OOXML/ODF Watch: FFII’s Pieter Hintjens, Sun’s Michael Brauer, and IBM’s Bob Sutor

Posted in FUD, IBM, Interview, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard, SUN at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML has some serious problems that almost everyone is aware of. This new cartoon shows one of these serious problems and this older one explains why Novell supports it nonetheless.

OOXML has a lot going for it. It has a lot of lobbying and manipulation going for it, as the following article shows.

The free software world is being attacked by a large, wealthy, brutal monopolist, who I’ll call “Megatron” for today. As I wrote last month, Megatron is driving its OOXML tank through the village church of open standards, doing unspeakable things to the ISO process, with the intention of locking in a generation of computer users to its stack of patented, restricted, and undocumented formats. It’s about freedom, some of us want it, others want to take it away from us.

OOXML, owing to the deception and market manipulation, cannot be entirely ignored anymore. Even Sun Microsystems gives up and addresses the new needs for OOXML import filters.

How far have we got with the development of OOXML filters? First of all, Sun’s OpenOffice.org developers are only working on import filters, that is, filters that read OOXML documents into OpenOffice.org. We are not working on export filters, that is, filters that save OOXML documents. Simple reason is that the both situations I’ve described above only require OOXML import filters. For saving documents, we have ODF.

If it were not for Novell’s deal, OpenOffice would not have had any code that is associated with OOXML. But Novell signed a deal that mandates support for OOXML in OpenOffice.org. Microsoft paid Novell to ‘poison’ a competing product and put patented technology in it. This is unacceptable.

Here is a new interview with Bob Sutor.

Why doesn’t IBM use their advertising muscle to counteract the Microsoft FUD?

There has been a tremendous amount of broad community rebuttal of nonsensical information that is self-serving and anti-open source and anti-open standards. We contribute where necessary in various ways as we speak with customers, analysts, and anyone else appropriate.

What do you see for the future of IBM’s involvement with Linux?

More and better!

Well, we shall wait and see if IBM does not extend their new Linux relationship with Novell any further. LinuxWorld gave some reasons to ponder the implications.

Related links:

Things Might Get Litigious as Microsoft Gets Aggressive and ISO ‘Bought Out’

Posted in Asia, Deception, Europe, Formats, FSF, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 7:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If you thought you have already seen fierce standards battles (this new one involves wireless interconnectivity), then get a load of this. When a lot of money is involved — as in the case of Microsoft Office — there will be a lot of manipulation. Fortunately, some of it gets caught by the radar and reported with cloaks of anonymity, so people can be named and shamed.

The dodgy activity that we have been speaking about for quite some time (most recently it was Finland) has finally provoked and invoked the wrath and involvement of the FSFE.

‘Funny Business’ in Switzerland

This was mentioned before, but it is worth repeating:

The present spin doctors of Microsoft and ECMA managed to convince Mr. Thomann to reject every serious technical and general concern we had regarding OOMXL by pointing to compatibility reasons. At the end we had a majority _against_ Microsoft but which (giving the unfair rules) results in a Swiss vote _for_ Microsoft. Mr. Thomann was fretting and fuming at the end of the meeting how it can be that successful international companies (we had representatives from IBM, Google, …) vote against the best interest of their customers and theirself!

Yes, this is how the democratic system at SNV / ISO works. After the meeting I could not eat as much as I wanted to puke…

As a result of this, the FSFE and SIUG have filed a letter of complaint and they threaten legal action. Here is how PJ explains the situation that we see in so many countries.

It all reminds me of when I was a kid, and we’d sometimes settle things in the playground with a coin toss. There was occasionally a smart aleck who’d yell out as the coin was thrown up into the air, “Heads I win, Tails you lose.” This ISO process seems like that, in that people are voting against MS-OOXML in numbers and raising serious questions, but somehow they get ignored or bypassed.

‘Funny Business’ in Holland

It is beginning to seem as though not a single country will escape Microsoft’s money machines and lobbying force. Here is a report from the Netherlands.

This surprising result was the outcome of a lenghty discussion on whether or not it was fair to those members that had submitted several more controversial comments earlier that – without consensus on the compromise that had been worked on for months – these comments would not be included. This included some fundamental comments such as the mandatory use of ISO date codes, exclusive usage of the Gregorian calender (according to ISO 681), problems with intellectual property rights, etc). In addition some felt that during the process they had agreed on many comments to be ameliorated (‘censored’) in order to come to that same compromise. Without that compromise they would like to submit the original versions. The committee subsequently failed to get consensus on sending all comments. Therefore it will now not share any of its findings with ISO.

‘Funny Business’ in China

On several occasions in the past, OOXML was slammed for its lack of suitability for China’s needs. To repeat a little:

We [in China] are calling on the government to veto the OOXML format at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).” The OOXML format is a file specification released by Microsoft in December last year for its Microsoft Office 2007 suite. It is currently in a fast track standardization process with the ISO and will be subject to voting next month. Unlike the current ISO digital document standard ODF (Open Document Format) and China’s national standard UDF (Unified Office Document Format), Microsoft’s OOXML format can only be run on a Windows platform.

It is also criticized for containing many proprietary technologies that can only be fully supported by Microsoft’s Office products.

Here is another article on an open document standard for China.

Another standard that Microsoft does not support, is the RFC 3987 specification, which defines UTF-8 capable Internet addresses. Consequently, OOXML does not support the use of Chinese characters within a Web address.

Microsoft also did a bad job in creating a document forma for the whole world, which is an important requirement for an ISO standard. Considerations for users in Israel and many Muslim countries were excluded in the specification of OOXML. For any locale, the function ‘Networkdays()’ will always return Saturday and Sunday as the weekend. However, this is wrong for Iraq, Algeria, Sudan, Bahrain, Qatar, Bangladesh, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. ODF handles this correctly.

There are many more examples why OOXML isn’t a suitable candidate for an ISO standard yet. From my point of view, Microsoft should stop, as soon as possible, bringing more redundancy into office document formats.

It would be much better if Microsoft takes the good ideas and technologies from OOXML, and tries to join an effort to unify ODF, UOF and OOXML. For those interested, the blog of IBM’s Robert Weir, is a good source to get informed about the issues of OOXML.

I hope China will not support OOXML in its ISO voting, but force Microsoft to consider talks for one harmonized office document standard for the whole world.

Here is where the punch comes. It is a new report comes from Andy, who is not pleased with Microsoft’s recent activities in China. These activities surround OOXML and ODF as well.

Microsoft has seemed to be flying high in the Peoples Republic of China lately. Bill Gates spent several days in Beijing earlier this year in meetings with high-level officials, after hosting Chinese President Hu Jintao the spring before at Gate’s own home. And legitimate copies of Microsoft products appear to be at last gaining ground in comparison to pirated copies, albeit at the price of discounting them to almost unimaginable levels (students can now reportedly obtain a Windows/Office bundle for the incredible price of $3). Many credited Microsoft’s pragmatic decision to accept Chinese realities and not insist on having everything its own way.

Microsoft activities in China are no secret and they are nothing new. Have a look.

McCain comes out against Net Neutrality; Says would hire Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer


In another move that was sure to infuriate many geeks, the 70 year old presidential hopeful also said that he would ask Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to serve on his cabinet to deal with technology issues if elected. He did not however say what position Ballmer might be hired in, but did joke that he might consider him for a diplomatic position, such as ambassador to China.

Talk about conflict of interests.

This one speaks volumes as well.

I believe that most people do not grasp the immense entity of Microsoft. This is an organization and a man who commands the attention and bidding of world leaders. On a recent trip to America, the President of China spent his first evening in the United States, not with our President, but Bill Gates. He was the guest of the Gates mansion that first evening and the guest of honor for a dinner attended by over one hundred people. Why? To ask him to crack down on Software piracy and to insure that his computer manufacturers put Microsoft Windows on thier newly made machines instead of shipping them with no OS. He didn’t see the President of the United States for over 36 hours…he spent that time with Bill Gates at his home and at the Redmond Campus.

It is likely that more such stories will be revealed when Bill Gates ‘retires’ (for lobbying). Microsoft goes for the non-technical nation’s leaders with their money and influence. They try to flip votes on matters such as Linux, ODF, and copyrights.

More from India

A few times in the past we mentioned India in the context of OOXML deception. In the following article, balance is introduces as IBM explains yet another major deficiency of OOXML.

On the other hand, IBM counters HCL on the argument. “Microsoft’s Open XML does not support Firefox and Opera (web browsers) despite firefox having a 34% market share. It only supports Internet Explorer. Also, OOXML does not support documents dated before 1900 but India has land records dating back to 1600 A.D. since the era of King Todar Mal. (The problems is that OOXML does not recognise dates prior to 1900 AD). Also, there is no provision for backward compatibility as it does not provide access to binary codes,” says Ashish Gautam, country leader at IBM for open standards.

Do-No-Evil Saturday: OpenSUSE, Clients, and Senforce Acquisition

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interview, Marketing, NetWare, Novell, Ron Hovsepian, Security, Videos, Virtualisation, Windows at 5:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last week was definitely busier, but there is still a fair bit of new stuff going on at Novell.

Let us start with OpenSUSE. Here is a long-time SUSE/Ubuntu/Mandriva blogger who writes about his experiences with openSuse 10.3 beta 1. He compares it to the latest Ubuntu alpha.

Well, it’s getting to be that time of the year when the next generation of Linux distributions are ripening towards release. So I went over to the openSuse site and grabbed a copy of 10.3 beta 1 and then over to the Ubuntu testing site and grabbed 7.10 Tribe (alpha) 4.

The latest OpenSUSE is said to have a significantly improved boot time, which is something that, IIRC, was planned several months ago. It was mentioned in one of the weekly digests.

openSUSE 10.3 will include some great improvements to the init boot scripts which will dramatically decrease the time your computer takes to boot up. These come as the result of many different tests and research (documented here, and here); the first round of improvements have already been submitted and will make it into the final release.

DistroWatch Weekly featured an interview with the new leader of OpenSUSE. He has done quite a few interviews lately.

Since 1997 I [Stephan Kulow] have been working on the KDE project, mainly hacking libraries and doing release coordination. The Linux community was still pretty small back then, so while doing KDE releases I had good contacts with quite a few Linux distributions. In the summer of 1999 I was looking for a job I could do for two months as my girlfriend went on a long-planned US trip. Caldera had just introduced a graphical installer programmed using Qt and it was a very fascinating time helping to do a second version.

Stephan has just created a Live CD of the latest beta.

Stephan Kulow has created and uploaded Live CDs of the 1-CD installations for your pleasure: GNOME Live ISO, KDE Live ISO.

Moving on to some business news (corporate Novell and legacy software), Novell’s site gives a status report for ZENworks and NetWare. A video of Ron Hovsepian’s talk from LinuxWorld 2007 (streaming, embedded Flash) is finally up on the Web site as well.

Earlier in the week, Novell unveiled a Windows/Linux management tool. Here is one of the first articles about it.

Novell has released ZENworks Configuration Management, the latest release of its ZENworks systems management suite, delivering new configuration management capabilities including the ability to manage Windows clients from Windows, Linux, or Open Enterprise Server.

Here is another related article.

Novell helps customers transform data centres with new management solutions


These enhancements give customers the ability to leverage virtualisation in the data centre while helping them lower costs, reduce complexity and mitigate risks in their IT infrastructure.

Novell also updated Orchestrator.

Cassatt is likely to point out that their product acts as an operating system for a dynamic datacenter and that their technology is better.

The biggest news (other than the SCO ruling and some subsequent developments) was the acquisition of Senforce Technologies. Ron Hovsepian told us some months ago that many small acquisitions were under way.

The acquisition gives Novell both security expertise and technology that will allow it to tightly integrate endpoint security with its configuration management solutions,

While Red Hat managed to get a large contract with Virgin America and Swisscom, Novell got Casio.

Novell today announced that global electronics giant Casio Computer (Casio) is using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server from Novell with integrated Xen virtualization software to reduce the cost of consolidating servers while improving flexibility compared with alternative, proprietary virtualization software.

Here is the story of another company that remains loyal to Novell.

Initially, the company was using UNIX. Then they started deploying Novell products. The company’s in-house IT team had developed a new server hardware, on which it wanted to implement the Novell Open Enterprise Server. It has been associated with Novell for approximately 10 years

The following new article is worth a quick mention as well.

Novell Inc. donated $47,000 in software to the Legal Aid Society of San Diego. Novell’s donation is part of its community relations program, which seeks to enable nonprofit organizations to realize their visions through the power of technology.

Before we finish this post, here are 3 Novell commercials (or promotional videos) that have just hit the Tube. Some are from LinuxWorld 2007.

Suggestions Sought — Static Pages and Expansion

Posted in Site News at 3:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This Web site keeps growing every week not only in terms of scale, but also in terms of readership. Earlier today, a minor change was applied to style/layout, but such cosmetic changes miss the point entirely because the goal is the site is to deliver well-organised & informative resources, not necessarily pretty pages.

The structure of this Web site is restricted and limited due to the nature of blogs, i.e. it is not truly hierarchical, it is reverse chronological, and pages are usually out of date. This can give the impression that there are many inaccuracies.

As we said before, the Web site strives to be driven by and maintained by its readers and growing community, not self-appointed editors. Is anyone willing to volunteer and organise static pages? How about more posts from site visitors? Are there any other suggestions? Will a new sections/feed on Novell coverage suit you? Anything else that you would like to see? The Saturday posts, which cover positive Novell news, appear to be popular, so the time they require to produce is well spent. Will a weekly digest that summarises all blog posts be handy?

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