Behind-the-scenes political manipulation by Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates simply cannot escape without further comment. In a conversation that I had elsewhere, the following interesting bit was mentioned.
Ray Noorda, God rest his soul, called them “Pearly” Gates and “Em” Ballmer, because Gates would dazzle you with visions of a technological heaven, and then Ballmer would stick the shiv in your liver at negotiation time.
As you may recall, Ray Noorda, the father of Novell, actually liked Free software and he never ever trusted Microsoft, which Novell is now dependent on. If only he was around the see the mess his successors had left.
Further to that comment above (courtesy of ‘Linonut’ again):
Except Noorda neglected one aspect of “Pearly” Gates:
Oh the shark bites!
With his teeth dear!
And he keeps them
Cue guest appearance of Jim Allchin, Platform Group Vice President at Microsoft:
“We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.”
Ray Noorda, unlike Ron Hovsepian (with roots in IBM), was around to see anticompetitive abuse and learn his lessons about reliance on Microsoft. Jack Messman didn’t negotiate with Microsoft, either. He had a different strategy. After Novell had struck the deal with Microsoft, Messman seems to have departed completely from the company. It appears like he never liked that deal, but that might be too presumptuous to say with confidence.
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How We Ended up This Way
Novell, along with other Linux vendors, will continue to be used in order to stifle adoption of GNU/Linux. It is ironic that Linux vendors received a lot of money from Microsoft in order to become a barrier to the very same things they try to sell. Here is the gist of this scenario.
Truthfully, the real war against Redmond is the Open Document Format/OpenXML doucment format battle. We have seen Red Hat, IBM, Sun, and even Novell pour a lot of time and money into fighting the OpenXML standardization process. Why? Because that’s the way Microsoft can keep these companies out of the corporate desktop market, where the real money can be made.
The expenditures coming from Microsoft are equally impressive. Money is being used in order to buy support for a proprietary format rather than actually earn that support. At risk of being repetitive here, Microsoft is essentially buying the whole market. It is a long-term investment in monopolisation, which can profitable. Government regulation is needed here. To quote a comment that I saw a couple of days ago:
Microsoft is a cooperative US cash cow, like AT&T, Exxon, Halilburton, and countless military contractors. These companies play ball with the US government in exchange for protection and backroom deals. Politicians will continue to protect this tyrannical monopoly until enough people stand up and demand change.”
My own comment appears further down that page as well.
Why Not OOXML
Rob Weir and Sam Hiser brought to their readers’ attention this informative and detailed page from Stephane, who used to comment in this Web site as well.
Microsoft is trying to push new file formats that are using ZIP and XML. Are those new file formats any good for Office developers ? In other words, should anyone feel safe to make direct access to file parts, and start forgetting about using running instances Microsoft Office and its COM object model, usually through VBA ?
Microsoft does not run out of teasing. There is ton of videos, see here, and here for example, screencasts, articles and blog posts (self-serving Microsoft blog posts mostly) about how much they are opening up.
His explanation hits the nail right on the head, but in case you look for a succinct explanation, look no further than noooxml.org
- There is already a standard ISO26300 named Open Document Format (ODF): a dual standard adds costs, uncertainty and confusion to industry, government and citizens;
- There is no provable implementation of the OOXML specification: Microsoft Office 2007 produces a special version of OOXML, not a file format which complies with the OOXML specification;
- There is information missing from the specification document, for example how to do a autoSpaceLikeWord95 or useWord97LineBreakRules;
- More than 10% of the examples mentioned in the proposed standard do not validate as XML;
- There is no guarantee that anybody can write software that fully or partially implements the OOXML specification without being liable to patent lawsuits or patent license fees by Microsoft;
- This format conflicts with existing ISO standards, such as ISO 8601 (Representation of dates and times), ISO 639 (Codes for the Representation of Names and Languages) or ISO/IEC 10118-3 (cryptographic hash);
- There is a bug in the spreadsheet file format which forbids any date before the year 1900: such bugs affect the OOXML specification as well as software applications like Microsoft Excel 2000, XP, 2003 and 2007.
- This standard proposal was not created by bringing together the experience and expertise of all interested parties (such as the producers, sellers, buyers, users and regulators), but by Microsoft alone.
Disinformation and Deception
Here is another lump of FUD from Microsoft. Joe WIlcox, a Microsoft watcher with pro-Microsoft bias, cannot deny the truth either.
Microsoft released a letter from both men— “The Making of an Open Standard” on Tuesday. The FUD starts with the title and continues through every paragraph. Context is the major reason.
Microsoft is engaged in a desperate effort to get OOXML through the ISO’s (International Organization for Standardization) fast-track standardization. The process isn’t going well for Microsoft—and a crucial vote occurs in early September. Microsoft has engaged in an aggressive campaign to get the fast-track votes.
In the the past couple of days alone, we heard that Microsoft had been lying about OOXML in iWorks. It was also misleading in a variety of ways, including misrepresentation of Ecma. How can anyone ever forget that Microsoft paid people to ‘airbrush’ Wikipedia’s article on OOXML? A few days ago, a Groklaw member said that “Microsoft sympathisers” continue to do so, which is worrisome because Wikipedia is a top reference for this topic.
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