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What a Difference a Blog Makes

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interview, Novell, SCO, UNIX at 11:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Darl McBrideDarl McBride (pictured on the left) insists that his company, Santa Cruz Operation, is not dead. However, recent articles suggest otherwise. One of them speaks about being at “the verge of financial collapse”. A lot of SCO coverage was documented and accompanying analysis published by Pamela @ Groklaw. More recently there was concrete evidence to suggest that her site was used by lawyers who fought against SCO’s bogus claims (Novell’s lawyers mentioned Groklaw in their filing). According to Matt Aslett, SCO probably knew it was a losing battle from the very start (they did not own UNIX). In other words, Groklaw was right all along and SCO turned out to be nothing but malice, as many had suspected from the very beginning.

In a new interview, McBride talks about Groklaw’s role.

InformationWeek: The Web site Groklaw has given you a pretty rough time over the past few years. What effect has that had on your image?

McBride: I don’t think you can discount the impact of Groklaw in trying to create a bad image around us. It’s the equivalent of a negative political ad campaign. We used to counter everything Groklaw said. I thought it was my responsibility to SCO stakeholders to have a counter reaction to all these attacks. It turns out that doesn’t work well in a courtroom setting. The judges told us that, my attorneys told me that, so I decided to back off.

We just want to have a day in court. Though early on I admit to being more engaged in the battle.

Ron HovsepianTo clarify, Groklaw has no relation to this Web site, but we happen to have some shared goals and I remain involved in Groklaw (primarily behind the scenes). If we can expose the reality behind the many Microsoft deals (including Novell’s, which got this Web site started), then future legal actions (if any) might be assisted or prevented. Information and understanding are our friends. There is a lot more to all these deals than what meets the eye. Companies that signs deals do not want customers to see it. OpenSUSE developers appear to be in a convenient state of denial.

Studying Novell’s Plans and Direction with Mono

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 10:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The latest developments in a Novell/Microsoft pet project

As Mono continues to evolve, solid convergence with Windows programs (or at least API/SDK) seems like a matter of time. With the release of Mono 1.2.5, there are some new features that help bridge the existing gap.

Mono 1.2.5 reflects the rapid pace at which Mono is evolving. With strong support for C# 3.0 and IronPython, Mono is clearly a robust and versatile platform for open source software development.

This short article from Ars Technica also talks about Novell’s focus on Mono. Novell chooses Mono-based applications for the GNOME desktop which it develops. This is strategic, it’s not a side effect.

Our intention was never to invoke a heated discussion, personal attacks, and flamewars. This has always been a controversial topic (so one is likely to have an “unpopular assessment”), yet speaking about honestly doesn’t make it all wrong. Mono needs to be understood, not disliked. We try to piece together its implications w.r.t. patents, programmers’ direction, and a plethora of other factors. Mono is going to affect Linux a great deal if Novell continues with its current direction. Ranting won’t help. If you wish to see a rant, look no further than Sam, who dislikes many things including Solaris, Ubuntu, the Novell/Micrososft deal and…. GNOME.

Hence, in the midst of the celebrations, it’s good for the promoters of GNOME to stop and think what might have been if they had joined hands with KDE and moved forward in a cooperative manner. It is good to bear in mind that one of the men who started the project claiming that he wanted to provide “free software” is today tailgating APIs from Microsoft.

To re-emphasise what I said before, I like GNOME and I used it for a long time. I also developed with GTK. I am not anti-GNOME and I am not anti-Mono. We try to provide factual information and there is no agenda here. The issue at hand is concern about long-term consequences — consequences that might be too hard to avoid or retract.

How far will Mono go? Mimicking or implementing a P/L is one thing, but an observation worth making is that Mono might — to a greater or lesser extent — adopt Microsoft’s “ribbon” interface (love it or hate it). It seems likely because a Mono developer has just had it implemented.

In a recent blog entry, lead Mono developer Miguel de Icaza expressed interest in using the new Ribbon interface components in a future version of MonoDevelop, an open source IDE for C# programming.

The common understanding is that Microsoft issued a press release where it said would enable third parties to implement the ribbon as long as they follow some guidelines, i.e. they follow Microsoft’s rules. The technology is patented. Software/UI design patents seem to be valid in Canada, the US, Mexico, Australia, and Japan, so the validity of these patents can’t be ignored or their value immediately dismissed (unless you buy SUSE). GNOME is a product that is used internationally.

The previous post on Mono, along with references that commenters added, seem to indicate that Miguel wishes to mimic a lot of patented Microsoft technology and planned to do this from the very start. How can one counter this myth and explain that GNOME is:

  1. immune to ‘Microsoft tax’ (Novell customers get Mono ‘coverage’ for 5 years, Xandros and Linspire customers do not)
  2. intended to build upon open standards that are not controlled by Microsoft (or Ecma, by proxy)

With that in mind, it was rather odd to find that Microsoft has a new codename: Nautilus. Take a guess or read Mary Jo Foley’s analysis for further details.

OOXML in Norway, Denmark, and Poland… Looking More Closely at the Stories (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 10:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

On August 20th we said that OOXML had apparently been defeated in Poland, but unsurprisingly there was a flip-flop. An anonymous reader of this site reported possible irregularities in the process. When Poland says “Yes” to OOXML, bear in mind that it does not tell the full story.

Microsoft has apparently been rallying its troops around the world and there is strong evidence that suggest we should remain suspicious and skeptical.

It certainly appears that Microsoft might be “encouraging” standards bodies in various countries to upgrade their ISO memberships to P level and/or join Subcommittee 34 in an effort to overwhelm any opposition to its plans.

Denmark and Norway are no exception here and it is disappointing to see that the mainstream media only talks about Sweden. There is still a great deal of rotten practices everywhere you look, but because everything is moving so quickly in so many countries, it’s just hard to keep up. Here is a portion from one attempted summarisation.

In Denmark, a source reportedly said that Microsoft pressured him to send an expression of support to Dansk Standard, the Danish standards board. By Groklaw’s translation, Version2 reported: “‘If I had not sent in a positive comment, it would have had consequences for our relations with Microsoft’, he says. Our source points to e.g. leads, support and seminars as areas that might be jeopardised if ‘he did not behave’.”

The Danish MP reportedly wants assurance that only technical factors were considered by Dansk Standard and that political or economic influences were not brought to bear.

Also, a member of the Danish parliament has reportedly lodged a pointed question with a government minister as to whether the government has had any contact with Dansk Standard with regard to the ISO vote on OOXML.

In Norway, Microsoft apparently mounted an astroturfing campaign against the Norwegian standards body Standard Norge. Out of 59 comments received by Standard Norge, 37 were a Vole form letter that many of its Norwegian business partners didn’t even bother to sign before sending them in.

The only solace we might have is that Microsoft’s licence applications will be tossed by the OSI for such ruthless behaviour.

Never forget what happened around the world and particularly in Massachusetts.

This is not winning. These are signs of desperation.

Update: protests in Poland have begun. Let’s see if Poland will end up just like Sweden as a result of these protests.

It sometimes seems like Microsoft’s actions achieve nothing but lead to confrontations and national tension where governments are blamed (whose trust and credibility are lost as well). ISO likewise. We mentioned this yesterday. It’s not good for anyone, with the exception of those that poison the system with big money and promises.

Today is the Day — The Day the World Will Learn That Crime Pays

Posted in Africa, America, Apple, ECMA, Europe, Formats, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, Standard at 1:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s September 2nd today. That’s quite a big day. It holds some great promise and it’s also very important to a monopoly, not only its opposers.

“The damage done by OOXML may never be erased”The stories about how the monopoly got here is more interesting than the decision we are bound to see. Never before have I witnessed such an endless and tiresome flow of reports, pretty much all of which talk about corruption (to an extent). Over the past few years, I have been learning more about Microsoft’s controversial past and on a daily basis I’ve seen new cases and examples where customers get abused or products are made poor (not necessarily by design).

OOXML is different. In many people’s minds, OOXML is now associated with many negative thoughts about a monstrous thing with a monstrous operation behind it. The technical complexity of OOXML no longer seems to be the point of focus in the press. The ethical grounds on which it’s built has completely taken people’s attention away from its many deficiencies. A technical debate, which is where it all started, turned into a techno-political debate. Microsoft tried to characterise OOXML as an embodiment of IBM’s business ambitions. Then, more recently, this political debate turned into one that revolves around themes like bribery, corruption, nepotism, extortion, bullying, lobbying, and intentional deception.

The damage done by OOXML may never be erased. Its path of destruction will have the credibility of some governments, some companies, some national institutes, and the ISO seriously hurt. All of this was orchestrated by one single company. Never before, in a 20-year career in this area, has Andy Updegrove witnessed anything like this, let alone done single-handedly by a group of people too vain to honour — let alone recognise — ethics and fair play. Watch these quotes and be shocked.

With that in mind, here are some of the latest stories and developments in the twisted ‘OOXML world’.

Entering the Bizarro Kingdom…

Matt Aslett rightly argues that “when the standards are this low [as low as OOXML], no one wins”. Many people are yet to pay the price of having faith in whoever is putting weight behind OOXML. Bad technology costs man hours. It costs money. It leads to pain, to loss of data, and sometimes to loss of life.

C|Net, despite its pro-Microsoft bias (they even have a new partnership with Microsoft), does not turn a blind to the issue. The Register has a report on the fiasco that was seen in Sweden. Fortunately, there was a remedy, but damage was done either way. The vote turned into an “Abtain” as I understand it, so maybe the true outcome of a legitimate vote was eventually suppressed. Sweden never received its chance to speak out. It was muted thanks to Microsoft’s gross manipulation.

Wired Magazine hits the high note and chooses a courageous (yet true) headline: Microsoft Allegedly Bullies and Bribes to Make Office an International Standard

We have covered many stories extensively enough (primarily pointers) to support this headline and even add intensity to it. But, but, but… no so fast! There are two sides to every story. Wired Magazine tried to approach Microsoft for a comment. The outcome says it all:

Microsoft did not respond to several calls requesting comment.

How loud can a deafening silence be? Microsoft hasn’t anything to say to defend itself. That sums it all up nicely.

If Microsoft could make a decent specification using its great manpower and then have it accepted, that’s one thing. That’s probably acceptable. However, Microsoft produced a highly-flawed, bug-ridden, overly-complex, Windows-only, already-semi-implemented, effort-duplicating pile of a paper. That pile of paper is as tall as a young child (the Linux Foundation talked about it too). What was Microsoft expecting? What on earth was it thinking? Here is a possibility worth presenting.

Sam Hiser picks a Microsoft ‘smoking gun’ court exhibit, but also links to some very curious analysis of strategies Microsoft has used to escape scrutiny.

Try “25 Ways to Suppress the Truth: the Rules of Disinformation” also for some nice bed-side reading that will remind you of a moment here or there in the OOXML v ODF conflict.

That’s a truly classic and good find. Here is one these techniques being used in Africa (sadly enough, in yesterday’s African press):

Microsoft salutes debate on Office Open XML


Microsoft also said that over 2 000 partners representing 67 countries on six continents have given their green light for the ratification of the OOXML by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

Microsoft has partners. Who would have guessed? The partners all hail Microsoft. Therefore, OOXML must be great. Some call it ‘cattle effect’ while dissemination of such viral infection relies on the ‘network effect’.

Entering Europe…

Hungary has apparently canceled its vote on OOXML. Here are some comments in English, including another: “Hungary will not cast a vote on the ISO ooxml vote. Something similar to the Swedish position, with the difference that no voting took place.I guess they saw the stuffing and refused to get stuffed in the first place.”

We covered Hungary a few days ago. Politicians seemed to have suddenly interfered with the process that was already done. OOXML was apparently already rejected, so there are reasons to suspect Microsoft began pulling strings at government level. It’s no far fetched. We have already cited reports about Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates making phonecalls to politicians in order to change the rules and swing votes.

As we mentioned above, Sweden’s voice was apparently lost in the midst of corruption. It seems like the same thing happened in Hungary, which apparently voted “No”, but due to attempted manipulation down the line, that “No” vote will become “Abstain”. I am not certain about this, but it’s worth exploring just to be sure.

This move in Hungary seems to have nullified the vote and at an earlier stage it seemed like Switzerland, Denmark, and Sweden were no exception (because of similar manipulation attempts by Microsoft). However, last night, Groklaw came up with the latest from Denmark:

It’s official. Denmark will vote no with comments on OOXML.

Free Software Magazine has another short story about OOXML in Sweden.

This entire OOXML campaign stinks!

This is being forced on everyone simply because one corporation has manufactured a back-door strategy, to maintain a software monopoly.

It’s always worth reminding ourselves that with monopolies like this, there is no innovation. And it shows, based on this new article.

In the survey, only 46 percent said they were satisfied with the return. One cause can be traced to this: There’s a lot of fuzzy thinking about innovation.

Buying Brazil’s Government Instead of Brazil’s Vote

Remember Brazil’s decision to reject OOXML? Policy is one thing, but practice is another. Some sources suggest that Microsoft has just ‘bought’ Brazil.

According to one source, “The Ministry of Labor in Brazil signed a pact with Microsoft very similar to one of the provisions of the pact in Chile

In case you do not know what has happened in Chile:

Just today, a secret agreement between MS and the Chilean Government came to light. In it, every citizen was sold as a potential user of a Windows Live Spaces model where every SSN is linked to, overbypassing any privacy term and cashing Bill some bucks. It wouldn’t be so awful to all if that agreement wasn’t aprooved yet (Spanish follows).

There is a lot more information about it here.

Receita Federal (SRF), with whom we’ve had our encounters as part of our campaign against the software it imposes upon Brazilian citizens, has long been a bastion of proprietary software in the Brazilian government. Last Monday, Aug 27, we learned it planned on purchasing, on Aug 30, 40K+ licenses of Microsoft Office 2007. Yeah, that’s right, the one that introduces the very file format that the Brazilian society had rejected just the week before, and a brand new user interface that pretty much obsoletes all training for earlier releases.

The alleged reasons? Users are already trained (in the older versions). TCO studies funded by Microsoft. Limitations of ancient versions of OpenOffice.org, caused by the very fact that Microsoft Office’s formats are proprietary. The statement that any file converter to a competing file format will be obsolete by the time it reaches the market, because Microsoft keeps changing its file formats. Yes, unbelievable!, this is listed as a reason to use Microsoft’s software, not to run away from it! Fallacious reasoning that the slow adoption of GNU/Linux and OpenOffice.org, caused in great part by this very tactics of introducing incompatibilities, indicate they’re going to remain niche operating system and application.

“If It’s Broken, Don’t Fix It”

A new batch of stories returns to the roots of this debate, which should have always been purely technical. Behold the hidden ugliness of OOXML.

“Keynote will open and export to Office’s Powerpoint file formats, as with every non-Microsoft consumer of Office’s formats that eWEEK Labs has tested certain formatting inconsistencies seem impossible to avoid.”

Stephe Walli joins in. As Bob Sutor states:

Stephe Walli further demonstrates why the partial Apple implementation of OOXML is even more partial than we thought.

We covered this several times before. The only product that supports OOXML is Microsoft Office for Microsoft Windows, but it doesn’t stop Microsoft from lying about it. Further, there is this from Brian who refers to Stephe Walli’s findings.

It has been demonstrated time and again with OOXML, that it does not pass even this most simple test. If you read my friend Stephen Walli’s blog entry that was posted on Linux Today earlier, you know that the OOXML technology is so screwed up, even Microsoft applications can’t run it correctly.

Stephen Walli, mind you, has roots in Microsoft. Even Brian Jones, the head of this OOXML assault against the world, has already admitted that OOXML is still flawed. Even the man who was paid by Microsoft to edit Wikipedia’s article on OOXML said he would have voted “No, with comments.”

It’s Not Over

People’s choice of ODF if what will determine its success. You can continue helping by spreading knowledge and — better yet — spreading ODF-formatted files which will not work with Microsoft Office (per Microsoft’s own desire) and therefore require others to use or install a non-proprietary (code/standard) office suite.

Although today is the “Big Day”, final results are 6 months away.

But if Microsoft doesn’t get the required number of votes this weekend, its challenge would be bigger, because it would need to get some national bodies to change their minds before the final vote.

Results of that final vote are expected in March.

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