Yesterday, influence on the media was mentioned in the context of OOXML. It turns out to have been very predictable. Head over to Andy’s blog.
What will happen next will be complex procedurally, and will be difficult for journalists to follow, particularly since the steps that will be taken between now and the end of August that will result in the final US position will not be visible on a current basis. At the same time, there will likely be statements made and interviews given by various parties (most or all of whom will have a stake in the outcome) throughout this time period, each giving their particular spin on events as they transpire.
Microsoft may have exacerbated this situation rather than eased it when it decided earlier this year to press forward without productively addressing the issues that were raised during the Contradictions period. Had it chosen to respond to these problems then, it could have shortened the list of issues that are troubling National Body representatives in the United States and elsewhere. I am told that Microsoft has continued its full court press in other National Bodies through the current review period, and has sought to cut comment periods in some countries in an effort to move as quickly as possible to a vote to approve.
Not only has this allowed even less time for responsible review of OOXML, but this “cowboy” effort by a dominant United States IT company to force the local process (and often to populate it with its business partners) has not always sold well abroad. A more sensitive, locally-aware, collaborative approach might have worked better than the heavy handed strategy that appears to be backfiring in countries like Portugal and South Africa.
It’s a long blog post and many more thoughts are worth a mention. There are also these comments on OOXML
[PDF], which come from the ODF Alliance [link found in Bob's blog].
If you are aware of more sources of information, please feel free to share.
Update: Microsoft is prematurely confident of OOXML success. Does it know something the rest of us does not know? Can money and power buy anything?
Update #2: Here are a couple more. These are both new articles.
Leslie D’Monte: Double standards
While majors like IBM, Red Hat, Novell, Apple and the Free Software Foundation (all part of the ODF alliance) support the open document format, Microsoft does not subscribe to the ODF line of thinking.
Multiple standards create a problem. Take, for instance, a case wherein you want to retrieve an old land record from a government office in India. If the record is in the OOXML format, then ODF document users would need a converter to decode the record. Likewise, OOXML users would have a problem with ODF documents. Microsoft has a tie-up with Novell, so the conversion may be smooth. But that’s not the case with other companies.
We hate format wars. Not because we’re afraid of good old-fashioned tech fisticuffs, but because they’re often completely unjust. So often, the format that wins isn’t technically better than the competition, just cheaper or better marketed. (And no, we’re not just sore because we were Betamax owners.)
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Since Novell likes to boast so-called advantages that come out of its deal, this new finding is worth quoting.
What is the impact on Linux distribution usage of the Novell patent deal with Microsoft? According to open source enterprise content management (ECM) vendor Alfresco, it’s driving users to Red Hat.
Alfresco asked 15,000 people between April and June about the way they deploy Alfresco’s ECM solution. According to the Alfresco survey, Red Hat users tripled during the study period while Novell SUSE usage remained flat. In a statement, Ian Howells, chief marketing officer at Alfresco, alleged that the divergence between Red Hat and Novell in terms of usage is related to the November deal between Novell and Microsoft.
Well done, Novell. The customers truly appreciate ‘protection’.
This ought to teach other Linux distributors that while Microsoft vouchers might not expire, their company might be the one to expire. Linspire is an excellent example of that. These deals are not a blessing. They are a death knell which is being accepted for money. But what good is a chest of gold to a dead man?
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By this stage, several stories have been covered where Microsoft used ‘politics’ and industry connection to get its way. Here is another.
Several supposedly-impartrial voices in industry always ring a bell when their name comes up. CompTIA is one of them. It is a Microsoft lobbying arm. Just a few months ago, CompTIA attacked Richard Stallman in the press. Its offspring, which goes by the innocent name “Initiative for Software Choice” (ISC) has been doing some ‘legwork’ as well. It acts as a proxy to hide its motives and financial interests (i.e. funding sources).
Some months ago, ISC had a media plug where it attacked GPLv3 (essentially by spreading FUD). Another Microsoft lobbyist did this shortly afterwards. Even Microsoft joined in. They apparently ‘take turns’, addressing ‘problems’ that they share. Here is the latest from the “Initiative for Software Choice [as long as the only choice is Microsoft]“:
Open XML recovers from brief setback to ISO approval
Some in the industry are taking a middle ground on the Open XML-ODF debate and promoting both by emphasizing the idea of choice. Melanie Wyne, executive director of the Initiative for Software Choice (ISC), which promotes neutral government procurement, standards and public research and development policies for software, said her group is promoting the existence of both ODF and Open XML as ISO standards because having only one global standard for document formats is limiting to end users.
ISC is run by CompTIA, a U.S.-based technology industry association…
Just to give you a little more background on CompTIA and its agenda, here are a bunch of fairly recent articles (emphasis on CompTIA).
Microsoft leaned on EC to spike open source report
The European Commission has resisted efforts by Microsoft to make it abandon its report into open source software, it was revealed this week.
The software giant also commissioned a respected university academic to back its case and enlisted the help of a trade association, CompTIA.
European Commission denies favouring open source
The Commission’s statement comes just days after it was lobbied to clarify its position on open source. The Initiative for Software Choice (ISC) wrote to the Commission immediately after the release of the report urging it to contact the “international press” to “set the record straight” over its stance. The ISC’s external affairs are handled by CompTIA, which is funded by several IT vendors including Microsoft.
MS leads lobby against open source (2002)
“Microsoft and other software companies are ramping up a lobbying effort aimed at convincing governments to think again where it comes to adopting open-source software. The Initiative for Software Choice, which launched quietly in early May, is chaired by an industry body called the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), but its biggest software industry backer is Microsoft.”
That’s how it works nowadays. One just needs to follow the money.
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Here is a fragment from a powerful short essay. It comes from Pieter Hintjens, President of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII).
This fight is over the future of Microsoft’s desktop monopoly. If OOXML gets passed as an ISO standard, Microsoft will be rolling out more ‘standards’ and end up with a stack of ISO standards that only it can implement. It is already spinning “open standard” to mean “closed format heavily protected by secrets and patents”. Free software won’t be able to implement OOXML, and users will be locked-in to Microsoft’s proprietary world for decades. It’s a clever abuse of the standards process.
It is worth mentioning that there are open invitations to OOXML elimination discussions. The NoOOXML CLub mailing list is getting the word around the Web at this very moment. Please help us combat Microsoft’s hijack attempts, which are well coordinated. The deals with Novell, Linspire, TurboLinux, and Xandros are part of the Big Plan.
Europe may have begun investigating the rotten stories, but without your help, their intervention could be insufficient.
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Please allow me to start off by stating that love GNOME. I use KDE most of the time (at work and at home), but I used to be using GNOME more regularly and I love it very much. The choice it offers berings benefit to everybody.
I am only posting this only because certain information needs to reach people’s attention, no matter how inconvenient it may be. Many times in the past we repeated the alarming argument that Novell is turning its Linux desktop into a .NET-rich platform. It appears to be a matter of strategy, based on some recent interviews with Novell executives. Is it a good strategy? Probably not. The main issue is not the fact that Microsoft controls and extends .NET. The main issue is software patents, which bring monetisation (or “taxation”) into the equation.
Amid a discussion (and purely by serendipity), something strange was realised. information that I received from someone who wishes to remain anonymous began with the sarcastic statement that “apparently there is considerable effort under way by the Gnome team, to poison Gnome by completely rewriting it in C#!!! Thank you Miguel de Icaza.”
To paraphrase the person, “this turned out to be a tongue-in-cheek remark, but it isn’t far from the truth”. This person is a maintainer of a major Linux distribution. He has sufficient knowledge and credibility to be worth trusting, but please post a correction if we are wrong. I requested some references, which he kindly provided:
Here’s some historical references:
As a test, install Fedora 7 using the defaults, then (post-install) try to remove the gtk-sharp and mono-core packages. Chaos ensues. It rips out half the system.
And this on a distro where the original maintainers *swore* they would never let mono enter the tree. Now it is poisoned beyond repair.
It’s only a matter of time before the Gnome core libs will be mono dependant, I’d stake my life of that fact. I’m ready to ditch Gnome permanently.
I decided to make the person aware of Novell’s big plans for .NET (Mono). To this, the reply was:
God help them.
I think one can safely assume that Novell are now working almost exclusively to Microsoft’s agenda. If it comes from Novell, it is irreparably tainted.
I wish to believe that GNOME developers will not be persuaded or lured into more Mono dependencies. Other distributions use GNOME. KDE received some Mono bindings a couple of weeks ago, but there has never been any of this at the core, let alone in the build.
Surely, the patent system in the United States has gone completely out of hand. While centralization of .NET control remains an important factor, let the insane court battles teach you a lesson. At the end of last week we saw two important rulings. The first one was a dismissal of an appeal. It is a very serious case that involves a ban.
A U.S. appeals court on Friday dismissed Qualcomm’s appeal of an order by a federal trade agency banning some cellular telephones containing Qualcomm chips.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said it lacked jurisdiction over an order by the U.S. International Trade Commission because Qualcomm has a request pending before the Bush administration asking it to invalidate the decision.
“An ITC determination does not become final for purposes of judicial review until the president has either approved of the determination or failed to disapprove within 60 days,” the court said.
The second case speaks about a defeat where obviousness could not be refuted.
In its third opinion of the day designated precedential, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences once again affirmed an examiner’s obviousness rejections. Specifically, the Board found that Appellant’s apparatus incorporating bioauthentication and a consumer electronics device was an obvious solution to a known problem, as all elements of the claims other than the bioauthentication device were found in one prior art reference, a second reference disclosed the bioauthentication devices in a related context, and a third disclosed that they could be substituted for each other. The BPAI appears to have fully embraced its new “flexibility” in determining obviousness in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in KSR.
At times when patent madness thrives in the United States, one must keep an eye open. GPLv3 is needed here, or at least eradication of absurdly-patented ideas. Please refrain from contaminating GNOME with Microsoft-patented technology.
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