off the ground.

    A free unix? Don't kid yourself, buddy.
    A free desktop? It'll never happen.
    Free SMB networking? No way, too hard.

    It's ludicrous to point at something that's under development, complain about it's shortcomings, then extrapolate that "it'll never happen."

  • ...this should send a clear signal to all purchasing agents across the big and small companies...

    This will do nothing of the sort. Companies, big and small, have the legal right to buy any software for any reason. Vendors cannot sue them for failing to follow their internal purchasing guidelines. Corel, as a vendor, can sue the DOL only because the government's purchasing guidelines the force of law, and DOL is liable if they fail to obey the law.
  • That's not true. The standards that you are talking of and the standards that the DOD(etc) are talking of have two different meanings. The standard that they are talking of is a BASIC standard what can be installed without any reference to superior officers or the DOD itself. Basically its just a way of getting something to use in the event that there is nothing else. You won't have to petition your commander to install the standard crap. However you really need to check out your local DOD installation army/navy whatever may have you. The navy might use NT for automatic stuff on their ships but alot of the servers used are *NIX systems. They take a little bit more effort to deploy and that's why things like Linux/Unix in general need to be petitioned to be used. In fact the ARNG just switched their janus system over to Linux. You might want to check some of that stuff out.

  • In return, MS would not port its office apps to X and compete against them in thier biggest market - the feds
    Hmm. the exact terms of this could be interesting - what does it specify - MS doesn't port OFFICE to X at all, MS doesn't compete with Enable in the Federal market, or some strange combination?
  • several of Word's quirkier features (e.g., macro language) which almost nobody uses

    You picked a bad example here. Many companies use Word's macro language. Many companies like the ability to create custom features that MS will never put into Word. Many companies would see their productivity go down if they lost some of the custom features they've created and trained their employees to use. I wouldn't consider Word's macro language one of its "quirkier features" since for some of MS's customers, it is a major selling point. Especially the customers who write macro viruses...
  • I have mixed feelings about this, because although I sympathize with Corel, I know all too well what it's like to have to go through a public agency procurement process.

    Bidding or no (orders under a certain amount didn't require public bidding), that process is so difficult people would do almost anything to avoid it. I never saw anyone profiting from steering a purchase towards a particular vendor, but I did see (and experience) two quite common phenomenon:

    1. people with way too much work to do and not enough time to do it taking the easy way out, choosing the product whose vendor was most available, who they had prior experience with, or who put on the best show;

    2. people who did their own research to find the best product (including criteria of applicability and price) for whom the procurement process was just an impediment to completing their work.

    Consider how you'd feel if the operating system, new server, or desktop machines you spent time deciding on were rejected in favor of some other product through a process you couldn't control? Can you rationalize all criteria you use when deciding what to buy?

    For instance, I often purchased computers from a certain company with competitive prices on the strength of their tech support and the ease of their online ordering process. It saved me a lot of time, and that translates into money saved by my organization, but thank God I didn't have to bid it out or the paperwork alone would have evaporated all savings.

    I'm not saying it's right. In fact it's particularly insidious in the not-quite-the-same-but-related-headaches procurement of employees (the hiring process), where even well-meaning people can perpetuate ingrained discrminatory practices (i.e. old boy's network).

    However, the DOL is unlikely to be in a nefarious plot to rid the world of Microsoft alternatives. They probably just decided it was their best option under whatever circumstances they were dealing with, and then they did what it took to make it happen.
  • That's hardly the same thing. I didn't say that a free office suite would never take over. I just said that it wouldn't be AbiSuite :)


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • driving the requirement to UPGRADE. With the side benefit, to the originating company, of remaining incompatible with the competition.

    It's as plain as the glasses on Bill Gates face.
  • I was talking about Microsoft vs Corel bidding for the DOL's services. Preferential treatment for Microsoft because of its nationality is not allowed.

  • I'd say better for the DOL or other government agency get a few visible slaps for waste than the long term effects of looking at the world in as static a way as they seem to at present. Bureacracy means "tyranny of the desks" (or at least I once heard a smart person say so), and any three-letter government acronym I expect to live up to that idea. But I'd rather an agency be sued and embarrased into somewhat better habits than figure that it's OK to tolerate sloppy, wasteful, myopic spending and other habits. I think even in the medium term, a judgment against the DOL would save far more than the judgement itself would cost.

    Don't know, and welcome corrections, but that's my guess.

  • Here's hoping your post gets up-moderated ...

    ... I agree with you thoroughly that those who've posted thus far are basically ignorant of the issues involved (do Slashdotters read the links anymore before posting?).

    The bidding process needs to remain fair; and if we don't like the bidding system, then we need another -open- system. it is, after all, your tax money (as you pointed out).

    Personally, I'm not very happy about how the Canadian government uses Lotus in most offices when Corel is down the street from the capital buildings practically ...

    ... ah well. ;-)
  • ... gotta love pure speculation:

    Other government agencies recognize the DoJ's case against Microsoft as being the bullshit that it is.

    Maybe, just maybe, to be completely unbiased, government agencies are supposed to ignore whether or not a company is on trial.

    Even better: maybe, just maybe, until a trial is over, the party is innocent (anyone remember that part?)
  • by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) on Saturday December 18, 1999 @10:24PM (#1463535)
    sue the US government for not using GraymalkinOffice 99. The midget programming army in my employ toiled endless midget-hours to produce this fine office suite. It does everything for you automatically. Need a report typed up? It will do it without you needed to even be there. Spreadsheets? Presentations? National debt consolodation? It's all done for you. How can anyone DARE think of using anythung but a 100% midget produced product? I mean come on man, you've gone completely sideways if you think our product doesn't whip Microsoft in the bum. Corel doesn't know what is going on, they ought to be suing Microsoft for daring to compete. Is GraymalkiSoft next? Time for the squirrel lawyer legions to hope into action.
  • You've got to be kidding. I checked out Star Office, and let me tell you, comparing it to M$ Office is a joke.
  • only volvo cars.. the truck business is still independant

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith