Novell and the BBC (Microsoft partners) are not so different after all
Earlier this week we commented on some shocking stories. These short technical stories proved that Microsoft’s OpenXML is disastrously flawed. It does not even do mathematics correctly. Bad math is part of the formal specifications, but it’s only part of the story.
Groklaw has just pointed out (via Mr. Korn from Sun Microsystems) that OpenXML (OOXML) is inconsistent — if not in violation of — accessibility requirements.
When and how will the accessibility failings cited in the paper be fixed? … For example, the white paper notes that MSOXML fails to support WCAG 1.0 checkpoints 4.2, 5.2, 9.4, 10.2, 12.1, 12.2, and 12.4. The white paper further notes that MSOXML only partially supports checkpoints WCAG 1.0 checkpoints 6.4, 8.1, 9.1, and 11.1. Some of these are particularly important for blind users needing to understand the context of table cells and for good Braille and DAISY transcription of tables – issues we found in ODF v1.0 and fixed in ODF v1.1. Will these things get fixed in the future? If so, when? By whom? With what outside review (if any)? To appear in what update of the specification?
Is this not ironic? If you followed the OpenDocument debate in Massachusetts, then you probably saw that Microsoft claimed higher grounds based on accessibility, which OpenDocument has already addressed. Microsoft used the “accessibility” FUD in MA in order to stifle OpenDocument adoption. To make matters worse, it does not seem like this problem will be addressed.
Gray [of Microsoft], at the start of your blog comment you say “I’m not sure that the “who did this?” question matters as much as your post seems to indicate”, and you spend several paragraphs describing your (non-accessibility) background at Microsoft and Adobe.
OOXML is only one nasty thing which Novell has committed itself to help with. More worrisome perhaps is the obsession with Mono (.NET), including Moonlight/Silverlight. The old arguments needn’t be repeated because they are archived in the site, but the news here concerns the BBC.
As you may already know, the BBC entered a partnership with Microsoft last year. Since then it has discriminated against platforms that are not Windows. An antitrust complained has recently been filed by the Open Source Consortium, with which I am affiliated. Public money (remember that the BBC is funded by taxpayers) is handed over to Microsoft, which uses that money to strengthen the monopoly.
As it turns, the BBC is now looking at Silverlight. Not only would some Brits be unable to access online videos (blame Microsoft DRM), but they would also need patented Microsoft technology in order to access Web content. This is terrible.
It would take me a long time to organise my references, so I will just append them here and hope that they tell the story. They are reverse chronological for the most part.
The BBC has already experimented with Silverlight and says it is looking for an “embedded media solution”.
However, OSC disagrees and says the next step is to make a formal complaint to the European Commission (EC).
“We’re preparing the full details at the moment and we will be sending a formal letter within the next week,” said Mr Taylor.
The BBC is being threatened with an anti-trust challenge in Europe over its use of the Windows Media format in its on demand service, iPlayer, which is in the final stages of testing.
We are deeply concerned about the BBC’s use of “Digital Rights Management” (DRM) to manage content delivered to users over the Internet. There are dozens of arguments against DRM, however we believe these are the most important and relevant to the BBC.
But public spending watchdog the PAC said BBC executives misled the board of governors about possible savings while trying to convince them to give the deal the go-ahead.
The committee of MPs found £60m of costs was excluded when budgets were put to the governors for approval.
The PAC said the BBC was failing to manage the contract properly.
The report suggests the BBC should open up its accounts to government officials for proper scrutiny.
UK Apple users are petitioning the Prime Minister Tony Blair over the BBC’s decision to make streaming media available to Windows users only. The BBC plans to launch an on-demand tv service which uses software that will only be available to Windows users.
Clearly, shutting out 25% of your audience sits ill with the BBC’s remit of serving all of its users…
There is no denying that this is an extremely difficult area for the BBC, since it must negotiate not one but three minefields – those of technology standards, copyright and contract law. But there are still things that it could do without turning into a global advertisement for Microsoft’s flawed DRM approach.
The Open Source Consortium (OSC) believes the plans are anti-competitive and will use public money to lock viewers into the technologies of a repeatedly convicted monopolist.
BBC viewers have flooded the corporation with complaints over how it covered the launch of Microsoft Vista earlier this week.
In one cringingly servile interview worthy of Uriah Heep, the Beeb’s news presenter Hugh Edwards even thanked Gates at the end of it, presumably in appreciation at being allowed to give the Vole vast coverage for free.
In other TV news items presenters excitedly explained how Vista could be obtained and installed – details courtesy of the BBC’s website.
But British viewers, currently forced to pay a £131.50 licence fee to maintain the BBC’s “impartiality”, were less than impressed.
Scores got in touch to complain that so much was Auntie up Bill’s bum that you could barely see her corset.
The BBC are holding an open consultation regarding how they’re going to delivery on-demand content, they want answers to questions like: “How important is it that the proposed seven-day catch-up service over the internet is available to consumers who are not using Microsoft software?”
According to a press release from Sonos, the blokes over at the Beeb have decided to jump ship for relying on Realplayer for web content, and have switched over entirely to the Windows-friendly WMA format. Now that the BBC has made The Big Switch, BBC radio stations will be received automatically for users of wireless music and radio provider Sonos.
The root of this crappy DRM infection is Microsoft. It is the driving force here. This has nothing to do with protecting content, as we keep pointing out, there has never been a single thing that has had a DRM infection applied that didn’t end up cracked on the net in hours. DRM is about walled gardens and control.
He who controls the DRM infection controls the market. DRM is about preventing you from doing anything with the devices without paying the gatekeeper a fee. This is what MS wants, nothing less than a slice of everything watched, listened to or discussed from now on. DRM prevents others from playing there, thanks to the DMCA and other anti-consumer laws.
Make no mistake, MS is pushing the DRM malware as hard as it can so it can rake in money hand over fist with no competition. It is really good at lock-in, in fact, the firm based its entire business model on harming the user so they have to comply and spend more.
Although digital rights management (DRM) is popular with content creators, it has attracted criticism. Sony was widely attacked after using a rootkit-like application to hide content protection on some music CDs, and earlier this month Apple CEO Steve Jobs called on the music industry to drop its use of DRM.
Microsoft appears to have hit the wrong button on its critical Windows XP download service late last month, pretty well forcing every XP user to upgrade to Windows Media Player (WiMP) 11 if they (like me and many others) have the automatic download/install option enabled for critical updates.
Gutmann: The genie’s out of the bottle before the operating system has even been released! But that doesn’t mean Vista users in particular – and the computer community at large – won’t end up paying for Microsoft’s DRM folly. At the risk of repeating myself repeating myself, yet another reason to move to Linux.
Windows Vista includes an array of “features” that you don’t want. These features will make your computer less reliable and less secure. They’ll make your computer less stable and run slower. They will cause technical support problems. They may even require you to upgrade some of your peripheral hardware and existing software. And these features won’t do anything useful. In fact, they’re working against you. They’re digital rights management (DRM) features built into Vista at the behest of the entertainment industry.
And you don’t get to refuse them.