eJudging Microsoft in PDF: Verdict in the InBox
Emailed district court rulings showcase eGovernment potential
1 November 2002
By Kurt Foss, Planet PDF Editor
If, as some recent reports suggest, Microsoft may be plotting an assault on PDF with its own electronic forms authoring tool (XDocs), could it be in part because they've grown tired of seeing court rulings with their name on it distributed in Adobe's portable document format? There was a fresh batch today, in case you missed the news that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge hearing the latest appeal in the latest monopoly/antitrust cases against Bill Gates and company issued her final rulings.
I learned about the much-anticipated legal decisions today not from the news media -- print, broadcast OR online -- covering the trial, and which of course began churning out the details as soon as Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's rulings were announced and made available. Nor was I in DC eagerly awaiting first word of the outcome.
No, I was in fact at the keyboard minding my own Planet PDF business when I got the first inkling a decision had been. The breaking news arrived via email, as seems to be more and more common these days.
Actually, it was much more than an inkling -- and not merely in the form of a few words of gossip from some tuned-in tech head either. Rather, it was an electronic message directly from the district court. This was no mere headline service. Attached to the email were the actual rulings themselves: seven separate PDF files containing various aspects of the judge's final decision in the cases.
We hear the term "eGovernment" bandied about a lot these days, for better and for worse. The general notion is that the various branches of the government -- at all levels -- is trying to harness new technologies to better serve its "customers," first and foremost U.S. citizens. To my mind, this is a classic example of effective eGovernment at work.
And there's more to this tale of efficiency than just the arrival of today's official rulings in PDF. I'd even been alerted a day earlier with the following message:
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
E. Barrett Prettyman
United States Courthouse
333 Constitution Avenue, N. W.
Washington, D. C. 20001
NOTICE CONCERNING OPINION RELEASE
At approximately 4: 30 p.m. on Friday, November 1, 2002, United States District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly will issue Opinions in the
- At that time, copies of the Opinions can be downloaded in PDF format from the U. S. District Court's homepage,
- Electronic notice, including a PDF version of the Opinions, will be sent to registered parties and other participants in the case via the
Court's electronic case filing (ECF) system.
- PDF versions also will be e-mailed to subscribers of the Court's e-mail notification service ("listserve") for the Microsoft case. Interested
persons can subscribe to the service by going to the Microsoft Case link on the Court's homepage and following the instructions for e-mail
- The opinions will be distributed in electronic format only and will
not be distributed by fax under any circumstances.
Simply by signing up a few month's ago at the district court's Web site for its new email notification service for receiving official news related to the Microsoft cases, I was able to benefit from this excellent example of proactive eGovernment. I suspect Bill Gates received personal copies a little sooner than I did, but probably not by much. If he did -- and if his were also in PDF -- he might have noticed one other thing that would surely annoy him more even more than PDFs.
Based at least on these documents, the court appears to use Corel Word Perfect -- not Microsoft Word -- for its word processing needs, from which it directly generates the PDFs. All of the official opinions for all of the Microsoft cases remain available for download, too.