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08.31.07

The Latest News on the Microsoft OOXML Fiasco (Updated)

Posted in Asia, Deception, ECMA, Europe, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 10:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stories about fraudulent activities just keep flooding in like water. Microsoft has never supplied its opposes with quite so many reasons (or ‘ammunition’) for disdain, for revolt, and for possible legal action. Here are some of the most recent stories and reports. They are getting difficult to keep up with primarily because many new nations are suddenly getting off their seats to sing in support of Microsoft. The praise of those that jump for dollars or a true expression of opinion, whose impact is suddenly too great to resist or abstain from?

Europe in Flames (No Flamebait Intended)

MSN, being a Microsoft site, chooses a very conservative article on the issue of Microsoft’s “briberies”, but some of the details therein speak volumes.

Pieter Hintjens, president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, a non-profit organisation that is campaigning against the Microsoft proposal, said: “We’ve recorded fairly systematic manipulation of the voting process. We’ve seen what amounts to vote-buying in Italy, Portugal, Colombia, Spain. In Sweden and Denmark, much the same happened – Microsoft paying their business partners to join the vote.”

It is encouraging to hear that FFII has these things “recorded”, to use Pieter’s own words. Some people in other Web site (including forums) seem willing to follow through with litigation. One other report informs and suggests that Poland says ‘Yes’ to OOXML However, that’s not the full story and we have people tell a wholly different (and complete) story:

“There was no practical reason to do that and as you remember first [Polish] comitee (sic) rejected MSOOXML with 82% votes against it, but now second comittee (sic) approved MSOOXML without single vote against it!”

Recruiting The Vo[te|ice]s of Freedom (Voice2Hire)

The story does not end where committees (Read: Microsoft partners) are concerned and involved. Andy tells us more about new countries that very suddenly decided to chime in (guess in whose favour). It might just be the “puppet state” phenomenon/strategy applied to actual states. In the following fragment of text I’d replace “Curiously enough” with “Suspiciously enough” because, given what we’ve witnessed, everything is possible.

Curiously enough, that subcommittee only had 23 members at the end of last year, and additions had been few and far between (three in in all of 2005, and only 2 in 2006). Now, it has 48 – in short, membership has more than doubled in the past year. Moreover, all but 1 of these 23 new members has joined since April – and 8 have joined thus far in August alone. But wait – there’s more….

And, by the way, here’s another thing to note: SC 34 will also concern itself with both the new version of the PDF standard that Adobe is moving through the process. And it will also be the committee to consider Microsoft’s rival to PDF, which Microsoft calls the XML Paper Specification, when that specification is inevitably submitted by – guess who – Ecma.

“Prepare for yet another ‘standards’ Armageddon”Ah! XPS. Prepare for yet another ‘standards’ Armageddon and another enormous danger. Only yesterday, Microsoft escaped probation by the Department of Justice. This comes shortly after complaints in the EU about Windows Vista’s hijack attempts and amid similar concerns raised by the States. Speaking of XPS, and having seen work on Moonlight, who is willing to bet against odds that de Icaza et al won’t support, defend, and implement XPS support in GNOME, which is becoming .NET-savvy?

Returning to Andy’s blog, he calmly explains what comes next. Bob Sutor posted his own explanation about 3 days.

While I’m at it, I’ll also explain in greater detail why the surge in membership in SC 34 matters, and what will happen between now and the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) in Geneva, Switzerland in February 2008.

Deception

Watch this shocking statement from CSI (India).

CSI wishes to clarify that at no point has CSI supported the proposed standard in its present form. In a communication to the BIS to clarify the issue, Dr. J.R. Arora, CSI’s representative in BIS, states that: “I also wish to draw your attention to a news item published in the Economics Times as has been brought to my notice by the Hon. Secretary, CSI. Quoting you, it is mentioned in this news item that ‘There was no need for voting as only Infosys Technologies and CSI supported Microsoft’. This statement is not correct, as CSI, in its written comments sent to BIS with a copy marked to you, has very categorically stated that it does not support the OOXML standard in its present form. In fact these remarks were read by the BIS official, Ms. Reena Garg, in the third meeting held at BIS. We are therefore shocked to read about the news stating that the CSI has supported the standard.”

At least once in the past we caught Microsoft deliberately and knowingly lying in India. The lies sometimes take a form which is similar to pretexting. Rob Weir talked about incidents where Microsoft uses lies to deceive in order to influence votes (never mind the fact that those deceived will later discover the truth because it’ll be too later by then).

Manipulation

Norway may have already voted, but never forget what apparently happened there.

“There is now a report from Norway on how Microsoft rallied its partners to try to get a favorable vote on MSOOXML.”

Norway eventually said “No” (with comments) to OOXML as an ISO standard. Don’t let this take your attention away from the full story though. Even in places where OOXML is defeated, there’s no reason to assume that everything was kosher. Here is another report from Norway with an old and familiar photo.

Standard Norge actually gives a conditioned yes to OOXML, but that’s a big NO with comments. What does it mean? It means that Microsoft have to fix all the comments before it can be approved as a ISO standard.

A downright rejection (“No”) would perhaps be guaranteed if it were not for Microsoft’s manipulative games, which are also described in the following new article:

ODF vs. OOXML: Microsoft Has Mastered the Art of Unfair Play

The adoption of a standard is supposed to be an open, transparent process. Any companies interested in participating in the standard setting process in any significant way have to pay a fee to get a seat at the table. Many companies played by the rules and participated in the process. And it was becoming clear that Microsoft was not getting there way. In the recent vote in Sweden, it looked like Microsoft was going to lose. So what does Microsoft do? They pull the cards out of their sleeve and in a way that competing interests have no time to react. . Out of nowhere, Microsoft Business Partners are ponying up the $US2,444 to get a vote just in time for the vote. The final vote was in favor of Microsoft: 25 Yes, 6 No and 3 Abstentions.

Always remember the story about kickbacks with partners. This is no justice. This is the world being bought by a tiny minority of people who do not represent the population’s distribution and stance. Only a handful of people benefit. It’s akin to classic pyramid scheme patterns.

Update: Open Malaysia has a very impressive list of countries (with links) where fraudulent activity was identified.

If you have found manipulations of your technical committee by one vendor to push the one agenda through ISO, please do not be afraid to blog about it, or tell the press.

Many have already done so in Italy, Spain, France, Kenya, Azerbaijan, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Portugal and many many more.

Among this list, Kenya and Azerbaijan are new to us and we never covered them before in this Web site. Yoon Kit has the hyperlinks. If you are aware of any other countries, people speak out and help us draw a complete picture. Yesterday, someone from Switzerland told us that the vote in Switzerland might be nullified (following Sweden’s lead). Moments ago I found that similar steps will be taken in Denmark.

Xandros CEO Brags About Open Standards, But Signs ‘Intellectual Property’ Deals with Microsoft

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Interview, Standard, Xandros at 9:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Loving standards, until Microsoft offers some cash

It is both awkward and appalling that a CEO who realises the value of standardisation at the same time looks the other way. He gets lured in by those who snub standards by requiring pricey agreements to enable and facilitate communication and collaboration. One such examples would be Xandros and its ‘intellectual property’ deal, as described by the article below. Andreas Typaldos did an interview with LinuxInsider and the text has just been publshed. Have a look.

LinuxInsider: Do you see the availability of so many Linux distros having a deleterious affect on Xandros’ growth and popularity?

Typaldos [Xandros CEO]: Not really. The nature of Linux is that anyone can put out his or her own flavor, so the plethora of choices should come as no surprise. More critical from our point of view is that software vendors should be able to support all the major Linux distros in a single pass, and this is being addressed through the Linux Standards Base and other work of The Linux Foundation.

If you have standards, then why sign patent deals for ‘interoperability’? “Interoperability” — going by Microsoft’s definition — is rarely about standards and it is usually a strong statement against standards. It’s about binary bridges and ‘interoperability tax’ or ‘innovation tax’.

“It’s like selling your mother’s blood for booze money”

According to sources, Typaldos and his company received (not paid) money to fall into this generalisable and unwanted patent trap. 20 million dollars to sign a patent deal, according to a less verifiable source. If this is true, here’s wishing to Andreas that he’ll enjoy his Xandros laptop in his new yacht.

Don’t forget where you came from and never bite the hand that fed you. It’s a poor strategy. It’s like selling your mother’s blood for booze money. You might have a good time for a little while, but sooner or later, the police will have you pull over.

Do-No-Evil Saturday: OpenSUSE Faster and Better, Novell’s Financial Results Lift Stock

Posted in Europe, Finance, GNU/Linux, HP, IBM, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, Servers at 8:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OpenSUSE

Francis Giannaros has compared the boot times of various popular GNU/Linux distributions.

Here is the run-down with bootcharts:

  • openSUSE 10.3 Beta 1 in 27 seconds
  • Fedora 7 in 41 seconds
  • PCLinuxOS 2007 in 32 seconds
  • Kubuntu Tribe 4 in 31 seconds
  • Mandriva 2008 Beta 1 in 29 seconds

These things are easy to customise (even tweak for the sake of a desirable benchmark), but it’s interesting nonetheless. Out-of-the-box OpenSUSE seems to have been optimised for performance at startup, which is particularly important for laptop use. These changes were all along expected. OpenSUSE has also got a new package management system, which will maybe resolve the notoriety of previous attempts at packaging in SuSE/SUSE (I’ve been in SuSE’s “RPM hell” since 2003). Here is one new complaint/suggestion and here is another possible milestone.

The openSUSE 10.3 Beta 2 release brought down another major obstacle in developing YaST: the famous YCP language is not strictly needed for the YaST development anymore. A developer can use Perl, and to lesser extent, Python or Ruby.

The latest beta of OpenSUSE is beta 2. LinuxSeekers.com took a look at it.

As far as notebooks are concerned I don’t see any reasons why openSUSE needs to continue holding back from bundling the Intel Pro Wireless firmwares into openSUSE 10.3, which are even present in Fedora 7!!!! By the way, Boot time and shutdown time of openSUSE were fast. I was thrilled: the Suspend to disk and Suspend to RAM worked flawlessly on my Dell Inspiron 600m. The dozing- off-Tux as splash for the Suspend to disk was very cute.

TuxMachines has another detailed report.

Another developmental release of the upcoming openSUSE 10.3 was released a few days ago with some improvements, some regressions, and some minor eye candy changes.

Screenshots of the second beta were put up on the Web by LinuxMonitor.net.

In OpenSUSE’s relatively new blog, Andreas Jaeger gets his well-deserved attention. He recently got promoted from OpenSUSE Project Leader.

Today we present the interview with Andreas Jaeger, Director Platform/openSUSE and also the very first person who came up with the idea to launch the project ‘People of openSUSE’.

Novell’s Linux Business

There are several noteworthy articles where Novell’s SUSE gets a mention in a positive context. Here is one about the increasing use of GNU/Linux servers at a school district.

Stewart Savage, director of IT at the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District in Fairfield, Calif., said the school system first brought Linux into its data center in 2002, primarily to cut costs. Now it uses Novell’s SUSE Linux to support its Oracle databases and myriad applications, such as a Web content filtering tool.

As we mentioned earlier this week, Novell signed a big contract with German universities.

The agreement will give 560,000 students and employees across 33 universities access to key enterprise management and Linux services from Novell, including SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.

Munich, on the other, chose to create its own derivative of Debian GNU/Linux. Mr. Jaffe could not contain some excitement when he posted an item titled “The Linux desktop has truly arrived” to his blog.

Soon after I joined Novell, I started blogging about our technology directions. My first entry back in April 2006 was entitled “The Linux Desktop has arrived: The better desktop”. I argued that with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 – due to ship that summer — that the time had come for more significant inroads for Linux into the desktop market.

Novell has reasons for optimism because its Linux revenue is up sharply (up 77% when compared to last year).

Novell Inc. said Wednesday that its net loss in the third quarter narrowed compared to the same period a year earlier amid an increase in sales.

Negative takes on these financial results were published earlier this week, but this post is intended to be pro-Novell, so let’s carry on. Novell’s target price was raised while analysts remain “neutral” on Red Hat. It’s too early to predict a demise.

Miscellany

Novell has a little “oopsie” fixed earlier this week, but it was not Linux-related.

A bug in Novell Client can be exploited to crash the software or inject and execute arbitrary code. It resembles the hole that was reported by the Zero-Day Initiative and was fixed no more than a month ago. Novel has released an update to fix the vulnerability.

An open source conference is scheduled to take place in Utah. Novell will be its foster family and parent.

Utah Open Source Conference 2007 will be held at the Open Source Technology Center (OSTC) at Novell.

Novell might be getting a bit of a “de facto” status for certain computing tasks. Here is one on energy-efficient clustering.

Implementing a three-pronged approach can help cut power and cooling costs, according to Joe Wagner, senior vice president and general manager for the Systems and Resource Management business unit at Novell (www.novell.com). This approach involves using the high-performance foundation of Linux (www.linux.org), virtualization to reduce primary and secondary infrastructure costs, and intelligent management (or automation) to allow managers to create a data center that dynamically reconfigures itself based on policy and adapts to changing conditions.

Here is another on performance battles between Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

In the SPECfp_2006 benchmark, which measures speed, a single core of a 4.7 GHz POWER6 processor in an IBM System p 570 server running SUSE Linux scored 22.4, the highest result in the industry. System p 570 results are 23% better than an HP Integrity rx6600 running HP-UX result of 18.1.(1)

We have not heard much about Novell’s open source directory and ecosystem (not recently anyway). Here is a little bleep on the radar.

KnowledgeTree delivers a simple, powerful commercial open source document management solution to Novell Linux customers.

That’s all until next week. Summer vacation is ending, so the week ahead might have a lot in store.

Novell Loses Kelvin Campbell, Business Development Man

Posted in Australia, Boycott Novell, Novell at 8:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Days after discovering one high-profile departure in Australia, we find another.

Campbell has more than 16 years experience in the Information Technology sector in both management and sales roles. Prior to joining TechnologyOne, Campbell worked for Novell, an organisation that delivers enterprise-wide operating systems, in a Business Development Manager capacity specialising in the government and financial services industries.

It’s just something to keep an eye on. An analyst said that the Novell/Microsoft deal was a catalyst for the departure of many SUSE developers.

Has Microsoft Just ‘Pulled a Hungary’ on OOXML Voting in Poland? (Updated)

Posted in America, Bill Gates, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, Steve Ballmer at 4:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We haven’t a full translation yet, but early evidence seems to suggest that a panel’s decision in Poland is being overriden because it is not favourable to OOXML. Watch this space in case there are more updates to come.

There was no practical reason to do that and as you remember first [Polish] comitee rejected MSOOXML with 82% votes against it, but now second comittee approved MSOOXML without single vote against it!.

We mentioned Hungary yesterday, but here is some more text in English.

Hungarian Standards Institution to reconsider its vote!

Remember that a high-level politician got involved and wanted another vote to take place, this time with more Microsoft partners involved. This brings memories of Gates and Ballmer making phonecalls to politicians, thereby flipping the vote on OOXML in the United States.

Other new stories:

OOXML approval system open to abuse

Whether or not OOXML is a good candidate for an open standard is beside the point: there is prima facie evidence of voting in bad faith, without proper consideration of all the aspects of the proposal.

Microsoft admits Swedish employee promised incentives for Open XML support

Microsoft Corp. admitted Wednesday that an employee at its Swedish subsidiary offered monetary compensation to partners for voting in favor of the Office Open XML document format’s approval as an ISO standard.

Microsoft’s OOXML provokes standards turmoil in France

Microsoft, notably, disagreed with this consensus, and sought for the French vote to ISO to be an abstention.

Microsoft takes off gloves in open documents battle

Microsoft’s fight to get file formats for its Word, Access, Excel and Powerpoint products accepted by the ISO standards organisation is getting nasty.

Here is another headline: INCITS confirms: US to vote for Open XML in ISO

INCITS said “No”, but then, Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates started making phonecalls to politicians. It is very important to remember this.

Update: More information on Poland here.

Another Classic Case of Patent Trolling (Microsoft Gets Stung) (Updated)

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 1:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If you wanted more proof that the patent system lacks credibility, then look at what Microsoft and IBM have just been sued over.

JuxtaComm also has provisional patents for a system and method of managing and updating data from a number of sources for a project, and for a system and method of controlling and monitoring an application in a network— methodologies and software likely used by any number of software vendors.

This one ‘invention’ seems very trivial, with prior art going as far back as the 70s, according to someone whom I discussed this with. Need anyone fear software patent threats, let alone ones that are vague and probably unsubstantiated?

Related/recent links:

Update: another very interesting article can be found here. As a form of a teaser:

“The risk of willful infringement has been a particular problem in the IT sector, where there are vast number of patents, many of which are junk. Legal departments tell engineers not to read patents because of the risk of willful infringement, and the quality is so low that engineers are happy to comply.”

There is also some talk about change of rules.

Novell Brought Back to Court, Long-term Financial Uncertainty Looming

Posted in Courtroom, Finance, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Novell, SCO, UNIX at 1:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The headline is admittedly more alarming than it ought to be. Novell is already in court (Groklaw covers this), but Darl McBride has finalised his decision to file an appeal on the court’s latest decision. He wants UNIX back. He wants that litigious weapon. As for the latter part of the headline, Novell posted positive financial figures (more on this tomorrow) and got itself contracts, but in order to maintain its scale, Novell must do more. It is also financially-dependent on Microsoftl.

Let’s begin with SCO. Yesterday, only intent to appeal was mentioned in the press. It now appears to have come through and confirmed.

On Wednesday, SCO filed an appeal challenging an Aug. 10 ruling by a federal judge in Utah that Novell Inc., McBride’s former employer, owns the rights to Unix operating system software. SCO sued Novell in 2004 over Unix, which has been SCO’s lifeblood.

Here is the take on Novell’s financial prospects.

Novell has been on this Linux kick for a while, but less than 10 percent of its revenue comes from Linux so far. Linux is a fast growing market, but Novell trails Red Hat, a company that simply executes better. For instance, Citigroup analyst Brent Thill notes Novell is a serial restructurer and plans to change its go-to-marketing strategy again. He calls Novell’s execution uneven.

To be sure, Novell has some time to build its Linux business and there’s more gravy to come. So far, Microsoft-related Linux revenue has totaled $105 million out of a $240 million expected.

This Just in: Sweden’s Vote on OOXML Nullified Due to That So-called ”Bribery” Incident (Updatedx3)

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Open XML at 12:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Here is the article in Swedish and here is some interpretation in English:

The swedish working group at SIS, Swedish Standards Institute, Document description languages SIS/TK 321/AG 17, decided in a vote on August 27, 2007, to vote yes to making Office Open XML an ISO standard. Today, the board of SIS decided to invalidate the vote.

The reason for the board’s decision is that the SIS has information indicating that one of the participants of the working group cast more than one vote. This is not compatible with SIS rules, which stipulate that each project sponsor has only one vote. Thus, the decision has been taken solely based on SIS rules. The decision does not reflect a position on the subject matter.

Furthermore, the board considers it impossible for practical and formal reasons for the Swedish working group to arrange a new vote before September 2, 2007, when the global vote will be finished. If a new Swedish vote cannot be arranged, Sweden will abstain from voting.

Let’s hope that we’ll be seeing the same steps being taken in other countries where we know the same type of plot took place, namely:

  • Colombia
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Norway
  • Portugal

…Possibly Switzerland as well. In all the countries above, the story was pretty much the same as Sweden’s. There are more countries like that, but we just haven’t come across the ‘smoking gun’ proof.

Update: here is the report from Norway. It is a concrete piece of the puzzle which we have been missing until now.

Update #2: Denmark too.

I have the latest news from Denmark, where Groklaw member elhaard tells me that the recent news about irregularities in the OOXML voting process in Sweden has caused a reaction now in Denmark. It appears that pressure was put on partners there as well,

Update #3: Hungary was mentioned earlier in a similar context. The ‘funny’ OOXML business in that country finally receives attention elsewhere.

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